The Arizona Cardinals lost their third outside linebacker pass rusher last offseason when Alex Okafor signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints. They signed Jarvis Jones thinking he would fill that role. However, because Jones has back problems, he hasn’t been able to practice much at all.
That has given someone else the opportunity to shine, and he has been great. Linebacker Kareem Martin has thrust himself into that third linebacker role after a great offseason and training camp.
General manager Steve Keim raved about his progress.
“Kareem Martin, in my opinion, is the most improved football player on our entire team, when you look at his body of work, how far he’s come,” he said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “When we drafted him, he was a long, lanky athlete who had some speed and straight-line ability. But he has grown into his body, he’s spent tons of time in our weight room and when you do that, you become more confident as a player from a physicality standpoint."
“Kareem, I’m truly proud about the way that he’s worked because it shows the rest of the team that if you put in the time and the effort, you can get better.”
He enters an important year. He is in his contract year. He has been a solid contributor on special teams previously, but now he is ready to take another step as a defensive player.
With even some pass rushing production this season, he could turn that into a new deal to extend his NFL career.
For 2017, the Cardinals will be glad to take that.