For what it’s worth in June, defensive edition

Posted by Darren Urban on June 26, 2014 – 12:15 pm

As we come to the end of June (and the beginning of a little time off), it’s time for my annual pre-vacation pair of posts – the ones in which I take a stab at who will be in the starting lineup on opening day, which in this case will be Monday night against the Chargers. Some picks are obvious. Some are not. We’ll defense today, offense tomorrow. And then we’ll wait to see what training camp brings.

(For the offense, click here.)

DE – Darnell Dockett. There are a lot of questions, given Dockett’s age and 2015 salary, about what his situation will be next season. But this season, Dockett will be right where he always is – in the starting lineup. The Cards do like to rotate on the line. It’s necessary for good defenses to stay effective. And rookies Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson will get some time.

NT – Dan Williams. It’s a big year for Williams, who goes into the last year of his contract. He might have been pushed by Alameda Ta’amu, but Ta’amu is coming off knee surgery. Ta’amu will return early in the season, and the one-two combination will help. It has to start with Williams, though.

DE – Calais Campbell. He’s deserved Pro Bowl consideration the last couple of years, even if he hasn’t gotten it. When the Cardinals’ braintrust say they hope Martin turns into another Campbell, that says something.

ROLB – John Abraham. Abraham turned into a real find last year. He was supposed to be a part-time pass rusher and proved to be much more. He’s ahead of Sam Acho these days, but at some point, Acho (who’s in the last year of his contract) or someone has to step forward to provide a future.

ILB – Kevin Minter. He was going to be a starter as soon as Karlos Dansby left. Now, with Daryl Washington absent, there is a lot on the second-year man.

ILB – Larry Foote. There is a chance Lorenzo Alexander could win this job, but I think Alexander will end up filling multiple depth roles and Foote will get the starts. His signing has proved to be fortuitous given Washington’s situation.  What will be interesting to watch will be where someone like Kenny Demens fits in – with Washington out, there’s an opportunity for someone.

LOLB – Matt Shaughnessy. The Cardinals had the best run defense in the NFL last season in large part because Shaughnessy was so solid. It’s what you’d expect when you have a former defensive end playing outside in the 3-4. The Cardinals are hoping Alex Okafor develops down the road, but his inexperience leaves him a question mark for now.

CB – Patrick Peterson. Forget the criticisms (yes, he needs to get better, like everyone) and forget the chatter of who is the best, which is really meaningless anyway. He’s an anchor, and he’ll be an anchor for a long time.

CB – Antonio Cromartie. He looked healthy in the offseason and that’s a good sign. If he can regain the consistent level of play he’s had in the past, the Cardinals will be in great shape for their coverage.

FS – Rashad Johnson. With Tyrann Mathieu on the mend, Johnson is the natural choice. He’s a vet who won’t make mistakes. Tony Jefferson has been playing strong safety in offseason work, but Jefferson should be in the mix when dime packages are used.

SS – Deone Bucannon. The aforementioned Jefferson was running first unit in the offseason but the Cardinals are going to play their first-round pick if he shows anything in camp. I expect that to happen and Bucannon will get his shot as the season begins.

Tomorrow, we’ll have the offense.


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

  1. By jwoodaz on Jun 26, 2014 | Reply

    I like it, in sinc with last year as key depth on mend, which still made for a solid and impressive D.. Thanks for all you do and your staff, it means alot..

  2. By D on Jun 26, 2014 | Reply

    Many careers will be on the line this year pertaining to our LB’s.
    Really the only three players that you can bet will be on the team past this year is Minter, Shaughnessy, Okafor and maybe assume Demens if he makes the team this year.

    Meaning Abraham, Sims, Foote and Washington will probably not be and on the bubble would be Alexander, Acho and Benard.

    I see a OLB and ILB high in next years draft.

    Our secondary will be solid especially if Bethel shows some game at CB so he could replace Cromartie after he gets Dansby whipped next spring…

    The DLine has some solid depth. Hopefully Martin can rotate and play well in spots this year so he can replace DD after this season. I see Stinson being a F. Rucker type player..

    On a side note, the reason I dislike and don’t watch soccer is because a tie and a loss gets a team to advance…what kind of game gives you a medal for trying and or losing?

  3. By Louis on Jun 26, 2014 | Reply

    RE: Side note

    No one received a medal for trying or losing. USA advanced for being the second best team in the group. The round of 16 is single elimination. Try and understand how the tournament works before you judge the most popular sport in the WORLD. Nube

  4. By clssylssy on Jun 27, 2014 | Reply

    We look to have one of the best secondaries in the league and I have confidence in our veterans as, even if they have slowed a bit they have the experience to read and react and don’t have to play catch up on learning the basic playbook, although I’m sure there will be new stuff. I’m hopeful that Minter will prove as good as we had hoped when he was drafted but missing a year puts him in the same situation as Cooper. It’s early yet but it just doesn’t seem that either of these guys have that “Wow” factor that BA is always talking about and perhaps that is just because the rookies have been so hyped. It will be really great to see them in training camp and preseason when they have the actual opportunity to put on pads and play something that resembles football. Dockett has always been a consistent contributor to this team and to start making inferences that he would give less than 100% because he was nearing the end of his contract seems really unfair and a cheap shot. With the focus by most teams on defense this season, let’s hope the Cards will continue to have one of the best and Steve K will have planned accordingly.

