2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Cardinals' Bethel thrives on special teams

    2013-11-13 17:59

(Eds: Updates. )
By BOB BAUM
AP Sports Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - A sixth-round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals out of tiny Presbyterian a year ago, Justin Bethel faced an uphill fight to make it in the NFL.

He found his niche on special teams, where he is thriving as one of the league's best.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians has seen a lot of special teams players in his two decades in the NFL.

''I can't think of one that was better,'' Arians said, ''because he can do so many different things - being able to block kicks, especially field goals and extra points, but then to be a gunner, a vice, block on kickoff returns, and all the things that he can do. I've seen individuals do some of those things well, but not the whole package like him.''

Bethel said he knew that if he was to have a chance to play, it would be because of special teams.

''Most definitely,'' he said Wednesday. ''Coming in I knew that that was going to be something I was going to have to excel at while I was still trying to learn another position (cornerback). Obviously, I've been able to do that. It was something I was already comfortable doing.''

In last week's victory over Houston, Bethel blocked Randy Bullock's 40-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half. It's a play that turned out to be huge, since Arizona won by three points, 27-24.

It was Bethel's second blocked field goal of the season. He knocked down a 47-yard attempt by David Akers in Arizona's 25-21 victory over Detroit in Week 2.

Bethel comes off the edge and essentially tries to beat the kicker to the ball.

''It's kind of just reaction time,'' he said, ''being able to see the snapper, just reading when he snaps, kind of guessing so you can get off fast, just knowing when to jump for it.''

Bethel's remarkable athletic ability can be seen on YouTube, where a video of him making a 60-inch vertical leap from a flat-footed position has drawn more than a million hits.

Arians marveled at how quickly Bethel can get to a kicker.

''He's got great anticipation and feel when to leave his feet,'' the coach said.

Bethel can be equally devastating, maybe more so, on punts when, even though teams often put two blockers on him, he is in the returner's face virtually as soon as the ball gets there.

He said he enjoys blocking field goals and making big plays on the punt team equally well.

''If you block it, you're automatically taking points off the board and if you block it right you can put points on your board,'' Bethel said, ''and then with a punt, just going out there and making that splash play, making a hit, giving the defense good field position.''

The son of a gospel singer, Bethel was a defensive standout on his Blythewood, S.C., High School team. He went on to Presbyterian (enrollment 1,200) in Clinton, S.C., where he became the school's career leader in tackles and interceptions. He also played drums in the school pep band.

Bethel became the first player from Presbyterian to be drafted in 43 years. His special teams ability was quickly apparent, and he appeared in all 16 games a year ago.

This year, teams are game planning for him.

Some teams attempting a field goal simply tackle him, he said. Regardless of the attention, Bethel still makes his way to the middle of things.

''I'm kind of used to it,'' he said. ''I expect it every game, but I plan on beating it.''

Bethel is continuing to work on playing cornerback. He wants to be a position player and not just a special teams performer, even if he is one of the best.

''He's a Pro Bowl player,'' Arians said. ''If he doesn't get voted in, it's a shame.''

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

---

Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Ben TateSep 30 01:23p

Cleveland Browns RB Ben Tate (knee) returned to practice Tuesday, Sept. 30, for the first time since spraining his right knee in the season opener Sept. 7. It means [ More ]

Niles PaulSep 30 01:13p

Washington Redskins TE Niles Paul (concussion) did not practice Tuesday, Sept. 30, and remains in the league's concussion protocol. However, head coach Jay Gruden said Paul is 'making very good progress.'

Mason FosterSep 30 01:13p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Mason Foster (shoulder) is improving, but he is not sure if he will be available to play in the team's Week 5 game. Getting a [ More ]

Bruce CarterSep 30 01:13p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (quadriceps) isn't expected to miss a significant amount of time, but he's not expected to play in Week 5 against the Houston Texans. The [ More ]

Jon GrudenSep 30 12:53p

The Oakland Raiders may look at free-agent head coach Jon Gruden for their head coaching vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The team is looking for a [ More ]

Tom BradySep 30 12:43p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and the offense struggled mightily in a 41-14 thrashing by the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 Monday, Sept. 29, and head coach [ More ]

Trent WilliamsSep 30 12:33p

Washington Redskins OT Trent Williams (knee) and OG Shawn Lauvao (knee) both were held out of practice Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Jalil BrownSep 30 12:13p

The Indianapolis Colts signed free-agent CB Jalil Brown (Dolphins) to their active roster Tuesday, Sept. 30. WR Chandler X. Jones (Browns) and LB Rob Ruggiero (Colts) were signed to the practice squad.

