Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury confident in defensive line group
The first weekend of training camp for the Arizona Cardinals is in the books.
With pads finally coming on, all will be trying to impress new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, especially rookies and those coming into their first year with the Cardinals.
And with the release of defensive end Robert Nkemdiche on Saturday, an opportunity has arisen for rookies Zach Allen and Michael Dogbe, and four-year veteran Darius Philon.
Allen was drafted in the third round (No. 65 overall) of this year’s draft out of Boston College, where he played all four years, accumulating 199 total tackles, 40.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, 16 pass defensed, four fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 50 games. The 6-foot-4, 281-pounder was voted to the All-ACC Second Team and a Pro Football Focus Second-Team All-American his senior year.
”We had him evaluated very high in the draft,” Kingsbury said of Allen.
“His character is through the roof, high motor, tough, smart, does everything you want, incredibly productive in college and you’re going to start to see that now. He’s picked things up quick and he’s definitely going to have a role with that group.”
Fellow rookie defensive end Dogbe was selected by the Cardinals with the No. 249 overall pick out of Temple in April’s draft. The 6-foot-3, 284-pounder totaled 158 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in 47 games. He earned All-AAC First Team honors his senior season with 72 tackles and seven sacks. Dogbe was also a college teammate of Cardinals linebacker Haason Reddick.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on our team,” Kingsbury said of Dogbe. “He’s a young guy that’s very focused, determined, doesn’t say much, kind of quiet but he appreciates this opportunity and you see that in the way he goes about his business every day.“
Philon is going into his fifth year in the NFL this season. The former Arkansas Razorback was drafted in the sixth round (No. 192 overall) by the Chargers as a defensive tackle. Philon spent half his rookie campaign on injured reserve and didn’t impress much his sophomore season either.
But the last two seasons have no doubt been his best, as the 25-year-old totaled 64 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Last season, Philon started 13 regular-season games and added three tackles and one tackle for loss in the Chargers’ two playoff games.
“We like what we’ve seen,” Kingsbury said of Philon. “He flashes one of the best get-offs I’ve seen and I think once he gets comfortable in our system he’s just going to get better and better.
“Zach [Allen] is another guy that can play [defensive tackle] so we felt like we have good depth there and are excited about those two guys.”