Under the direction of defensive coordinator James Bettcher, the Arizona defense has mined its depth to ensure that the first two levels were fresh, save for its two inside linebackers: the do-it-all Deone Bucannon and Minter. A 2013 second-round pick, Minter bided his time before earning a regular role this season, accounting for 92 percent of the defensive snaps. The workload has equated to the second-most tackles (61) on the Cardinals behind Bucannon's 71, but with nary a contribution otherwise (just a forced fumble), Minter must provide more outbursts like Sunday's to approach the outer tier of IDP contributors.
Kevin Minter racked up a career-best nine tackles (seven solo), including two tackles for loss, and one pass defended in Sunday's win in Detroit.
Entering the contest, Minter was one of two Cardinal linebackers to earn 50 percent of the defensive snaps, gathering up 87 percent. The other (Alex Okafor) strained his calf Sunday and is expected to miss a month of action, and while he's unlikely to earn much more work with Okafor out of commission, Minter could be presented with a few more tackle opportunities per game. Nonetheless, Minter's 96-tackle pace after five outings is off the IDP radar, as he's displayed no pass-rushing acumen nor a nose for turnovers in his two-plus years as a pro.
"We drafted Kevin Minter in the second round a few years back and we have high expectations for Kevin," Keim said Wednesday. "But he's got to step up his game. There are two types of linebackers. There are the mike linebackers, the heavy-legged guys, the more downhill thumper types. Then you have the more athletic, will linebacker types who can run and cover and may not be as physical at the point of attack. Those are two necessary positions for us that we need to address."
Minter recorded 45 tackles in 2014 while making five starts in his 16 appearances. Coach Bruce Arians also addressed the linebacker Thursday, saying that the team needs to "continue to develop Kevin Minter into a better player."
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