With John Abraham mulling retirement, Arizona Cardinals again forced to turn to ‘next man up’

Sep 10, 2014, 11:03 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals don’t have time for self-pity.

They couldn’t afford to say ‘woe is me’ when Karlos Dansby left for the Cleveland Browns, nor could they curse the skies when Daryl Washington was suspended for the season. And, as unfortunate as it was, there was no one offering any kind of pity when Darnell Dockett tore his ACL.

John Abraham leaving the team while considering retirement is no different.

“Sam (Acho) would just take his place,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

The coach went on to say the team has more depth at outside linebacker than inside, so there are plenty of options to turn to in place of Abraham. However, while Sam Acho, Alex Okafor, Thomas Keiser and Marcus Benard have all at least flashed talent, you don’t just up and replace the 11.5 sacks Abraham tallied last year while earning his fifth Pro Bowl selection. In fact, with 133.5 career sacks, Abraham is the league’s active all-time sack leader.

Acho enters this season with 12 sacks to his name; Okafor 0, Keiser 9 and Benard 14. Of the players currently active on the roster, defense end Calais Campbell and defensive lineman Tommy Kelly lead the team with 36.5 career sacks. Linebacker Larry Foote is second on the list with 23, while Matt Shaughnessy has tallied 18.5.

While all have shown some ability to rush the quarterback, none are as accomplished as Abraham.

But he may never play another down, and that’s something the Cardinals have to deal with. On top of everything else the defense — which finished first against the run last season and sixth overall — has had to deal with, it has people wondering just how much talent the unit can withstand losing.

“It happens,” Alexander said. “If you look at teams, historically some of the Super Bowl teams in recent history have had a lot of losses, people go on I.R., not being there for one reason or not, and it’s never an excuse because everybody has to deal with it.”

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