Antoine Cason had been a starter at cornerback the past three seasons, but when he got just a one-year free-agent contract on the open market from the Cardinals, it was a sign Cason’s career was in a different place. If he wasn’t sure of that, the regular season has driven that home.
Cason played five defensive snaps in the opener in St. Louis — and then didn’t play another defensive snap until the 10 he got against the Panthers. (Fellow veteran defensive back Javier Arenas, who played 19 defensive snaps in the Tampa game, had zero against Carolina.)
“That’s tough but anything to win,” Cason said. “I want to continue to work hard every day at anything I’m doing. Find my way. I never give up. I feel I have a lot of football left, and I’m going to continue to prove that each time I get the opportunity.”
Cason has been playing on special teams. And he had a highlight play against the Panthers, being in the right place at the right time when defensive end Calais Campbell sacked Cam Newton late in the game and popped the ball loose. Cason, blitzing himself on the play, was in the right place at the right time to snare the ball in mid-air and return it deep into Carolina territory to set up the game-sealing Jim Dray touchdown.
“Taking on a different role, playing more special teams than I have ever done, it’s because I want to win,” Cason said. “I want to be around and I will do whatever it takes to be around.”
The Cardinals collected defensive backs at a rapid pace in the offseason. Cason and Jerraud Powers — signed to free-agent deals that the team didn’t spend on outgoing free agent Greg Toler — joined Patrick Peterson early. But then Arenas was a surprise trade when the Cards were trying to get something — anything — for fullback Anthony Sherman. Tyrann Mathieu turned into a playmaker that had to be on the field. And undrafted rookie safety Tony Jefferson has proven better than expected. Cason was left pushed down the depth chart once the regular season began.
“I definitely didn’t start as fast as I wanted to,” Cason said. “But I stuck to it and I am going to keep working. I know I still have a lot left. I am very confident in my abilities. Each time the coaches give me an opportunity, I am going to make the most of it.”
Tags: Antoine Cason, Calais Campbell, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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