For what it’s worth in June, defensive edition

Posted by Darren Urban on June 18, 2012 – 8:31 am

OK, so I missed a year (darn the lockout!) but with the end of offseason work and with my time off finally arriving, it’s that time. The proper sendoff into that dead area prior to training camp is my educated guesstimate for the starting lineups come Sept. 9 when Seattle visits University of Phoenix Stadium. Defense today, offense tomorrow. We’ll see if these choices come to fruition, although there is a long, long way to go. A lot can change. So, as always, remember this is just an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering:

DEDarnell Dockett. I’m anxious to see how he performs with a full season of knowing what he’s doing in Ray Horton’s scheme.

NTDan Williams. He was playing better when he got hurt. David Carter was solid as a rookie, but Williams is the key here. He needs more consistency. He knows that.

DECalais Campbell. New contract in hand, time to build on what he started.

ROLBSam Acho. He was better than anyone could have expected as a rookie.

SILBParis Lenon. Maybe Stewart Bradley emerges at some point, but Bradley’s time on the bench has been as much about Lenon’s incredibly solid play as Bradley’s own play. Lenon just won’t let anyone dislodge him.

WILBDaryl Washington. Hard not to see him as emerging star.

LOLBO’Brien Schofield. He’s itching to be a starter and to prove he belongs. Now’s his chance. He wants to have the same impact Acho did, and the Cards need him to do just that.

RCBGreg Toler. Yes, William Gay was there this offseason and yes, Gay has a good chance to be the starter. But for some reason, I think Toler finds his way there. Both are going to play regardless.

LCBPatrick Peterson. Pro Bowl status as return man. Now he needs to make it so as cover guy.

FSKerry Rhodes. Remember how Adrian Wilson burned so much in camp last year – before he got hurt – to make up for his struggles the year before? That’s the sense I get from Rhodes, who is still frustrated from last years’ broken foot and I think wants to show everyone how good he can be.

SS – Wilson. One thing you never have to worry about from Wilson is motivation. The boulder on his shoulder draws from different places, but it never goes away. Horton thinks Wilson will be even better this year now that he’s comfortable in the defense.

Offense is up tomorrow.

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41 Responses to “For what it’s worth in June, defensive edition”

  1. By Chris on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    I may be over stepping but I think this defense can be top 10 this year and can be top 5 in the coming years. The players will be much more comfortable coming into it now and will be able to play quicker. Then if we can generate some turnovers, it’s going to be one heck of a show to watch.

  2. By Kurt on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Looks dead on barring somebody going down

  3. By Louisville Card on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Nice article as usual Darren, was this the easiest year you’ve had at picking Defense starters…not to many holes to fill this year lucky for you and the rest of us fans. Basically it’s just Toler/Gay battle wouldn’t you think? Bradley realistically isn’t going to take Lennon or Washington out agreed?

  4. By Darren Urban on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Louisville —

    RE: Picking D

    That’s probably a fair assessment.

  5. By Ditship on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Not a whole lot of Drama here selecting defensive starters aye? Don’t envy your spot tomorrow. I’m HOPING Bradley steps up this season and takes the spot from Lenon.. and not because I think Lenon plays poorly, but that I think Bradley can play at a higher level and he’s younger.

    I think our CB depth looks fantastic.. and I just wonder where Flemming ends up sitting by season end.. It really sounds like this guy was a solid pick though we’ll see how that goes.

    Absolutely love our front 3 and the depth behind them.

    OLB has a lot of questions but I’m excited about the youth we have there. I do think Acho is going to be a stud and Schofield will be a good starter. I’m a big fan of the Q.Groves pickup and giving a physically gifted guy a chance in a new system.. and if he doesn’t pan out it wasn’t our 1st round pick that busted.

    And finally I’m hoping both our Safeties stay healthy this year because I feel they can be a top tandem in the league in this system. Mid Last year I was starting to think Wilson had finally hit the wall… I was so happy to be wrong.

  6. By Javier Montoya on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Those names on that list… that is a lot of talent… Hope we Knock the F*** out of Alex Smith and any of the punk QB’s in the division and league. Sick of these punks. Its time to own it.

