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Justin Bethel celebrated with teammate DeMarco Sampson after scoring on a blocked punt.
“Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t trust rookies.”
Yeah, we all know that.
But with how Jamell Fleming handled himself during his first game at University of Phoenix Stadium since earning Defensive Player of the game for the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, he’s making his case to earn that starting right corner spot over Gay.
Not only was he technically sound all game long, he was physical with receivers—so physical, in fact, that he earned two bogus penalties—and aggressive in coverage.
He vastly outperformed Gay against the Oakland starting offense (they remained in the game when Arizona replaced its defensive starters with No. 2s).
And though he did not return a pick for a touchdown or cause two fumbles, as Horton suggested would be necessary to stand out as a possible replacement candidate for Gay, he provided big plays both in the passing game and the run game—recording one pass defended and a team-leading eight tackles.
Up-To-Date Preseason Stats: 12 tackles, one TFL, one pass defended
As of this moment, there is probably zero chance Justin Bethel does not make the final cut just before Week 1.
He blocked an extra point early in the third quarter to help preserve a seven-point lead.
Before that, he blocked a punt, scooped it up and scored from 19 yards to extend the Cardinals lead to 24-8 with five minutes remaining in the first half.
He also recorded four tackles and is becoming a fan-favorite throughout Cardinals’ Nation.
Up-To-Date Preseason Stats: 12 tackles, two blocked kicks, one blocked punt, one TD