Cardinals’ Martin, Reddick ready to step in for injured Markus Golden
TEMPE, Ariz. – Once again, the Arizona Cardinals are asking someone to step up their game in the absence of an injured starter. And much like with the loss of running back David Johnson, it’s likely going to take more than a single player to replace the production of outside linebacker Markus Golden, who led the team in sacks last season.
To begin with, Kareem Martin will move from his backup role to that of starter.
It was Martin who replaced Golden after Golden hurt his right knee in the fourth quarter against San Francisco. Golden has since been put on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
“I’m ready for that opportunity to showcase what I can do,” said Martin, who has been known more for his special teams prowess. “This type of opportunity, it doesn’t come around often and so I got to take advantage of it, grasp it and make the most of it.”
Already the Cardinals have seen Martin take hold of an opportunity. Back in training camp and the preseason, he won the No. 3 outside linebacker competition, putting him in position to spell Golden or Chandler Jones when needed.
Now Martin is needed.
At 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, Martin certainly has the size to be successful. More importantly, he’s grown into the position after being drafted — third round (84th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft — out of college as a defensive end.
“Stronger, being a standing-up player now for a couple more years than he was,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “When he first got here, he always had his hand in the dirt. That’s hard to do. But, he’s getting more physical.”
So, while Martin possesses the size, rookie Haason Reddick possesses the speed.
Reddick, too, will see some time at outside linebacker. The question is how much time.
“That’s up to the coaches,” he said this week. “I was asked to help out there, which I’m willing to do but how much I play and how often I’m there that I don’t know.”
The Cardinals drafted Reddick, the 13th overall pick, to play inside because of the ability, including dropping into coverage. But it was outside, as a defensive end, where he excelled at Temple.
The plan was to bring Reddick along slowly, to have him learn from starters Deone Bucannon and Karlos Dansby. That plan, however, changed when Bucannon underwent offseason ankle surgery, costing him nearly all of training camp and the first three games of the season.
Now that Bucannon is healthy, and obviously the need with Golden sidelined, the Cardinals will use Reddick some at outside linebacker, while still having some packages for him inside the box.
“It’s part of the job,” Reddick said, admitting he’ll be doing a lot of learning on the fly. “This is the task that I was handed with this week, and it’s my job to be able to know everything and what I have to do come Sunday. Rushing the passer will always be the same. There’s some differences but nothing that’s too different.
“We’ll have to see what J.B. (defensive coordinator James Bettcher) comes up with, what creative packages he comes up with for this weekend. How everything works out.”
Bettcher wouldn’t get into specifics about his plans for Reddick, and really, what coordinator is going to reveal the game plan just days away from kickoff? He did, though, express confidence in Reddick, who unlike Martin, stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 235 pounds.
“Robert Mathis (former Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker) was — I had him on the scale one time it was like 212 pounds. He’d probably wrestle with me if he knew I told somebody that but that’s what he really was. He was 212 on the scale in season but no one could block him and he could power and bowl anyone,” said Bettcher, who was Mathis’ position coach in 2012. “(The size) doesn’t matter. When you got speed and you have power, you can rush on the edge. And it’s just learning how to use the speed and how to use the power will be the next thing for (Reddick).”
Both Martin and Reddick will be tested Sunday in Philadelphia.
Not only do the Eagles have a quarterback in Carson Wentz who can be difficult to contain within the pocket, they also have a running back, LeGarrette Blount, who last week against the Los Angeles Chargers rushed for a season-high 136 yards on just 16 attempts.
“The running game goes as he goes,” Martin said.
As a team, the Eagles attacked the Chargers for 214 yards on the ground.
Dating back to last season, the Cardinals have held each of their last six opponents under 100 rushing yards. In addition, they have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 17 straight games. Both marks represent the longest active streaks in the NFL.
“No edge, no chance is what we like to say,” Martin said. “If we don’t seal off the edge, Chandler and everybody, then he’s going to run all day. That’s something we take week-in and week-out is setting that edge so that we can get the ball back to our interior guys so ‘Los (Dansby) and those guys can play free because when you make that short edge, it’s just make for tackles for losses and makes defense a lot easier.”