Following free agency and the NFL Draft, one of the common talking points about the Arizona Cardinals’ defense is that it has the makings of a devastating linebacking corps.
General manager Steve Keim went out and signed free agent Karlos Dansby and drafted the versatile Haason Reddick out of Temple with the 13th overall pick last month.
With his ability to play different positions — as he displayed during an incredible week at the Senior Bowl — Reddick is a sort of wild card in the middle of the Arizona defense. There is plenty of learning to be done, however.
Defensive coordinator James Bettcher shed some light on how the dynamic rookie will be used initially in his defensive scheme.
“We’ll get Haason here and where we’ll start him as at inside linebacker,” Bettcher told Doug and Wolf Monday morning on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “One of the reasons I want to do that is so that he can learn his sight lines and learn how to work his eyes from playing off the ball, keep continuing to grow and build his instincts as an off-the-ball player.
“We all know, at the end of the day, he can step down on the edge and that’s something he does extremely well is rush off the edge and get on top of offensive tackles.”
Bettcher wouldn’t commit to whether Reddick’s initial role takes more snaps away from Dansby or incumbent Deone Bucannon at the inside linebacker spot. He did say most of it is up to the rookie.
“How he picks it up, how he takes it from the meeting room to the field, how he grows and once we get to training camp and we’re flying around and playing, how he plays determines who’s getting snaps and who’s not,” Bettcher said.
Bucannon played nearly every defensive snap last season before he suffered a high-ankle sprain in a Week 14 loss at Miami. He would miss the rest of the season. Dansby, who spent last season in Cincinnati, saw action on 72 percent of the Bengals’ defensive plays despite only starting seven games. Bettcher knows he’s got a lot of talent to utilize.
“I love Karlos on this defense,” he said. “He’s an outstanding leader. He can still play the game at a high level. I’ve gone out and said I think Deone is going to have an outstanding year for us, so we’re going to have some fun — and not get too cute — but finding some ways to incorporate Haason in our game plans from week to week.
“At the end of the day it’ll come down to what he’s ready for and what he’s able to handle. I anticipate that he’ll be very involved for us.”
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