Cardinals defense shouldn’t need scaling back this season

The Cardinals defense was much maligned in the early going last season, as they were trying to find their way under first year defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

They came under even more scrutiny as Horton decided to scale back the defense in order for the players to catch up and figure things out quicker.

Over time, the defense found its way, looking more and more like a championship caliber group as the season went on.

There is so much talent on that side of the ball: guys like Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Sam Acho, Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson.

I could go through the whole list of guys, but you get my point: this group is seasoned now under Horton. They have a full year under him, and they know what’s to  be expected of them now.

Horton was very successful in Pittsburgh under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, so why not bring that same success to the Cardinals?

Horton is a no-nonsense type of guy. Even during OTAs and at the minicamp he expected nothing less than perfection from each and every player.

I expect the Cardinals defense, barring any major injuries, to pick up right where they left off in 2011.

The front line should be solid again, especially if nose tackle Dan Williams can revert to his pre-broken arm form, which everyone in the organization expects him to do.

Campbell got a new deal during this offseason and a nice payday out of it. His production has steadily increased since he came to Arizona. Can he continue that upward trend, or will the dollars stunt his growth?

Acho, Daryl Washington and O’Brien Schofield have all come into their own. Those three are young, hungry and ready to get at it.

Throw in the fact that the two elder statesmen – Clark Haggans and Paris Lenon – are both returning, and you’ve got yourself a mighty strong group of linebackers.

The secondary has taken its lumps through the years, whether by injury or by sheer turnover.

The team addressed these issues through the draft and through free agency. Now all that needs to be done is shake it all out during training camp and the preseason, and see who makes the best fit and where.

Speaking of shaking things out, the roster is full of undrafted free agents and walk-ons, who will be battling to make the final cut.

Guys like Eddie Elder, Blake Gideon and Colin Parker have to prove themselves worthy of being one of 53.

They’ve made it this far, but the remaining road will be full of potholes they’ve got to navigate through if they expect to play on Sundays.

Cardinals report to Flagstaff for training camp on July 24.