'Different Level': Pete Carroll on How Seahawks DB Coby Bryant Stood Out – Sports Illustrated

The start of Coby Bryant's professional career as a rookie defensive back with the Seattle Seahawks got started off on the wrong end of a highlight reel. 
In Saturday's preseason-opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bryant was tasked with defending another highly-touted rookie, as receiver George Pickens also saw his first professional action. 
But Pickens got the best of him on a spectacular 26-yard touchdown grab that came on the edge of the right corner of the end zone. Even with eyes staying in front, Bryant had seemingly played the pass perfectly. But the ball sailed right by his facemask and into Pickens' waiting arms, who kept two feet down for the score. 
In Thursday's Week 2 preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears, almost nothing went right for the Seahawks in a 27-11 loss at home.
But in his second game of NFL action, Bryant got a chance to make up for the touchdown he gave up last week in a near-identical situation at the same spot in the end zone.
"As a DB, you're only as good as your next game," he said Thursday. "So short-term memory, always remember that play, and like I said learn from it and make the play next time."
Short-term memory? Sure. Still, Bryant's technique was the same as last week, as he timed his fourth-quarter pass deflection on 3rd and goal against Bears receiver Isaiah Coulter to a tee. Bryant didn't turn his head around to the ball, but kept his gaze on Coulter, watching his eyes before batting the ball away right as it entered the catch vicinity. 
The play brought up a 4th and goal for the Bears, but Bryant's big stop seemed to help spark some momentum that was absent for the team all night as the defense came up with the stop. 
Bryant got a chance to play on the outside and in the slot at nickel. Regardless of where he lined up, he knew plays had to be made.
"I love nickel," he said. "Never played nickel (in college). But that obviously shows how much they trust me and respect my knowledge for the game. … when the plays present themselves you gonna have to make them."
On the drive before the goal-line stop, Bryant had his hands on a sideline interception that he stepped in front of, but the ball bounced out. But the skills were evident, as he totaled the two passes defended and had five solo tackles. 
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't hesitate to admit that Bryant clearly stood out amongst a preseason group that had a handful of struggles Thursday. 
"He's really aggressive, you see a difference," Carroll said. "He played at a little bit of a different level than some of the other guys. Running and hitting. He made some tackles, he's a football player."
As a fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati, Bryant entered his first training camp and preseason with no guarantees despite having a recognizable name and coming from an elite program that was one of the darlings of the college football world last season. 
On a Seattle defense that gave up the second-most passing yards per game last season (265.5), Bryant's versatility, talent, and proven playmaking ability has him in line to get some hefty playing time in an important role this season. 
But he's not getting ahead of himself just yet. With still more work to be done, he's not self-proclaiming himself as a starter despite the fact some might see that as a near guarantee.
"That's not my decision," Bryant said. "I can just go out, perform, and practice, and in preseason games as well, take it day by day and learn as much as I can whether it's at nickel, corner, special teams, whatever the case may be."
He'll have a chance to continue to show the coaching staff why he's on a "different level" in Week 3 of the preseason against the Dallas Cowboys. Bryant will be returning to AT&T Stadium, the place where his collegiate career ended in a College Football Playoff semifinal loss to Alabama in December.
More information on the 23-year-old is set to be inbound for Carroll and company, but maybe a verdict has already been made.
"I think that's what we're getting, we're getting that information on this guy," Carroll said. "He's a ballplayer."
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
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