Daryl Washington suspension: How will the Arizona Cardinals manage at ILB?

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

They are not deep at the position.

So Daryl Washington was suspended for at least year because of a positive drug test. That puts the Arizona Cardinals in a bind at inside linebacker.

In 2013, they had one of the most dynamic pair of players in Washington and departed Karlos Dansby, who left in free agency to play for the Cleveland Browns.

Now the Cardinals have tenuous depth at the position.

The team now has the following players at inside linebacker: second-year player Kevin Minter (expected starter), veteran free agent pick up Larry Foote (now a projected starter), veteran Lorenzo Alexander (listed at outside linebacker, but might be moved inside full time now), Keenan Clayton (a four-year pro recently signed), returners from the 2013 practice squad Kenny Demens and JoJo Dickson and undrafted rookies Jonathan Brown and Glenn Carson.

Of that group, only Foote has started more than one game inside.

The Cardinals have reportedly worked out Ernie Sims as well, and he is expecting to hear from the team by Monday or Tuesday.

There are some veterans, mostly aged and have durability concerns, but they could go that route.

But the Cardinals aren't in terrible shape. Minter is expected to be solid. That is the hope, at least. If Foote is healthy, and aside from 2013, he has been durable, he is a very good player. In 2012, he logged 113 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

Alexander has proven in his career to be a solid backup in addition to his elite play on special teams.

If they have three guys that can do the job well, are the Cardinals really in bad shape?

They do lose some dynamic playmaking, but that doesn't mean the defense will suddenly be terrible. Foote is very good. Minter is expected to be good. If Alexander is even decent as depth, that's probably enough, and that doesn't even consider any of the younger guys that coul develop into playmakers.

So while the Cardinals will clearly miss Washington defensively, is it that dire?

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