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Last season Ray Horton was a first-time defensive coordinator who did not have the chance to benefit from an offseason of learning his players and installing his scheme.

His players, who struggled early in the season, picked up their play over the campaign's second half, becoming one of the better defensive units in the league.

So, much will be expected of them going into this year, and as far as Horton is concerned, there's no reason they should disappoint.

"We're putting in a lot of new stuff and it's easy to put in because they understand the concepts of what we teach," Horton told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Tuesday. "So I don't have to go from square one to square 15."

Horton said he can start off at square 15 now and work from there, adding plays and ideas he says the players are excited about.

"But for me it's so easy now to say, 'hey, can we do this guys, I want to try this,'" he said. "And they just look at me and go 'OK coach, we'll do it.'"

Sounds good, because if the defense plays anything like it did last season the Cardinals will be in good shape.

Then again, Horton said his team needs to improve at creating turnovers, as they created just 19 last year.

"We made great leaps and bounds in a number of statistical categories," Horton said. "But the one thing that correlates most with making the playoffs is turnover margin."

Of course, that relies somewhat on the offense's ability to protect the football, something Horton and his players have zero control over. But one of the things that separates the good defenses from the great ones is the ability to pick off passes and create fumbles, both of which are areas the Cardinals can improve.

And, if they do, Arizona should have one of the league's better defenses in 2012, starting Week 1.

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