Robert MathisSep 30 12:13p

Indianapolis Colts LB Robert Mathis was signed to a contract extension through the 2016 season Tuesday, Sept. 30. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Bishop SankeySep 30 10:43a

Tennessee Titans RB Bishop Sankey's footwork was a little better in Week 4, according to head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Carson PalmerSep 30 10:03a

Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer (shoulder) said the nerve in his shoulder hasn't progressed as much as he'd hoped, but he thinks he could prove capable of starting.

Nick FolesSep 30 09:53a

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles has completed 25.6 percent of his throws over 20 yards this season. He is on pace to make 156 attempts of 20 or more [ More ]

Chris RaineySep 30 08:53a

Free-agent RB Chris Rainey (Cardinals) signed an undisclosed deal with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Knile DavisSep 30 12:12a

Kansas City Cheifs RB Knile Davis rushed for a team-high 107 yards on 16 carries in Week 5 and added one catch for 12 yards.

Brandon LaFellSep 29 11:53p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell had a team-high six receptions for a game-high 119 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 loss against the Kansas City Chiefs [ More ]

Rob GronkowskiSep 29 11:53p

New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski hauled in two receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown in the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday, Sept. 29. [ More ]

Travis KelceSep 29 11:43p

Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce had eight catches on nine targets for a season-high 93 yards and a touchdown Monday, Sept. 29.

Dennis AllenSep 29 11:43p

The Oakland Raiders called head coach Dennis Allen Monday, Sept. 29, to inform him he has been relieved of his head coaching duties.

Donnie AverySep 29 11:13p

Kansas City Chiefs WR Donnie Avery (groin) has been ruled out for the remainder of the team's Week 5 game with a groin injury.

Tom BradySep 29 11:13p

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady completed 14 of his 23 pass attempts for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Week 4 loss against the Kansas [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonSep 29 11:03p

Cincinnati Bengals OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (knee) missed practice Monday, Sept. 29, and are not expected to play in Week 5.

Vontaze BurfictSep 29 10:52p

Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict (concussion) did not practice Monday, Sept. 29, but is expected to play in the team's Week 5 game, according to head coach Marvin Lewis.

Marvin JonesSep 29 10:33p

Cincinnati Bengals WR Marvin Jones (foot) is expected to return in Week 5, and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he 'can't wait' to use Jones in the offense.

Teddy BridgewaterSep 29 09:47p

Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater (ankle) did not participate in practice Monday, Sept. 29. QB Christian Ponder worked with the first-team offense during practice.

Geno SmithSep 29 09:47p

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan publicly remained supportive of QB Geno Smith Monday, Sept. 29. He said he talked to the quarterback about his incident with yelling [ More ]

Donald BrownSep 29 09:23p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown and RB Branden Oliver combined for 42 yards on 29 carries in Week 4, and although head coach Mike McCoy bashed the running [ More ]

LeSean McCoySep 29 09:23p

Updating a previous report, Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (toe) is not injured, head coach Chip Kelly said Monday, Sept. 29. 'He's not on the treatment list,' Kelly said. [ More ]

Vernon DavisSep 29 09:23p

Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis (back) had a 'positive mindset' Monday, Sept. 29, but general manager Trent Baalke said the extent of his injury is 'not fully known.'

Stevan RidleySep 29 09:13p

New England Patriots RB Stevan Ridley was on the field for just one of his team's seven offensive snaps in the first quarter Monday, Sept. 29, in the Week [ More ]

Roddy WhiteSep 29 09:03p

Atlanta Falcons WR Roddy White said he expects the team to be involved in high-scoring shootouts all year, and head coach Mike Smith agreed to an extent. 'I don't [ More ]

David NelsonSep 29 08:13p

New York Jets WR David Nelson (ankle) suffered an ankle injury in Week 4, and the signing of WR Chris Owusu could be an indication Nelson's injury is significant. [ More ]

Frank AlexanderSep 29 08:03p

The Carolina Panthers reinstated DE Frank Alexander Monday, Sept. 29, after he served his four-game suspension. He won't count toward the 53-man roster limit for one week.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2014 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group