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Deone Bucannon, Haason Reddick Ready For Nickel Linebacker Challenge

Athletic duo must prove it can handle mental duties of important position

Haason Reddick and Deone Bucannon rave about the intelligence of fellow linebacker Josh Bynes.

The trio plays in the Cardinals' base defense together, and as it lines up pre-snap, Bynes regularly dissects formations and route combinations before they happen.

"He's almost like an extra coach when you put him on the field with us," Reddick said.

While Bynes is a great safety valve for Bucannon and Reddick in base, he's off the field in nickel formations – a personnel grouping that is used the majority of the time in the NFL.

Athletically, the Bucannon-Reddick pairing rivals nearly any other inside linebacker duo in the NFL. The trick is handling the mental rigors without the help of Bynes.

"It's definitely not a skill thing with me and (Reddick)," Bucannon said. "As long as our mental is there, we can do anything on the field."

Bucannon has been a starter since his rookie season, but he's always had a more experienced inside linebacker next to him – from Larry Foote to Kevin Minter to Karlos Dansby. This year he is calling the plays, and Reddick is encouraged by the duo's progress in nickel.

"Buc is running the show for the most part, but I try to do my part to help him out," Reddick said. "There's a lot to remember, and I try to take some stress off of him if I see anything. And he makes sure I remember everything as well. We're just feeding off each other. If I feed him off him and he feeds off me, that's good communication and that will lead us to be in the right place where we need to be, and make the plays we've got to make."

The high-end potential is there, as each boasts sideline-to-sideline speed and enough toughness to hold up in the box against the run.

"I look at Buc – ultra-talented guy," Reddick said. "Me, I believe I'm a talented guy. With us running the middle, it's crazy."

LB Haason Reddick during an offseason practice.
LB Haason Reddick during an offseason practice.