Linebacker Dontay Moch gets ready for practice Wednesday.
SARASOTA, FLA. – Bruce Arians called his season last year with the Indianapolis Colts a "fairy tale," not just because the team made it to the playoffs without ill head coach Chuck Pagano but because they did it with 13 players on injured reserve.
"You are drawing in the dirt at that point and time," Arians said. "You've got to be able to adjust in the league. It's going to throw you curveballs all the time and you have to be able to hit the curveball."
The pitches have come with a wicked bend at the Cards of late, certainly. Piling on the loss of starting outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho for the season Monday was the news Tuesday night that rookie outside linebacker Alex Okafor – ostensibly the next in line to start – was also done for the season because of a torn left biceps tendon.
Okafor said he could have played through it but decided against the risk, with an entire career still head of him. So the Cardinals
"march on," Arians said. "It's not something you sit around and blink and think twice about."
That meant Dontay Moch was there to answer questions Wednesday, a man who has played just one NFL game since he was drafted in the third round in 2011 and now finds himself from practice squad player to vital cog in the Cardinals' scheme.
Moch is from Arizona, having played with Cardinals wide receiver Kerry Taylor at Chandler Hamilton High School, and self-described his strengths as speed, power and "my want."
"I'm a predator out there, I ain't no prey," Moch said. "That's for sure."
It is the speed that got Arians attention, and he said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis would have preferred to keep Moch in Cincinnati.
"I am anxious to see him play," Arians said. "In practice he has been tough to block. He's earned this right."
Moch is the only backup outside linebacker with any kind of time in the Cardinals' system thanks to the rash of injuries. The starters will be John Abraham at Will linebacker and Matt Shaughnessy at the Sam, and even though both came into the season having played as 4-3 defensive ends most of their careers, the Cards are hopeful they can make this situation work.
"You hope your playbook is big enough that guys can do and play their best," Arians said.
This week, at least, there will be no inside linebackers moving outside. Next week, Arians acknowledged, that could change when Daryl Washington returns from suspension. Karlos Dansby said he would be willing if he Cards asked him to do so, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Moch wants the chance to prove something first. He broke his foot early in camp as a rookie, ending his season. He led the Bengals in sacks in the next two preseasons, but never had a serious shot at making the roster this season.
"Things are out of your hands," Moch said, "but it's a clear road now."
Arians said the injuries aren't "the end of the world." He's been through it before, of course, and isn't the sort to let the excuse of injured players allow deviation from his plans. He saw how that can work with the Colts.
So it would make sense if he told his story to his team. Yet Arians just shook his head.
"They don't care about what I went through last year," Arians said with a chuckle. "They care about today."