NFL Wire News

Cardinals not expected to seek pass rusher

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TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals’ lack of pass pressure remains the team’s biggest weakness, and it’s hard to address this time of year.

Pass rushers available on the trade market have issues: age, money or both. Tuesday is the NFL trade deadline.

The Cardinals most likely will stick with what they have, hoping that getting outside linebacker Alex Okafor back from a calf injury will provide a boost.

Okafor has missed the last three games. To help compensate for his absence, the team signed outside linebacker Dwight Freeney, who has had a sack in each of the last two games.

The Cardinals barely touched Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown in the first half last Sunday. He got on a roll, throwing for three touchdowns before halftime.

That changed in the second half, when tackle Frostee Rucker and linebacker Kevin Minter hit McCown early.

But the Cardinals need more pass rush, and it could come from a few sources.

Tackle Calais Campbell has been excellent against the run, but he’s not getting to the quarterback enough.

Campbell has been a solid pass rusher throughout his career, so there is reason to think he will pick it up in the second half of the season.

Okafor had eight sacks last season to lead the team and had two in the first game this year. He didn’t do much in the next four games. Putting Okafor on one side, Freeney on the other and Rucker and Campbell inside should lead to improvement.

–Quarterback Carson Palmer threw four touchdown passes against the Browns, but according to him, someone else on the offensive side of the ball had a great day: Coach Bruce Arians.

“That’s the best-called game since junior, Pop Warner pee-wee football when I was playing for the Mission Viejo Cowboys and you’re only getting cover one,” Palmer said. “He was on fire. That was hands down the best-called game I’ve been around at any level, any year and I’ve been playing football since I was 7 I think.

“He just kept having the right call against the right coverage. We kept giving them (Browns) opportunities. Had we not done that, who knows what those statistics would have been?”

–General Manager Steve Keim last week initiated a conversation with Joel Segal, the agent for running back Chris Johnson, about a contract extension.

Johnson has gained at least 100 yards in four games. He’s working under a one-year deal for the minimum salary of $780,000. He can earn another $1.1 million in incentives. The talks are preliminary, so a deal is not imminent.

–Tight end Darren Fells (shoulder) is expected to return after the bye. He has missed two games.

–Center Lyle Sendlein suffered a shoulder injury against the Browns and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Monday. The Cardinals hope he will be able to play after the bye.

REPORT CARD VS. BROWNS

–PASSING OFFENSE: A. Carson Palmer threw four touchdown passes and his one interception wasn’t his fault. His protection was solid, and his receivers made big plays, especially Michael Floyd, J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B. Chris Johnson rushed 30 times and gained more than 100 yards for the fourth time this season, but he also lost two fumbles. The Cardinals had some trouble running against the Browns, who were last in the NFL against the run.

–PASS DEFENSE: C. Browns quarterback Josh McCown was untouched in the first half and he threw three touchdown passes. The Cardinals got to McCown in the third quarter.

–RUSH DEFENSE: A. The Browns gained only 39 yards on 20 carries. The Cardinals obviously did an excellent job.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. This probably was the best game of the year. Chandler Catanzaro made both of his field goal attempts and four of his six kickoffs were touchbacks. Patrick Peterson had a 38-yard punt return.

–COACHING: B. The Cardinals started fast then went into a funk and trailed, 20-10, at halftime. Coach Bruce Arians reamed his team at halftime and it responded, blanking the Browns, 24-0, in the second half. Defensively, the Cardinals seemed a bit slow in making adjustments.


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