BY: ED COLE
TEMPE, Ariz. – Things move at a rapid pace in the NFL, and Cardinals outside linebacker Markus Golden’s been able to adapt to that hyper-speed pace quite well in his rookie season.
“Yes, way quicker than I thought I would,” Golden said. “I know when I first got the playbook, I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s gonna take a year to learn all this,’ but yes, I’d say I’m learning better than where I thought I would, and it feels good to be out there to be able to make plays.”
The bright lights of Sunday Night Football didn’t blind Golden this past Sunday night, because he came up big and showed out during his 35 snaps on defense. He had three tackles, one sack and a forced fumble on the sack of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Golden says his impactful play is primarily due to his ability to read the offensive linemen in front of him and reacting to what he sees from them and blowing past them to get to his target.
“Yes. Like when in college, I actually did do that, but when you’re a rookie in the NFL, you’re thinking so much, so you forget like, ‘Oh man, I can watch his feet, and know if he’s (the quarterback) gonna drop back for a pass, or if his feet’s a little more together it’s gonna a run,’” Golden said. “I’m kind of getting that now that I’m going along, and knowing my plays, so I’m not thinking as much, so I can go back and do the normal things I do to make plays.”
“This ain’t college. In college, you can run around a couple guys with your athleticism, but in this league, you’ve gotta have technique, because there’s so many great players,” Golden said. “They use their technique, and they watch film and study, so you gotta have technique in this league.”
Golden wasn’t the only one in Arizona’s 2015 rookie class to have a big night against Cincinnati. Wide receiver J.J. Nelson led all receivers with 142 receiving yards and a touchdown, running back David Johnson had a 16-yard touchdown catch, nose tackle Rodney Gunter had a sack, and defensive tackle Xavier Williams got some run with 10 snaps.
Golden says it’s a matter of the young puppies wanting to step their game up and show they’re more than just rookies.
“You get drafted, and you feel like you gotta come in and step it up, because that’s what they drafted you for,” Golden said. “A lot of the rookies (are) working hard: J.J. (Nelson) had a good game, David (Johnson), Rodney (Gunter), and all (those) guys have been working hard in practice, and it’s starting to show on the field.”
It’s hard to imagine Golden coming into a better situation in his first NFL season than what he’s got right now with the Cardinals, not only for the fact that they’re 8-2 and comfortably in control of the NFC West, but also for the fact that he’s surrounded by so many quality men and quality talent, who are pushing him harder than he’s ever imagined to be the man and the player everyone expects him to be.
“It’s a blessing to be on this team. It’s real fun,” Golden said. “You got a lot of guys that work hard, and a lot of leaders that talk what they talk, and back it up on the field, and off the field. It motivates me to get out there, and make plays, and compete. As a competitor, you want to be competitive and make plays with the guys, so it’s great to be on this team right now.”
“You got (cornerback/safety) Tyrann Mathieu, you got (cornerback) Pat(rick) P(eterson), you got (defensive tackle) Calais Campbell, (defensive tackle) Frostee (Rucker), and Calais is always on me to make plays. He wants me to get out there and make plays,” Golden said. “Me being the guy who I am, after he (Campbell) said that, I want to get out there make a play for him, and basically compete with him to make plays.”