Defensive end Frostee Rucker (98) and the rest of the defensive front will have to up their play in the absence of the injured Calais Campbell and Matt Shaughnessy.
Defensive end Calais Campbell is one of the most irreplaceable players on the Cardinals, a stout run defender and a regular pass-rushing presence. But if he were in the shoes of a reserve defensive lineman this week, Campbell would downplay those abilities and vow to outshine the production, no matter how unrealistic it sounds.
"If I was (rookie defensive end) Kareem (Martin) or some of the younger guys, my mindset is, 'I'm going to go win this job, and when the older guys come back and get healthy, we'll have to find a way to rotate them in with me,' " Campbell said. "That's just the way my mentality is, and I hope his mentality is the same, because it will make us a better team."
In a season riddled with injuries, Campbell (one-to-three weeks with an MCL strain) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (eight weeks with cartilage damage in the knee) are the latest defensive starters to go down. The "next man up" philosophy has become repeated so often at this point it could act as the team's second nickname.
Martin and Ed Stinson will likely see an increase in playing time alongside defensive linemen Tommy Kelly, Frostee Rucker and Dan Williams, while Alex Okafor will slide in as the starter at outside linebacker in place of Shaughnessy.
"The thing is, we've been preparing for this since the offseason, since OTAs when coach split us up into two fields so the young guys could get extra reps," Okafor said. "Coach is a realist. He knows there's going to be injuries and setbacks throughout the season."
The Cardinals led the league in rush defense in 2013 and are fifth this year, allowing 76.8 yards per game. They've yet to allow a team to reach 100 yards in a game, but that could be tested without Shaughnessy and Campbell, who coach Bruce Arians called "two of the best run defenders we have." After Campbell exited the game on Sunday against the Broncos, the defense noticeably suffered.
Last season, the front of Shaughnessy, Campbell, Dockett and nose tackle Dan Williams was both stingy against the run and versatile enough to be used against the pass. With all but Williams shelved this week, Arians may have to do more mixing and matching. Martin and Okafor are better pass-rushers than they are run-stoppers, while Kelly is the opposite.
The Cardinals are hoping their collection of different parts can come close to the production of the injured starters.
"We've got a lot of work to do," Martin said. "Everybody has to step up and play their role."
JULIUS THOMAS FINED, CARDS READY TO MOVE ON
Broncos tight end Julius Thomas was fined $8,268 for the illegal chop block which injured Campbell on Sunday, a source confirmed. It was the slotted amount for a first-time offender, which Campbell said was "good enough for me."
Campbell said he has yet to hear from Thomas.
"One of my teammates said he talked to him after the game and he said that he wanted to send me a message, but he could get my number if he wanted to," Campbell said. "It's all good. I want to move past it so it's over and done with."
Arians, who had strong words postgame -- calling it "the dirtiest play I've ever seen" in his 37-year NFL coaching tenure -- has moved forward as well, declining comment on the fine.
"I'm tired of all that," Arians said.
Campbell said he would agree with a stiffer fine for the infraction if the league discussed it in the future.
"If they want to adjust the rules, it might discourage people a little bit more from doing it," Campbell said. "In theory, if a stronger, harsher penalty kept them from doing it again, then hey. But the rules are in place (for fines) and they followed them."
GRUDEN HAPPY WITH CARDINALS' INTERVIEW
Jay Gruden served as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati for three seasons before being named the Redskins' coach in January. After Year 2 with the Bengals, Gruden thought he had a shot at becoming a head coach for the first time -- when he interviewed for the Cardinals' vacancy in February of 2013.
"I enjoyed the Bidwill family," Gruden said. "It was a great interview. I thought I had a good chance at it but they chose to go in a different direction and made a wise choice."
The Cardinals, of course, picked Arians, who has 13 wins in his first 20 games on the job. Gruden interviewed with three other teams in 2012 and two in 2013, but the interview with the Cardinals was his first for a head coaching gig.
"It helped to go through the process," Gruden said. "Every interview's different, every owner's different, every GM is different. Everyone has the same intent in mind moving forward. It's just a matter of how they planned on getting there was a little different. But it was a great experience."
PALMER, STANTON LIMITED AT PRACTICE
Quarterbacks Carson Palmer (shoulder) and Drew Stanton (concussion) threw some light passes during the open portion of practice on Wednesday and were listed as limited participants. Running back Andre Ellington (foot), cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) and cornerback Justin Bethel (shoulder) were also limited.
Defensive end Calais Campbell (knee), linebacker Glenn Carson (ankle), guard Paul Fanaika (ankle/calf) and tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) did not practice.
For Washington, safety Ryan Clark (ankle), linebacker Brian Orakpo (ankle), cornerback Tracy Porter (hamstring), linebacker Perry Riley (knee) and tackle Trent Williams (knee) sat out. Tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited.