Cardinals Minter ready to step in and replace departed Dansby at inside linebacker:

During his rookie season, Kevin Minter played on Arizona’s special teams and watched the standout performances of Karlos Dansby at inside linebacker.

Now that Dansby is gone after being lured by a big contract to Cleveland, Minter moves into his spot, a critical one in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ system.

Arizona drafted Minter in the second round last year, the 45th player taken overall. He appeared in 13 games as a rookie, almost exclusively on special teams, getting four tackles.

Dansby, the man he replaces, resurrected his career with a team-high 122 tackles, 6½ sacks and 19 pass breakups. Playing alongside Daryl Washington, it was one of the best inside tandems in the NFL.

But the Browns offered Dansby far more money than the Cardinals were willing to pay, and rather than go after a free agent, the team decided the job would be Minter’s.

So far, coach Bruce Arians said, Minter has impressed.

“He’s a different person,” Arians told the teams’ official website. “Checking back with his folks at LSU, his freshman year he was kind of like he was last year — lost. His sophomore year he was thrown into a leadership role and really relished it. He has done a really nice job of accepting the role he’s got and trying to expand on it.”

Minter said he studied Dansby’s approach to the game and is ready.

“It’s exciting when you’re able to actually do what you were brought in here to do,” Minter said. “I paid my dues last year, I feel like, just standing by Karlos and watching him, watching a true professional work, and I feel like it’s my time now.” (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Kevin Minter has big shoes to fill:

With inside linebacker Karlos Dansby leaving Arizona for Cleveland, the Cardinals are counting on 2013 second-round pick Kevin Minter to fill his spot. Minter played special teams last year and got in for only one defensive snap.

“He doesn’t need to be Karlos,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told the team’s website. “He needs to be Kevin.”

Minter has a reputation as a run stuffer, and coaches are confident he’ll acquit himself well, if not fully compensate for Dansby’s loss. Minter said he learned a lot from Dansby, who had 122 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 19 pass breakups last season.

“It was a little bit frustrating last year, but at the same time, you couldn’t help but learn,” Minter said. “Karlos treated it like a business. He came to work every day to work, whether it was eating the right things, watching film, doing extra workouts. He was a great role model. With what he left, I feel like I can pick up the slack.” (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)