John Abraham thought 2012 might have been it for him in the NFL.
After registering 10 sacks for the Atlanta Falcons, the team cut him in March. He remained unemployed until July, when Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim inked the prolific pass rusher to a two-year deal on the eve of training camp.
Abraham was a situational player at the beginning of the season, and struggled mightily in his new role, failing to register a sack in the first six games. But injuries to outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor opened up more time for Abraham, and he thrived.
Over the season’s last ten games, the five-time Pro Bowler notched 11.5 sacks, helping the Cardinals to a 10-win campaign for just the second time since moving to the Valley in 1988.
Now 36, the question persists: Is Abraham ready to be an every-down defensive player once again?
“Damn skippy,” the veteran exclaimed following an organized team activity (OTA) Tuesday in Tempe. “I’m glad they finally let me do it. I’m definitely ready for it and that’s why I’m resting now (he didn’t participate Tuesday). I’m not going to put everything on the field now and they say ‘oh John, you’re only out there for 50 percent of the plays.’
“Everybody knows how I play, I don’t like to come off the field. Even when I played for Atlanta, it was tough to come off the field.”
With the way Abraham produced for one of the league’s best defenses in the second half of last year, head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles might not want him off the field in 2014.
“It’s going to be a fun year,” Abraham said. “Super Bowl in Arizona — 49 is going to be a nice little number for us this year, so hopefully we can get there and be the first team to do it and win one, because I’m getting up in age.”
Abraham has never played in a Super Bowl and has seen action in only eight playoff games since entering the league in 2000. He’s not letting that or his age deter him from setting lofty personal goals for the season.
“I’m shooting for at least 20 (sacks). I always shoot high,” he said. “Shoot high, you might hit low, but at least you shoot high. Don’t bowl, you’ve got to shoot a basket. Shoot high, don’t bowl.”
Between Abraham’s projections and all the Super Bowl talk permeating through the team’s facility, shooting high doesn’t seem to be a problem for the 2014 Cardinals.