Playing time dips for Bucannon and Reddick, Wilks will ‘play the best 11’
Arizona Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said he wants to put the best 11 players on the field.
There’s impeccable logic in that. But those who watched the Cardinals play the Bears on Sunday — and suffer a 16-14 defeat — may still wonder: Why weren’t first-round picks Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick on the field more for Arizona’s defense?
“I have an open communication policy,” Wilks said when asked about that matter by Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station. “I want guys to be able to come talk to me about certain things, and they do. And I’ll be honest with those guys and tell them, we’re going to play the best 11. And right now, that’s what I’m doing.”
Bucannon saw only one snap on defense on Sunday and 20 on special teams. For Reddick, those numbers were four and 12, respectively.
Bucannon’s one defensive snap is down from 25 (34.7 percent) the previous week and 79 (100 percent) in Week 1. Reddick saw 14 defensive snaps (17.7 percent) in Week 1, then three (4.2 percent) in Week 2.
“Those guys have got to show me that they deserve the right to be on the field,” Wilks said. “It’s nothing to the standpoint of favorites or taking things personal. I want those guys out there. They’re first-round draft picks. I want them to be on the football field, they have a great skill set. But again, I’m going to play the guys that have shown that they’re ready to play.”
Bucannon was selected 27th overall by the Cardinals in 2014 and has started 51 games (60 appearances) since then. Last year, Bucannon played in 12 games and had a pick-six to go with three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and 82 tackles. The Cardinals took Reddick 13th overall in 2017 and has since appeared in 19 NFL games with three starts. He had two forced fumbles in 2017 to go with 2.5 sacks and 32 tackles.
Wilks said the pair hasn’t responded poorly to the lack of playing time.
“Those guys are responding well,” Wilks said. “They haven’t wavered from their approach and how they try to prepare and practice. We’ve got to find ways as coaches to be able to continue to coach and connect with them and get them out there on the field. But their responsibility is to go out there and execute their assignments. So it’s hand-in-hand.”