Pro Bowler Budda Baker taking leadership role seriously for growing Cardinals

Jan 5, 2024, 7:58 AM | Updated: 1:17 pm

Budda Baker...

Budda Baker has taken on more of a mentor role while still earning his sixth Pro Bowl honors. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker was just named to a sixth Pro Bowl in seven seasons, but his season hasn’t just been about him.

Baker leads a secondary group for the Cardinals which has included heavy playing time for three rookies: third-round pick Garrett Williams, sixth-round pick Kei’Trel Clark and undrafted Starling Thomas V, who got to Arizona by way of the Detroit Lions.

“I understand what it feels like to be a rookie playing football on an NFL team,” Baker told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday. “Just continuing to be patient and continuing to give the guys the keys to the car, just trying to help guys to the best of my availability.”

Baker hasn’t stuffed the stat sheet in the ways he’s used to this season — has doesn’t have a pass defensed, sack, forced fumble or interception — but his impact has still been felt. He said a “one day at a time” approach has been a big key to taking the 4-12 season in stride.

It helps that the rookies in his defensive back room have improved significantly over the course of the season.

“I know the record doesn’t speak for it, but I definitely feel like everyone is getting better each and every week,” Baker said.

He credits the new regime for instilling a new culture which has allowed the younger players to blossom and says “the sky’s the limit for the organization” going forward.

The three rookies have combined for 99 tackles, including six for a loss and 10 passes defensed over 33 games (19 starts). Williams added an interception.

Baker, meanwhile, is second on the team in tackles with 77, including five for a loss. That’s despite appearing in only 11 games so far.

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