Cardinals’ Bucannon bulks up in preparation for 2016 season

Jul 28, 2016, 6:08 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2016, 11:28 am

Cardinals $LB Deone Bucannon looks down during the team's conditioning test at training camp July 2...

Cardinals $LB Deone Bucannon looks down during the team's conditioning test at training camp July 28, 2016. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson said he did not work out with Deone Bucannon during the offseason.

“He works out like lifting houses and stuff,” he said, adding his goal was to lose weight while Bucannon’s was to gain some.

And gain weight Bucannon did, as he noticeably added about eight or nine pounds, putting him at around 217 or 218.

“I don’t know about a house, but I can lift, hopefully, a good amount,” Bucannon said with a laugh when told of Jefferson’s comment.

A third-year pro who entered the NFL as a 211-pound safety but has played mostly near the line of scrimmage, Bucannon said he was looking for ways to improve over the offseason, and decided bulking up would help.

“If that’s getting bigger, that’s getting faster, I’m all for it,” he said.

Officially listed in the media guide and on the depth chart as a $LB, Bucannon said he gained about eight or nine pounds and is hopeful it will allow him to maintain his strength during the grind that is an entire NFL season.

That’s not to say he wore down late last season, he said, it’s just that, as he noted, he was at about 209 pounds the final weeks of the 2015 campaign and that’s not a good place for him to be.

“I feel like 209 pounds going against 300 pounders is probably not a good matchup,” he said. “I figured I’d put on a little more weight so I can carry it all throughout the season.”

It’s more about dealing with the wear and tear that comes with playing in the NFL than anything else.

Bucannon led the Cardinals last season with 127 tackles, 104 of which were unassisted. He added 17 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception, four passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

While the coaching staff would certainly like to see Bucannon take another step forward, the idea to put on weight was the player’s, who said the coaches were good with whatever he wanted to do. However, Bucannon knew he had to be smart about it.

“I love being in the weight room and I love working out, so I felt just as long as I control that and I don’t get too big, because I don’t want to lose speed, just getting that medium,” he said.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is pleased with what he’s seen from his dollar linebacker.

“He’s had that natural weight gain; he hasn’t lost any speed or quickness,” he said. “The more he plays that position, he’s just going to get better and better.”

At this point it is evident that Bucannon’s future in the NFL, at least as a Cardinal, is not as a safety. While he has never given any indication that he had a problem with the role, the 23-year-old is now at a point where he not only accepts it, but embraces it.

“That’s me, that’s my position — money linebacker, I’m a rover — that’s me,” he said. “There’s no in-between about it. I love the position I play, I love being able to have the opportunity to come out on the field and play for the Cardinals, and whatever that is, I don’t care where they put me, as long as I’m on that field it’s all good.”

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