The summer is here. Training camp is still a few weeks away. It's the perfect time to take a stab at who the starting defense will be to open the regular season Sept. 8 against the Lions. Here's the link to the offense, posted yesterday.
DE – Darius Philon. Cardinals are hoping an under-the-radar free-agent signing turns out to be a pretty significant one.
NT – Corey Peters. You pencil him in and get out of the way. The quiet anchor of the defense.
DE – Rodney Gunter. Between his own free-agent disappointment and the reality that the Cards can't count on Robert Nkemdiche, Gunter will get his chance, in a rotation, to put together back-to-back solid seasons and head back into the market.
OLB – Chandler Jones. He has settled in to star status, and the hope is that Terrell Suggs on the other side will make him that much more effective.
ILB – Jordan Hicks. Assuming he stays healthy, Hicks is a free-agent signing that is crucial to 2019 success. Coaches love his intelligence. He'll help Haason Reddick too.
ILB – Haason Reddick. It's been a slow process as he's bounced from position to position, but there is definitely optimism Reddick is a perfect fit in his current role for which Vance Joseph will use him.
OLB – Terrell Suggs. Even Suggs was saying we'll see what he has left. But I'm guessing he still has plenty to give the Cardinals, both on the field and, almost as importantly, in the locker room.
CB – Robert Alford. He came to be Patrick Peterson's No. 2. Now he'll have to be CB1 for six games while Peterson is suspended.
CB – Byron Murphy. Maybe it'll turn out to be Tramaine Brock Sr., with Murphy at the nickel. But Brock played nickel for Joseph as well. Starting a rookie on an island isn't ideal. Then again, if you think a guy is the best cornerback available in the draft – which the Cardinals thought of Murphy – it makes sense that by the time we get to the opener, Murphy can win the job.
FS – Budda Baker. Baker was solid last season as a third safety/part-time linebacker-type. But this role is more straight safety, and Baker should excel.
SS – D.J. Swearinger Sr. He's a big personality with a big game, and getting him through waivers at the end of last season looks like it could end up being a quiet coup.