Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Cards have options to fill Dockett's shoes
By Josh Weinfuss
This wasn’t quite the type of scenario the Arizona Cardinals were preparing for, but they were ready if they needed to replace Darnell Dockett.
It was impossible for the Cards to predict that Dockett would tear his ACL in Monday's practice and face season-ending knee surgery, but waiting in the wings is a trio who's ready to fill his void.
As of Monday afternoon, the threesome included Arizona's immediate answer to Dockett's injury as well as the future.
Veteran defensive end Frostee Rucker will step into Dockett's spot in the starting lineup beginning Wednesday. Entering his ninth season, Rucker is two seasons removed from starting all 16 games for Cleveland in 2012, when he had four sacks and 48 tackles. A season earlier, he had 60 tackles and four sacks while starting 11 of 16 games for Cincinnati.
Rucker has been playing well in camp, and, at 30, is capable of being an every-down lineman. He's had three quarterback hurries, two tackles and two stops in 40 plays this preseason, according to Pro Football Focus.
Behind Rucker will be a pair of rookies drafted in May with the idea they'd be the future of the defensive line.
Ed Stinson is the better prepared of the two to replace Dockett. He's similar in size at 6-foot-4 and 287 pounds and is stronger in the interior. He was Rucker's backup Monday when the Cardinals resumed practice after Dockett's injury. At Alabama, Stinson had just 1.5 sacks along with 42 tackles while playing all 13 games for the Crimson Tide in 2013. He's flourished against the run during the preseason while playing in 64 snaps, according to PFF.
Kareem Martin is the other rookie defensive lineman who could see a few snaps in place of Dockett, but Martin is built to be a defensive end rather than an interior defensive lineman. He has long arms, and his versatility will land him on the field quickly. Through the first two preseason games, Martin has played at nose tackle and on the edges, including three plays in between Dockett and Calais Campbell.
Added depth might be coming soon.
The Cardinals are expected to meet with free-agent defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga, according to a source. And earlier Tuesday, they were briefly linked with Brett Keisel, who reportedly declined an invitation to meet with Arizona before re-signing with Pittsburgh.
Free-agent pickings are slim for now, but if Sopoaga doesn't work out, the Cardinals might wait until the market is flooded with cuts both on Aug. 26 and 30th to restock their depth.