NFL offseason: Arizona Cardinals counting on John Abraham for more big sack numbers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 36-year old will be needed to accomplish their season goals.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was in Greensboro for a fund raiser recently and spoke to Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer D. Orlando Ledbetter. In the interview, Ledbetter asked him about linebacker John Abraham, who was let go by the Atlanta Falcons last offseason (Ledbetter covers the Falcons) and signed a two-year contract with Arizona at the start of training camp.

After Abraham's 11.5 sacks in 2013, the team will be counting on him again to get to the quarterback.

"He did it last year and there's no reason to think he's going to slow down," Arians said. "He's one of those freaks of nature. He just keeps getting it done. We are looking forward to another big year out of him."

When he was introduced to the media, general manager Steve Keim talked about expecting 20 sacks over two seasons. With 11.5 last season, that would mean 8.5 this year to meet that expected production.

Abraham, though, has loftier goals as he has said he would like to get 20 sacks this season and be an every down player like he was once the Cardinals linebacking corps were ravaged by injuries. He played in almost 80 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2013, but began the season as a situational pass rusher.

His sack production came once he was on the field more.

The key is whether he will be able to play that much again. At age 36, you never know when Father Time will come calling.

At the same time, while the team is counting on his sacks, they are not completely lost without it. Alex Okafor has impressed in offseason drills, Sam Acho returns from injury and rookie Kareem Martin will get some looks off the edge.

Is there really "no reason to think he's going to slow down?" Production from players his age can drop rapidly. Joey Porter went from nine sacks the season prior to coming to Arizona and went to five and then one in successive seasons. He went from impactful to bad very quickly and he was used on almost every down when he was a Cardinal.

But Abraham still has speed and size. If he stays healthy and can hold up in the run game, which he did effectively last season and Arians publicly praised on more than one occasion, then Arizona could be the on the receiving end of another huge season from one of the greatest pass rushers of this generation.

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