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Cardinals DC James Bettcher still raving about rookie LB Haason Reddick

Arizona Cardinals first round draft pick Haason Reddick (43) runs drills during an NFL football minicamp, Tuesday, June 6, 2017, at the Cardinals' training facility in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: James Bettcher, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator

It took a while for Haason Reddick to make an impact during his college career at Temple.

A walk-on, Reddick nearly left the team before meshing with head coach Matt Rhule, who took over for Steve Addazio in 2013. The linebacker gradually worked to become a leader on a very good defense for a resurgent program. So much so, that Reddick was drafted 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in April — the second-highest draft slot ever for a player out of Temple.

The 22-year-old isn’t following the same timeline in his early days with the Cardinals. He’s making an early impact.

His defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, was thrilled to get a player like Reddick at the time of the draft.

“When you have a chance to be around the young man, he truly is special,” Bettcher told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “We’re just really fortunate that a bunch of people decided to trade in front of us and mix the draft up and push a player of that caliber back to us at our position.”

The relationship between Reddick and the Cardinals is past the first-impression stage. With the team participating in mandatory mini-camp this week in Tempe, the linebacker is still opening eyes.

Bettcher described players that jump off film because of their willingness to fly around the field, making plays with an obvious passion for the game.

“This is one of those kind of guys,” Bettcher said. “He’s a Markus Golden. He’s a Deone Bucannon. You keep stacking those guys within your building overall in terms of your team, specifically on defense — and I’ve said it all along — matchups win games. Matchups, how you match up defensively, wins games.

“The second part of it is your effort and energy that you play the game with, that wins games, much more than scheme. Haason is one of those guys. He’s very instinctive — much more instinctive, maybe, than any other player I’ve been around in my going on 15 years of coaching. As a guy who played a different position and is now learning a new position, (he) plays instinctively at a new position he’s really never played before.”

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