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.

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