Calais Campbell: Arizona Cardinals defense ‘not missing any leadership’

May 26, 2015, 3:03 PM | Updated: 3:06 pm
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TEMPE, Ariz. — Last season, the Arizona Cardinals became known across the league for their “next man up” mentality after suffering injury after injury across the roster. Week after week, a player would go down and another was ready to take his place.

This season, that mantra can apply somewhere a little different: Defensive leadership.

With the loss of veteran Darnell Dockett, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March, the shift of linebacker Larry Foote to a coaching role and the absence of two-year defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who took a head coaching position with the Jets, it could appear on paper that Arizona is in need of pilotage on defense.

Not to hear defensive end Calais Campbell tell it.

Losing players? No problem. Campbell says others were more than ready to step into their place.

“We have a lot of leaders. Losing players is part of the game…

“…On the defense, we’re not missing any leadership,” he said, citing cornerback Jerraud Powers and a highly competitive defensive backs corps, along with tenured players in defensive end Frostee Rucker and safety Rashad Johnson.

What about the loss of Bowles?

Next man up.

In this case, that happens to be first-year coordinator and former linebackers coach James Bettcher. Campbell said Bettcher already got along well with the players.

“It’s good that we already have a relationship with him,” he said. “You know, we had a really good relationship with him when he was a linebacker coach and now being a D-coordinator, it’s cool to continue to have that relationship.”

One of the benefits of Bettcher stepping into the role, Campbell said, was the fact that the team didn’t have to worry about a new system. He said though the person running the defense is different, the terminology used is the same.

“That’s nice. Everything is the same,” he said. “They (Bowles and Bettcher) are very similar. Bettch, he’s changed some of the drills. (He has us do) a lot more run fits and a lot more communication, make sure everyone is on the same page.”

All according to head coach Bruce Arians’ plan, apparently.

“I didn’t want the players to come in here and have to learn anything different,” Arians said. “The core of our defense, the playbook is the same. And (Bettcher) has great communication skills with the guys and a lot of respect.”

“He asks for a lot of feedback,” added Campbell, grinning and nodding emphatically. “Especially from the older guys like Patrick Peterson and myself. He’ll ask us what we want to do and if we like what we’re doing.

“It’s always good when you can interact with the coaches and they’ll hear you out and respond. And Bettch is really good at that.”

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