Dec. 4, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle (90) Darnell Dockett , defensive tackle (79) David Carter and defensive end (93) Calais Campbell celebrate a first quarter missed field goal by Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals’ defensive line will definitely be able to compete among the best offensive lines in the league. The D-line has both talented young players and seasoned veterans to balance the workload.
The big three lining up on the defensive side for the Dirty Birds are Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Dan Williams. Dockett, a three time Pro-Bowler, is entering his tenth year in the NFL. Last year he had a career high 4 pass deflections. Campbell just signed a a five-year contract last month that will keep him a Cardinal through the 2016 season. Last season he was second on the team in sacks racking up 6.5.
Seasoned NFL veteran defensive-end Frostee Rucker is fitting into his new leadership role nicely. Rucker was signed to the team in March after being released by the Cleveland Browns who switched their defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a multi-front system under new coordinator and former Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The 29-year-old is entering his eighth season. He started sixteen games, finishing with 48 tackles and 4 sacks. Rucker’s largest asset to the team is locker-room presence as a mentor to the younger players.
David Carter played in sixteen games last year and started in four. This will be Carter’s third year in the league. The addition of Rucker to the line will help Carter develop, as both players are from California. The two have brought the Los Angeles crosstown rivalry to the D-line as Carter played his college ball at UCLA and Rucker at USC.
If the D-line core of Dockett, Campell and Williams can produce this year and put up some big numbers the Cardinals’ defense could be even better than last year. The Cardinals were tied for eleventh in the league in sacks with the Chargers, Browns and 49ers last year with 38.