Daryl Washington isn’t concerned how the Cardinals will fare without him when he begins serving a four-game suspension to begin the regular season.
The starting inside linebacker, fresh off his first Pro Bowl selection, is worried they’re going to be in such good hands with the players who replace him that he just might become irrelevant.
“The organization did a great job of bringing in some depth to the team, especially on defense,” said Washington, 26, who led the club last season with 140 tackles and nine sacks. “I mean, they added Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley, they drafted (Kevin) Minter, and you can never count out Reggie Walker.
“Those guys are going to do a fantastic job. Hopefully they don’t do too good of a job or people are going to start forgetting about five-eight.”
They won’t forget about Washington, who wears No. 58, not after the way he has terrorized opposing quarterbacks and running backs his first three years in the league. His ability to combine uncanny speed with strength and explosiveness quickly catapulted him to stardom.
Though he hasn’t even reached his peak, he already was being compared to some of the game’s elite linebackers.
Bob McManaman, azcentral.com.
REASON FOR OPTIMISM
Palmer represents a three-victory improvement over his immediate predecessors if he plays the way he played for Oakland last season. The rest of the team should respond favorably to an upgrade at the most important position. The offensive line is healthier and deeper than it was a year ago. First-year general manager Steve Keim has brought a more proactive approach to personnel. The Cardinals have made themselves better throughout the roster as a result.
REASON FOR PESSIMISM
The current NFC West is no place to attempt a rebuilding project. Even if some defensive players didn’t like the previous scheme, there’s no denying the results. Arizona’s defense ranked among the NFL’s top five in interception rate, third-down conversion rate, red zone efficiency, Total QBR, passing yards, sack rate and first downs. Bowles’ Philadelphia Eagles ranked a respective 32nd, 32nd, 27th, 32nd, 14th, fourth and 22nd in those categories during his run as coordinator from Week 7 through season’s end. Also, Bowles won’t have inside linebacker Daryl Washington for the first four games because of his suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
The emphasis on big plays is obvious in practice. Palmer frequently pushes the ball deep to Fitzgerald and Floyd. Arians has told players he wants six to eight explosive plays per game. He defines explosive plays as passes covering at least 25 yards and rushes covering at least 15 yards. Arizona tied for the league low with 32 drives featuring at least one play fitting Arians’ explosive profile, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The league average was 45 such drives, and San Francisco was two off the league high with 58, while Seattle had 45 and St. Louis had 35. Arians’ Indianapolis Colts had 46. His Steelers ranked 11th with 230 such drives from 2007 through 2011, when Arians was coordinator.
Mike Sando, ESPN.com.
The hotel beds are comfortable. The crowds are decent. And, so far, the grass at University of Phoenix Stadium remains among the few green things in the Valley.
Most reviews about the Cardinals’ first training camp in Glendale have been positive, but it’s early. The team is a week or so into a monthlong stay, so it will be interesting to see how the beds, crowds and grass hold up.
“It’s pretty good, man, just being in the city,” said linebacker Karlos Dansby, in his second stint with the team. “Not having to go way up to (Flagstaff), driving in the rain, raining every evening, not having to deal with? It’s cool.”
Several other players made similar comments. Center Lyle Sendlein said it’s nice not spending so much time in vans, being shuttled to various buildings at Northern Arizona University.
In Glendale, players ride a short distance from the Renaissance Hotel and Spa to the stadium and back.
The grass field at the stadium, said tackle Levi Brown, is among the better surfaces in the NFL.
And has anyone mentioned the beds at the Renaissance?
“Amazing,” Brown called them. “If you want to know, amazing.”
Kent Somers, azcentral.com.