Arizona Cardinals play-by-play broadcaster Dave Pasch said several pieces will have to fall into place in order for the Cardinals to overcome the loss of three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Darnell Dockett to a season-ending ACL injury.
Pasch said the Cardinals were able to win 10 games last season despite injuries to key personnel, and they can have the same success minus Dockett this year if their 2014 draft picks at defensive end make an immediate impact and their secondary can help disrupt opposing offenses at the line of scrimmage.
“That’s the reason why how you draft in rounds 3-7 are so important. You’ve got to get players who can step in and play that first year,” Pasch said Tuesday on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM . “Guys like (third-round pick) Kareem Martin and (fifth-round pick) Ed Stinson — obviously you’ve got veterans, too, like Frostee Rucker — but Stinson and Kareem Martin, it’s time for them to step up.
“I also think it puts pressure on the secondary. These guys are going to be expected to do more than maybe (they were) going into the year. I know they were counting on Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Antonio Cromartie to take the ball away. They’re going to have to make more plays because Darnell Dockett didn’t get 10 sacks a year, but he got a few, and he made it possible for other guys to get sacks… They’ve got to manufacture sacks, and that puts more pressure on the secondary to help (make) that happen.”
The Cardinals will enter the regular season without three of their front seven — Dockett, linebacker Daryl Washington (suspension) and linebacker Karlos Dansby (free agency) — that helped them finish the 2013 season as the NFL’s top rushing defense.
“If you can tell me that these guys I mentioned earlier (Martin and Stinson) are going to step up and play, and play well, I think that they can weather that storm,” Pasch said.
Pasch said Dockett, who missed just two games in 10 NFL seasons, will be missed as much for his leadership as his on-field performance.
“I think there are players that rally behind him, players certainly that love and respect him, and so you’re losing one of your top leaders on that side of the ball,” he said.
“Most NFL teams, there’s some major injury they have to overcome to get to a Super Bowl, and unfortunately for the Cardinals, you’ve got to overcome a guy who, I don’t know if he’s the heart and soul anymore of that defense, but he’s still a big part of it.”
If it turns out that Dockett, who is in the final year of his contract in Arizona, has played his last game in a Cardinals uniform, Pasch said he “deserves strong Ring of Honor consideration” for a decade’s worth of reliability and productivity.
“When you look at defensive tackles since he came into the league since 2004 — games played, sacks, tackles — he’s up there with the best of them. There are guys that were drafted after him at his position that are out of the league, yet this guy starts every game every year, and I want to stop, pause, and pay my respect for what this guy has done as a Cardinal.”