BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – It’s been a while since Brittan Golden’s played defense. The last time he manned that side of the ball, he was a safety at Denver City (TX) High School. Golden was the swiss army knife while he was there, playing safety, running back, wide receiver and quarterback. He also played some safety at West Texas A&M, but he did it more on the scout team, and not in actual game situations.
If Golden’s going to give it a try with the Cardinals at cornerback starting this weekend, why not tell head coach Bruce Arians you can play running back? They could use another fresh body there too.
“No, no, no, no, no. I’m good with that. They (running backs) get hit too much,” Golden said. “I like the physical part, but I don’t like being hit like that.”
Golden may be only 5-11, 186, but he’s got the heart of a lion out on the football field. He’s one of the Cardinals’ gems on special teams at the gunner position. He’s never afraid to fly down the field and into someone. That’s just the way he’s wired.
“I don’t like to be punked, that’s what it is,” Golden said. “If you come at me, I’m gonna have to try and come back at you. The physical part, if you don’t play physical in this game, then it’s gonna hurt you.”
Golden is taking a page out of the book of so many NFL greats that came before him that played multiple positions, a la Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who made his mark on offense, defense and special teams when he played.
“Oh man, just the fact that they were great,” Golden said. “You gotta look at “Prime Time” (Sanders). He did it, but you’re looking at a complete Hall of Famer. There’s been plenty of them: Julian Edelman’s done it a little bit in New England (Patriots). I think the value of them is big, but you have to be able to do it first. This is the first time since high school that I’ve played both ways.”
Golden’s been hard at work in the film room, studying his secondary mates and how they do what they do. If there’s any group of defensive backs that Golden can take things from and work into his game, it’s Arizona’s secondary.
“Yeah. A lot of it will be technique issues,” Golden said. “I’ll watch (Cardinals cornerback) Pat(rick Peterson), and everybody on the other side of the ball, and just try to watch how they play certain things, and I’ll work with Pat and his footwork, and my eyes. Film will be huge, just so I can try to pickup tendencies that Pat uses, and just try to incorporate it.”
There’s opposing viewpoints in the Cardinals locker room when it comes to Golden sliding over on defense. Safety Rashad Johnson is all for Golden coming into the “No Fly Zone” and becoming one of the Savages, but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is on the fence on the move.
“He’s (Golden) very physical,” Johnson said. “He’s been showing that physicality all year (on) kickoffs, running down making tackles, (and on) punts. I don’t expect no physicality drop off. To play this game at any position you gotta be physical, so we’re excited to have him and helping us out on the defensive end, and (I) look forward to seeing him grow as a DB (defensive back).”
For the Savages, it’s like gaining a new family member with Golden coming over, but for Fitzgerald and the offense, it’s like losing one.
“We’re hoping we get him (Golden) back in our room soon. It’s like losing a brother,” Fitzgerald said. “Seeing him over there in the other jersey, it’s not any fun for us; we want him to be with us. He’s been with us (for) a very long time. Obviously, we understand during the team situation that we have, a couple (of) guys have gone down. Some guys are asked to do more, and he’s one of those guys. We just hope that he does a good job for us. We know he’s going to have great effort, (and) we know he’s going to be mentally sharp, because he puts a lot of time and dedication into the mental preparation.”
“I just want him to go out there and play fast,” Fitzgerald said. “If he got a pick, that would just be icing on the cake. We’re gonna mob him.”
So there will likely be a bigger situation that would brew up in the locker room should Golden go out this weekend and perform well against the Rams. Arians might decide to keep him on defense and special teams, since they’re pretty stacked with talent at the wide receiver position.
“It could happen. You never know,” Golden said. “Inside, I’ll be kind like, ‘Ehhh,’ but success is success; you gotta take it. Wherever you can fit in is big.”