“Next man up” has been the slogan that Steve Keim and Bruce Arians have used since they took over as General Manager and Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals. It means they will not panic if there is an injury or a suspension, they will trust their depth and trust the next person in line will be able to handle their duties.
Over the offseason as the Cardinals lost linebackers Karlos Dansby to free agency and Daryl Washington to suspension, there is no player with more eyes on him to be that next man up than second yard linebacker Kevin Minter. As training camp begins in Glendale, Minter has a confidence that he is eager and ready to return to a starting role for the first time since his time at Louisiana State.
“It’s pretty surreal getting into the starting role again,” Minter explained. “But it is what they brought me in here to do and it’s my time.”
“It seemed like it took forever to get here but now that it’s here, everybody’s anxious and I can’t wait,” he added.
Karlos Dansby was sensational in Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles’ system. He had a career best 114 solo tackles, 19 pass deflections and a career best four interceptions. He was the anchor and leader for a Cardinals defense which was among the elite in 2013. All the while, the then rookie Kevin Minter was able to learn and see what it takes not only in the Cardinals system, but also in the league with what his teammate did last season.
“Really just how to be a professional,” Minter mentioned. “How to prepare whether it be nutrition, getting ready for practice, really everything. Coming in from college, you kind of just line up and play. But it is a lot more than that at this level.”
“It’s obviously going to be hard to fill Karlos’ shoes, he had a great season last year and I learned a lot from him,” he added. “Hopefully I bring a lot of energy to this team and I am hoping everything works out.”
Minter himself will be lining up in the exact role Dansby was in last year and Arians has mentioned that Minter may be better in defending the run game than Dansby was based on his skill set. The former 45th overall pick of the Cardinals in 2013 was brought in to be the future at this position.
Now with him stepping up at the pro level, he couldn’t help but recall the similar feeling and pressure that came while at LSU. He was named a starter in 2011 and by the time he left in 2013, he earned consensus first-team All-SEC honors on the way to being named the team’s most valuable player along with topping multiple All-American lists.
“I feel like I have answered the call once, I know I can do it again,” he stated.
Despite the noticeable losses to players that played such major roles on the team last season, Minter believes the Cardinals are in a position to be just as good, if not better.
“It can be amazing,” Minter said. “With this team coming in, if everyone is on the same page, this team can be amazing this year. With all this talent, it would be a shame for all of us to not come together and perform. I feel there is more talent than there was last year.”