GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even with most of his family in attendance on Saturday, linebacker Kevin Minter couldn’t control his nerves.
It didn’t matter that the Cardinals’ 32-0 win over the Texans wasn’t Minter’s first preseason game. He got that out of the way last year as a rookie. This game was different. It was his first as the Cardinals’ starting inside linebacker and Minter was a blender full of adrenaline, nerves and anxiety.
“It was just like I’m shooting everything, you know what I’m saying?” Minter asked. “I’m trying to make any play I can make. The first play, I read it good, it came off, I didn’t break down or nothing. I just came.
“Next time I’m going to break down, and I’m going to make that play from now on.”
Minter was referring to a tackle he missed early in the first quarter. That showed defensive tackle Darnell Dockett how on the edge Minter was during the game.
“I think he was more nervous than anything,” Dockett said. “I think he was more surprised that he came through free.
“Good sacrifice by the D-line keeping guys off of them. They’ll go make us plays.”
Which is exactly what Minter did.
He played just five snaps as the Cardinals’ defense looked dominate. It held Houston to a three-and-out on its first drive and then intercepted Houston's Ryan Fitzpatrick on the Texans’ third play of their second drive, which Minter enabled.
“You wish you could’ve got that but it’s cool,” Minter said.
Five plays wasn’t enough for Minter to get into a solid rhythm, despite his clutch play that sparked the interception. But in another sense, five plays was more than enough for him.
“To be honest with you, the way I was feeling, as far as adrenaline, yeah it was enough,” Minter said. “I was stoked man. Got my family out here, all my teammates, stuff like that.
“I was trying to hurt somebody.”
The only family members not in attendance at University of Phoenix Stadium were one of Minter’s sisters and a couple of nieces and nephews, he said. They didn’t miss much, considering Minter was on the field for at most 1 minute, 55 seconds of actual game time.
But the Minter clan watched the most important part of Minter’s development to date. They saw their second-year linebacker shake his nerves.
“Hopefully it’ll be a little bit more focused in the next game,” Minter said. “I was jacked this game. Just calm down a little bit and get into the game plan and really understand what I’m doing.”