One of the traits of a 3-4 defense is that it is built for the linebackers. The defensive line is set up to keep blockers off the second level, and that right defensive end spot manned in a traditional 4-3 scheme — usually the big sack guy for the team — is a lot different than the right defensive end in a 3-4 look.
That hasn’t stopped Calais Campbell, who has been exceptionally productive despite the limits of his duties.
“Its one of those things, you have to do your job and if everyone does their job, then there is no where for a running back to go and it becomes, who sheds his blocks the fastest,” Campbell said. “A lot of times, teams challenge me and run at me. I’ve made some plays.”
Campbell does acknowledge it is a “big difference” playing 4-3 defensive end versus a 3-4 defensive end.
Yet Campbell is third on the Cardinals in tackles — 65, trailing the 89 of both Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington, linebackers — an impressive feat for any defensive lineman. He leads the team in sacks with seven. His nine passes defenses (nothing like a good knockdown at the line of scrimmage) is by far the most of any player who doesn’t play in the secondary. And his 10 tackles for loss is second only to Washington’s 13.
“There have been a lot of effort plays, chasing the ball down,” Campbell said. “One of those things, you have to go after the ball. You can’t expect it to just come to you.”
That production means the Cards need to re-sign Campbell, a free-agent-to-be (although with the franchise tag, Campbell should be in Arizona regardless in 2012). And the funny thing? “I feel like I could play even better,” he said.
“There are a lot of plays I leave out there, plays I could make if I took the right step or trusted my instincts,” Campbell said. “I am having a good year, but that goes along with the scheme and the team effort, and guys around me are playing well and it makes it easier to make plays.”
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