Cardinals’ Budda Baker preps to face Patriots run game led by Cam Newton
For the first time in his four-year career, Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker is preparing to face a team with quarterback Cam Newton at the helm.
Now with the New England Patriots, Newton and Co. will host the Cardinals for a Week 12 matchup on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
“This is my first time playing against Cam Newton,” Baker said via Zoom after practice on Friday. “They’re a running team that wants to run the ball, whether that’s running back runs or QB runs.”
And although the stature of Newton and Cardinals QB Kyler Murray is miles apart, the scoring production on the ground between the two is nearly identical.
Through the first 11 weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Murray leads all quarterbacks with 10 rushing touchdowns. Newton is right behind him with nine.
“That’s another thing that we have to look at and have looked at throughout the week,” Baker added. “Cam can also throw the ball and is a great runner. They use him in the scheme a lot, so we’ve definitely been paying attention to all those types of things.”
Baker noted that the Patriots love to run the ball, especially out of 21 personnel (two TEs, one RB). The safety then highlighted the dangers of having a multi-dimensional tailback coming out of the backfield of a run-centric team.
“A guy like running back No. 28 [James] White can catch screens, run the ball also — just a great third-down back,” Baker said.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup, the Cardinals’s 157.7 rushing yards per game is the second-most in the league, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots rank fourth with 153.6 per contest.
And with Arizona’s rushing defense giving up an average of 124.7 yards per game (23rd in NFL), it won’t be an easy day at the office for the two-time Pro Bowl selection.
Having already been named to two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons in the league, Baker is atop the voting charts at the safety position this season. He’ll have to play like it for Arizona to properly defend New England’s multi-faceted offense.
Baker said it’s an honor to be leading Pro Bowl votes, but that’s not his goal.
“It’s a great thing to be leading safeties in Pro Bowl [voting],” he said. “But for me, I’m trying to make it to the Super Bowl.
“We’re just trying to take it day by day, week by week and I feel like as long as I continue to play at a high level, I feel like the team can get more Ws. So that’s all on my mind and that’s what I try to do.”
The Cardinals kick off against the Patriots at 11 a.m. Arizona time on Sunday.
Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.