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The Benefit Of Budda Baker And Jalen Thompson, Back Together

Safety tandem would be important in playoff appearance

Jalen Thompson was primed for a big season -- he just never has been able to stay on the field.

Budda Baker has had a big season -- the Pro Bowler just has to be reminded sometimes not to press too much.

If the two can get to where they are capable of being at the same time (and the Cards can pick up a win in Los Angeles Sunday to reach the postseason), that'll be helpful in an playoff matchup.

Thompson might finally be ready to play this weekend. He wrenched his ankle on the second play of the season, went on IR, came back for 2½ games before wrenching his ankle again. All this from a guy defensive coordinator Vance Joseph expected big things from in his second season.

"Last month of the '19 season he was one of our better players," Joseph said. "We had high hopes coming into the season and having a great camp ... then he came back and played well and got hurt again. Hopefully he can come back Sunday and he can help us win and we can move on to the playoffs. He's a good young player who has some of Budda's traits as far as running and tackling in the open field. Hopefully he can stay healthy and become the guy we want him to be."

Baker certainly has had a nice year as a Pro Bowl starter, although the splash plays that came in bunches most of the season have slowed. Joseph has noticed it too, especially the last time the Cards played the Rams.

"I thought it was one of those games where Budda was trying to do too much," Joseph said. "I thought he was reaching to make plays and he was hurting us by making mistakes. The last two or three weeks he has gotten back to doing his job. I told Budda, 'The better we become around you, the better we become as a defense, (you) should do less to help us win more.'

"Saturday he made four plays that no one else can make. ... As he gets better on defense, he should do less, but still make those Budda-type plays."

Safety Jalen Thompson (34), with fellow safety Budda Baker (32) in the background.
Safety Jalen Thompson (34), with fellow safety Budda Baker (32) in the background.