Cards D adjusting to life without Dockett

August, 25, 2014
8/25/14
2:25
AM ET
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- If the name on the back of his jersey didn't give away that Frostee Rucker was on the field, it would've been hard to tell that Darnell Dockett wasn't lining up at defensive tackle.

Rucker had two tackles in place of Dockett against his former team Sunday, but he said Dockett's absence was loud and clear.

Dockett
Rucker
"It was a lot different," Rucker said. "Just how vocal of a leader he is and his presence, but next man up and you got to play ball.

"The D-line, we played consistent. We did our jobs, didn't (let them) run the ball, we didn't let the quarterback out of the pocket, running down the field and we're OK with that."

Basically, the Cardinals' defensive line didn't miss a beat without Dockett in the Cardinals' 19-13 loss to Cincinnati on Sunday night. It held Cincinnati to a three-and-out on the Bengals opening drive and allowed just five plays on Cincinnati's second drive. That was followed by a four-and-out.

Arizona allowed 40 total yards in the first quarter -- one of which was on the ground -- and forced three punts on third down.

By time their first-team defense traded its cleats for sneakers, the Cardinals allowed just 41 rushing yards in the first half, 40 of which came on two long drives in the second quarter that totaled 23 plays and ate up almost 10 minutes

"Our run defense is going to be fine," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I have no qualms about what we're going to be able to do to stop the run. It's being able to rush the passer that still concerns me."

The Cardinals didn't sack either of the Bengals' quarterbacks, Andy Dalton or Jason Campbell, Sunday, and they recorded just two quarterback hurries.

Arians said the Cards' four-man rush concerned him most.

"We can't just live and die by the blitz," he said.

Getting outside linebacker John Abraham back to full speed after he missed almost the first three weeks of camp will improve the pass rush, which was neutralized at times by Cincinnati's max protection, Rucker said.

The closest Arizona came to a sack was on an outside blitz by rookie safety Deone Bucannon in the second quarter. He hit Dalton at his ankles but Dalton was still able to complete a pass.

Arians was pleased with Abraham's pressure, but the 36-year-old played more than Arians wanted him to. The anchor of the Cards' pass rush, defensive end Calais Campbell, needed Sunday to get back into form, which could return the pass rush back to the level that'll please Arians.

"That is something we can do and will do very well," Arians said. "I think today, we didn't do it very well, especially me. I feel like I didn't have my best game pass rushing. My last drive I started feeling good, feeling how I need to feel going into the season. That's what preseason is for, to get the feel right."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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