ARIZONA CARDINALS

Deone Bucannon not looking to bulk up more in offseason

Jan 5, 2017, 3:03 PM | Updated: 6:33 pm

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (25) eludes the reach of Arizona Cardinals outside ...

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson (25) eludes the reach of Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Deone Bucannon (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

TEMPE, Ariz. — It did not take long for Deone Bucannon to emerge as an integral part of the Cardinals’ defense, when as a rookie in 2014 the player who was drafted as a safety moved into a linebacker slot and went on to finish with 83 total tackles and two sacks.

The following season, 2015, he really broke out, leading the team with 112 total tackles to go along with three sacks, three passes defensed and his first career interception.

Many figured 2016 would offer more of the same as Bucannon, now in the $ LB role, bulked up and seemed primed to continue his ascension. However, the third-year pro stumbled some, posting 91 tackles, no sacks and six tackles for loss in 13 games played before an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve.

“Definitely frustrating,” Bucannon said of the way his season finished. “I want to be out there, I want to play, so it’s something that was just kind of messing with me the whole year, my ankle. So it’s just unfortunate, but I’m going to come back stronger next year and figure out things I need to work on and just get better.”

Bucannon said his ankle had been bothering him since around Week 4, and from there it lingered until finally leading to him being shut down later in the season. It will not need surgery, he said, and he expects to be alright.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians feels the same way.

“Yeah, that ankle – that’s why we didn’t know if he’d have to have surgery, because it was chronic,” he said. “But, now it looks like it’s healing itself better.”

Arians was asked if there was a possibility a healthy Bucannon could be moved back to safety, the position he played at Washington State, to which he replied no.

“Buc’s got his spot,” he said. “He’s a very unique player. Very few guys can do what he does. We can always play him at safety in a role, but to take him out of being the disruptor he is up front, I don’t think would be good for us.”

Part of what makes Bucannon so unique for his role is that while he hits like a linebacker, he is built like a safety. He is listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, and this offseason his goal is to get faster, not bigger.

“I’m not looking to gain more weight,” he said. “I’m never going to be that 250-pound guy; that’s not the player I am.

“I’m going to keep my speed and I’m going to just try to improve my hands and just different things — a lot more so linebacker-type training. But I want to be able to keep my speed and be able to do all the things fast.”

Bucannon added he is not the type of player who is going to run through blockers, but instead will get around them and get to gaps quicker in order to make stops in the backfield.

“That’s my type of style, and that’s what I’m trying to just improve — improve that, my hands, my feet — just get better.”

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