GLENDALE — Karlos Dansby had never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame before but there he stood last week on the field at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, watching the new class of inductees being introduced with his Arizona Cardinals teammates before the game against the Dallas Cowboys.
It was a moment the veteran linebacker hopes he can again be a part of one day, only as one of those to be enshrined.
“That’s my expectation, is to be there,” Dansby said. “It’s been my expectation since Day 1, before I even got on the field. To have that admiration and to be that ambitious, and to be there Thursday night knowing these guys being inducted are guys I played with and to congratulate them, they want to see me get there, too.”
Dansby has some numbers that help make his case for Canton. The 35-year-old in his 14th NFL season leads all active players in tackles with 1,317, according to Stats INC. He’s one interception away from having 40-plus sacks and 20 or more interceptions (six returned for a touchdown) in a career, an achievement that belongs to only four other players, all retired.
Two of those four could be first-ballot Hall of Famers in next year’s class, Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher.
“If I get it, you have to honor that,” Dansby said.
Dansby is back with the Cardinals on a one-year contract this season, his third stint with the team that originally drafted him in the second round in 2004. He’s atop the depth chart at one inside linebacker position, often leading the defensive huddle in training camp practices.
Dansby is coming off a season in which he posted 114 total tackles to lead the Cincinnati Bengals, and is the first player in Cardinals history to play for the team three separate times.
“It’s sweet, man. Can’t put it into words,” Dansby said of his return. “Coming back is a true blessing. The opportunity, the expectations, I couldn’t write this if I tried.”
Head coach Bruce Arians has a penchant for making sure he has a well-seasoned veteran or two at linebacker each year. Dansby also played for Arians in 2013.
“When you’re filling out your roster, you don’t want to have to put rookies in positions through injuries and have them fail, you’d rather have a veteran,” Arians said. “If you can fill those four spots @ inside ‘backer or an outside ‘backer with a veteran player, and then the fifth guy is your young guy, you’re better off.”
Dansby is also a mentor to the younger Cardinals players, as one who has been a part of a couple of the franchise’s best seasons. He has played in six playoffs games, including a Super Bowl, with the Cardinals.
“I just want to inspire guys. I know me being on the field is inspiring, and that’s all I want to be able to do is just to inspire guys to be the best they can,” Dansby said.
His secret to such a long career?
“I just pray every day,” Dansby said. “It’s humbling. I desire to be one of the best to ever play the game, and right now I’m knocking on the doorstep.”
Newly inducted Hall of Famer Kurt Warner worked Tuesday’s practice with the NFL Network broadcast crew. . WR John Brown (quadriceps) returned to practice Tuesday, but was limited. He’d missed more than a week. . OT D.J. Humphries (hamstring) did not practice but could return Wednesday.