Cardinals linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (left) has a laugh with new Cardinals linebacker -- and old friend -- Markus Golden Thursday.
Markus Golden was hanging out with all the other Cardinals' rookies in the team cafeteria Thursday when veteran linebacker Sean Weatherspoon made a quick detour on his way out of the facility.
Weatherspoon wanted to say hello to his old friend Golden.
The one-time Missouri star and the freshly minted Missouri product go back several years, from the time Markus' older brother Sherman committed with Weatherspoon to play football at the school. Markus Golden has known Weatherspoon since he was in seventh grade and "he was always giving me great advice," Golden said.
"He was one of my mentors," Golden added.
Now, after Golden was the team's second-round draft pick, they are teammates.
The Cardinals are counting on Weatherspoon to anchor their linebacking corps, and the sooner Golden can emerge as an outside linebacker threat, the better off the unit will be. At 6-foot-2 and a planned 260 pounds (he was about 10 pounds under that coming in), Golden believes he will be everything the Cardinals are hoping he can become.
For coach Bruce Arians and General Manager Steve Keim, it was comparisons to former Steelers greats James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, respectively. (The same Woodley who now happens to be Golden's teammate in Arizona.)
"It starts with his first step," Keim said. "The way he's built, he's so powerful and explosive through his hips, and then he plays with such a relentless motor."
It's that motor that the Cardinals love. Keim has acknowledged Golden might not have the measurables that project, but what he does have is a "want-to" that doesn't go away. To a man, the decision makers with the Cards have said when watching Missouri tape, it was impossible not to notice Golden making plays over and over.
It fits, because that's exactly how Golden sees himself.
"When you put on those pads, it doesn't matter how tall you are, how long your arms are, all that matters is that you're going to make plays," Golden said. "I don't look at all the measurables."
There is no motivation from the doubt. He had 10 sacks last season and simply believes in his own ability. He shrugged off the idea he was overshadowed in college by fellow star pass rushers Michael Sam and Shane Ray – "You come down to Missouri, I get just as much love as they do," Golden said with a grin – and insisted his work ethic will get him to where he needs to be.
"My mom and dad always told me to go hard at everything I do, and my big brothers taught me how to play the game," Golden said. "I'm a relentless player. I can't really say what it is, I just love the game."
Golden said he plays for his family, which not only included parents and siblings and cousins but now a son, after Markus Golden, Jr., was born earlier this week. In some ways, he's also playing with family, now that he's been reunited with Weatherspoon.
"He hit me up before the draft, saying he was hoping I'd be a Cardinal," Golden said. "When I got drafted, he was trying to tell me he convinced them to take me."
WIDE RECEIVER SLAUGHTER CUT
The Cardinals needed to create a roster spot after claiming cornerback Alfonzo Dennard off waivers, and did so Thursday by releasing wide receiver Nathan Slaughter. Slaughter had been signed in late March after taking part in the NFL Veterans Combine.
The draft picks and other rookies arrive at the Cardinals' training facility