Safety Deone Bucannon has played 228 snaps this season as he fills the role of "dollar" linebacker in the nickel package.
In the land of the linebackers, where safety Deone Bucannon has lived so far as a rookie, intelligence goes beyond just understanding the playbook.
"Now that I am in there and it's all 300-pounders (blocking), I feel like I have to get some speed first, and hit them before they hit me," said the 210-pound Bucannon, who has started his career as the "dollar" linebacker role in defensive
coordinator Todd Bowles' nickel package. "(If) they gain speed … that's just physics.
"It's not looking good on my side."
So far, Bucannon has played a ton – 228 snaps on defense through five games. Not once, Bucannon said, has he been lined up as a traditional safety. He has embraced the role, craving both the chance to hit someone on every play – his favorite part of the game – and the ability to play a lot as a rookie.
Besides, the Cardinals have a lot of capable safeties, with Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson and Tyrann Mathieu.
There have been college-safeties-turned-NFL-linebackers before, including Brian Urlacher and Thomas Davis. But Bucannon doesn't see that for himself. He's a safety first, biding his time until he can really earn a spot further back in the defense.
"Oh no. No, no, no. I definitely see myself as a long-term safety," the team's No. 1 draft pick said. "Safety is my position. Safety is what I love to play. But this just broadens my horizons.
"It doesn't really matter. Safety, linebacker, drop in the box, it just helps me. Coaches can see I can do it. For the time being, I am happy to play in the place I am playing, and I am playing a lot. There is a lot of trust they are putting in me."
CLEANING UP THE MISTAKES
Coach Bruce Arians said the coaches found the team made 20 mental errors against Washington – on each side of the ball. With 40 total mental errors, a season-high 14 penalties and an offense that didn't put the ball in the end zone enough, Arians wasn't about to give the players a "Victory Monday." Not yet.
At least the Cards were doing it after a win.
"I learned a long time ago from coach (Bear) Bryant, there's nothing you can't learn from almost losing that can from losing," Arians said.
PALMER FEELS GOOD
The day after quarterback Carson Palmer played for the first time in a month and threw 44 passes, Arians said he was feeling good.
"We should be able to just get better and better and stronger," Arians said of Palmer.
FROSTEE HANGS IN THERE ON DEFENSIVE LINE
With Calais Campbell and Matt Shaughnessy out, the last thing the Cardinals needed was for veteran defensive lineman
Frostee Rucker to go down, but his troubling calf injury sent him to the locker room early in Sunday's game.
Rucker returned, but Arians said the calf problem is something Rucker will have to deal with all season, much like running back Andre Ellington will be dealing with his foot injury.
"I shouldn't miss any time," Rucker said. "I just want to make sure I don't hurt us by being out there."
Arians said there was a "slim" chance Campbell would be back this week.
NEEDING BETTER PETERSON
Early Monday, General Manager Steve Keim said he thought cornerback Patrick Peterson needed to work on his focus. Arians said Sunday's performance for the team's top defensive back was "not good for him."
"He got beat on an inside route when he was supposed to have inside technique -- can't happen," Arians said. "When you're playing inside man-to-man you have to force the guy outside. It was not his best game."
Arians said when Peterson struggles, he thinks it's more about being overaggressive or relying too much on getting a jam.
"Most of his (issues) are technique," Arians said.