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Cardinals Ready To Refresh Run Defense

Notes: Catanzaro has confidence from distance, guard signed to practice squad


Cardinals defensive tackle Calais Campbell takes down Rams running back Todd Gurley during the team's game in Arizona last season.

The Cardinals hadn't given up 200 rushing yards in a game since 2014, when they were dinged in back-to-back weeks by the Seahawks and 49ers late in the season.

When the Bills shredded the Cards for 208 rushing yards last week, it made those on defense take notice.

Asked if the Cardinals had something to prove in stopping the run, cornerback Patrick Peterson quickly said, "I don't think so."

"But," Peterson added, referencing the players up front, "I think those guys want to prove we are as stout as we were in the past."

They will get that opportunity Sunday. The Rams, like the Bills, are heavily slanted toward a run-first team, with a star back in Todd Gurley and a passing game that must be directed by Case Keenum.

Gurley provides an eerie flashback for this specific situation, given that the Cardinals are hosting the Rams in Week 4 and will even be wearing the same black jerseys as they did a year ago. In that game, the Cards gave nothing to Gurley in the first half – and then he ran wild in the second half of an upset win, gaining 144 yards in the final two quarters. (The Cards did shut Gurley down in the rematch at St. Louis.)

After that game, all the talk was about defenders vacating their assignments and trying to do too much to make a play – exactly what has been said after the Bills' performance.

"Football is a prideful game … a lot of game is pride, especially when it comes to stopping the run," defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. "It's technique and positioning too, but the whole game is want-to. The coaches put in a game plan and you try to execute it the best you can, but I remember in college, one of the coaches said, 'It doesn't matter what we call, it's your job to make it work.' That comes with being prideful. "

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher said it starts with reading keys before the play. Bettcher admitted while it didn't matter because of the original gashes, the Cardinals did play runs better the second time they were used in the game. If nothing else, it proved it could be done.

"We don't have a shortage of guys that care, we don't have a shortage of guys that want to," Bettcher said. "We just have to, in the moment, have our eyes right and in the moment, be in the right place."


It has not been a great stretch for the special teams, including this week in switching out the long snapper and holder. But kicker Chandler

Catanzaro said he's already settled with new deep snapper Aaron Brewer and fill-in holder/punter Ryan Quigley.

Catanzaro also carries with him new confidence after drilling a 60-yard field goal in Buffalo. It was an odd turn – because of Drew Butler's injury and field position, Catanzaro was actually hitting punts into the net before the play, not even thinking about warm-up kicks – but he was appreciative that coaches Bruce Arians and Amos Jones allowed him to try.

"I've always believed I could hit from that far," said Catanzaro, who had made just 2-of-5 field goals from 50-plus yards before Buffalo and whose long was 47 in 2015.

"We only got two opportunities past that (last season)," Catanzaro said. "I know I got that kind of label (of not kicking from distance) but I've been hitting from there in practice the whole time and I believe in myself and I am thankful B.A. is trusting in me. This definitely does wonders for my confidence from long distance going forward."


Wide receiver Michael Floyd practiced fully after being cleared from concussion protocol Thursday, as the Cardinals had all but a couple of players participate at least in a limited fashion. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (knee) remained sidelined but has graduated to on-field rehab during practice time. Punter Drew Butler (left calf) also sat out.

Among the limited were cornerback Justin Bethel (foot), linebackers Markus Golden (shoulder) and Kareem Martin (knee) and guard Evan Mathis (toe).

The Rams did not practice Thursday but on their approximated injury report, defensive end Williams Hayes (ankle) was listed as DNP, with defensive tackle Dominique Easley (illness), cornerback LaMarcus Joyner (toe) and wide receiver Tavon Austin (shoulder) limited.


The Cardinals added guard Kaleb Johnson to the practice squad Thursday, filling that group out to 10. Johnson has spent time with the Ravens and Browns. The Cards had been short one since tight end Ifeanyi Momah was promoted to the active roster to replace the injured Troy Niklas.

Images from past matchups between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the Los Angeles Rams

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