Cardinals Veteran Most Likely to...

While this year's rookie class should help boost the Cardinals defense, the veterans will also play a vital role. With many new faces and key contributors returning from injury, the Arizona defense is poised to be much improved. AZRedReport.com's Brad Wilbricht breaks down the returning defenders and rolls out his 2008 defensive predictions.

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

After LB Calvin Pace bolted to the New York Jets, the Cardinals needed a similar player to avoid a lapse in talent. GM Rod Graves may have found the perfect fit in LaBoy. Like Pace, LaBoy is a converted defensive end. LaBoy lacks ideal strength to hold up against the run, but should benefit from moving to outside linebacker. LaBoy possesses all the tools to excel as an edge pass rusher. During his four-year career, LaBoy made 19.5 sacks. Look for that number to soar this season in Clancy Pendergast's aggressive defensive scheme.

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

Smith has been a consistent performer for the Cardinals, but has much more competition entering this season than in years past. The addition of free agents LaBoy and Clark Haggans should give extra incentive for Smith to perform. Furthermore, Smith with have two rookies trying to dethrone him from atop the depth chart. Calais Campbell and Kenny Iwebema both show outstanding promise and will compete for playing time. Smith has gradually improved over the past three seasons, but could see a decrease in playing time he falters this year.

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

While Berry has fully recovered from a triceps injury that ended his 2007 season, he has now suffered a serious injury in three consecutive seasons. Berry is currently listed as a starter at defensive end, but the Cardinals have many capable replacements waiting in the wings. When on the field, Berry is a fierce competitor that wreaks havoc on opposing offensive lines. Prior to injury problems in 2005, Berry was coming off two stellar seasons. He notched 11.5 sacks in 2003 and 14.5 sacks in 2004. Since then, Berry has played in only 27 games from 2005-2007.

Veteran most likely to resurrect their career: DT Bryan Robinson

Since leaving the Chicago Bears in 2003, Robinson has struggled to be a constant fixture along the defensive line. However, the Cardinals 3-4 defense should provide the versatile lineman with an opportunity to revive his talents. Robinson exhibits the ability to play on the interior and line-up outside when needed. During his last three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Robison totaled only 80 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Although his pass-rushing skills are limited, Robinson's main contributions in Arizona should be in run defense.

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

Although WR Anquan Boldin and DT Darnell Dockett are both jockeying for a new contract, Wilson should be first on the totem pole for GM Rod Graves. Boldin and Dockett are in the early stages of long-term deals while Wilson's contract is nearing its expiration. On the field, Wilson's performance further justifies a new deal. Prior to suffering an Achilles injury last season, Wilson had missed only two games in the previous seven seasons. During his seven-year career, Wilson has racked up 544 tackles, 16 interceptions and 16 sacks.


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