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Defensive Veterans Make the Difference for Cardinals

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While perusing the internet I ran across an article at Scout.com's azredreport. If you've never checked out the site, it's worth a look and it might be the Cardinals site updated most often throughout the off season (just in case you're craving some Arizona Cardinals coverage, like I am). This article focuses on the defensive veterans most likely to ____. That obviously doesn't make a lot of sense, so I'll just jump right in before we all get too confused.

 

New veteran most likely to make an immediate impact: DE/OLB Travis LaBoy

My Take: I admittedly am not as big on the LaBoy signing as most fans have been/are, for three reasons. 1-I'm concerned that he lost his job in his final year with the Titans after gradually working his way into the starting lineup the three previous seasons. 2-I wonder how much of his 2007 season was a result of the rest of the defensive line. That group sent two players to the Pro Bowl as starters. LaBoy finished tied for third in sacks among his D-line mates. 3-It normally takes more than an off season for a defensive end to transition to an outside line backer. He might jump right in there and lead the team in sacks considering the knock on him has always been he's a good pass rusher but can't handle to run, but it would surprising if he can pick it up that quickly.

My Pick: Clark Haggans is the only guy who's had significant experience at outside linebacker. That means they will probably use him more in coverage and let the other guys focus on rushing the passer, but he can still be a force as long as his snaps are limited. Last year was a down year for him,in Pittsburgh, but he started out great (3.5 sacks in first 5 games) but got worn down by too much playing time.

Veteran most likely to be replaced in starting lineup: DE Antonio Smith

My Take: I understand their reasoning with Smith considering he'll be an unrestricted free agent after this season and that two defensive ends were drafted to compete with him. I think Smith will have every motivation to have a career year though. He'll be entering free agency at a prime age (27) and if he can build on his 5.5 sack season from 2007, he'll be in line for a big payday. Campbell should push for time but Smith's experience should hold him off and he might even benefit from a rotation that'll keep him fresh the entire season.

My Pick: Eric Green will have to play much better than he did in 2007 or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will take over by mid-season. He'll have to do better than 8 passes defended and zero picks to hold off the promising rookie.

Veteran most likely to suffer a season-ending injury: DE Bertrand Berry

My Take: This is a no-brainer. Berry's only played in 27 games the past three seasons and restructured his contract in February because the team was reportedly considering releasing the soon-to-be 33 year old veteran.

Veteran most likely to resurrect their career: DT Bryan Robinson

My Take: Robinson's not a bad choice but I don't see how he'll get many snaps. He has the size to play both tackle and end but he'd be third on the depth chart at tackle and fourth at end (assuming Campbell beats him out). If he's that far down the chart he'll probably only get limited snaps as the final member of the rotation. He could surprise though if the Cardinals play more 4-3 than we expect.

My Pick: If Antrel Rolle can be considered a veteran, then he's my pick. I really like the idea of moving him to free safety and his success or failure at the change in positions could go a long way to shoring up the 28th ranked pass defense in 2007.

Veteran most likely to get a restructured contract: SS Adrian Wilson

My Take: It's had to disagree with Wilson as the pick here unless they can pull some serious magic and get Dansby locked up. Dansby seems content to put up another solid season then test the free market though. Boldin would be the only other option but Wilson has been with the team so much longer that he's probably ahead of Q in line.

So what do you think? Disagree/Agree?