Josh Bynes is still relatively anonymous in the Cardinals locker room.
The veteran inside linebacker signed with the team only eight days ago, but with more performances like the one Saturday night, both Bynes’ visibility and his odds to make the team will increase.
“Hell of a game, bro,” said Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati as he walked past Bynes following the team’s 20-10 win over the Raiders.
While he hasn’t been around long, Bynes, a former starter with the Lions, has made a quick impression. He finished the game with a team-high six tackles, a forced fumble and a half-sack.
“He’s been a great pick,” coach Bruce Arians said. “I thought (General Manager) Steve (Keim) pulled one out of his hat. He can run. He’s smart. He can pick up the whole playbook in two or three days. I’ve been really impressed with him. Hopefully he can continue to improve.”
Bynes assimilated quickly in practice over the past week, capping it with an interception and a tackle for loss in red zone drills on Thursday. He carried it over to the game, combining with Kareem Martin to bring down Raiders quarterback E.J. Manuel in the second quarter and forcing a fumble on tight end Gabe Holmes in the third.
In the first six years of his career between the Lions and the Ravens, Bynes played in a defense coached by Teryl Austin. He admitted it’s been an adjustment figuring out the Cardinals’ scheme, but there are those moments of clarity.
“When you’re on the field, sometimes the football player just comes out,” Bynes said. “You just know where you have to be or where you fit and you go from there. I was just doing whatever coverage and whatever they asked me to do. Of course I made mistakes, and I want to build off those mistakes. I was fortunate enough to make some plays today, but those aren’t the things I’m looking at. I’m looking at the things I can do better at.”
The Cardinals have three shoo-ins to make the team at inside linebacker: Haason Reddick, Deone Bucannon and Karlos Dansby. The team generally keeps four, and while Scooby Wright is currently manning that spot on the depth chart, Bynes is joining the conversation.
The former undrafted free agent has found some success in his career. He started 11 games for Detroit in 2016 and finished with 80 tackles and a forced fumble. He missed the start of last season with a knee injury, but re-signed with the Lions in late October and ended up starting eight of his nine games played, accumulating 38 tackles.
Unemployed earlier this month, Bynes is making his case to stick with the Cardinals.
“Regardless of what position you are in, rookie or veteran, your first and foremost goal is to make this team,” Bynes said. “I want to be here. This is a good group of guys here. Coach asks of you certain things, and you just try to do them to the best of your ability. That’s why I came here.”