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Cardinals Line Backers Coach Bill Davis on the State of the Group

In case you missed it over the weekend, the Arizona Cardinals official site posted a Q&A session with linebackers coach, Bill Davis. Davis is entering his second season with the Cardinals but has been coaching in the NFL for 16 seasons. He's been all over the NFL with stops in Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New York (Giants) and spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator for San Francisco. If you're interested in submitting you're own questions to the coaching staff, there is a link at the bottom of this page where you can submit questions to Ken Whisenhunt. Here's a couple of the questions that were interesting:

Cards Fan Matt asked: Do you look for different skills in outside linebackers and inside linebackers? 

“There is a big difference, especially in a 3-4 defense. The outside linebackers are pass rushers first and they have to be bigger and taller to play the tight ends and tackles. On the inside, it’s a whole different animal. Those guys have to have more coverage and pass drop skills and still be big enough in a 3-4 to take on the guards. It’s a hybrid athlete inside that plays more pass coverage.”


Brandon from Mesa asked: What did the defensive coaching staff see in Karlos Dansby last year that made you want to move him to an inside backer and are you happy with the decision?

“I think it was a great move we made. He is not the edge pass rusher like say, a Chike Okeafor or a Bertrand Berry are, and that is why he doesn’t fit as well on the edge as he fits inside. He’s one of the best pass coverage linebackers and athletes I’ve been around and I’ve been around some good ones. He has a great sense of route recognition and play recognition so both on the run and with the pass Karlos has a great feel for the game. He’s a good pass rusher on backs on the interior. He has a good feel for getting through to where they are. We’ve got him in a position to make more plays because he plays inside very well.”


Mike from Chandler asked: Why do you think Chike Okeafor had such a smooth transition to play linebacker when he has played defensive end his entire career?

“Chike, to me, and I’ve told him this before, should’ve been playing his whole career as a 3-4 outside backer because of his body type, his skills and the things he does the best -- like rush the passer on the edge. He’s athletic enough to cover. When you’re his size and you go down to play end, you take a beating from those big offensive tackles. That is 16 games of fighting someone who is 50 pounds heavier than you are and it’s hard on the body. It’s a great testament to Chike that he has done so well, but now you move him out one more man and he’s matched up against more tight ends and backs and at his size, now he has the advantage. He’s the bigger of the two. I was real disappointed when he got hurt last year and I think if he stays healthy this year we’ll have a big year out of Chike.”


Christopher from Phoenix asked: Are you looking forward to having a full complement of linebackers this year with the return of Chike, Bertrand and the additions of some of the new free agents and draft picks?

“I’m real excited. I think this is one of the best groups of linebackers I’ve had in my career. In Carolina, three out of the four started in the Pro Bowl, so that is kind of tough to top. But this group has the talent to be there. We’re as deep as ever. We’re going to be able to stay fresh, run them in and out, keep the offense tired, and make plays. It’s amazing what the personnel department did in the linebacker spot this offseason because they loaded us up. We’ve got veterans now and a couple young guys that are promising but we have a group of veterans that have played a lot of NFL football.”


Bill from Glendale asked: Is there a newcomer that you are most excited to work with?

“Ali Highsmith and Chris Harrington. Ali is obviously an undrafted guy that I think is a steal. Most teams we talked to had him in the third or fourth round, but he ran a bad 40 at the Combine and he fell off. But the kid can play. Chris Harrington has been an end at Texas A&M but falls into that tweener category and I think he is going to be a good outside backer. He is going to struggle to make the team because he’ll have to beat out some of the vets but the kid has a chance. Both of those guys have a good chance.”

  • It definitely sounds like he think this linebacking core has what it takes to shut down the run and get after the quarterback. Since Davis has experience converting defensive ends to outside linebackers, it's encouraging to hear his optimism.
  • I really love the mention of Highsmith as well and I still maintain that if an undrafted free agent makes the roster it'll be this kid.

Also in case you missed the Cardinals on NFL Network, here are a couple of links to a video session with offensive coordinator Todd Haley and a tour of the facilities with Al Johnson.