Calais Campbell ready to lead Cardinals charge in 2012

Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell has steadily gotten better ever since he joined the team back in the 2008-09 season.

His numbers clearly bolster that statement.

In his rookie season, he played in all 16 games, but started none. He had 23 tackles and one pass defensed.

Fast forward to last season: Campbell started all 16 games for Arizona, and had career highs in tackles (72) and passes defensed (10).

He’s been the prototypical man, both on and off the field (as evidenced by him being named the 2011 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community).

The Cardinals saw the worth in Campbell and rewarded him with a five-year, $55 million extension back in May.

Campbell is as unassuming a guy as you’ll ever meet (you’d never think he’s a multi-millionaire if you didn’t know who he was), which is a major reason why he’s been so successful in the NFL.

He does his job and does it very well.

It’s a new season, and Campbell is ready for Flagstaff, Ariz., and training camp.

“I’m looking forward to reconnecting with all my teammates and starting the grind,” Campbell said.

Campbell is confident that the Cardinals can push themselves over the top this season.

“This is the year for us,” Campbell said. “I think we can do really well this year. I don’t think anybody is expecting us to be a great team this year, besides ourselves,” Campbell said. “It’s a good chance for us to go up there, get our game together and prove everybody wrong.”

When you’re preparing to make a run for a world championship, the more hands on deck you have, the easier the fight will be.

“Health is a big reason why people have success,” Campbell said. “Hopefully in camp we take care of each other.”

Campbell made note of the fact that roster slots are at a premium (the team has to get their roster trimmed from 90 men down to 53), so players will be fighting hard for spots, and along with the fight comes injuries, which is something the team will have to deal with.

In a 3-4 defense, the front line is a very important cog in the equation. With a healthy Darnell Dockett, a returning Dan Williams and a focused Campbell, they will lead the fire and charge of a very motivated defense in 2012.