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Bradley Has Reason To Dance

Linebacker finds improvement after struggling in 2011


Linebacker Stewart Bradley dances after making a sack in Sunday's preseason opener.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Stewart Bradley dragged down Saints quarterback Chase Daniel, and suddenly, his body started jerking all over the place.

The linebacker's dance in Sunday night's Hall of Fame game was memorable to say the least, so much so a GIF lived online of Bradley before the game had even ended.

"I've been messing around in camp with the dorkiest dance I could think of, and I came up with that," Bradley said after the preseason loss to the Saints. "Guys were like, 'There is no way you will do that, but if you do, it would be awesome.' I said 'Hey, if I get a sack or a big play, I'm going to put it out there.' "

Calling it the "Carlton-slash-I'm-not-sure," Bradley certainly livened up the night. But it wasn't just the dance that caught the attention.

Bradley got the sack to produce the dance, as well as a key pass defensed on third down as the Saints were in the red zone. He played well with a team-best six solo tackles and tackle for a loss, a package the Cardinals have been waiting for a year for Bradley to deliver.

Signed last season as a free agent to ostensibly take over for Paris Lenon as a starting inside linebacker, Bradley had a tough time making any inroads during Lenon's late career renaissance. Also making it tough was Bradley's struggles with the new defense – he had been a 4-3 middle linebacker his whole career before coming to the 3-4 alignment – and never fully made the transition.

The issues were great enough that the Cards wanted to cut Bradley's 2012 salary in half, to $2.5 million, to go forward. Bradley agreed, and set out to become the player he thought he'd be last season.

"I knew I arrived there last year during the season, but it's not the same as starting off in camp and minicamp knowing what is going on, understanding, really being part of the whole process of the season," Bradley said. "It was so abbreviated and coming in late to camp with no offseason, no minicamp, no OTAs, no offseason program it was challenging. But I like where I am at right now."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Bradley should "push" Lenon for a starting spot, although it is hard to believe the 2012 captain in his contract year is going to give up that job. Nevertheless, Bradley "will be involved," Whisenhunt said.

Bradley still has things to work on but "he's a different player this year," Whisenhunt said.

Bradley doesn't touch the idea of him starting, saying only that he wants to focus on his own play. No reason to go down that road again, not after last season.

He should be a nice piece in the puzzle defensive coordinator Ray Horton puts together every week, however.

"It's night and day difference with how comfortable I am in the defense," Bradley said. "I can just play football and react and there is a lot less thinking involved. I think it is showing with the plays I am making on the field."

As for the dance, Bradley may have more work to do. The sixth-year pro didn't want to fully evaluate it after the game, saying he needed to "see it on film."

But he considered its future. "If I'm in there and make more plays, maybe I'll roll with it," Bradley said. "We'll see."

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