  5. By D on Jun 27, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Louis, who cares what the World thinks, American Football is King!

    Back to football, a history lesson for Cards fans, go back to the 1994 team, first year of Buddy ball…did you know he had more RB’s on the roster than WRs. Look at his starting LB’s that year…very impressive, 3 out of 4 were first round draft picks…Hill, Miller, Joyner and Marshall…that was a bad a** group…

    Granted they finished 8-8 because of crappy QB play…but the defense was rated 3rd in the league..

  6. By azqfan on Jun 27, 2014 | Reply

    Louis, the fact is you can advance in the “playoffs” of soccer, the world cup, with a loss. I can not think of ANY other sport where that is the case. That’s one reason why it will never surpass the NFL in popularity in this country.

  7. By Chuck 1 on Jun 27, 2014 | Reply

    Someone inferred that Dockett “would give less than 100%”? Who?

  8. By shannon robinson on Jun 27, 2014 | Reply

    Todd Bowles was a crushing tackler at safety for the Skins – I got to watch him bring the wood to receivers in the days when they were fair game. I liked Y Bell for what he could do, but finally Coach has a SS who can play the game like he did. Mr. Keim put this defense together with a lot of deliberation and a long term plan, which includes the ability to finance it. So there’s no accident that Minter, Foote, Alexander, and Demens, along with my new favorite Glen Carson, are on the roster to do this job at ILB. Kudos to the scouts and front office for giving us the Twins to our franchise players: Martin for Campbell and Stinson for Dockett. Oh and thanks for A. Cromartie. This Defense is just as much about the guys they let walk as the guys they kept. Anybody miss S.Bradley, D. Carter, R. Talley, Fleming, W. Gay, K. Rhodes, G. Toler, P. Lenon, Schofield, and J. Sanders? OK at the time and time to move on. Just Win Baby.

  9. By louis on Jun 28, 2014 | Reply

    thats a diffent louis not me .

  10. By desertpirate on Jun 28, 2014 | Reply

    Gonna be a tough job getting points against this D.

  11. By Big Ken on Jun 28, 2014 | Reply

    RE:Side Note And the big story. Two players collide on the field and one chases the other down bites him on the back shoulder, get kicked out of the tournament. Wow that’s exciting play. Now what scratching and hair pulling? Bring on the real football.

  12. By BigAl on Jun 30, 2014 | Reply

    by shannon robinson,
    Actually Shannon…at first I did miss some of those guys you mentioned…,
    S.Bradley, D. Carter, R. Talley, Fleming, K. Rhodes, G. Toler, Schofield & even
    P. Lenon who was getting up there… if younger he;d of been perfect to fill in for D.
    Wash this year…All those guys served us well back when the offense was terrible…
    so yes I did appreciate their efforts & dedication going back…But I do agree w/you
    Keim has proven to be astep ahead for the most part…I say that only because of the D Wash situation & even tho the commish didn’t officially let us know until after the draft??? I felt all along we should have been looking for an inside linebacker!!! I mean they new he was gonna get blasted they had to! Well they should have…Even if Minter can step into Dansby’s spot…They still should have found an insurance policy for D Wash…if nothing else it would have sent a much
    needed message!!!

  13. By Dynosoar on Jun 30, 2014 | Reply


    For perspective, NBA, NHL and MLB, there’s three sports where you can advance with a loss in the playoffs. In fact, you can advance with 3 losses as long as you win 4.

    The reason, I believe, Soccer will never replace football is there is no opportunity for advertising except before the game, at halftime and after a game. They play 45 minutes without a break. Unlike our football that actually has commercial time outs. I’d love for football to have a lot less commercials so I could watch more of the game.

    I’m not arguing for futball over football, I enjoy both. And find it perfectly ok if someone else does not enjoy them both. I do and that works for me.

    Soccer uses the same point system as hockey, 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a loss. It’s different, but over a series of games, the better teams rise to the top.

  14. By much.faster on Jul 1, 2014 | Reply

    @D, you wrote: ” On a side note, the reason I dislike and don’t watch soccer is because a tie and a loss gets a team to advance…what kind of game gives you a medal for trying and or losing? ”

    what kind of game?

    maybe the nfl, or did you know a team, who did advance into the postseason last year, who did not loose a game durting the season ?

    do you dislike the nfl for let advancing the hawks, or the broncos to the bowl, albeit they lost games during the season?

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