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Third-year linebacker Daryl Washington is becoming a leader on the Arizona Cardinals defense. (Photo: Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
Third-year Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington is growing...in more ways than one.

The former TCU Horned Frog is getting more familiar with the defensive scheme employed by second-year coordinator Ray Horton thanks in part to the organized team activities (OTAs) taking place at the team's training facility in Tempe. Last season's labor lockout wiped out all OTAs and hampered teams who were grooming new coordinators, like the Cardinals.

Washington says that these workouts will go a long way toward building team camaraderie when the games actually count.

"Getting guys on the same page and making sure we trust one another on the field, and that the other person is going to do their job so we don't have to think that much," Washington said Monday. "When you have guys that are willing to compete and play hard for one another, you have a good team."

After leading the Cardinals with 107 total tackles in 2011, Washington has grown into a leadership position, but he's also growing physically.

"When I first came in, I was about 228-230 (pounds)," he explained. "The second year I went from 232 to 235 and now, I weighed in at 243. It's a big difference for me -- getting bigger, better and smarter; more knowledgeable with the business and with the plays and players.

"It's a big difference, but it's a good difference."

Washington is by no means a grizzled veteran, but he is getting more comfortable during the OTAs in lending his experience to the younger players on the roster.

"I don't say too much to them, but I make sure I'm encouraging them and make sure I teach them the ropes like the older guys did for me when I first came in."

Arizona Sports' Kyndra de St. Aubin contributed to this report

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