As training camp progresses, look for Watson to take a firm grasp on the starting position. In addition, if Branch can improve his awareness and work ethic he could take over the second spot on the depth chart. Robinson's best playing days are behind him but will continue to provide veteran leadership and solid depth at defensive tackle. Similar to last season, if Robinson is called upon chances are he'll step in without missing a beat.
In the secondary, Bryant McFadden will start opposite of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback but the competition is wide open behind the two starters. Last year's opening day starting tandem consisting of Eric Green and Roderick Hood is no longer with the Cardinals and their depth is limited. Journeyman Ralph Brown excelled as a nickel back last season and will be depended on to play that role again in 2009.
Competing with Brown in the nickel package will be rookie CB Greg Toler. Additionally, given Arizona's tendency to move FS Antrel Rolle inside on passing downs, the Cardinals' safeties could also see a prominent role in nickel coverage. Rookie safety Rashad Johnson has an excellent chance of seeing the field due to his experience and resourcefulness. Given SS Aaron Francisco's struggles toward the end of last year, Johnson could end up securing a backup spot at safety.
On the surface, the Cardinals' defense appears to be in much better shape entering this season than in previous years. Nearly every position has an expected starter and outside of the secondary there is adequate depth across the board. Arizona will attempt to pick up where it left off during last season's playoff run, and seems to have the players in place to accomplish that goal.
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