  7. By Dave on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    I agree 100%. I think I’ll get a Lenon jersey too. I identify a lot with his blue collar, put-up or shutup,
    quiet confidence. It’s hard not to root for a guy like that.

  8. By C on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Not a lot of surprises here, nor should there be. If Toler returns healthy with a season of learning the defense in the meeting room, and Williams hasn’t lost momentum coming back from his broken arm?

    This defense could be very, very good.

    Darren, were you surprised that Bradley wasn’t a cap casualty? Maybe it’s the lack of an off-season last year but he really didn’t seem to fit at all last season.

  9. By Darren Urban on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    C —

    RE: Bradley cap

    He did take a pay cut from $5 million to $2.5 million. That helped the cause.

  10. By Darren on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    On a different note…and sorry if you answered this in another thread
    Do you know how much cap space (if any) is available?

  11. By Darren Urban on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Darren —

    RE: Cap space

    I have not seen that recently.

  12. By Andy Kw on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Best defense in the NFL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. By Brian on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Get ready for a big year from this unit…top 5 defense if injuries are minimal.

  14. By cards4life on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Interesting picking toler oppsite peterson, I like it Toler was on the rise befor last yr. injury needs improvment on his zne coverage from the last time I saw him play but he strength is tackling hits like a safety and about as sure a tackler you kind find in a corner which should make horton happy

  15. By samir on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Not only is coach wiz high on fleming, so are many people outside the cards coachind staff. I have to admit im impressed in what ive seen so far. Baring injury to toler or gay, does he have a legit shot at startung this year?

  16. By Darren Urban on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Samir —

    RE: Fleming

    I don’t see him starting as a rookie, but we’ll see. I’m not ruling anything out.

  17. By Ben on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    LOVE IT!!!!

  18. By DanH on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    It’s been a great time to be a Cards fan these last few years. Not a Garth Jax or Fred Wakefield in the bunch.

    BTW Darren – has anyone in marketing looked at any sort of cross-promotion with the Angry Birds franchise? My five-year old is an iPhone junkie and perks up everytime I wear Cards gear or watch games. I’d love to have an Angry Card antenna topper or bobblehead . . . 😀

  19. By Darren Urban on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Dan H —

    RE: Angry birds

    Not sure. The Eagles just pulled the trigger on it though.

  20. By Jesse Robles on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    The Cardinals D is going to be so sick, depth, and knowledge on what is going on now. I can’t wait to stop the Seahawks. The Cardinals have a semi tough schedule, just win the Division and take it from their. Defense Wins Championships, lets just hope the coaches are picking up Ray Hortons Defense too, considering he might be gone next year.

  21. By in fitz we trust on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    our defense is going to be great, just to name the stars, dockett an campbell up front, lenon n washington in the middle, peterson rhodes and wilson in the back, we have solid playmakers on every level of the defense,with a great depth of talent aswell, we should be the defense that suprises the league this year!! we should be talked about on nfl network and on espn through out the season!!!!

  22. By Sport245245 on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    The picture of 21 and 58 is one of two NFL stars ready for breakout years. They were solid last year, but I’m looking for these guys to really dominate. Just think, Cardinal fans, only 5 weeks to Flagstaff and training camp. Can’t wait to get out of the heat and enjoy the pines for a week.

  23. By Scott H on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Good for Paris Lenon, taking that won’t-be-denied attitude AND making it happen. Any great team needs guys like that.

  24. By Scott H on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Dan H –

    I was thinking the same. AND since you asked about it, you’ll probably love this – we just had a gathering at our place and a friend brought her little boy, 5 years old. He was playing with other kids in my basement, which is decorated with Cardinals stuff everywhere you look. And he wanted to know why that football team was wearing Angry Birds on their helmets! Honestly, he didn’t believe there was a football team called the Cardinals. They were the Angry Birds and that was that! Funny…

    But, yes, how does anyone look at that red Angry Bird and NOT think of the Cardinals logo??? Anyone who is not 5 years old, that is…

  25. By Chris Lewis on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    I hate to speak too soon, but with the talent we have, our defense should be right up there with the Buddy Ryan defenses of years past. If anyone remembers those dominating defenses, this is something to be excied about. If our defense plays up to its potential, that takes a lot of pressure off of our offense, which doesn’t have to score a lot of points, just be efficient. I hate to give our rival 49ers kudos, but they’re doing things the right way, with a dominating defense and smart, efficient offense. It’s not exciting, but it wins games, which I hope we can do the same this year and overtake the 49ers for the division title. I can’t wait!

