Cardinals S Jalen Thompson taking next step to further establish himself

Jun 11, 2022, 7:55 PM | Updated: 7:59 pm
Jalen Thompson #34 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before the game against the Seattle Seahawks a...
Jalen Thompson #34 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on November 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Three-time Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker has been telling fellow starting safety Jalen Thompson — and anyone in ear shot — that he shouldn’t be the only Arizona Cardinals safety in the Pro Bowl this coming season.

Thompson is entering his fourth year in the NFL and the fifth-round pick out of Washington State still isn’t that heralded of a name despite his strong level of play pretty much since he began getting snaps.

An injury-plagued 2020 robbed him of the type of season he had last year where Thompson essentially proclaimed he was here to stay. Thompson led the Cardinals in solo tackles (79), assisted tackles (42) and total tackles (121). He added three interceptions, seven passes deflected, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.

The Pro Bowl isn’t too lofty of a goal for one of the most underrated players in the NFL.

“Just looking forward to taking that next step,” Thompson said Thursday. “Kind of being that leader of the defense, leader of the team. I feel like that’s going to just come with hard work, knowing the plays and knowing my job inside and out.”

A lot of that, of course, comes down to his relationship with Baker. Thompson called Baker a brother and said there’s nothing there in terms of one overshadowing the other.

The two hung out at Baker’s house in the offseason, indulging in what has become a heated ping pong rivalry. There was already a natural connection there from their colleges, as Baker starred at the University of Washington while Thompson was at rival Washington State.

Despite how much Thompson has already proved, his mentality hasn’t changed since his rookie year.

“Just that take every day serious and that no job is secure,” Thompson said. “I go in there every day working and knowing that the next guy is trying to take my spot. This is my profession. I take this serious.”

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