After throwing a “strike” during the ceremonial first pitch at a recent Arizona Diamondbacks game, rookie Haason Reddick is hoping to be a homerun for the Cardinals defense in 2017.
Haason Reddick was the last rookie to sign his contract this off-season. He was selected 13th overall in the 2017 draft, and inked a 4-year deal. The team has an option for a 5th year. That leaves the inside linebacker spot in great hands, at least through the 2020 season.
A defensive end and outside linebacker at Temple, Reddick has been asked to move inside as a professional. It’s a position he’s only recently played at the Senior Bowl. But so far, he’s been impressive. “As a guy who played a different position and is now learning a new position, (he) plays instinctively at a new position he’s never really played before,” DC James Bettcher said of his new linebacker.
As a rookie, Reddick will be asked to play a major role for the defense. Regular starter Deone Bucannon will be sidelined after undergoing off-season ankle surgery. It’s also likely he’ll start camp on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list, as reported by Mike Jurecki of Fox Sports 910. Reddick knows it is imperative to take full advantage of his inaugural camp, and having mentors like veteran Karlos Dansby and linebackers coach Larry Foote should only work in his favor.
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According to Pro Football Focus, Arizona’s defense blitzed 40.9 percent of the time on passing plays in 2016. I would only imagine that trend will continue for Bettcher’s unit. With Chandler Jones and Markus Golden on the outside, I suspect Reddick will get his fair share of opportunities at the quarterback as well. That should leave the former pass rusher chomping at the bit.
It’s far too early say how well he will perform. However, with his early opportunity to be a Week 1 starter, there’s no doubt he will be ready for NFL play. He’s another young star for an already elite defense. He has the potential to be a leader, and it starts on July 21 when the Cardinals break for camp in Glendale.
Let’s just hope the Diamondbacks aren’t looking for any additional relief pitchers at this time.