Whenever Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker talks, people listen.
The four-time Pro Bowler was a part of a 2021 Cardinals team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2015. Arizona won 10 of their first 12 games until losing four of their last six games. The Cardinals proceeded to lose the division title to the Los Angeles Rams, who would go on to beat Arizona 34-11 in the wild card round.
Baker doesn’t want to replicate history in 2022.
“For us, we’re trying to get back to way past what we did last year,” Baker said, via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic. “We’re taking it one day at a time, one week at a time, and if we can do that, we’ll win. You guys saw us do that the first eight, nine games last year and I felt like guys possibly might have gotten comfortable. A lot of headlines, a lot of wins, and all that type of stuff.
“But it’s up to us as professionals just to ignore the noise and just take it one week at a time,” Baker continued. “We believe we’re a great football team and this year I think we’re going to be a way better team than last year.”
The Cardinals re-signed 2021 contributors running back James Conner and tight end Zach Ertz but saw linebacker Chandler Jones, wide receiver Christian Kirk and running back Chase Edmonds leave in free agency. The team also won’t have wide receiver Deandre Hopkins for the first six games of the season due to violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy.
There is still plenty of talent for the Cardinals and it all starts with two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray, who wants a contract extension. The Cardinals also brought into the picture wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who has experience being a team’s No. 1 wideout.
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Baker’s Message to Rookies
Arizona players have undergone the first week of OTAs on May 26. While Murray’s absence headlined the news cycles, veterans such as offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Rodney Hudson weren’t present as well as cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. and linebacker Markus Golden.
However, Baker relishes the opportunity to not only participate in voluntary workouts but to also help the youngsters on the roster.
“Now that I’m, I would like to say, I’m one of the leaders on the team, I definitely want to do that,” Baker said, via Howard Balzer of AllCardinals. “Because it just helps the younger guys kind of get a head start before training camp, and all that stuff starts.”
Baker stresses to the rookies the importance of being up to speed, especially once training camp rolls around the corner.
“What I tell the young guys is, once training camp starts, positions are kind of already set,” Baker said. “You’re just going to have to do your job at that point in time. And whatever that job is, you’re gonna have to do it at a high level.”
The three-time All-Pro had plenty to say about the consequences any player could face by not giving in the effort.
“…There’s no slacking once we get to camp; like actually know this whole playbook. And if I don’t, I’m wrong, because I had the resources. I had the coaches, I had the players to ask questions, and you’re professional at the end of the day.”
All Cardinals Rookies Signed
It was announced on May 25 that the Cardinals signed linebacker Cameron Thomas to a four-year contract.
Arizona selected San Diego State pass rusher Cameron Thomas with their third-round pick (87th overall). Thomas won the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and was an AP All-American. He posted 11.5 sacks and a forced fumble in 2021.
The Cardinals have now signed all eight rookies they drafted this year. Sixth-round picks running back Keontay Ingram and offensive lineman Lecitus Smith as well as seventh-round pick linebacker Jesse Luketa were the first players to sign. Second-round pick tight end Trey McBride and seventh-rounders cornerback Christian Matthew and offensive lineman Marquis Hayes would then be signed. Before the Thomas signing, linebacker Myjai Sanders was the latest signing and was also drafted in the third round.