Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim addressed several areas of concern this offseason.
Through the draft, Keim added depth to the secondary and defensive line with Deone Bucannon and Kareem Martin. versatility at tight end with Troy Niklas and speed to the receiving corps with John Brown.
Additionally, he acquired a handful of talented veterans in Antonio Cromartie, Jared Veldheer, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer and Ted Ginn, Jr. with the goal of upgrading the offense, defense and special teams respectively.
Throw in the improved health of 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper, who missed all of last season due to a broken leg, and the offensive line also looks like a new and improved unit.
But even with all of the wheeling and dealing Keim did following the team’s 10-6 campaign in 2013, one gaping hole remains at inside linebacker.
With Karlos Dansby’s departure to Cleveland and Daryl Washington’s season-long suspension, the situation at the position appears to be a precarious one to say the least for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
And as Arizona opens its training camp this weekend in Glendale, all eyes will be squarely on former second-round pick Kevin Minter, who is expected to fill a large portion of the void left by Dansby and Washington.
“Obviously those are two guys who have hard shoes to fill,” Minter told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Bickley and Marotta Friday. “But, I feel like I’m up to the task. That’s what they drafted me for.
“I’ve been working hard this offseason, getting in the film room, the playbook and the weight room. Hopefully everything works out.”
The Cardinals are hoping everything works out, as well, especially as it pertains to replacing Dansby.
In 2013, Dansby was one of the elite players at his position — recording 122 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions.
Minter, meanwhile, was limited during his rookie season due to nagging hamstring and shoulder injuries, and collected only four tackles in parts of 13 games.
Replacing that type of production will be no small task, but in Minter’s mind getting a chance to watch the 32-year-old week in and week out should prove to be a useful tool as he navigates the responsibility of his promotion.
“Karlos, he was real good at helping us out as far as the young linebackers were concerned,” said Minter. “What I really got from him was how to be a professional. Whether it came to nutrition, coming to practice, film at home, I just feel like he taught all of us how to do it.
“The guy was on a strict diet and I kind of got on that as well. And coming into practice, the dude was really organized with his notes. He just came to practice with a certain attitude and every day tried to get better. It was cool to see a guy like. He really came to the job like it was his job.”
Now the job is Minter’s and his estimation it’ll be business as usual.
“It’s going to be like college again,” said Minter, who was named first-team All-American in 2012 after recording 130 tackles and four sacks during his junior season at LSU. “I’m going to be a playcaller again, basically the quarterback of the defense.
“Being behind a guy like Karlos, I watched him make all of the adjustments and all of the checks. Learning from a guy like that, I feel like I can bring that to the table as well.”