When the Cardinals return to play after this week's bye, a familiar face in No. 44 will be with them. Arizona traded for outside linebacker Markus Golden last Friday, an addition to a linebacker corps that lost Chandler Jones for the season (biceps). In his absence, the unit has stepped up, with Haason Reddick coming up particularly big with three sacks and five quarterback hits in the two games without Jones.
However, more help is now available, and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said that Golden will slide in seamlessly.
"He fits perfectly into our plan," Joseph said Wednesday. "I mean, he's a classic outside 'backer. He loves to be in the two-point stance. He loves to get one-on-one in pass rushes and he is a guy that plays hard. As an outside 'backer with his relentless personality, he is going to make plays for us. Watching him over the years as an outside rusher, he overwhelms tackles just with effort, and that's what it takes in this league."
Golden was with the Cardinals from 2014-2018.
Reddick played his first two years with Arizona alongside Golden, a player he’s excited to see in red and white again because of the energy that Joseph alluded to. The more "relentless "players Arizona has, the more tiring it will be to face them.
"I'm happy to have him here," Reddick said. "When I first got here, he was here. A great guy. He's a great player, great teammate, a great attitude. And he's relentless. He plays the game hard and he has a dog mentality. He wants to be one of the best. So, I'm happy to have him here. I know he can make an impact right away and I can't wait to see him get back on the field and get to see him flying around and get to play with him again."
Golden worked his way to 10 sacks last season with the New York Giants.
His sacks largely came from plays in which he had to work to break free from the tackle and didn’t give up on the play. Joseph said not all sacks come easy, and Golden’s ability to work constantly until the whistle blows is an asset.
"Most pass rushes, most sacks aren't cute rushes," Joseph said. "I mean, it's dirty, it's grimy, and it's tough and that's the type of player he is. So, that's a great gift for our defense at the moment."
Golden’s career-high in sacks was 12.5, which he had with Arizona in 2016.
The Cardinals have three edge rushers with multiple sacks this year without Jones: Reddick (five), Devon Kennard (two) and Dennis Gardeck (two). As a team, Arizona has 19 sacks, seventh-most in the league.
A strong motor is something that seems to fit in everywhere, with Gardeck being a perfect example of someone with that drive who has found some success this season. Golden has recent experience getting to the quarterback and a play style and motor that Reddick and Joseph believe will fit in perfectly.
Golden is not officially on the roster yet thanks to COVID-19 protocols, but should be ready for the week leading into Arizona's next game against the Miami Dolphins.