Darnell Dockett stuffs Houston running back Steve Slaton behind the line of scrimmage Sunday.
The caveats were oft-repeated and perhaps rightfully so – that it's early in the season, that teams have chosen to pass more – but right now, the Cardinals are a quarter of the way into their schedule and have the top-ranked run defense in the NFL.
The Cardinals are only giving up 71 rushing yards a game, and that's after seeing three backs who have 1,000-yard seasons in the league (Frank Gore, Joseph Addai and Steve Slaton) and a fourth who will (Maurice Jones-Drew).
"We haven't done anything different," nose tackle Bryan Robinson said. "It's what we did in the playoffs and we just had some carryover. I know there was talk about us being porous run defense, but we always knew we could stop the run. We are just trying to prove that now.
"We don't like reading in the paper how bad of a run defense we are. We don't like reading in the paper how bad of a pass defense we are, but we'll fix that too."
That's the other side of the stats, with the Cardinals ranked last in the NFL in pass defense right now. Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged the statistics can be skewed this early in the season on both counts; the Cards stuffed Gore and the 49ers for 21 yards on 25 carries, a nice jumping-off point in the season opener.
"That gives you a good head start," Whisenhunt said.
Passing-wise, the Cards suffered at the hands of Peyton Manning one game while the Texans piled up passing yards last week trying to rally from a 21-0 deficit. The pass rush hasn't generated a sack the last two games, although the Cards were close several times against Houston and Whisenhunt joined his players in talking about the large amount of maximum protection schemes the Texans used.
"First it means respect because we've been getting a lot of it, and that's cool," defensive end Darnell Dockett said. "We'll be seeing some teams down the line that I believe are not going to do those things, where they figure they can match up. This might be one of those games here. But we kept working, even if we are doubled (with blockers)."
The Cards figure to have to get to the quarterback, because as it stands, teams won't want to run if they can't generate yards.
"Right now, it's all smoke and mirrors," Robinson said of the ranking." I think we have a pretty good run defense but we'll see what happens by the end of the year."
CARDS VS. SEAHAWKS THROUGH TWITTER
Dockett called the Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck "one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league." He also has been trying to make a deal via Twitter, which both Dockett and Hasselbeck famously use.
"I've been trying to negotiate with him, ask him not to pass the ball a lot, give me two sacks, no hard counts." Dockett said. "Hopefully we can solidify a deal before the game."
Dockett has offered up things like cheesecake and a CD.
"It seems there are a bunch of guys on Arizona that are Twitter-friendly," Hasselbeck said. "A lot of guys I respect."
Hasselbeck seems to understand manipulation through Twitter, however. One of his tweets to Dockett is one of Dockett's hot-button issues: Dockett's contract. Tweeted Hasselbeck, "I thought the team was working on a new deal for you? You've earned it! What are they waiting for?"
Whether that means Hasselbeck will help Dockett – Dockett tweeted to the QB he'd be happy if Hasselbeck allowed him to sack him twice because Dockett is underpaid and it would help his cause – remains to be seen.
SPACH FEELS FORTUNATE
Tight end Stephen Spach was the only player to miss practice Wednesday because of his ankle sprain, although he acknowledged he was in good spirits considering his thoughts after the injury first happened and he was worried it was something significant. That comes a little surprise, since Spach came off major knee surgery earlier this year. Instead, Spach said, he just has a bad sprain.
Four players were limited Wednesday: defensive end Kenny Iwebema, running back Jason Wright (back), cornerback Bryant McFadden (ankle) and wide receiver Steve Breaston (knee).
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