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Josh Bynes Gets Time At Nickel Linebacker

Notes: Rosen's status still murky; Key moment for Brandon Williams

LB Josh Bynes (right) looks over a play with LB Deone Bucannon during a recent practice.
LB Josh Bynes (right) looks over a play with LB Deone Bucannon during a recent practice.

When training camp began, Josh Bynes was projected to start at middle linebacker in the Cardinals' base defense and leave the field in nickel packages.

In Sunday night's third preseason game against the Cowboys, he remained on the field in nickel sets alongside Deone Bucannon, and that could be the new pairing for the regular season. Second-year linebacker Haason Reddick, the team's 2017 first-round pick, played with the second string against Dallas after previously working as the starter next to Bucannon.

"We're looking at some different things, from a standpoint of mixing guys in," coach Steve Wilks said. "From Reddick being in there in base as well as nickel, and likewise Josh Bynes."

Bynes returned from a sprained neck against the Cowboys and finished with three tackles and a fumble recovery. Reddick played the second half and totaled seven tackles, including one for loss. Reddick, who played defensive end in college, has unique athletic ability but is still learning the mental part of the linebacker position.

"He has the skillset," Wilks said. "We know that. Very talented guy. First-round draft pick. But I think just with the transition of the 3-4 to the 4-3 and commanding the huddle, understanding exactly what everyone around you is doing, that's where it starts. Because he is the quarterback on the defense."

Bynes, Buccanon and Reddick are still projected to be the starting linebackers in the base defense.

ROSEN'S STATUS STILL MURKY

Wilks said he is "still debating" whether or not to play quarterback Josh Rosen (thumb) in Thursday's preseason finale against the Broncos. The preference would be to get the rookie some action, but Wilks is balancing a couple of factors.

"Health is one, and also his ability to make sure he keeps his timing," Wilks said. "We want to make sure he has an opportunity to go out there and keep his mechanics and the things we've expressed throughout training camp. The things he's built upon so far, I don't want him to lose that."

Rosen is 16-of-29 for 148 yards and a touchdown in two preseason games. He did not play Sunday against the Cowboys.

KEY TIME FOR BRANDON WILLIAMS

Cornerback Brandon Williams never overtook Jamar Taylor for the No. 2 cornerback spot, and now seems to be firmly behind Bené Benwikere on the depth chart. Williams, the team's 2016 third-round pick, didn't play against the Cowboys on Sunday due to an ankle injury.

Wilks would like to see him on the field on Thursday against Denver. The Cardinals must finalize their 53-man roster on Saturday.

"I feel like he definitely needs to play," Wilks said, "just to be able to get out there and be a part of a live game situation. Going against a different team and putting yourself in those positions, even on special teams. So hopefully he is able to play this week."

Images of the "Sunday Night Football" affair in Arlington, Texas

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