Bruce Arians; “He can be our best”
In every players career, they strive to be one of the best, if not the best. That does not exclude a Cardinals corner from a small school.
Justin Bethel was drafted in 2012 during Ken Whisenhunts final draft class. The sixth round pick out of small Presbyterian College was drafted because of his abilities on special teams and ability to play everywhere in the secondary. He instantly became our special teams ace, helping Dave Zastudil shatter the record for most punts downed inside the 20 yard line. His career as a member of the secondary looked shady however.
Ray Horton loved the idea of playing Bethel at safety, corner, and in the nickle. The idea was overwhelming for the rookie from a small college.
“I was playing nickel, corner, safety, and it was overload,” Bethel said. “There was no way I was going to do it. I couldn’t soak it all in, especially coming from that small school”…
Following Whisenhunts canning, and Arians sending Ray Horton packing, Arians sat down with Todd Bowles and decided that Bethel would focus all of his time on playing corner.
…”Last year, once I realized I was just playing corner, I dedicated everything to getting my speed down, working on my hips, working on technique. I am happy I’m in a position to go out and do something. I don’t take it for granted.”
It’s uncertain where Bethel fits on the team right now. We all know he’s one of the best special teams players in the league, but his standing in the secondary is what fans will be watching. He sits behind Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie as of now, with Tyrann Mathieu and Jerraud Powers as well. While Mathieu is out, if he is out, Bethel will get some playing time, that’s clear. But once Mathieu returns, it will come down to Powers and Bethel to take the final defensive minutes.
However, Bruce Arians has hope that Bethel can be one of the top corners in the league, and even thinks Bethel can top Patrick Peterson one day.
“He can be our best,” said Arians, not flinching once considering he has Patrick Peterson in his locker room.
Whether this is truly an endorsement of Bethel’s talents, or just a ploy to get Peterson to step up his performance, is yet to be seen. But fans look at Bethel and see the talent he has to be one of the better corners in the league. He’s fast and quick to shed a block, and he is willing to sacrifice his body to make a tackle.
Bethel has time. He has an entire season to prove Bruce Arians correct on his assumption. Will he? It’s wait and see from here on out, but fans will be keeping an eye on him when he’s on the field defensively.
Phoenix Sports-Kings Contributor Alex Mann @mannrotb