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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Calais Campbell did not know it at the time, but when he told the assembled media Monday that when he spoke highly about defensive coordinator Ray Horton, he may have been talking about his future head coach.

May have, anyway.

With news that the Cardinals fired Ken Whisenhunt Monday came the natural question of who the team would get to replace him. Whisenhunt, after all, was in charge for the last six years and had some success, so people wonder what's next for the franchise.

It's been speculated that Horton would be in line for the job -- or a top job somewhere.

"That's the nature of the business, we know how it goes," Campbell said. "He will be a great head coach in this league, so I wouldn't be mad at him if that happened.

"It's just the way the business is, but I love playing for him and I hope I can play for him for a long time."

To a man, everyone on the defense was hopeful Horton would not go anywhere. Linebacker Daryl Washington said "hopefully he somehow does stay" and cornerback Patrick Peterson lamented the fact that the defense would have to start over if Horton left.

Every player understands it's possible Horton has coached them for the last time, though as of now it appears there's a chance one of the game's rising coaching stars will stick around.

"He's important to us," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "He's brought a different mentality for us on that side of the ball and he's a guy that we know is a hot commodity, we know that teams are going to come after him."

At a Monday afternoon press conference, team president Michael Bidwill confirmed that Horton will indeed be among the first candidates to be interviewed for the post.

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