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Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes embracing HC Steve Wilks’ grit

(AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Despite being a first-year head coach in the NFL, Steve Wilks has proven in his short time at the helm of the Arizona Cardinals that he has a commanding presence among players and staff.

As the Cardinals hit the field this week for their first round of organized team activities (OTAs), Wilks wasted little time setting the standard and raising the bar of expectations on the field.

For veteran linebacker Josh Bynes, the direction the team is headed in a short time is a welcoming experience.

“Steve Wilks definitely has some grit,” Bynes told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf on Friday. “He is definitely a coach that wants to be productive right now.”

Part of the production starts with the Cardinals’ new-look defense. Switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense under Wilks and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, putting players in situations that best fit their abilities has been the key for the coaching staff this offseason.

Bynes believes Wilks has been successful thus far in doing just that.

“I think that he is doing a phenomenal job in putting us in the right direction and putting everybody in the best position on the field,” Bynes said. “That’s the perfect time for these OTAs, seeing what we can and can’t do.

“He’s doing that, the staff is doing that. The expectations are really high for each and every one of us.”

Part of the transition with the defense involves Bynes making the move to middle linebacker next season, filling the void left by Karlos Dansby.

Familiar with the position from his time in high school and in college at Auburn, Bynes is embracing his new role as the center-piece of the defense.

“I just love being the guy in the middle, dictating the defense and taking control,” he said. “I love having that feeling of knowing that everybody can trust that I can give them the right call in the right situation.”

Bynes joined the Cardinals in August after spending three years in Detroit and Baltimore. He was re-signed by the Cardinals in March to a reported three-year contract worth up to $10 million.

Last season, he played in 14 games — starting in one — for Arizona. Bynes made 24 tackles to go with 1.0 sack, two forced fumbles and one interception.

He will now lead a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last season in fewest yards allowed per game, as well as the fewest rushing yards.

And with key starters returning to the front-seven next season — including defensive end Markus Golden from injury — Bynes is confident the defense will have yet another strong showing.

“We’ve got some really good guys up front,” he said. “It’s going to be tremendous to see.”

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