Antoine Cason had been a little-used piece of the Arizona Cardinals’ defense.
Before Sunday’s game at the Tennessee Titans, the sixth-year corner out of the University of Arizona had recorded just six tackles and no pass breakups or interceptions in five games played after signing with the Cardinals as a free agent following five years with the San Diego Chargers.
But after versatile defensive back Tyrann Mathieu was lost for the season in last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams, Cason was forced into a larger role with the Cardinals.
The 27-year-old couldn’t have responded better.
Cason picked off two passes — one came in overtime and he returned the other for a touchdown — while also recovering a fumble and making four tackles to help the Cardinals hang on for a 37-34 overtime win over the Titans.
“Those guys have been playing well all year,” Cason said of Arizona’s defense. “I knew I needed to come up big and step up just as good as they’ve been playing all year. Especially in my first week really being in the defense.”
Cason was one of few bright spots on a defense that gave up a season high in points and allowed the Titans to erase a 17-point deficit in less than four minutes. And after Tennessee rallied to force overtime, it’s easy to see how the Cardinals’ sideline could have been panicked.
Cason credited cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross for preaching to the defense to be confident and trust itself while getting back to the technique that had helped it become one of the league’s best units.
“That really helped me,” Cason said.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity. It’s great to see the coaches have confidence in me like I have the confidence in myself.”