Defense Combined For Pressure on Romo

Arizona's defensive front showed its depth last week against Dallas, without a variety of players combining to put pressure on QB Tony Romo. Starting DE Darnell Dockett and strong outside linebacker Chike Okeafor each had a sack. Starting weakside linebacker Travis LaBoy applied constant pressure, and his backup, Bertrand Berry, had a sack for the fourth consecutive game and caused a fumble.

Starting defensive end Antonio Smith hit the quarterback twice and recovered a fumble. His backup, Calais Campbell, also forced a fumble.

The rotation among the front seven worked as the team hoped when it put this unit together in the offseason. Depth was a huge problem up front last year, and when Berry and Okeafor went down with injuries, the club never recovered.

This year should be different. Dockett, in his fifth year, is having his best season. Smith is steady, and Gabe Watson should be able to handle things at nose tackle.

The key will be keeping Berry, Okeafor, LaBoy and Clark Haggans healthy.

Berry already has missed two games with a groin pull, and now LaBoy is suffering from a similar injury. The Cardinals have the depth to withstand one of their key rushers missing a game, but things would get dicey up front if a couple of guys go down.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Kurt Warner completed nine of 10 passes in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys. He was knocked to the ground four times in the quarter yet completed passes on three of those plays for 67 yards.

--WR Larry Fitzgerald makes great catches so routinely that he's taken for granted. And because he's playing in Arizona, he doesn't get the national attention he deserves. It's hard to find a better receiver in the league right now because Fitzgerald has improved his route-running and his ability to run after the catch.

--WR Anquan Boldin might play against Carolina on Oct. 26, given that the club has a bye this week. Boldin had surgery nearly two weeks ago to repair a facial fracture.

--WR Steve Breaston, the No. 3 wideout on the club, has performed well while starting in place of Anquan Boldin. In two starts, Breaston has caught 15 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown.

--RB Edgerrin James could see his carries and playing time decrease in the coming weeks. James had just nine carries last week while his backups had eight.

--RB Tim Hightower received more work on first down last week than in previous games. Hightower could continue to siphon carries away from starter Edgerrin James. Hightower, who has five TDs this year, remains the team's short-yardage and goal-line back.

--TE Leonard Pope isn't going to be a featured part of the offense, but the club should look to throw to him more. At 6-foot-8, Pope is an inviting target, but he still doesn't seem to be fully recovered from the dislocated ankle and leg fracture he suffered last year.

--TE Ben Patrick missed last week's game because of a knee sprain. It's not known how long he will be out, but he has been working with trainers on a strenuous rehabilitation program.


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