|Arizona uses depth to put pressure on passers|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 11 September 2008 15:02|
Not at the same time, of course, but the team has four players who can split time at positions where pressuring quarterbacks from the edge is a prime objective.
The team brought in Travis LaBoy and Clark Haggans as free agents this season to join Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor as a formidable pass-rushing force.
``Travis said it yesterday,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``He considers Bert and himself the same guy - both No. 1s. ... We feel very good about that position. It's one of our strong points.''
In last week's 23-13 victory over San Francisco, Berry knocked the ball out of quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan's hands and had a sack. Late in the game, LaBoy sacked Sullivan, then recovered the quarterback's fumble. It was one of two sacks for LaBoy.
In Arizona's defensive scheme, LaBoy and his backup, Berry, are defensive ends, while Okeafor and backup Haggans are labeled linebackers.
LaBoy was arguably the team's biggest signing in a mostly unremarkable offseason. He came to the Cardinals after four seasons with Tennessee. Haggans signed with Arizona after eight seasons with Pittsburgh, the last four as a starter.
Berry, meanwhile, accepted a considerable pay cut to stay with the team after missing most of the past three seasons with injuries. He made the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Cardinals in 2004.
Okeafor, signed as a free agent in 2005 after two years with Seattle and four with San Francisco, missed all of last season because of a biceps injury.
So all four were essentially new to the defense this year.
They give the Cardinals a chance to rest players at a crucial position so they are fresh when it counts the most.
``The depth of our outside backers really helps us,'' Whisenhunt said after the team practiced Thursday in preparation for Sunday's home opener against Miami. ``We saw evidence of that in the game (against San Francisco) because the guys were really fresh.
``We talk about being able to close out games, especially if we're up on a team and a team has to throw the ball, we feel like we can get pressure off the edge.''
Berry said the situation benefits everyone.
d you is going to do the same thing,'' Berry said. ``So it's a good situation to be in. I think we'll be better for it as a team.''