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Josh Bynes grateful for opportunity with Arizona Cardinals

Aug 16, 2017, 9:18 AM | Updated: 9:31 pm
Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker ...
Oakland Raiders running back John Crockett (43) scores a touchdown as Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes defends during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Just about everyone has been impressed with Arizona Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes since his arrival two weeks into training camp.

Everyone that is not named Karlos Dansby.

“You know, he’s an Auburn guy,” Dansby said, a big smile across his face. “What are you talking about? He’s an Auburn guy. I already knew what he could do. He’s impressing you all. You all didn’t know what he could do.”

As if it wasn’t already obvious by those comments, Dansby (2000-03) and Bynes (2007-10) both attended Auburn University, and the two former college standouts may find themselves sharing the same field this season.

The Cardinals signed Bynes on Aug. 5. Seven days later, he was leading the team in tackles in a preseason win over the Oakland Raiders. The only setback came Wednesday when a tweaked hamstring could leave him sidelined for a week, according to Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

“He’s been a really good find,” Arians said.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds, Bynes has six years of NFL experience. After going undrafted in 2011, he made the Ravens roster as an undrafted rookie free agent, spent three seasons in Baltimore and another three seasons in Detroit.

The Lions chose not to re-sign Bynes this offseason. Unfortunately, none of the other 31 teams came calling either.

“I was just working out and just hoping to hear from someone soon,” he said Tuesday. “I was just blessed for the opportunity (with the Cardinals) and looking just for an opportunity to show that I still belong in this league. Being an undrafted guy you go through that same process pretty much every year I’ve been in the league; just always having to prove yourself. I know I wasn’t drafted but I still belong.”

That’s certainly an understatement. One look at his film from Saturday’s Raiders game clearly shows Bynes not only belongs, but can still make an impact.

Playing 26 defensive snaps, and another three on special teams. Bynes filled the stat sheet with seven tackles, while adding a half sack, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a pass defensed.

How was a player of that skill-set still available on the open market?

“You never know,” Arians said. “There’s been guys every year, you never know why they’re on the street. Might not have fit in a new system or they had a change of plans wherever they were. Injuries, I think he had some injuries last year but he also [started] eight games. I don’t know. He looks good for us. I don’t really care how he gets here.”

Arians is right. Injuries did rob Bynes of nearly half of the 2016 season, but in the four seasons prior to last year, Bynes hit the double-digit game mark each time, including 16 in 2015, when he recorded career highs in tackles (80) and passes defensed (five).

Injuries are what brought Bynes to Arizona.

Tevin Floyd, Alani Fua and Gabe Martin all started training camp with the Cardinals, but have either been waived/injured or received an injury settlement. Veteran Philip Wheeler is also sidelined, meaning the Cardinals needed help at inside linebacker. Enter Bynes, who according to GM Steve Keim, learned the Cardinals defense fast.

“He has really good range and straight-line speed. He’s physical at the point of attack. He’s got some cover ability and he’s got some length,” Keim told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station this week. “He’s a guy that has had some success in the past — I think two years ago in Detroit he had (80) tackles and then last year he had some injury issues. But saw him on tape, thought he was a guy we could bring in off the street and could potentially have a shot at making this roster and competing for a spot.”

Right now, Bynes, who turns 28 this month, is running with the second-team defense, a defense he called “tricky”. In other words, it’s not similar at all to what he ran with the Ravens or Lions.

“It’s almost learning something new again,” he said. “I feel like a rookie almost.”

Bynes, though, has proven to be a quick study, as evident by both his play in his preseason debut and subsequent practices at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I just was playing football. I was just trying to do pretty much whatever Coach (James Bettcher) was saying, ‘You’re going to play this coverage, that coverage’ and just going from there and just playing football,” he said, referring to the game against the Raiders.

“It’s a good opportunity (with the Cardinals). Whatever they’re asking me to do, just doing it to the best of my ability”

Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter

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