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Arizona Cardinals

Updated May 11, 2012 - 6:14 pm

Newly-signed Campbell still wants to improve

Photo by Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports

Calais Campbell is happy the business of his contract has been taken care of.

The 25-year-old defensive lineman and the Cardinals agreed to a five-year contract, ensuring the emerging star remains in the Valley until at least 2016.

He couldn't be more pleased.

"I'm excited about this opportunity," he told the media Friday. "I really feel like this team is a special team, and I feel like if we just continue to get better, we can definitely be a championship team."

Campbell was a rookie when the Cardinals had their run to Super Bowl XLIII, though his role with the team has grown significantly since then.

A starter at defensive end the last couple seasons, Campbell saw his stock -- and stats -- rise this last season, when he posted career-best numbers in tackles (72), sacks (8), forced fumbles (2) and blocked kicks (3).

In other words, he was a beast, and the Cardinals made sure to lock him up rather than watch him leave, like many other Cardinals had done in the past.

"We've said it many times our objective is to become a championship team, both on and off the field, and become a championship organization," Cardinals GM Rod Graves said at the press conference. "It starts with the core players."

Campbell is one of those guys, and he will be expected to be even better in 2012 than he was in 2011. That shouldn't be a problem, according to the former third-round pick.

"I think I have a long ways to go," he said when asked if he'd played his best football yet. "I'm just getting better one day at a time."

Does that sound cliché to you? It should, because Campbell is not the first athlete to say those words after signing a big contract.

However, Campbell has done little in his four NFL seasons to make anyone think he'll rest on his laurels -- and metaphorical piles of cash -- and simply be happy with where he's at in his career.

So, the 6-foot-8 player will continue to work hard, noting the pressure that comes with being in a new tax bracket won't really phase him.

"Pressure is part of the game," he said. "I think it brings the best out of players.

"I like having pressure on me. I think it makes me work even harder. It's easier to work hard."

The Cardinals are hoping it brings out the best in Campbell, especially if, as Campbell says, the best has yet to come.

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