Getting Defensive: Arizona Cardinals preseason game 4
James Bettcher’s defense looking to clean up run game after being mauled by the Bears.
If you were looking to see a solid defensive performance from the Cardinals’ starters on Saturday, you probably were better off flipping the channel. What usually is an inept offensive unit, the Chicago Bears took advantage of a weak front seven when the starters were on the field.
Tarik Cohen was running with the football like he stole something and collected 77 yards on just 11 carries against the starters. Not quite a concern yet, as they played only into the early minutes of the second quarter.
What will be a concern, however, is the loss of Robert Nkemdiche for the remainder of the preseason. For now, he will be out 2-3 weeks after suffering a calf strain, just ahead of the most important preseason game in Atlanta. He will sport a protective boot for now and is officially listed as “day-to-day.”
Kareem Martin looking to contribute in dime packages
When it comes to the positions of the two outside linebackers, the Arizona Cardinals are in good shape. More times than not, you’ll see perhaps one of, if not the best, pass-rush combos in the NFL in Markus Golden and Chandler Jones. But fourth-year man Kareem Martin would like to cash in his ticket to the sack party in 2017.
Martin, 6-foot-6, 272 pounds out of North Carolina, knows his time to contribute is now. With Alex Okafor now gone, Martin would like to take over his role as a pass rusher in the defense’s dime looks.
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“We ran that dime package a lot,” Martin said. “It was pretty much our main third down call, especially toward the end of the year. I’m trying to show what I can do here in camp, so when it comes to the game plan, when (defensive coordinator James Bettcher) is making these specific packages, my name is in his ear.”
The defense will have its hands full this week against a high-powered offense in the Atlanta Falcons. Albeit a preseason game and not much will be shown as far as game plans go, it will be a great test for them going forward.
Cleaning up the run game this week will be the top priority. This will be the first real look at what this defense will look like for the regular season, minus a few key pieces in Robert Nkemdiche and Deone Bucannon (who was just activated from the PUP list).
Look for the starters to play the entire first half. James Bettcher got a bit trigger happy with his Cover Zero pressures against the Bears, so don’t be surprised to see him dial it up a few times once again this Saturday.