Pace's Replacement: Chike Okeafor

Another Cardinals training camp session began Wednesday morning as the fans rolled in along with some high school football teams from around the area. With training camp starting to hit stride, many people have questions on their minds about the forgotten linebacker Chike Okeafor. Kate Hinojosa analyzes how Okeafor will help fill the void left by the departed Calvin Pace.

With the loss of LB Calvin Pace, to a lucrative contract with the New York Jets, many are wondering if Chike Okeafor can fill the void left by the missing star. Okeafor missed the entire 2007 season due to a preseason biceps injury. Pace took full advantage of the opportunity, playing an amazing season for the Cardinals. Many had forgotten about Okeafor after the injury, but at camp he is stirring up some noise and enabling fans to forget about the loss of Pace.

Okeafor (6'5", 247 pounds) is showing little loss in his ability after sitting out an entire season. Each and every day he has been coming to camp bringing the intensity that he had in the past. With the opportunity to prove himself, he is not holding back in any way.

He has continued to show his strength at camp through tackle drills. Throughout multiple plays he has pushed it to the limits. Okeafor knocked off the helmet of OT Levi Brown and dragged down rookie WR Early Doucet. He is truly playing the field like a veteran while adjusting to the outside linebacker position in the Cardinals new 3-4 defensive scheme.

Little things continue to show the strengths of Okeafor, from the way he holds himself on the field to the intensity of his playing style. He shows his excitement to be off the injured list and out on the field proving himself to his teammates, to his fans and most importantly to himself. With his outstanding start last preseason, Okeafor is demonstrating that he has still has what it takes to push the Cardinals defense over the top.

If Okeafor can sustain his current level of play, it may be enough to stop the chatter of Calvin Pace's departure. In addition, he'll prove that he's back healthy and ready to help the Cardinals win.


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