The big news surrounding the Arizona Cardinals this week has been the highly-anticipated return of quarterback Kyler Murray. Following a 1-8 start, the team's fans desperately need something to get stoked about. Murray being under center for the first time in 11 months should be more than enough to get State Farm Stadium rocking this coming Sunday.
Lost in all of the Murray excitement is the return to the desert of a former Cardinals great. Calais Campbell, a second-round draft pick of the club 15 years ago, will be coming back to town as a member of the 4-5 Atlanta Falcons. Rest assured, the mammoth defensive end would like nothing better than to spoil Murray's 2023 debut.
It's amazing that Campbell, after all of these years, is still earning a living as a professional football player. What's even more astonishing is that the 37-year-old is still performing at a more than respectable level. It may be a good idea for Cards offensive coordinator Drew Petzing to design a game plan that includes working around the still-capable Campbell.
Back in March, Campbell inked a one-year, $7 million deal with the Falcons. The Denver native had entered free agency after spending the previous three campaigns with the Baltimore Ravens. Before that, Campbell enjoyed a three-year stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the squad he left Arizona for back in 2017.
Calais Campbell will be aiming to make life miserable for the Arizona Cardinals offense this coming Sunday
In nine starts this season, Campbell has racked up 29 tackles, three sacks and nine quarterback hits for the Atlanta defense. Just last week, the 6 foot 8, 282 pounder made a standout play against another ex-Cardinal who's now playing for the Minnesota Vikings. Joshua Dobbs, Minnesota's new starting signal-caller, was sacked by Campbell for a safety during the second quarter of the Falcons heartbreaking defeat.
For nine campaigns (2008-16), Campbell wreaked havoc for the "Big Red" defensive unit. As a rookie performer, the six-time Pro Bowler was a part of the Kurt Warner-led squad that fell just short of an upset victory in Super Bowl XLIII. During the 138 games that he dressed for, Campbell totaled 501 tackles, 56.5 sacks, 42 passes defensed and 124 quarterback hits for the Cards franchise.
There's no doubt that all eyes will be on Murray when Arizona takes on Atlanta in Week 10. The attention being given to the polarizing passer has definitely overshadowed the homecoming for one of the organization's favorite sons. It will be interesting to see what type of reception will be waiting for Campbell when he emerges from the visitor's locker room this coming weekend.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com)