Cardinals: Injuries piling up in front seven
The Cardinals current front-seven bears little resemblance to the group that finished last season. There were some notable losses during the offseason, and now injuries have begun to pile up over their first four games.
In last Sunday’s loss to Denver, the Cardinals lost two more starters: outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy and defensive end Calais Campbell. Shaughnessy (+3.8 run defense) was strong at holding the edge on the left side, while Campbell (+11.5) long a stalwart on the defensive line, had picked up where he left off last year and is currently the 3rd-ranked 3-4 DE in overall grading.
Campbell also leads the league with a Run Stop Percentage of 17.6%. He was injured on the now infamous chop block courtesy of Julius Thomas, but should hopefully return in three weeks. Shaughnessy meanwhile aggravated a knee injury and was placed on IR/designated for return.
These injuries are compounded by the earlier losses in the offseason of both inside linebackers (Karlos Dansby to free agency, Daryl Washington to suspension), DE Darnell Dockett to an ACL tear in training camp, and the team’s top pass rusher in 2013, John Abraham,to a concussion in Week 1. In fact, only little used nose tackle Dan Williams (84 snaps this season) remains from the front-seven group that started the 2013 regular season finale.
At linebacker, Larry Foote (nine missed tackles and just 6.4 Cover Snaps Per Target) has struggled on the inside, and Sam Acho (4.3 Pass Rush Productivity) has made little impact rushing off the edge. On the defensive line, rookie end Kareem Martin didn’t record a single quarterback pressure in Denver despite 44 pass rush snaps. Veterans Tommy Kelly and Frostee Rucker seem to have held up as well, but eventually the losses may be too much for 2013’s 6th-ranked defense to overcome.