Now in his fifth year in the NFL, cornerback Bradley Roby has stepped into an important role for the Broncos' defense as a full-time starter. The former Ohio State standout has spent his entire career with the Broncos and was an important part of the Super Bowl 50 champion team. Though Roby has settled into his role as a cornerback, it didn't always look like he would end up on the defensive side of the ball. He nearly ended up playing wide receiver at Vanderbilt before changing his mind. We talked with Roby about how his time as a wide receiver has helped him as a cornerback, how he's managed to stay healthy and why his Super Bowl ring is a motivating factor for him every day.
Zach Pereles: You almost played wide receiver in college [Roby initially committed to play WR at Vanderbilt before deciding on Ohio State]. How do you think playing wide receiver — and being a good wide receiver — has helped you as a defensive back?
Bradley Roby: "It helps me with my ball skills, just being able to catch the ball. A lot of [defensive backs] don't have good hands. I like to think I'm the best [defensive back] with my hands on the team. It's called 'mitt game.' I've got a big 'mitt game.' ... It helps with that and also pattern recognition, just knowing what they are going to run."
ZP: You were teammates with Steve Atwater Jr. in high school. Did knowing the background of the Broncos franchise help you transition out here at all?
BR: "Definitely. It was actually crazy because I used to go over to their house in high school, and it was the biggest house I've ever been in, and a perfect family. It was like, 'I hope my life is like this one day.' Next thing you know I get drafted to the Broncos. It's just crazy. And now [Steve Atwater]'s here, working in the media. It's just crazy how life goes."
ZP: With you moving up the depth chart this offseason and playing a lot more, did you do anything specifically this offseason to prepare to be out there for more plays?
BR: "Just more running. You've got to just run more, because that's all we do is run. So I just focused on the track and running and backpedaling more and watching film and stuff like that. Just amp it up. Every year, you've got to amp it up."
ZP: When you look at yourself now, you're five years in. What's the biggest difference in how you prepare and approach the game?
BR: "Now I know how to prepare. When I was young, I didn't really know how to prepare. Fortunately I had guys like Aqib [Talib] and Chris [Harris Jr.] that could teach me how they prepare. I tried to just learn as much as possible from those guys. Now I know how to prepare. I have a schedule. I have a routine. And that's how I've really changed."
ZP: You've never missed a game in your career. How have you managed to stay so healthy?
"I just take care of my body. I get massages, go to chiropractor twice a week. I just bought myself a hyperbaric chamber this offseason. You've got to invest in your body, because your body is what's going to get you on the field. If you're hurt, you can't play, and if you can't play, nobody cares. I just try to keep myself as healthy as possible, and that's also something that I learned from Chris. I think I learned that a lot from Chris. I use a lot of his guys. It's just taking care of your body."
ZP: The defensive backs are having extra film sessions this year, led by Chris. How do you think you've developed as a leader alongside him?
BR: "I think I'm still developing. It's always a learning process with anything. I'm definitely helping the younger guys when I can and calling meetings like that. I never even thought to call a meeting before. I know we've done it before, but now that I'm one of the guys, it has to be on me to say, 'Hey, let's watch red zone again,' or 'Hey, let's watch this by ourselves.' So now I'm learning, 'Let's go to dinner on Friday night,' or stuff like that. I'm learning how to be a vet."
ZP: How does the Super Bowl 50 victory serve as motivation for you?
BR: "It's been motivation. I want to get back there. That's the best feeling I've ever had in my life. I was just so blessed to get here and play in that game, because I was watching their previous Super Bowl against the Seahawks two years earlier, and I was thinking, 'Dang, the Broncos need some corners. I would love to be there.' I never thought I would be here, and then eventually we got back and I made plays to help us get there and made plays in the Super Bowl. I just feel like it was destiny. And now that that's come and gone, we haven't had the best past couple of seasons. It's motivating me to get back there and to lead these guys."
ZP: If you could speak to your younger self, what's one piece of advice that you'd give to him?
BR: "Keep your priorities right. [Do it] with your actions, though. Everybody says, 'I've got these priorities.' But follow your priorities with your actions. Put the things that you value most first. And do those things first before you do other things."