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Deone Bucannon will have 'huge' role vs. Panthers

The Arizona Cardinals understand slowing down Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and tackling quarterback Cam Newton are paramount to pull off the road win Sunday.

Every game, all season

The keystone in accomplishing those two goals is "Moneybacker" Deone Bucannon. The converted safety moved to linebacker will be vital in coverage versus the 6-foot-5 pass-catching Olsen. He'll also be tasked with helping slow the Panthers dominant run game, which includes tacking Newton on inside runs.

Bucannon's teammates know he's an important piece when slowing the NFL's No. 1 scoring offense.

"Huge," inside linebacker Kevin Minter said of Bucannon's role, via ESPN.com. "If you think about it, the guy, with the matchup problems you get nowadays in this league, with tight ends that are pretty much receivers, with a guy like Buc, I feel like it evens the playing field a bit. With him this week we probably got him doing a lot of the coverage stuff and doing the spying stuff for the most part. I mean, he's a huge part of the game plan this week."

Being undersized in the middle of the defense could be a hindrance for Bucannon. Pro Football Focus rated him the Cardinals worst rush defender this season (-5.7 grade). His teammates have no concerns.

"As far as tackling, I would put Deone against anybody," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "He's going to bring them down. I don't care how the tackle looks or anything, Deone is going to get that guy down, point blank, period. "I don't see tackling as an issue as far as him tackling Cam Newton or Greg Olsen."

This week Bucannon appeared on the R&B Podcast with Michael Robinson and Nate Burleson. The linebacker said staying in lanes versus the Panthers deceptive rushing attack will be key, especially against Newton.

"Honestly I feel like you just got to be disciplined with him. You got to be aggressive but it's kind of like an aggressive discipline," Bucannon said. "You can't do too much. Once you get out your job it's when he capitalizes on you. He's reading. Everything is based off him. He's reading what you are doing. He's reading off of what your mistakes are.

"I feel like if we play the type of defense that we can play we're gonna match up real well."

Bucannon, standing at 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, noted that it's possible he could spy Newton on certain plays. The quarterback has four inches and 34 pounds on the moneybacker.

"I go into the game hoping I can be a big part of the defense no matter who we play..." Bucannon said. "Whether it's going to be me having a big part in maybe spying Cam Newton -- we haven't got to that yet, but -- I just want to be where ever they tell me to be and do it to the best of my ability. But at the same time, I feel like it's a tremendous opportunity."

Whether he is covering Olsen or spying Newton, there is no question you will see Bucannon all over the field Sunday. The Cards are counting on his impact swinging the outcome in their favor.

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