Though running with the first-team some, Markus Golden ‘can do better’
Aug 4, 2015, 2:00 PM
(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
GLENDALE, Ariz. — On one side of the field, at outside linebacker, the Arizona Cardinals plan on lining up Alex Okafor.
A third-year pro out of Texas, Okafor led the Cardinals with eight sacks last season.
On the other side of the field, at the other outside linebacker spot, a mystery looms. Or, if not a mystery, a competition.
As far as contenders go, you have veteran Lorenzo Alexander along with a group of younger players. One of them, 2015 second-round draft pick Markus Golden, seems to be making a run early in camp.
During Monday’s training camp practice, the first the team held with pads on, the former Missouri Tiger got a good number of reps with the first-team defense.
However, Golden feels in no way like he has arrived.
“I’m doing good but I know I can do better,” the 24-year-old said. “I can do way better. Way better. I can do way better. So that’s what it’s about for me, just make sure I get better every day and not dwell on the bad stuff I do. Just make sure I move forward and learn from it.”
Though a bit unheralded in college, Golden was an excellent pass rusher for the Tigers, racking up 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons. A talented player, he may be even more well known for his motor, which is something Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said is a bit of an issue here in training camp.
“Very active, gets way too close to the quarterback — especially when he’s unblocked — he’s still got too much college in him in that regard, and we’ve talked about staying away from the quarterback,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “But I liked his movement and he should add some good pass rush for us.”
Toning things down, at least when facing off against teammates, is something Golden may have to learn. But probably more important than that, at least for the Cardinals’ prospects in 2015, is that he figures out how to get after opposing quarterbacks.
The Cardinals struggled there last season, ranking 24th in the NFL with just 35 sacks. And of those 35, just 14 came from the team’s linebackers. Take away Okafor’s eight and the number looks even worse.
Enter Golden, who the team is hoping can bring down his fair share of quarterbacks, so long as they’re on the other team. He thinks he’s on his way to being that kind of player, noting he feels pretty good about where he’s at in his development in the early days of training camp.
But there’s still plenty of room to grow.
“When you’re learning a new system, you’re learning new technique, you’ve got to get better at everything,” he said. “Keep what you know, but at the same time you’ve got to improve at everything, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”