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Young LBs starting to catch on

The Arizona Cardinals’ defensive depth chart features one
of the oldest linebacking units in the league.

Starters Joey Porter, Clark Haggans and Paris Lenon are
all 34 years of age.

Lenon leads the team with 38 total tackles, but Porter and
Haggans, who are called upon to provide a pass rush in Ray
Horton’s 3-4 defensive scheme, have combined for 2
quarterback sacks in the Cardinals’ first six games. That
lack of production, plus age and the team’s 1-5 start
might mean more playing time for some of the younger
linebackers on the Arizona roster.

On Thursday, head coach Ken Whisenhunt commented on the
development of young outside linebackers Sam Acho and
O’Brien Schofield.

“They’re getting more comfortable with the defense and
they’re getting more opportunities to play,” Whisenhunt
said. “Had we had a normal off-season this process would
have started earlier, because we would have those extra
practices, but it really comes to down to trying to limit
mistakes. These guys are doing a better job of not making
mistakes in practice.”

Whisenhunt also talked about using Stewart Bradley, who
signed as a free agent with the Cardinals in July after
playing middle linebacker in Philadelphia’s 4-3 alignment
for four years, as more of an outside rusher.

“We knew that he could do that, but he still has a lot of
things to learn as an outside rusher,” Whisenhunt said.
“He definitely has talent, but once again with him,
learning to play our defense was a steep learning curve
for him.

“He’s a lot more comfortable now, you can see him starting
to play with that speed that you saw when we were looking
at him as a free agent, and that’s good. We need that.”

Meanwhile, Porter, who has started all six contests, sat
out practice for the second straight day with a knee
injury, so there may be even more opportunity for Bradley,
Acho and Schofield on Sunday in Baltimore.

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