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Monday, September 19, 2011
Around the NFC West: Cardinals' defense

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The first full-contact goal-line session of Arizona Cardinals training camp arrived amid some anticipation.

I stood along the back of the end zone and watched the offense push around the defense convincingly.

My take then: "Defensive coordinator Ray Horton should know by now he's not in Pittsburgh any longer." My take now: After two games, Horton really knows he's not in Pittsburgh. And just to be sure of it, Horton will have to watch the Steelers' defense during its Week 2 shutout against Seattle while preparing to face the Seahawks in a Week 3 game at CenturyLink Field.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says former Cardinals coordinators Clancy Pendergast and Billy Davis must be feeling some vindication after watching the Cardinals' defense allow more than 900 yards in the first two weeks of the season. Noted: I had similar thoughts watching the Washington Redskins amass 477 yards during a 22-21 victory against Arizona on Sunday. Not that the defense necessarily would have performed any better with Pendergast or Davis.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says former Cardinals running back Tim Hightower took credit for baiting his former team into a 15-yard penalty early in the game. Hightower called it knowing which buttons to push. Hightower: "I'm trying to think of all the adjectives that I could use right now that are coming to mind. Happy. It feels great. I tried to tell myself all week that this was just another game, but it wasn't. It meant a lot to me. I wanted this one really bad."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals are entering a critical stretch of seemingly winnable games, but their defense has to play better. On Kevin Kolb, whose 73-yard scoring pass to Larry Fitzgerald put Arizona ahead, 21-13: "I can see why coaches wanted Kolb. He can make all the necessary throws. He's tough. And he understands leadership. He takes more than his share of the blame for losses and other failures. That throw to Fitz and the hit he took? I don't see how anyone could watch that and think Kolb's not suited to be a good starter." Noted: The challenge for Kolb is playing aggressively without taking too many chances. Kolb agreed Sunday that this is a line he walks.