A few (on-field) thoughts on rookie corner Bashaud Breeland:
He likes playing physical. I loved the way he tackled against Cleveland, showing good form and not just relying on shoulder tackles like a lot of young players. Breeland actually wrapped up and drove through a ballcarrier. He also loves to find contact.
“I had to work on [tackling] but that’s my key to separating me from other guys, my physicality and my tackling ability,” Breeland said. “A lot of corners don’t want to tackle. A lot of corners don’t want to stick their nose in there. I want to be a guy that they say he can cover plus he sticks his nose in there.”
His awareness. Obviously tackling is important, but Breeland knows it can send a message, too.
“Coaches harp on everyone to the ball and if you wrap a man up and everyone gangs up on him,” Breeland said. “He’ll know next time everyone’s coming. The defense as a whole, we have to have a dog mentality, get everyone around and you’re getting hit no matter what.”
His jams. In the spring nobody held more than Breeland, who looked like the poster child for the emphasis on defensive holding penalties. But Breeland has improved in this area.
“In college you can fight with a receiver all the way down the field,” Breeland said. “I had to work on that.”
So he altered his approach and figured if he did not get his hands on the receiver within four yards he would just mirror him down the field. In the spring, he’d grab receivers as they cut. Now, he keeps his hands a little lower to provide more balance when he cuts with the receiver -- and that lessens the ability to hold.
“Instead of me trying to grab, I bring my hands down so I can get low and come out of the break. If I have my hands up I can’t break like I want to,” he said.
Playing safety. The coaches have said if Breeland somehow doesn’t work out at corner, he has the skills to play safety because of his physical nature. For now they’ll keep him at corner; it’s a more premium position and if he can become a starter here in a year or so then that’s what they’d want. If not? Safety is a possibility.
“When I’m in the game at corner, I feel like a corner. If they put me at safety I’ll feel I’m a safety. Whatever position I’m at that’s what I take pride in. If they put me at safety it’s not something I’ll be mad about. I want to help the team any way I can.”