GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The live goal-line situation at the end of the Arizona Cardinals' practice Saturday might have looked like just a few controlled plays to appease the crowd.
But it was a jumping off point for second-year linebacker Kevin Minter.
After last season, most only knew of Minter because of his draft status (second round) and his potential (the future at inside linebacker). With just one defensive snap in 2013, he wasn’t given a chance to prove either. That started to change Saturday. In just a handful of live plays, the first time during training camp that the Cardinals were tackling to the ground, Minter showed glimpses of the physicality that caused the 6-foot thumper to be the heir apparent to the Arizona’s vaunted middle linebackers last season.
"I just tried to show that I am that physical guy that you all made me out to be," Minter said.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians felt Minter accomplished that.
"(He was) everything I knew he would be," Arians said. "Solid tackling, right where he’s supposed to be. Everybody was really good. It was just some guys were outstanding. Kevin was fine."
But Saturday was just the very beginning of the process.
This coming Saturday, when Arizona begins its preseason schedule at home against Houston, Minter will get his first chance to play unhinged.
"I haven’t really done that in a while," Minter said. "I’m anxious to prove what I can do, to show that I’m ready to step up in this position."
Proving himself has become Minter’s motivation this season.
It drove him during the offseason, which he spent watching a lot of film, he said. He poured over his mistakes from practice last season, reviewing them, looking for an answer on how to fix them. He dove into the playbook to get a better understanding of what his role was this year.
He doesn’t need to prove to himself he can play. He already believes that. It's showing others that has kept him going.
Minter hears the doubters and it has put a chip on the shoulder of his 246-pound frame. But Minter never let the doubt seep in. Since Karlos Dansby chose the money in Cleveland over resigning with Arizona, the defense has been in Minter’s hands. He will be responsible for calling plays and aligning his teammates. He belives he can do it even if others don’t.
He has seen too many college stars flame out in the NFL and Minter doesn’t want to be the next.
"I understand the doubts and maybe being labeled ... might be labeled as a bust," Minter said. "I really just want to prove people wrong."