  26. By John the Draft Guy on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Pretty easy. Looks like our starting unit. I know This coaching staff is not big on starting rookies, especially with Horton’s defense, but I believe at some point Fleming takes over at CB. The only debatable spot out there. Got to believe it would take a really strong camp for Fleming to jump over both Gay and Toler. But I’m one that believes he could do just that.

    Interesting that no one is saying last years starter will challenge. How far has AJ Jefferson fallen?

    Can’t wait till you roll out the offense tomorrow. Are you naming the starter at QB? Go ahead and unleash the debate.

    Also interested if you think Roberts or Doucet will be the slot. OK, you could get around that one by going 2 wrs, Te, and FB, and RB.

    Massie seems like the likely RT, can’t see you going elsewhere.

    Finally, TE is tough since different packages could go with different TEs. Starter means first offensive play. So King or Heap? Tough pick.

  27. By John the Draft Guy on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Scott H,
    What is wrong with those parents. the kid is 5 years old and doesn’t know who the Cards are? Thats just wrong. Hope you set them straight. LOL.

  28. By Mr Robles on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Darren do you know how many Cardinals made the NFL’s Top 100?

  29. By Darren Urban on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    Mr Robles –

    RE: top 100

    At this point, I only expect Fitz to be left. But I don’t know for sure.

  30. By Dre on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    On the money d toler is good corner

  31. By Cactus jeff on Jun 18, 2012 | Reply

    Running the Pittsburg style defense where the talent is in the DL and DBs not LBs….I am curious to see the results, not convinced, but there is a lot of talent on that side of the ball so if they can make it work, watch out!

  32. By Jeremie Thomas on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    If the D plays the way we did after week7 on last yr this yr we are a top 5. Expect are rookie to be big this yr. Toler wont start but he will finish where u got em at and if rhodes get hurt expect that 3 rounder there by end of yr

  33. By DontTakeLoses on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    The beauty of the D is there are guys that could break thru and surprise…and others that could breakout! Go Cards.

  34. By Mr Robles on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks I was figuring just our 3 Pro Bowlers last year

  35. By Corgon on Jun 19, 2012 | Reply

    I can’t believe CC isn’t in top100.

  36. By clssylssy on Jun 20, 2012 | Reply

    AWESOME! Good defenses win Championships and we could be a contender with Horton and his newly minted defense. We got a glimpse at the end of last season and this year our guys should be killer! (figureatively speaking). The most troubling thing about our defense is a double edged sword., i.e. what a hot commodity Ray Horton is and the fact that we, as the Cardinal Nation had to suffer some palpitations last year when he was interviewed for Head Coach in St. Louis; our days are numbered I’m afraid with Horton so let’s make the most of it. Defense looking great…can’t wait to see it in action against the Saints in the HOF Game…for starters! GO CARDS!

  37. By Matt on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply


    I saw a comment up there about taking the nickname “Angry Birds” for our defense. But like you said, it looked like the Eagles beat us to the punch. You think the Cincinatti Reds fans would be upset if we took over “The Big Red Machine”?

  38. By Darren Urban on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply

    Matt —

    RE: Nickname

    I am content with Birdgang, the hashtag/nickname the players have adopted on Twitter.

  39. By Andy Kw on Jun 21, 2012 | Reply

    Did anyone search for the height of Brandon Browner (DB for the Seahawks)? He is 6-4 and had 6ints. How the heck did they get there hands on a DB that tall?

  40. By Eazy E on Jun 22, 2012 | Reply

    Almost no chance Toler beats out Gay. Gay already knows the system and is a much better player. Ball skills, tackling is a wash, feet, etc. Gay will start opposite Peterson.

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