Deone Bucannon broke on the ball, and for a moment, thought he had his first interception as a Cardinal. Instead, it glanced off his hand, and he let out a yelp of disgust.
“Almost,” the safety said afterward. “I should’ve gone with two hands instead of one. I’m not there yet.”
The Cardinals’ No. 1 draft pick was the centerpiece of Friday’s opening of rookie minicamp, held inside the team’s practice bubble at its Tempe facility. Not everything went right, but then again, not everything was supposed to go right.
“(Deone has) only got one problem -- He is so much a perfectionist,” coach Bruce Arians said. “It is paralysis by analysis right now
“Even Tyrann (Mathieu) told him, ‘Just play.’ You can’t play perfect all the time. But you do love that about him.”
Already, Bucannon had spent the week running with the second unit during organized team activities, sometimes rotating in with the first team. He had shadowed strong safety
It seems obvious Bucannon will be the starter at strong safety sooner rather than later. He is, after all, the team’s top pick. But Bucannon brushes that notion away, especially in May.
“With anything, the best player is going to play,” Bucannon said. “I want to be the best player. That’s my goal. However the coaches decide it, first round, second round, third round, fourth round, whatever, wherever I was picked I was going to come with the same mindset.
“My goal is to be a big part of this team. For that to happen, I can’t just jump into it. I have to earn respect from the players that have been here, the coaches. I have to show I can do the coverages, I can execute different schemes. I want to learn it all.”
Bucannon has gotten peer help. Each time he comes off the field, Mathieu – unable to practice while recovering from a knee injury -- is there to give him pointers and advice. Off the field, Bucannon’s locker is flanked by Mathieu and Jefferson, both of whom have provided insight.
Jefferson currently holds the spot that is expected to eventually be ceded to Bucannon, but Jefferson said that doesn’t matter.
“I let him know if he has a question with anything, ask me,” Jefferson said. “I plan on keeping it that way.
“It’s a battle but that’s on the field stuff. I’ll help him. We’re still a team. We’ve still got the same goals. Anyway I can help the team.”
Bucannon knows he has quality resources and emphasized he needs to take advantage.
“I appreciate them,” Bucannon said. “That’s all I can ask for. They don’t have to help me. They could leave me out to dry. But they choose to help.”
Still, he wants to come up with those interceptions in practice and make the right decisions every play. Bucannon is driven by the thought of what he hasn’t done yet, rather than what he has done.
“Being in the NFL won’t hit me until I have earned my place on this team,” Bucannon said. “When I go out there on a Sunday or Monday (to play in the regular season), when I see the crowd and the great fans, that’s when it will really hit me.
“Right now, I’m just trying to make the team. I don’t take anything for granted. They can cut me anytime. I’m not here to go through the motions.”