Cardinals Lose Best Pass Rusher

The Vikings' next opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, isn't stacked with defensive talent, so losing Bertrand Berry is a major blow for a team that is already struggling.

Defensive end Bertrand Berry wasn't having an outstanding season, but he was still the team's best pass rusher, and he won't be easy to replace.

Berry suffered a torn right triceps muscle against Detroit last Sunday and is out for the rest of the season. He'll undergo surgery in the coming weeks and should be able to fully participate in off-season workouts.

Antonio Smith will replace him, as he did last year when Berry suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the eighth game, which ended his season.

Smith played surprisingly well, but when Berry is at his best, he's an elite pass rusher. Smith is a competent player but he's not in Berry's class.

The Cardinals have some other options should Smith not play well. They picked up veteran Chris Cooper shortly before the season started and he can be a decent player in the rotation.

The club also could work outside linebacker Calvin Pace at end. Pace played end his first three years in the league and moved to linebacker this year. The Cardinals have decent depth at linebacker, especially with the signing of Monty Beisel two weeks ago. He can play all three linebacker spots.

NOTES

  • QB Matt Leinart bounced back and played well last week after three consecutive poor starts. Leinart threw the deep ball well and made good decisions.

  • QB Kurt Warner won't play again this season as long as starter Matt Leinart plays well and doesn't get hurt.

  • RB Edgerrin James has yet to gain 100 yards in a game but he has had more room to run in recent weeks. He's more productive when the club runs out of three- or four-receiver sets.

  • RB J.J. Arrington has lost the backup job to Marcel Shipp, who plays only in short-yardage situations.

  • RB Marcel Shipp is the top backup to Edgerrin James and is also playing in short-yardage situations.

  • WR Anquan Boldin had some success on deep routes against the Lions, but other teams probably aren't going to give him those routes. He'll make most of his yards off short and intermediate routes.

  • WR Larry Fitzgerald's right hamstring is still sore but it's not limiting his playing time. It might limit the number of times he can go deep, however.

  • WR Bryant Johnson produces when the team gives him the chance. He's the team's fastest receiver and a good deep threat.

  • WR Troy Walters plays only a handful of plays as the team's fourth receiver. He's also the punt returner but he's not much of a threat there.

  • TE Leonard Pope is a decent receiver but must improve his blocking skills. His playing time is dwindling.

  • TE Adam Bergen is an effective receiver, but he needs a lot of work as a blocker.

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