John Abraham is down 15 pounds, he is comfortable in the Cardinals’ defense because it is similar to the one he played in Atlanta, and he expects his sack total to be “easily double digits.”
As for his age, “I don’t feel 35 and I don’t feel I look 35.”
The Cardinals might not have expected to be able to pick up a pass rusher with Abraham’s résumé at this point and Abraham probably didn’t expect to land in Arizona after being released by the Falcons early in the offseason. But here both are after Abraham signed a two-year contract, worth a reported $6 million, at the outset of training camp.
Abraham immediately gives the Cards an edge rusher they haven’t had in recent seasons. Abraham had 10 sacks and six forced fumbles last season for Atlanta – including two sacks against the Cardinals – and not surprisingly made coach Bruce Arians smile at his arrival.
Asked what situation he planned to use Abraham, Arians quipped, “The first time I think they are going to pass.”
Not only does Abraham have 122 career sacks but also 44 forced fumbles, dovetailing nicely into
“His ability to come off the edge and wreak havoc will make my job a lot easier,” defensive end
“To have 122 sacks in your career, the guy is a beast. I am listening to everything that guy says and watching every move he makes.”
That works for Abraham, who said he wanted to become a leader for the younger players and be approachable – something he said he had a tough time doing as a younger player with the Jets when veterans like Mo Lewis and Bryan Cox played there.
Then again, Abraham acknowledged he’s learned a lot since those early, injury-ravaged days in New York when people wondered if he would ever fully reach his potential. Hindsight and experience being what it is, Abraham said he doesn’t “waste plays like I used to.”
He also grew up.
“You know how it is when you get a big check, you want to party,” Abraham said. “I didn’t go out in college so for me, (the NFL) was like college with a million (dollars). I probably would have slowed down a lot. I know a lot more about the game now.”
Arians said the Cardinals now have “four or five” capable pass rushers, although none have done it like Abraham. The franchise has been down this road before and recently, signing an aging Joey Porter in 2010 and Porter – trying to play every down – never was able to produce.
Arians isn’t sure how much Abraham will be used and Abraham said he didn’t care. He’d like to play every down, but he knows he’s here to get to the quarterback. And the Cardinals, who use analytics in their free-agent evaluations now, are confident Abraham is nothing like Porter.
“It’s a smart move for them, bring in a vet guy, get me for cheap,” Abraham said with a laugh.
His teammates certainly see the intelligence in the decision.
“Everybody is excited about it, because I know the pressure is going to be on the quarterback to make a decision,” linebacker