Justin Bethel wants to be a cornerback, but will still shine on special teams regardless

May 27, 2015, 2:46 PM | Updated: 2:46 pm
...
LISTEN: Justin Bethel, Cardinals defensive back

Justin Bethel has been to a pair of Pro Bowls, reaching the NFL’s All-Star game due to his special teams prowess.

Though he would like to emerge as a cornerback in the league, excelling on special teams is something the 24-year-old is proud of.

“For me, it’s always just if I’m going to be doing it, I might as well just being the best at it,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “I’ve done special teams since I was in high school, basically.”

Essentially, there really hasn’t been a time when Bethel wasn’t a factor on special teams. He said he figured making an impact there would help him land a job in the NFL after the Cardinals took him in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Presbyterian.

“I saw that I was going to be able to be really good at it, so knowing that I probably wasn’t going to get to play as much defensive back because of the great backs we had,” he said. “I was like, you know, I’m just going to go out there and do my part and do everything I can to help the team win.”

He’s done that.

Coaches often talk about the importance of special teams, citing it as a crucial part of every game. While most fans usually think of its impact in terms of returners and kickers, Bethel — whose main jobs are to come off the edge in an effort to block field goals as well as serve as a gunner on punts — has proven to be one of the most valuable special teams players in the entire NFL.

In 2014, he finished with 18 total special teams tackles along with one forced fumble and a blocked kick. The block, which came against the Dallas Cowboys, was the third of his career.

But this season, while Bethel would like to prove he is more than a special teams ace, there are no plans to make special teams a thing of the past. He pointed to safety Rashad Johnson as someone who played safety while also helping out in kick coverage, so if that’s what the coaches want him to do, he’s ready. The only difference, he said, would be needing to be in even better shape to handle the increased snap count.

It’s part of the reason he is confident the coaching staff will give him every opportunity to step up and earn a job as a cornerback.

“Just to see if I can do it,” he said. “If I can do it I could be another great asset for the team and, maybe, hopefully, be able to stay here longer. And if not, I’m still a great special teams player.

“So they kind of have a win-win.”

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals defense celebrate and pose for a picture in front of a media photographer aft...
Arizona Sports

Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals to debut Nov. 9

The premier date for Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals is set for Wednesday, Nov. 9 on HBO and HBO Max.
23 hours ago
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns takes off his helmet as he warms up during the Cleveland ...
Associated Press

Deshaun Watson suspension appeal ‘right thing to do,’ says Roger Goodell

Commissioner Roger Goodell said he feels the NFL needed to keep pushing for a year-long suspension for Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson.
23 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals RB Eno Benjamin runs through drills during the Red & White practice on Saturday, ...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals notebook: RB Eno Benjamin’s confidence ‘through the roof’

It's all about staying locked into the moment when Cardinals RB Eno Benjamin gets the starting nod against the Bengals on Friday.
23 hours ago
Cortez Davis #18 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors makes an interception against Jalen Cropper #5 of t...
Jake Anderson

Arizona Cardinals sign rookie cornerback Cortez Davis

The Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday signed rookie cornerback Cortez Davis, adding depth to a highly-competitive position battle.
23 hours ago
The Cincinnati Bengals announced Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, that Paul Brown Stadium will be called Payc...
Associated Press

Cardinals visit Bengals on Friday at renamed Paycor Stadium

The home of the Cincinnati Bengals will no longer carry the name of team founder and NFL pioneer Paul Brown.
23 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals' Marco Wilson runs drills during the NFL football team's training camp at State F...
Arizona Sports

Marco Wilson knows he’s earned nothing in Cardinals’ CB rotation

Arizona Cardinals second-year pro Marco Wilson is aware that relative success his rookie year hasn't cemented his place as the No. 2 corner.
23 hours ago
Justin Bethel wants to be a cornerback, but will still shine on special teams regardless