Cardinals’ Calais Campbell on playing with Chandler Jones: ‘It’s going to be special’
Jun 8, 2016, 8:47 AM | Updated: 3:58 pm
(Photo: Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
By all accounts, Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Calais Campbell is one of the nicest guys in the league.
In fact, it’s a label that has followed him for the last few years. Critics wonder how someone so big (6-foot-8, 300 pounds) and so athletic isn’t more dominant on a consistent basis.
Campbell made his second straight Pro Bowl following a 13-3 season that ended in a loss to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game. The 29-year-old had 61 total tackles and five quarterback sacks.
Others will point out that Campbell is often double-teamed and the lack of established and explosive players around him makes his job more difficult each Sunday.
While Campbell is back, many of the pieces around him on the Cardinals’ defensive line are different. Namely, pass rusher Chandler Jones, who was acquired in a trade with the New England Patriots earlier in the offseason.
There are a lot of curious people who can’t wait to see how Campbell’s performance is affected by a player of Jones’ ilk flanking him. Consider Campbell one of those people.
“Me and Chandler Jones have a really good connection already,” Campbell told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “We already have that chemistry. We’re not doing it in pads yet, but you can just tell. It’s going to be special.”
Jones had a career-high 12.5 sacks for the Patriots who, like the Cardinals, lost in their conference championship game. He figures to provide the Cardinals a boost to their outside pass rush, which was a weakness for much of 2015.
“Our connection is the strongest it’s ever been when it comes to running games with a guy (like him) on the outside,” Campbell said. “When we run games together, I think you guys are in for a treat this year.”
Campbell has played with elite pass rushers in the past, like John Abraham and Dwight Freeney. But he’s never really been complimented by a player like Jones — who is one of the best in the business and in the prime of his career.
“Chandler Jones is an every-down player — he’s on the field on first, second and third down,” Campbell said. “Now we become a lot better on first down rushing the passer and be able to run games where we can tell it’s a pass, but it’s a first-down run situation.”
The Cardinals were tied for 20th in the league with 36 regular-season sacks in 2015. A third of them came on first down situations.