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Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Abraham preps for 20 sacks from sideline

By Josh Weinfuss

Outside linebacker John Abraham wants to take his 11.5 sacks from 2013 and raise you – about 8.5 more.

"I'm shooting for at least 20," Abraham said. "I always shoot high. If you shoot high, you might hit low, at least you shoot high. Don't bowl if you got to shoot a basket. Shoot high, don't bowl."

John Abraham
John Abraham excelled last season as an every-down linebacker.
The 36-year-old who's entering his second season with the Arizona Cardinals -- and his 15th overall -- didn't start this week's organized team activities working on his pass rush from the the field. He stood, under a glaring sun, watching practice in shorts, a jersey and a hat.

Abraham said he's preparing for another season as an every-down linebacker by resting his aging body instead of participating in Cardinals' OTAs and minicamp.

"I'm going to do my little individual [drills] and that's it," Abraham said. "You see how hard they're going? I'm 36 years old.

"I'm not going to put everything on the field right now and then come out there and it's like, 'Oh, John's just going 50 percent of the plays ,'" he added. "Everybody knows I don't like coming off the field. Even when I played for Atlanta it was tough to come off the field.

Abraham, who spoke after Cardinals coach Bruce Arians addressed the media Tuesday, said he'll spend a week in Miami soon working out. It's a routine Abraham said he does every year.

He's preparing for this coming season as the every-down starter, the position he held for 12 games last season. After outside linebackers Sam Acho, Lorenzo Alexander and Alex Okafor all went down in Week 3 at New Orleans, Abraham, who was signed as a situational pass-rusher, was thrust into the starting lineup. Questions swirled about his ability to play every down, especially against the run.

He knew he could but it was just a matter of proving it.

"[They] never gave me the opportunity," Abraham said of his previous teams. "It's like [saying] somebody can't commentate. You never gave me the opportunity. You gave me the opportunity to do something and I did and I think I proved myself now. I'm over it."

With Acho, Alexander and Okafor all back for OTAs, Abraham knows there'll be competition for his starting job. He also knows what he proved in 2013.

"I already know I'm pretty much the starter," Abraham said. "It'd look kinda stupid now to put me on the bench. I'm serious.

"If I'm still playing at my high standard, there's not a point in sitting me down."

If Abraham can reach 20 sacks this coming season, that'll give him 153.5 for his career, sending him from ninth on the all-time sack list to fourth. He didn't foresee his output last season, especially after starting the season playing about 13 plays a game and going without a sack in his first six games.

Even Arians was surprised.

"Hell yeah, but he did it," Arians said during the NFL draft. "I was more surprised and pleased the way he took on the run every week."

Arians said he watched Abraham work out for the past two months and could see the motivation to increase his sack total. While most players, Arians said, show a significant drop off after turning 30, Abraham hasn't.

Maybe it's having his legs saved from his years as a situational linebacker. Maybe it's not participating in offseason practices. Whatever he's doing, it's working for Abraham.

"Now, are the wheels going to come off at some point?" Arians said. "I can't predict that, but they certainly haven't at this point."