Positional Analysis: Defensive End

The Cardinals defensive end unit took a hit with the loss of Antonio Smith, but hopes are high on second-year player Calais Campbell. Two fellow sophomores look to become part of the regular rotation, while veteran Bertrand Berry tries to solidify his spot as a starter along the defensive line.

Bertrand Berry was re-signed to a one-year contract this offseason and will look to make the most of what could be his last season in Arizona. Although he is set to turn 34 in mid-August, Berry is still one of the best pass rushers on the Cardinals roster. He led the team in sacks last year with five.

There are questions, however, about how exactly Berry will fit into Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis's system. The Cardinals will make a slow transition to a base 3-4 defense which could affect Berry's playing time. Rookies Cody Brown and Will Davis are much better suited to rush the quarterback in this type of defense. But a wrist injury took Brown out of the equation. If the Cardinals adopt a three-linemen approach, Darnell Dockett would likely start at end over Berry. Whatever unfolds, Arizona will still rely on the veteran Berry who has enough gas in the tank to make some plays.

On the other side of the line, Calais Campbell is set to be the starter in just his second year of action. Campbell will take the place of Antonio Smith, who left for greener pastures in Houston.

At a massive 6'7" and 290 pounds, Campbell has the size and strength to clog plenty of would-be holes for opposing running backs. He also has enough speed to make an impact as a pass rusher. It's just a matter of Campbell getting the necessary experience. This training camp will be vital for Campbell's progression. Backing up Campbell on the right side will be fellow sophomore Kenny Iwebema. He saw action in 13 games last year, and will see even more snaps in 2009. There will be plenty of opportunities for Iwebema, who should be part of the regular rotation along the defensive line.

A final player likely to see significant playing time is another second-year defensive end, Keilen Dykes. He was an undrafted rookie free agent who spent his first year on the practice squad. Dykes can play either end or tackle, which is a needed commodity as Arizona attempts to mix it up with a 4-3/3-4 hybrid approach.


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