Minter Next Man Up
“It was a little bit frustrating last year, but at the same time, you couldn’t help but learn,” Minter said. “Karlos treated it like a business. He came to work every day to work, whether it was eating the right things, watching film, doing extra workouts. He was a great role model. With what he left, I feel like I can pick up the slack.”
Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Kevin Minter was quoted of saying this after he was forced to sit behind Karlos Dansby who was signed late in free agency last season. Minter was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals, and was expected to start right away. Dansby, (now age 32) was merely brought in to play a sort of “stop gap” player until Daryl Washington returned from a four game suspension at the beginning of the season. Karlos was quick to impress however, and seamed to pick up where he left off as a dominant force on defense, before he left for Miami via free agency.
It wasn’t really much about Minter’s ability to play the position, but when you pair two guys like Washington and Dansby together, suddenly it becomes a powerful combination, that was just inconceivable to break up. Dansby indeed left the team yet again, this time to Cleveland, perhaps using his incredible season as a stepping stone for a big free-agent contract. It is now Minters turn to step up and feel the shoes that Karlos left behind as he’ll finally get his chance (barring any other late free-agent linebacker acquisitions). Kevin did reach out to thank Dansby though, and how much he appreciated being able to learn from him.
Minter is only in his second season. He can’t be expected to be as mentally advanced as 10-year vet Dansby was. That only comes with experience, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles noted.
“There are things Karlos can do that Kevin can’t, but there are things Kevin can do that Karlos can’t,” Bowles added. “Kevin is a damn good football player. If he comes in and plays like Kevin and everyone does their job, he’ll be fine. There’s no more pressure on Kevin to replace Karlos other than him playing Mike linebacker.”
Kevin does not possess the prototypical 6-foot-4-inch height of an inside linebacker like Dansby, but with a frame with thighs as big as propane tanks, and a high motor, he is poised and ready to step right and make an impact.
“He doesn’t need to be Karlos,” defensive coordinator Bowles said. “He needs to be Kevin.”
The young man isn’t worried about being the next Dansby. He has worked to improve his skills, and believes enough in his abilities, that he can quickly step into the NFL’s 6th ranked defense as of last season, and he is anxious to get started.
Minter knows the team expects a lot out of him as a player with second round status written all over his chest. Sure he would have liked to play more than just one snap his entire rookie season, but Kevin now understands the growth that players go through so much between their rookie and second year transitions, because he got to see first-hand what it takes to be a successful.
“The position isn’t mine yet, it’s a competition,” Minter said. “But with what I can do and how I am preparing for this offseason, I feel I will turn some heads.”
Phoenix Sport-Kings contributor Jason Mulkey @_JayBird79