Calais Campbell has been a stalwart along the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive line for a while now.
A second-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of Miami, Campbell became a starter in his second season and has not left the lineup since, becoming a two-time Pro Bowler and team captain over his time with the team.
Campbell is about to enter his ninth professional season, and it just so happens to be the final year on his contract. There has been speculation that the team might look to redo his deal and keep him around long term, which is something Campbell would not necessarily be opposed to.
“I’m really looking forward to the possibility of extending,” he told Bickley and Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday. “I love being a Cardinal and things have been very good the last eight years, so I’m really looking forward to going forward.”
As of now, though, Campbell said his plan is to keep working hard for a team that won 13 games last season and appears poised to be even better this time around. The 29-year-old thinks highly of what the team added in the offseason in pass rusher Chandler Jones and rookie Robert Nkemdiche.
“Adding Chandler Jones is huge — he’s an unbelievable talent — and I’m really excited to see what the rookie can do,” Campbell said. “You draft a guy in the first round, he’s very talented; he could have been a top-10 pick, top-5 pick, some people say. I’ve watched a little bit of the film so far and he has a mean first step. I’m really excited to see what he can do.”
With Jones and Nkemdiche on board, the possibility exists for Campbell to have one of his best seasons yet. The five sacks he notched in 2005 were his lowest total since his rookie season, and there were more than a few instances where he was on the receiving end of some of head coach Bruce Arians’ criticism.
Campbell has long maintained the coach’s comments don’t bother him because the goal is simply to get better, and with others in the defensive front seven deserving attention he may face fewer double teams this season than he has in years past. It stands to reason that with just one blocker to beat, Campbell could wreak more havoc and be a force whose impact also shows up in the stat books.
While Campbell is a great talent, it helps to have the kind of talent around him he will in Jones, Nkemdiche, Corey Peters, Frostee Rucker and others.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “When you see teams are not going to be able to just double-team me the whole time — they’re going to have to rotate and double-team other guys, and pick their poison because I feel all of us are going to play with our hair on fire and have a reason for teams to want to double-team us and take us off our game,” he said. “But the biggest thing is I’m trying to make sure I’m ready to beat double-teams; if I still get double-teamed, given the circumstances for me, I’m going to make sure I’m prepared and I’m still working on still refining some of my moves, the way I normally do, but really I’ve been trying to work on seeing how I can defeat double-teams as well.”
The ripple effect of having more impact players along the defensive front could be felt all around, and Campbell could be one of the biggest beneficiaries. The timing for a resurgent season could not be much better for him given that he is in a contract year, and while he understands that, it is not something that will change his approach.
“The biggest thing is just making sure I take care of the stuff I can,” Campbell said, noting he can’t control everything that’s happening around him. “You give your agent a job, he does it. The front office, everybody’s working hard to figure out something. But all I can control is just making sure I’m in great shape, making sure I’m working hard, making sure that when the time comes I perform my best and let the rest of it take care of itself.”
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