ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona Cardinals’ Deone Bucannon making his mark at different position

Nov 18, 2014, 12:46 AM | Updated: 1:09 am

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“With the 27th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select safety Deone Bucannon from Washington State.”

That’s what NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced back in early May — emphasis on the word ‘safety.’

That’s the position Bucannon played during a stellar collegiate career in Pullman; it was certainly where the Cardinals planned to play him during his rookie season.

But things changed. Most notably, inside linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for the entire 2014 season, making it necessary for head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to be flexible and creative in coming up with a plan for 2014.

Part of that plan was to utilize the rookie in the dollar linebacker position — a hybrid of safety and linebacker — in the middle of the Cardinals’ defense.

“Coach Bowles trusted me with such a big position and such big responsibility, and I’m honored and I’m thankful for that,” Bucannon told Bickley and Marotta Monday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

The 22-year-old admitted the learning curve has been steep this season.

“Honestly, the first thing I had to learn was different offensive line fronts, understanding when guards pull and how to adjust my gaps and how to get over and reading the surface,” he said. “That was probably the toughest to know right away because when you’re at safety, you have 10 or 15 yards to diagnose a play. When you’re a linebacker, you have two to five yards to diagnose a whole play and react a lot faster.”

As a First Team All-American and Pac-12 selection in 2013, Bucannon was very comfortable with what his coaches asked him to do at the collegiate level. They never asked him to do anything like what he’s been called on to deliver this year.

“Never, I was always at safety,” he said. “Sometimes, I would drop down, but it really wouldn’t be in the box, it would kind of be outside the box — I’d play more of an outside linebacker. But no, this is the first time.”

He’s learned it quickly. Bucannon is fourth on the Cardinals in total tackles, has four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. And he’s retained his reputation as a big hitter that followed him to the NFL.

His coaches have praised him, as well as his teammates.

“He’s seeing the game from a totally different perspective, so we knew it was going to take a few weeks to come along to where we needed him to be,” safety Rashad Johnson told Burns and Gambo Monday. “Right now he’s hitting his stride and playing great.

“He’s doing a great job for us filling in at that position. He’s going to be a really, really special player for the Cardinals for years to come, just because his mindset and his drive for perfection. I’ve never met someone as young as him who is just so hungry to get it right every time.”

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Arizona Cardinals fans hold a sign in memory of the victims of Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings during the first half of an NFL football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt makes a call against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley (14) warms up prior to an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells (26) gains yards as Detroit Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey (21) pursues during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) breaks the tackle of Detroit Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Arizona Cardinals tight end Jeff King (87) breaks the tackle of Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) tries to escape the tackle of Detroit Lions cornerback Jacob Lacey (21) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) warms up before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is pressured by Arizona Cardinals defensive end David Carter (79) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) 
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) makes a catch as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure (25) scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) cannot pull in a pass as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Detroit Lions outside linebacker DeAndre Levy (54) makes an interception as Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) pursues during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) looks to gain yardage as Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) defends during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws under pressure from Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett (90) during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals strong safety Rashad Johnson (49) and Daryl Washington during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley(14) celebrates a running touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) makes an interception to set up a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals' Rashad Johnson (49) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals' Patrick Peterson, left, intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson, right, during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Ryan Lindley (14) throws against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure (25) breaks a tackle by Arizona Cardinals cornerback William Gay (22) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) pulls in a pass as Arizona Cardinals strong safety Rashad Johnson defends during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York) Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells (26) stiff-arms Detroit Lions middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch (55) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) is tackled by Detroit Lions cornerback Chris Houston (23) during the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)
Arizona Cardinals' Greg Toler (28) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions as teammate Kerry Rhodes (25) follows during the second half in an NFL football game on Sunday Dec. 16, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 38-10. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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