The Cardinals need some of their young defensive players to start producing, not only for what it will mean this year but for the future.
The team plugged defensive holes last off-season with veterans, signing outside linebacker Joey Porter and inside linebacker Paris Lenon. Both, however, are 33, and the development of young players is vital.
Outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield, a fourth-round pick last spring, was drafted because of his pass rushing ability. He should start getting more snaps this season, partly because of injuries and partly because the team needs to start preparing for the future.
Porter has five sacks this season and hasn't provided consistent pressure. Clark Haggans, who starts at the other outside linebacker spot, has missed three of the past four games with a groin injury.
Haggans' backup, Will Davis, suffered a fractured fibula last week and is out for the season. That should be mean more playing time for Schofield, who started the season on the non football injury list.
Daryl Washington struggled as starting inside linebacker earlier this season and lost the job to Gerald Hayes, who returned from injury after seven games.
Washington has the speed the Cardinals lack at inside linebacker, but at 230 pounds, he's undersized to play inside. He had problems getting off blocks and tended to over-run plays.
If the team continues to struggle, however, Washington should get more playing time.