Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby (56) dispenses advice to rookie linebacker Haason Reddick (43) at a recent OTA.
Karlos Dansby's playing career isn't over yet – he is, after all, "one interception away from being a legend" – but a specific thought of what comes next causes the veteran linebacker to chuckle.
"Man, that's a great question," the 35-year-old Dansby said, the smile crossing his face. "I've given it a lot of consideration. It's intriguing. Very intriguing. Because I bring a lot of knowledge to the game. It can be helpful to young guys and a lot of teams.
"I don't think I can get away from the game that easy, so I think coaching is something I'd look at fairly soon after I retire."
It's a path carved right into the Cardinals' inside linebackers room. The man the Cardinals signed to replace Dansby when Dansby left in 2014, Larry Foote, played a single season with Arizona. Then he moved on to Bruce Arians' staff.
"I already told him, whenever you retire, whenever that is – when you're at this age, it's year by year – but go ahead and move on to the other side, because he's a coach," Foote said. "Los has got Hall of Fame numbers. For our era, he's a Hall of Fame player, and he does it from upstairs. Anybody, if you're going to be that type of player with those numbers, you've got to be smart. Period."
Dansby has more immediate duties. His parallels to Foote may go beyond potential coaching. When Foote arrived, it was to supplement an inside linebacker pair of an inexperienced Kevin Minter and Daryl Washington. Then Washington was suspended.
No one has been suspended now, but starter Deone Bucannon is sidelined after ankle surgery, which could
cost him time early in the season. That leaves Dansby alongside rookie Haason Reddick, and makes Dansby the anchor in the middle.
"Man, that's part of the process," Dansby said. "My expectation was to come in and do whatever needed to be done to help this team win. I'm up for that challenge. I've been through a lot myself. I just want to be as consistent as I can possibly be. That's me. That's who I am."
Since returning in March, Dansby brought to the locker room an increased energy, coach Bruce Arians said. He also has a good sense of the defense, having played a similar version of it in 2013 under the previous defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles.
"Haason is following (Karlos) around on the field, off the field," Arians said. "If you follow him around, you'll know what a pro really is."
He's already helping Reddick on the field. Reddick recounted a moment during an organized team activity last week when the defense was in man-to-man and Reddick was tasked with covering the tight end. Dansby told Reddick to stay to the outside, because that's where the ball was going.
Reddick was able to stop the play before a first-down conversion.
"He's been coaching me already, so to me, he's a coach and a player right now," Reddick said. "He'll be able to teach, that's for sure. This is his 14th year. You can't last that long without knowing what you're doing."
Images from the ninth OTA of the 2017 offseason