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Breaking down the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive line room

Defensive linemen Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro and Frostee Rucker during a training camp practice Aug. 1. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

Last year the Cardinals kept nine defensive linemen on the active 53-man roster. How much will they miss Calais Campbell who played in 77.21% of the snaps (830 total) on defense?

Based on the current roster we could see only seven going into the season, with another one on the practice squad.

My projection when it comes to 53-man roster is the first three are current starters Frostee Rucker, Corey Peters and Josh Mauro; second unit will be made up of Rodney Gunter, Robert Nkemdiche, and Olsen Pierre, and finally Xavier Williams backing up Peters at NT.

The Cardinals lost five starters on defense from a year ago who accounted for 4,442 snaps.

DT Calais Campbell defensive snaps 830 (77.21%) Special teams snaps 160 (33.47%)

LB Kevin Minter D 1,003 (93.30%) ST 48 (10.04)

S Tony Jefferson, D 929 (86.42%) ST 201 (42.05%)

S D.J. Swearinger, D 837 (77.86%) ST 151 (31.59%)

CB Marcus Cooper, D 826 (76.84%) ST 73 (15.7%)

According to Pro Football Focus DT Robert Nkemdiche, 82.8 overall grade vs. Cowboys

The Cardinals’ 2016 first-round pick was dominant in his 23 defensive snaps. He created penetration into the backfield in as a run defender, using his quickness to shoot gaps and redirect the Cowboy running backs. He added one pressure and finished with a 75.8 pass-rush grade.

Nkemdiche continued to flash like he has the last couple of weeks in camp. He has been very disruptive, playing with energy and cutting down on his mental errors. Last year at this time he was in walking boot with a high ankle sprain.

Olsen Pierre was on the roster last year but was inactive every single game. Bruce Arians was asked about him during OTAs. He said he had gained some weight, nearing 300 pounds, but more significantly he raved about his pass rushing.

“He’s a hell of a pass rusher,” Arians said. “He’s got length. He might be our best inside pass-rusher right now.” Per Pro football Focus, Pierre graded out 84.9 vs. Cowboys.

The other defensive linemen on the 90-man roster Peli Anua is a Phoenix native and Horizon High School graduate who joined the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent from Northern Arizona. They also added David Moala, who originally entered the NFL last year with Denver as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Utah State.

Arizona has a total of 11 defensive linemen on the roster including Ed Stinson and Tasini. As for Stinson, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, the fourth-year pro is on the bubble going into the preseason.

Follow Mike Jurecki on Twitter

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