ARIZONA CARDINALS

Budda Baker turning heads after two preseason games with Cardinals

Aug 15, 2017, 12:09 PM
Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) is hit by Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36)...

Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) is hit by Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker (36) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
LISTEN: James Bettcher, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator

After two preseason games, 21-year-old Budda Baker has already impressed Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher.

“I love just how he plays the game,” Bettcher told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “He plays with passion, energy, flies around, plays with a reckless abandon.”

In his short stint with the Cardinals, Baker has already been compared to fellow safety Tyrann Mathieu. But Bettcher said the 5-foot-10 195-pound Baker reminded him of another member of the Cardinals’ defense.

“(He) reminds me very much so of, very different position, but just how they played the game as rookies is (OLB) Markus Golden,” Bettcher said. “Just played hard and figured everything else out later. That is something I really like about Budda.”

Baker’s aggressive style of play was on display in the first two exhibition games. After head coach Bruce Arians decided to rest all the starters for the Hall of Fame Game played earlier this month, Baker had a golden opportunity to impress.

After missing all of OTAs and minicamp, Baker recorded six total tackles — two solo and four assist — knocked down a pass in coverage and got credited with a QB hit.

In Saturday’s home preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, he registered five solo tackles and one pass defended.

Baker’s aggressive mindset helped him show up all over the field against the Cowboys and Raiders. But is he too aggressive?

“No, I don’t think there is anything such as too aggressive,” Bettcher said. “I just think you have to have your eyes in the right place and channel your aggression in the right way. I will never tell any of our guys that they are too aggressive. I want them to play hard and play fast and play physical.”

Bettcher told Doug and Wolf he thought Baker played better against the Cowboys and appears to have left a mark on the coaching staff and front office that was already high on him when they moved up nine spots in the draft to take him at 36th overall.

With three more preseason games left, Bettcher said Baker’s performance will decide where he will fit in for the upcoming season.

“There is going to be some great places for him and some packages for him if he continues to progress like he is,” Bettcher said.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters (98) walks out before an NFL game between the Arizo...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Doug Kyed advises Arizona Cardinals to bring back DL Corey Peters

With the Cardinals' current roster construction, PFF's Doug Kyed believes Arizona should bring DL Corey Peters back once more in 2022.
1 day ago
Ohio State Buckeyes offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. (77) protects his quarterback during the fi...
Sam Graveline

Cardinals take OT Paris Johnson Jr. in ESPN 2023 NFL mock draft

ESPN's Matt Miller thinks the Cardinals will beef up the offensive line in his first 2023 mock by selecting Ohio State OT Paris Johnson Jr.
3 days ago
Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, right, and Byron Murphy Jr. (7) celebrate after an NFL foo...
Wills Rice

NFL.com’s Patra ranks Cardinals’ cornerbacks among weakest rooms in league

The Cardinals enter training camp with a few question marks personnel-wise on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback.
4 days ago
Nick Scott #33 of the Los Angeles Rams tackles Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals after a recep...
Sam Graveline

PFF: Tight end shaping up to be biggest position battle for Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals head into training camp expecting to have healthy competition at a handful of positions, including at tight end.
5 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates with fans after beating the Houston Texans 31-5...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals Corner: The timeframe of Kyler Murray’s contract extension

We haven't heard much lately when it comes down to Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and a contract extension. When will a new deal get done?
5 days ago
Markus Golden #44 of the Arizona Cardinals reacts to a defensive play during the first half against...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals LB Markus Golden among players with best team-friendly deals

Arizona Cardinals LB Markus Golden's contract cracked PFF analyst Brad Spielberger's top team-friendly deals ranking.
5 days ago
Budda Baker turning heads after two preseason games with Cardinals