It didn't take long in his first career start for Derwin James to show just why the Bolts took him with the 17th-overall pick.
On 3rd-and-5 just over a minute into the game, Drew Brees launched deep left looking for Ted Ginn. Covering the middle of the field, James turned on the jets, showing off tremendous range as he closed on the Saints' speedster. The safety rose high, cutting in front of Ginn to snatch the ball out of the air, securing his first career interception as he fell to the ground.
"It felt great," James said after the game. "(I) came out and trusted in what my coaches have been telling me. They put me in position. The play was there for me to make, and I made it… (Getting to start) felt great. I'm honored. Whichever way I can help, I'm trying to come in and contribute to the team. Help us get on track and help us win some ball games."
"He just made a good play," Head Coach Anthony Lynn said after the game. "We've been working him in the middle of the field and (close to the) line of scrimmage. He just showed his range in the middle of the field on that play."
The 6-2, 215-pounder has predominately played in the box at strong safety this summer. However, the 22-year-old is equally deft at playing deep at free safety, making him quite the chess piece for Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley.
James' versatility was on display against the Saints as the Bolts deployed the rookie in several ways.
While that may be an adjustment for most, it's the same exact way he was used at Florida State.
"It's good," he explained. "Sometimes they've got me rushing the passer, sometimes I'm covering the tight ends. It was the same role I played in college, so I'm used to it. Coach always asks me if it's too much, and I (say), 'No, it's good.… (I'm) way more comfortable. It's slowing down a lot. Every day, every practice, it's slowing down."
But that's not to say James is a finished product as the Bolts near the start of the regular season.
"I feel like I will be ready come Week 1, (but) I feel like there is always room for me to grow," he said. "Especially coming in as a young guy. I still want to learn, and continue to learn every day. There is still a lot I don't know as a player right now. I'm just going to learn as much as I can, and hopefully come Week 1, I'll be ready to go."