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Cardinals Bring The Blitz

Notebook: Jefferson returns to practice; Peterson works full; Romo sits out for Cowboys


Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote (50) is among the pieces defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will use in scheming blitz packages.

The Cardinals will bring the blitz.

But, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles insisted Thursday, "it's not as often as you think."

Heading into Sunday's game at Dallas, blitzing seems to make sense for the Cards. They have done a lot of it this season, a natural by-product of a unit struggling to get pressure on the passer with a regular rush. The Cowboys, meanwhile, struggled mightily with a higher percentage of blitzes than normal by Washington in Dallas' Monday night loss.

Bowles shrugged away what Washington did in terms of being a help for the Cardinals' gameplan – "We're a different scheme than they are," he

said – but there is also a discrepancy in what exactly a blitz is in the first place.

"They consider five people going a blitz these days," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "I don't consider that a blitz. I don't think Todd considers that a blitz. That's just our 'under saw' type of look. As far as actual blitzes go, we mix them up a lot. Bring a lot of different guys. To me, five is just a five-man rush."

On the last two Philadelphia drives Sunday – one that ended with the goalline stand to force a field goal, the other on incomplete end zone passes to close out the win – the Eagles ran 26 plays from scrimmage. The Cardinals blitzed (with six or more) on eight of them, including the last two incompletions.  

The Cardinals did not sack Eagles quarterback Nick Foles in the game, although they did pressure him out of the pocket a few times.

"(The blitzing) hasn't been as effective as I thought," Bowles said. "Some of them work out well, some don't. You see things, you try to take advantage. You try to put guys in position to make plays."

Romo said the Cowboys have handled the blitz well at times this season. The Washington game just wasn't one of them.

"Our experience has been you have to kind of work your way through it because it can be kind of a muddy game because of your style of play, but you have to somehow, some way make a couple of plays against them," Romo said.

Bowles continues to mix and match with his game-to-game work. His use of the zero blitz – no safety help in the deep secondary – has become par for the course in close games as Bowles emphasizes staying aggressive.  

"Coach comes up with something great," Campbell said. "We just try to make them look good."


When Tony Jefferson was a true freshman at Oklahoma, he went up against senior running back DeMarco Murray during an intrasquad walk-through. The Cardinals safety was left with an indelible impression.

"He stiff-armed me so hard," Jefferson said. "We just had helmets on. I was so mad, but I couldn't do anything because it was DeMarco. So I've been waiting for this game to get him back."

Jefferson chuckled at the memory. He's just hoping he gets the chance to play. Jefferson returned to practice Thursday after getting cleared to work following his concussion. He isn't sure yet if he'll be able to play.

"You don't want to rush back," Jefferson said. "It's your brain you are talking about. I feel fine. But we have a long season ahead of us."

Jefferson played the whole game and ran off the field jumping in celebration, but he acknowledged later he couldn't remember what happened.

"I went home and watched the film on the iPad, and it was like seeing yourself on autopilot," Jefferson said. "It was pretty weird."

Jefferson paused.

"I had 12 tackles, though."


Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sat out practice for a second straight day because of his bad back, and Friday now seems to loom large in the possibility of Romo being able to play Sunday.

Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (concussion) was back to full practice Thursday, putting him on course to playing Sunday. Running back Andre Ellington (foot) and tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) remained limited. Linebacker Kenny Demens (knee) was upgraded to full practice as well.

Dallas linebacker Rolando McClain (shoulder) returned to practice on a limited basis Thursday, joining linebacker Bruce Carter (thigh/finger) and defensive end Anthony Spencer (knee/foot). Sitting out practice for the Cowboys besides Romo were starting tackle Doug Free (foot) and starting guard Ronald Leary.

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