Defensive lineman Darnell Dockett battles through a Redskin during last week's loss in Washington.
Darnell Dockett is a multiple-time Pro Bowler and Calais Campbell is a player the Cardinals count on as an up-and-coming difference maker.
That talent doesn't make learning a new defensive system any easier though, or change the growing process.
"As a defensive line, y'all never see our mistakes," Dockett said. "Let one of the corners or safeties make a mistake, oh boy, it's all on SportsCenter. We understand that. As a defensive line, we have to do a better job, to help the secondary."
Mistakes aren't noticeable by the average fan, but right now, not a lot of anything is noticeable from Dockett and Campbell – which in itself is noticed. That's always been an issue with a 3-4 alignment, which is built around linebackers and often requires defensive linemen to makes moves with the linebackers in mind.
If there is early-season frustration from the two ends, however, they aren't showing it publicly.
"The biggest thing is we haven't had the opportunity to really open the play book up," Campbell said. "Some of the plays, we messed up early and coach doesn't feel comfortable calling them again. Also, we haven't gotten into enough situations where teams have to throw the ball. They have pass-run option, and that slows us down. When we force those things, you'll see the big-time plays from Dockett and myself, (nose tackle) Dan (Williams) and some of the other guys."
Dockett said that across the defense, players are buying in to Ray Horton's scheme and "not one time are we being rebellious or talking bad about it."
Dockett did note he's basically had the same job for the first seven years of his career and this is a "new assignment, a new responsibility." Horton said that Wednesday was the first time Dockett came to him and told him that he understood what he was supposed to do.
"I am happy he understands he needs to put a little extra studying in," Horton said.
Dockett used to always play on the outside edge of his man. Now, Horton moves Dockett around more and asks him to do other things than just get upfield.
"That's OK," Dockett added. "You look over those seven years, how many games did we win, how'd we do on defense, did we win the big game when we were supposed to? Lots of things you can look back on and honestly say we need to get better on defense. That's what coach Horton does.
"He's a fair guy. He draws it up, and tells us, 'If you're not comfortable with it, we don't have to run it.' But he stresses the importance on why we should run it. Nine times out of 10 he makes a lot of sense what he is talking about."
SCALING BACK DEFENSIVELY
Horton admitted his players haven't figured out his defense as quickly as he had anticipated, leading to the Cards scaling back some of the playbook for now.
"I have learned we can't throw it all at them," Horton said. "They were embarrassed and they were mad we were cutting back and they said, 'Coach, don't do that to us.' I just said, 'As we learn, we will put in back in.' "
Horton said the goal is to have the players play faster and not have to think about every move. Fix that, and fix continuing communication problems, and improvement will come.
"When you are making too many mistakes, you have to look what you are doing," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You have to put your guys in the best position to be successful."
BEANIE A QUESTION BUT RICE RETURNS
While the Cardinals wait to see game day if running back can play after hamstring tightness this week (and for that matter, rehabbing linebacker Daryl Washington and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling), the Seahawks will get one of their major offensive cogs back as wide receiver Sidney Rice will play Sunday for the first time this season.
Rice, a prize free agent signed from Minnesota, is dealing with a shoulder problem.
"Sidney is one of the guys you want to lean on," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "Not having him from the end of preseason on has been a factor. Fortunately, (quarterback) Tarvaris (Jackson) and Sidney have grown up together in Minnesota. They know each other and there is a natural chemistry."