It isn't often that Calais Campbell is salty.
The defensive end is one of the more gregarious men in the Cardinals' locker room during the week. Even in the more difficult times, Campbell's disposition doesn't change much.
Then came last weekend's home game against the Rams. Campbell was excellent. The Cardinals, overall, were not, losing a game by two they felt they should not have. It didn't mean Campbell wasn't dominant, but it did mean Campbell wasn't thrilled to talk about it.
"I don't like getting praise for my play when we didn't win," Campbell said. "I play hard and leave it on the field, but you lose
the game, it's like you didn't do enough. And I didn't. There were a couple plays out there I felt I could have made and let us win the game. Those are plays I can make and I should make. I need to do that to make sure we win games."
That didn't take away from the performance, which included 11 tackles – a huge number for a down lineman, especially one who is playing inside in a 3-4 alignment. Campbell is even getting work at nose tackle more often than ever before, something defensive coordinator James Bettcher said is simply part of the rotation but a spot Campbell has excelled within.
The Cardinals need that from their top defensive lineman. In training camp, coach Brice Arians said with Campbell's length (he's 6-foot-8) and explosiveness, "he should be unblockable."
Campbell feels the same, which is why frustration bubbles after a loss.
"That's the mentality of the great leader, of a guy who knows winning is the most important thing," said safety Rashad Johnson, who has played with Campbell since 2009. "Everyone wants to play well, but if you get the win, everyone is going to look well. As great as his performance was on Sunday, it was overshadowed by a loss. That's about being a great leader and a humble guy and always wanting to put us in a position by making that extra play."
Johnson gets where Campbell is coming from, but the veteran still marveled at the game Campbell had against the Rams.
"I don't think I've seen a defensive lineman play that well in a long time in person," Johnson said. "Every play he was in the backfield, wreaking havoc."
Arians called it as dominating a performance as a player can have – but noted it was a shame it came in a loss. Four tackles were for loss, and he shared a sack with Markus Golden. His 10 solo tackles tied his career best.
Campbell said before the season he didn't have to register a stat on a play to be happy. If he were disruptive every play, that would be enough for him.
Of course, the end result would have to be a victory for the Cardinals. Otherwise, some huge game isn't enough. Even then, Campbell admits he may never quite be satisfied.
"I don't know," Campbell said, shaking his head. "I guess if there was a game where I was like, I made every play I could, I mean, maybe. But I haven't done it yet. I haven't done it yet. I'm hoping for it. I'm chasing it."
CARDINALS HEALTHY HEADING INTO DETROIT
While tight end Darren Fells (hip) and wide receiver J.J. Nelson (shoulder) are officially questionable for Sunday's game, Arians said, the coach also noted that the Cardinals will have seven healthy players on the inactive list for the game. Everyone else on the injury list, including running back Andre Ellington, is listed as probable.
The same can't be said for the Lions, who will not have defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf), tight end Eric Ebron (knee) or running back Joique Bell (ankle), all of whom are out. Safety James Ihedigbo (quadriceps) and guard Larry Warford (ankle) are listed as questionable.
Images of key players for this week's opponent, the Detroit Lions