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Campbell Wants To Improve

Despite new $55 million deal, defensive end expects to get better


Defensive end Calais Campbell smiles during a press conference Friday to talk about his new five-year contract with the team.

The list was repeated to Calais Campbell during his press conference -- eight sacks, 11 passes defensed, three blocked field goals, an impressive 73 tackles as a defensive end, 11 tackles for loss – as a follow-up to Campbell's previous statement that he still had to get better.

What exactly is there to improve?

Campbell, who signed his five-year contract Friday before taking part in a press conference, didn't hesitate before answering with a grin.

"I made a lot of mistakes last year too," Campbell said.

Without question, the Cards are counting on Campbell getting even better, with the new contract giving the veteran up to $55 million, with more than $30 million guaranteed. The pact does give the Cards some salary cap breathing room, shaving Campbell's $10.7 million cap number in half. But, like the massive extensions for veterans Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett and Larry Fitzgerald before Campbell, the Cards are paying for more than just a football player. The same qualities that make him valuable in the locker room and elsewhere off the field are the ones that will drive him to improve his game.

"Calais is the kind of guy you want on your team," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We have a lot of those guys already, but when you have a guy who plays the way Calais has, does what he does in the community, and is such an unselfish teammate, it means a lot."

Whisenhunt recalled Campbell's stint on both kickoff coverage and kickoff return when he was a rookie. Campbell was a long way from there sitting in front of the cameras Friday.

"I've always tried to be the best I can be," Campbell said, who was joined by his mother, one of his sisters and one of his brothers. "My dad taught me at a young age that if you want to be the best, you have to work hard – harder than everybody else."

Of all the stats, Whisenhunt said he is most impressed with Campbell's tackles, given his position. While Campbell, at 6-foot-8, is having to constantly work on his technique, Whisenhunt added, his effort is never a question and that Campbell "epitomizes" team defense.

Campbell, who had received the franchise tag before he was allowed to become a free agent in March, admitted he knew there was a possibility a long-term deal wouldn't be reached. He also admitted it was "almost impossible" to put out of his mind because that's all anyone was ever asking of him.

"We've said many times our objective is to become a championship team, both on and off the field," general manager Rod Graves said. "It starts with the core players."

That includes Campbell.

"Watching the film, breaking it down, I could have played a lot better," Campbell said. "I feel like I'm becoming smarter as a player, understanding the game a lot better and physically being stronger. There is a lot of room for improvement."

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