By: Ed Cole
Kevin Minter is no longer a rookie with the Arizona Cardinals.
Minter is about to get a major bump in his workload in his second season with the departure of Karlos Dansby to the Browns and the yearlong suspension of Daryl Washington.
What will help Minter in this transition to being a starter at inside linebacker is having a year under his belt with head coach Bruce Arians and in the Cardinals system.
Minter admitted that by Week Twelve in his rookie campaign, he was pretty overwhelmed, yet he made it through and he’s onto bigger and better things with the Cardinals, now that he’s familiar with what it takes to make it in the NFL.
“It makes a difference,” Minter said. “Actually being in the playbook and actually knowing what to do coming in.”
“They say the rookie year is like the longest year of your life, and it really was,” Minter said. “I feel like I came in more prepared and I know what to expect more or less, and I’m ready for the season.”
Minter and his teammates took part in the first of 18 training camp practices at University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, and while Minter was in a state of honesty, he also admitted that he was a little “rusty” coming into Day One. Despite having to shake the cobwebs off, Minter felt it was a pretty successful outing for the team.
“You see us out flying around, we’re trying to make the plays [and] it’s exciting,” Minter said. “Guys [are] out there trying to do whatever they can, scraping, trying to get plays. It’s kind of what you expect from the first day, everybody trying to make a statement.”
Speaking of making a statement, Minter is “anxious” and ready to get the regular season started and show everyone that he’s worthy of being a starter.
“It’s football, it’s something I’ve been doing since I was ten,” Minter said. “I actually get to play linebacker again, so it should be fun.”
Minter spent a lot of time on special teams as a rookie, playing just one defensive snap all season. He took the season to get groomed by Dansby and Washington, and now with both of them no longer in the picture with the Cardinals, Minter becomes one of the main players at inside linebacker.
“It’s obviously going to be tough shoes to fill, but I feel like I can meet the challenge,” Minter said.
Dansby and Washington combined for 197 total tackles last season, so Minter is correct in saying those two pair of shoes are going to be difficult to replace. It helps when you have a strong assembly of talent on the defensive side as Minter feels the Cardinals have.
“I actually feel we have more talent than we had last year,” Minter said. “Those are obviously great guys, and they played a big role on this team, it’s just next guy’s gotta step up, and obviously one of them is me.”
The division the Cardinals currently reside in – the NFC West – is arguably the toughest division in all of football. The Cardinals will be in for six knockdown, drag out fights with the Seahawks, 49ers and the Rams this coming season.
“You just gotta strap up and be ready,” Minter said. “This is THE division in football, and it ought to be a good year.”
“I feel like we got something for them,” Minter said of their division mates. “I feel like we’re ready and hopefully everything comes together this year.”