The Arizona Cardinals are banking on second-year linebacker Kevin Minter to be a leader and playmaker on defense. While the playmaking might be there, there is one thing that he might not be as ready for -- the vocal leadership.
As the guy in the middle of the defense at inside linebacker, he will be getting the defensive calls and be expected to communicate that, as well as get guys lined up correctly. He replaces Karlos Dansby in that role.
ESPN's Josh Weinfuss wrote a piece about Minter's role this coming season and he spoke with veteran linebacker John Abraham.
Abraham doesn't think that Minter will be able to fill the leadership role that Dansby had.
“He ain't gonna be Karlos at all. You can't even compare the two. He's going to be a good leader, but also he's young and all the other guys are kinda older than him. Not saying he's scared, but he's got to get used to being that guy 'cause you're the middle guy. You got to get used to telling people what to do, and I don't think he's ready for that just yet. I can see him getting into it. I can definitely see him being one of those kind of pros.
“Right now, he just got to work into it, just get comfortable, like telling guys, 'Get your ass over there. Go over there.' But right now, I don't think he's comfortable with that yet. Like Karlos came in and he was already 30-something. Everybody knew him here. He had the clout already.”
Abraham said that Dansby's role as a leader will be missed.
Fellow linebacker Lorenzo Alexander suggested that they might have to mitigate some of the calls Minter would have to make, limiting it to some checks and formations, while the other inside linebacker (Alexander or Larry Foote are expected to battle for the other position) would help out.
Now, it won't be a case where the players on the defense won't listen to Minter. He just needs to feel comfortable making those calls and lining up players that are much more experienced than he.
It will be interesting to see how things play out, especialluy early. Abraham feels there will be growing pains. Alexander believes it as well.
Can the defense maintain its high level of performance while Minter grows into his responsibility?
That is a very valid question as we enter this new season.
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