It was early September, about one week before the Browns' season opener, and Jamar Taylor thought he'd have the film room to himself.
The veteran cornerback opened the door and discovered some unfamiliar company. Freshly claimed off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars, rookie Briean Boddy-Calhoun was immersed in an analysis of his new team's defense. Boddy-Calhoun needed to play catch-up, and Taylor was more than happy to help a player who quickly reminded him of himself.
"Now I sat down and watch film with him every week," Taylor said. "Real smart guy for a rookie. He's a technician. He's always trying to clean up his technique. He has great ball skills and he loves the pressure. We put him in crazy positions but the kid just always seems to make a play."
The plays came in bunches last week against the Giants, and Boddy-Calhoun responded more often than not.
Targeted constantly by veteran quarterback Eli Manning, Boddy-Calhoun shook off an early touchdown catch by Dwayne Harris and knocked down three deep balls thrown his way. Pressed into increased action throughout the season because of injuries to multiple players in the secondary, Boddy-Calhoun has responded each time, and his past three games have served as his best stretch yet.
On the season, he has nine passes defensed (six coming in the past three games) with two interceptions and a touchdown that came in his NFL debut Week 3.
"For an undrafted college free agent, I think he's having a hell of a year … For his development and looking out to the future, I'm very excited," Browns secondary coach Louie Cioffi said. "The last three games here, he's got six PBUs and a pick and he's the only player on our team to score on defense with an interception. This is for a guy that again went undrafted, every team had a chance at him, we ended up picking him up off waivers and he is developing into quite valuable asset for our team."
Boddy-Calhoun's ability to bounce back from going undrafted was to act like it never happened.
The confidence that carried him at the University of Minnesota transferred to his tenure with the Jaguars. It came to an end on final cut day in early September, but Boddy-Calhoun had a feeling he wouldn't be out of work for long. His teammates in Jacksonville, particularly Davon House, Aaron Colvin and Jarrod Wilson, helped him keep his head up.
"They were surprised to hear that but they kept me pretty confident. They told me I was definitely a guy who could play in this league," Boddy-Calhoun said. "Not only play in the league, but be a good player in the league. Hearing it from guys who have been here, it really helped me out and it kept me going knowing I could do it."
Less than 24 hours after Boddy-Calhoun was released, the Browns, who held the No. 2 priority for waiver claims, made him one of five new acquisitions. And no one from that group has seen the field more this season than him.
"He's attacked it," Cioffi said. "He's a kid that loves football, he's got a gym rat mentality, he's in here early meeting either with myself or (assistant defensive backs coach) Cannon Matthews, and he's done a great job to help his development as well. He's always looking to learn. We've worked him both at corner and we're teaching him the nickel position. I think he's got a really good career ahead of him."
Boddy-Calhoun's dedication to the film room has paved the way toward this early success, and it dates back to his early years at Minnesota. Melvin Rice, then a defensive quality control assistant, got Boddy-Calhoun hooked on the process during the early part of his career, and it stuck with him, even after Rice left for a job at Northern Illinois.
Now, it's all the more important for Boddy-Calhoun, who is tracking some of the game's top athletes on a weekly basis.
"It definitely transferred over on this level. Guys are a lot better physically. They're faster, stronger, more athletic," Boddy-Calhoun said. "Now it's better technique and film study is what's going to help you on this level because the difference between a touchdown and an interception is a really thin line."
Boddy-Calhoun's experienced it firsthand. His interception against the Ravens was followed by a tough second half in which he surrendered a touchdown in a game Cleveland lost, 28-7. He experienced the reverse against the Giants when he bounced back from a tough moment to have one of the best halves of his career.
As a defensive back, it's all about how you manage the ebbs and flows of one of the game's most unforgiving positions. Cioffi and Taylor are confident Boddy-Calhoun has the proper makeup and commitment to handle it.
"When he gets beat, he always comes back and makes another play," Taylor said. "He shows good resilience and that's what you need out of a young player. I think he's going to be something to reckon with."