Cards D Will Require Davis to Get Creative

Clark Haggans (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)

The Cardinals took steps this offseason to upgrade a defense that often was road-graded in 2009, although it played well in the playoffs.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt fired defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and promoted linebackers coach Bill Davis. The Cardinals added cornerback Bryant McFadden, a free agent from the Steelers, and leaned toward defense in the draft, taking two outside linebackers and a cornerback.

Davis has kept the same defensive principles and verbiage. But there will be changes. Davis has expanded the playbook, and much of the voluntary practices were spent going over and over the new packages.

The changes haven't addressed all of the team's concerns. While the secondary has been upgraded, the pass rush is questionable. Unless the Cardinals can consistently apply pressure, the secondary is going to have to be great in order to hold up.

The team's best pass rushers are old. Outside linebacker Clark Haggans is 32. The other starting outside linebacker, Chike Okeafor, is 33, and last year's team sack leader, Bertrand Berry, turns 34 in August.

Defensive end Darnell Dockett can apply some pressure, so look for the club to move him around to create favorable matchups. The hope is that defensive end Calais Campbell, entering his second year, will become a force in his first season as a starter.

But overall, it's going to take some creativity on Davis' part to produce a rush. Look for him to use strong safety Adrian Wilson and inside linebacker Karlos Dansby on a variety of blitzes.

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