The strength of the Arizona Cardinals is the defense and the line is a key to it. As the Cardinals open training camp at the end of the week, they can rest easy knowing they have a solid foundation on the defensive line.
This is an easy group to look at with Calais Campbell, Dan Williams and Darnell Dockett on the front line. All three are healthy and major disruptive forces in the Arizona 3-4 scheme. Dockett and Campbell have a combined $20 million cap hit and Arizona hopes they continue to perform up to their paychecks. Williams is a solid run plugging defensive tackle that helped Arizona be the best defense against the run last season.
Alameda Ta’Amu is the likely backup to Williams. He played that role well last season when Williams missed two games following the death of his father in a traffic accident. Ta’Amu is coming off of a torn ACL in the season finale against San Francisco and he might not be ready for the first week of the season. If he can’t go, Bruce Gaston, Anthony McCloud, Justin Renfrow and Christian Tupou will battle for the second spot at the position. It’s unlikely Arizona will carry three men at the defensive tackle so it’s four guys fighting for a backup role.
The defensive end situation has plenty of hope and optimism. Ed Stinson and Kareem Martin were both picked up in the draft to help lay the foundation for a solid future at the position and learn from the best. Frostee Rucker is still in the mix as he was a part-time back up last season on the line.
This position unit should fall into place as expected. Martin and Stinson might see special teams duty initially but look for them to get involved and contribute. The defensive tackle spot is where a few players can get cut and Arizona will be okay. Ta’Amu’s knee is going to be a mild question mark but this unit should be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the defense’s biggest question mark: the linebackers. They’ve taken on a new look since the end of last season due to the Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington situations.