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Cardinals LB Haason Reddick feels ‘settled in’ to new-look defense

Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum (4) throws under pressure from Arizona Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick (43) during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Not much went right for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018, if the team having the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft didn’t indicate that already.

But 2019 has a new feel to it, both offensively and defensively.

“It’s just a different vibe,” linebacker Haason Reddick told Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sport’s Station on Thursday.

“We brought in a lot of great pieces from coaching staff to players. Everyone understands what happened last year. We understand what people are saying about us, but we don’t listen to it. It’s just a different vibe. The energy is better going into training camp. I like where we are.”

A couple of those pieces are linebackers Jordan Hicks and future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs. Add those guys to the likes of D.J. Swearinger and Chandler Jones, and Arizona’s defense is poised to have a veteran core for new defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

“There’s a bunch of people,” Reddick said of the defensive leaders. “Terrell Suggs is out there as you’d expect. Chandler Jones is always bringing energy.

“D.J. Swearinger brings the swag and the energy, always has the positive message before and after practice. He just has these phrases that make you go ‘dang!’ Like just now he said, ‘If you want to go worst to first, it starts today.’ He calls the red zone ‘the dead zone’ because no one’s going to score here.

“Jordan Hicks is always there running the middle, getting people lined up, doing what he’s supposed to do. I’m just trying to fill my role as the young guy and help where I’m needed.”

The Cardinals ranked near the bottom of nearly every defensive category in 2018, most notably run defense. Arizona had the worst in the league, allowing an appalling 154.9 yards per game on the ground. With the team switching back to a 3-4, Reddick and Co. will look to return to their 2017 form that saw the club post the NFL’s sixth-best total and run defense.

“I like how we look on paper,” Reddick said. “We’ve got great pieces all the way across. We know what they’re saying about us and it’s about proving them wrong. Not for them, but for us. It’s about playing for each other.

“I feel settled in. I love this defense. I really love this defense. I feel like I’m a great fit for it and I just love the direction of where we want to go. I’m really honored to be a part of it.”

Reddick appeared in every game for the second straight season last year, posting 53 tackles, eight tackles for loss, four sacks, five pass defensed and one forced fumble in 12 starts.

The former 13th overall pick is going into his third NFL season and is beginning to follow the lead of the aforementioned veterans, taking younger, more unproven players under his wing.

“We have young guys like Dennis Gardeck, Zeke Turner,” Reddick said. “They stay asking questions, talking to me. They know how hard it was for me when I first got here. The situations they’re in, they always want to ask someone else, ‘How did you do it?’

“So I always give advice and help them out if they don’t understand. But being a leader is also asking someone else if you don’t understand something. It’s all about being a leader.”

Reddick has even reached out to rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray.

“I talked to him here and there, just trying to get and know him,” Reddick said.

“The work ethic, the way he knows the offense, he wants to be really, really good at what he’s doing. He’s one of the pieces they’re talking about a lot. I like what I see about him.

“He’s one of the people, aside from myself, I’m excited to see this year.”

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