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On The Move Again, Haason Reddick Still Trying To Find His Place

Linebacker Haason Reddick will try and make the move to outside linebacker after losing his spot at inside linebacker.
Linebacker Haason Reddick will try and make the move to outside linebacker after losing his spot at inside linebacker.

Haason Reddick has been here before, at outside linebacker, when he was a rookie and the Cardinals moved their inside linebacker after Markus Golden suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Reddick has been here before, switching positions in the NFL, at the time after he was a first-round draft pick.

Reddick has been here before, as a walk-on in college and people questioning whether he could become a productive player.

Reddick isn't unaware of his struggles this season, or of his rough path to go from college pass rusher and defensive end to inside linebacker in the NFL. That plan, and the hope that Reddick, the team's top pick in 2017, could eventually become the suitable replacement of former Pro Bowler Daryl Washington, has been shelved.

"We tried it," defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said. "It did not work."

Joe Walker has taken over Reddick's spot inside next to Jordan Hicks. Reddick will be looked at outside again, to see if he might help with a pass rush that needs a boost behind Chandler Jones.

"I'm not disappointed," Reddick said. "I don't want to say disappointed. It's frustrating to see how it all went down. I've always been level-headed, always thought, 'What can I do better?' Ultimately I'm trying to be a team guy, not pointing fingers at anybody. I want to learn from my mistakes and try and be better."

Reddick sees the parallels between this and his early struggles at Temple. He insists, which he has previously, he doesn't listen to the "outside noise," although he understands the criticism.

Coach Kliff Kingsbury had said Walker, the veteran in his second year in Arizona, had earned the chance to play full-time. As the weeks had passed, Walker had been taking more and more reps from Reddick on the inside, with Walker playing all 79 defensive snaps Sunday against the Rams. Reddick played just one defensive snap, and was in coverage on tight end Tyler Higbee when Higbee caught a touchdown pass.

Monday, Kingsbury said the Cardinals will look at Reddick on the outside, and praised Reddick's attitude toward the changes.

"He's been a consummate pro," Kingsbury said. "He just wants to get better and help the team in any manner that he can. As coaches we all appreciate that."

Hicks also appreciates it. Having a good attitude is crucial in such a situation for any player, Hicks said, because to not makes everything harder, both on the field and off.

"The NFL is harsh in a lot of ways and unfair," Hicks said. "When it throws wrenches at you, you just have to stay focused on what you can control. Everything else, let it all play out. It's hard sometimes. But (Haason) is handling it as well as anybody I've ever seen. Head down, grinding, doing as right as he can. It's tough sometimes, but it's part of the job."

Reddick played essentially the last 12 games of the 2017 season as a situational outside linebacker, totaling 2½ sacks after Golden's injury. At 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds – and with his athletic traits – his stature seemed to make more sense inside than as an outside guy, where he'd have to deal with much bigger offensive tackles.

Reddick acknowledged the doubters he had coming out of college to play on the outside given his size. But he thinks that 12-game test run in 2017 gives him a head start now as he begins to break down video and study offensive tackles to make the switch and "hopefully in these next four games I can have a great stretch."

Had he not been a first-round pick, his work to salvage his spot would have less of a spotlight. But Reddick can only smile when asked if there was a part of him that wished he hadn't been drafted so early.

"At the end of the day it was a blessing," Reddick said. "I never take my blessings lightly. I could've been an undrafted free agent, somebody who was in and out of the league, bouncing from team to team. I never wished that.

"Sometimes it can get hard, it is a lot of pressure, and I'm not even talking about from outside people, or even upstairs (in the organization). Just pressure from myself. I've always believed in trying to be the best at wherever they put me. I always believed as a football player I could do anything that was asked of me. Hey, where else would I rather be?"

Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders Sunday at State Farm Stadium.

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