PHILADELPHIA — Eagles cornerback James Bradberry was greeted by nearly two dozen media members Wednesday afternoon when he arrived at his locker at the NovaCare Complex.
Before a single question was asked of the reigning All-Pro, Bradberry mulled, smirked, and said: “I already know what’s coming.”
Of course, Bradberry was reminded in recent days of 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel calling him “trash” after the Eagles defeated the 49ers in last season’s NFC championship game which saw defensive end Haason Reddick sack Brock Purdy, resulting in the 49ers quarterback exiting with a torn UCL.
With the two teams set to meet again Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Samuel doubled down on his comments earlier this week, when he told reporters, “I don’t regret nothing I say.”
Pressed with multiple questions regarding Samuel and all the chirping that came from the 49ers as a result of last year’s conference championship game, Bradberry took the high road.
“It’s never been part of, I would say my personality or my game, saying things in the media to get another team riled up or just express all my thoughts,” Bradberry said. “I try to keep everything generic and just go out there and handle my business when it comes to playing the game.
“I can’t wait to go out there and play.”
On the field, Bradberry possesses a mild-tempered persona, which deviates from many of his NFL peers. He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022, although he was called for holding on a crucial play in the Super Bowl, and has been more up and down this year.
Against the Bills last Sunday, Bradberry finished with a career-high five passes defensed, which included his first interception of the season off quarterback Josh Allen. Since 2018, Bradberry leads all NFL defensive backs with 90 passes defensed.
“I don’t really necessarily like what [Samuel] said, I wish he’d use a better word to describe my play,” Bradberry said. “But it is what it is. At the end of the day, all I can control is my work ethic and what I do.”
Sunday’s contest will involve high stakes for both teams as the final month of the regular season approaches. It’s shaping up to be somewhat of a repeat of last season. The Eagles (10-1) possess the NFL’s best record along with the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which would guarantee them home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs, while the 49ers (8-3) own the conference’s No. 2 seed.
“Last year is last year,” Bradberry said. “I think the extra motivation comes from them being a conference opponent. They’re a great team; it’ll be a big challenge for us.”
Veteran defensive end Brandon Graham has developed his reputation as one of the biggest trash-talkers in the sport. During this past weekend’s game, Graham, a team captain, was sent to midfield before the start of overtime for the coin toss. After the Bills won the toss and wide receivers Stefan Diggs and Gabe Davis stated, “We want the ball,” Graham was quick to shout, “It don’t matter! We have Jalen Hurts!”
So when Graham was asked about all of the post-conference championship chatter coming from the 49ers, he belted out in laughter and flashed a smile.
“You know what, I think it’s just more making sure we don’t get all into it,” Graham said. “We know [the trash talk] is there. But we’ve got to make sure we come ready to play on Sunday. We know that they play hard. We play hard. It’s going to be one of those games where we [can’t] let the emotions get the best of us and make sure we execute.
“The beginning of the game is going to be emotional. It’s going to be high on both sides. But the team that carries out the plan is usually the one that wins. ... We can’t get caught up in all that because it takes away from us remembering what we have to do. I know sometimes I might get carried away with talking [trash]. I’m gonna be me.
“For us as a whole, we have to make sure that we execute and play how we play.”
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