Back in 2007, when I was still at the East Valley Tribune and just about three months into a blog for the first time, I wanted to come up with something that could stand at the top of the blog for several days while I — gasp! — actually took some vacation time.
Guestimating the starting offensive and defensive lineups for the regular-season opener, in June, seemed to make sense, especially on the heels of the just-completed offseason work. So that's what I have done every year and will do again the next two days. Today, we'll hit the defense. Tomorrow's swan song entry will be on the offense.
We're going with the 3-4 alignment because that makes the most sense as a base, although the Cards continue to mix it up and use plenty of other sub-packages (would they really use a four-safety set this season, like we have seen at times in OTAs?). But this is how I think they'll line up Sept. 12 in St. Louis.
DE — Darnell Dockett. He's done all the right things this offseason. OK, except for the shower thing. But you know what I mean.
NT — Bryan Robinson. Dan Williams will get plenty of playing time this season, and he may even be starting at some point (after the bye?). But coach Ken Whisenhunt has made it clear the past three years rookies, even first-rounders, have a hard time getting playing time early. And as good as Dockett said Gabe Watson looked this offseason, it's tough to bet against Robinson once again starting, even if he ends up with fewer plays.
DE — Calais Campbell. If anyone is poised to have a big year, it would seem to be Campbell. With his potential and what Williams can become, the Cards have to be happy with the future D-line.
ROLB — Joey Porter. No-brainer. The Cards need a pass rush upgrade off the edge. The preseason will be about narrowing down Porter's eventual heir apparent. You figure Cody Brown, but we'll see.
SILB — Gerald Hayes. I still think Hayes finds a way in there, although the coaches like what Reggie Walker brings and Hayes is battling the back issue.
WILB — Paris Lenon. Replacing Karlos Dansby isn't going to be easy (Thanks, Mr. Obvious). This is eventually Daryl Washington's spot, but maybe not this year and certainly not to start the regular season. I've already talked about the coaches' aversion to giving rookies a lot of time early.
LOLB — Clark Haggans. Will Davis looked good in his pre-injury stints last season. But Haggans was pretty consistent last season. And he's exactly what Whisenhunt likes having around the field and the locker room.
CB — Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. His knee will be fine. So will his toe. I am interested to see how he handles DB coach Donnie Henderson, who can be in-your-face.
CB — Greg Toler. The Cards have moved around the candidates thus far, but Toler should find a way to win the job. He has to step it up though. And I still think there may be a veteran to be had after the other 31 teams make their cuts.
SS — Adrian Wilson. I am curious to see how he meshes with Kerry Rhodes on the field …
FS -- Rhodes. … because you know everyone is going to be measuring what Rhodes does to what Antrel Rolle might have done.
OK. That's it for the defense. I'll close out with the offense tomorrow.