NFL training camp: Arizona Cardinals developing 'motor' pass rush

Kevin C. Cox

Cards have one elite guy and a collection of high energy players

One major concern about the Arizona Cardinals defense has been the outside pass rush. They had one of the higher sack totals in the NFL in 2012, but much of that came from inside pressure, and the number of sacks dwindled later in the season.

The recent acquisition of John Abraham changes the outlook completely. However, he is the not the only player that should change the outlook.

Abraham is clearly one of the best in football at getting to the passer. In his 13th season, he logged 10 sacks and six forced fumbles. The team is hoping he can get 10-11 this year and a total of about 20 over the two years they have him signed for.

But they want sacks from their other guys on the edge, and they have collected a particular type of guys -- high motor players.

"Most sacks are effort," said Bruce Arians over the weekend. "And there's a few elite guys, but the rest that get sacks, it's just motor."

That would apply to Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho, rookie Alex Okafor and free agent addition Matt Shaughnessy.

Alexander is one of the more intriguing players because he has not been a full time starter on defense in the league. But Arians likes what he has seen on film and likes the makeup. He is high energy and Arians says that the fact he was the NFC special teams Pro Bowl player "tells you all about the guy."

Alexander has a motor that doesn't quit. Acho doesn't give up on plays. Okafor, the rookie out of Texas, has the same reputation and that is what accounted for the 12.5 sacks he logged in his final college season.

Shuaghnessy is also another interesting player. He has been a 4-3 defensive end for his career, and his reputation is for being a high energy player, but very good at stopping the run. The team is counting on that motor in the pass rush. They have had him opposite Abraham in nickel packages.

It also tells you a little bit about why the team was willing to let O'Brien Schofield go. He had the talent to be the "elite" guy at getting to the passer, but when the team added Abraham, he became expendable. The one thing he was not considered was a high motor guy on defense.

Abraham and a bunch of high effort players off the edge? That doesn't sound bad at all.

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