A safety coming out of high school, a defensive end in college, an inside linebacker when he was drafted and then an outside linebacker after an injury.
Haason Reddick knows moving. So now that he’s moving again – playing strongside outside linebacker in the Cardinals’ new 4-3 base defense following the 3-4 alignment they had when he was a rookie – there is little concern.
“I have the athletic ability to, if I put my mind to it, to play wherever they put me on the field,” Reddick said. “Wherever they want me to be.”
And, in some ways, whoever they might want Reddick to be.
The template for coach Steve Wilks and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb – who was formerly a linebackers coach in Carolina – comes from the Panthers, where they happened to have a couple of very good linebackers in Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
Maybe the Cardinals’ version of the duo, Reddick and Deone Bucannon, didn’t set out to be that. (Bucannon was a safety in college.) But with Bucannon on the weak side calling the defense and Reddick manning the other (with Josh Bynes slated for the middle), the Cardinals feel they have their own front seven anchors.
“(Linebackers coach) Larry (Foote) is doing a tremendous job teaching them the fundamentals of the defense, and everything we do is gap integrity,” Wilks said. “So it takes a lot of the thinking out.”
There is clarity on defensive assignments, so that will help Reddick with his move.
As a rookie, Reddick didn’t have as much of an impact as he had hoped for (23 total tackles, 2½ sacks). He is, of course, learning a new defense as well. But he said he feels like he has a greater understanding of everything NFL these days, not a surprise given that he is no longer a rookie.
“He’s catching on to everything quick,” Bucannon said of Reddick. “This year it be easier for him because he has an emptier cup. I have four years of (the previous) defense, I have to empty my cup. Fill it with this new stuff. Some people hate change. I love change.”
The pedigree should be there. Both Reddick and Bucannon are one-time first-round draft picks, players that need to be the cornerstones of the roster. That they are playing positions of high-profile guys from Wilks’ last defense does not change how to approach the job, Reddick insisted.
“The only competition I have with any linebacker from Carolina or any linebacker anywhere is that I am trying to be the best,” Reddick said. “I am trying to be the best Haason Reddick I can be. I’m not Luke Kuechly, I’m not Thomas Davis. I’m Haason Reddick. I’m not trying to live up to anyone else (Wilks) has had.”
At this point, he’s just trying to find a consistent home on the field.
“Haason is doing a fantastic job,” Bucannon said. “He’s exactly where he needs to be.”
OTA Day Eight
Images from the eighth OTA on Tuesday afternoon