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In Chicago, Changes For The Defense

Notebook: Washington, Toler move to starters; Running game emerges

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Linebackers Daryl Washington (58) and Paris Lenon (51) take down Bears running back Matt Forte during Saturday night's 14-9 Arizona win in Chicago.




CHICAGO – The defense had some new looks. And very possibly, permanent ones.

Lost – just a bit -- in the news of the Cardinals' quarterback shuffle was the ascension of two young defensive players to the starting unit. Cornerback Greg Toler had long been expected to end up there, from the day Bryant McFadden was traded in April. Rookie inside linebacker Daryl Washington was less of a gimme, thanks to the way coach Ken Whisenhunt usually deals with first-year players.

At first glance, both performed well in Saturday night's 14-9 win over the Bears. Toler intercepted Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, and Washington made a handful of plays that did nothing to dispel the idea he belongs in the lineup.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he wanted to look at the tape, but with the addition of the young players on defense "I was pleased with the chemistry we had on the field."

"We looked like a fast team, aggressive," Whisenhunt added. "We missed a couple tackles, which was disappointing, but for the most part we did a good job."

While Toler was expected to eventually reach the lineup by the start of the regular season, Washington has quickly made the jump.

"He's got no choice now," veteran linebacker Clark Haggans said. "The coaches have figured that out in their meetings. He's going to be straight. He is young and he will take some battle licks. I just told him to keep putting one foot in front of the other."

Washington said he was "anxious" to play but was satisfied with his showing.

"The first series was one of the better ones I have had," Washington said. "Once I got comfortable, and my team was comfortable with me, I just played my game."

ROOM TO RUN


The Cards' running game had been disappointing through the first two preseason outings. But it finally gained some traction against the Bears, led by starter Tim Hightower. Hightower rushed for 62 yards on only eight carries, including a 29-yard run and a dynamic 13-yard effort in which he faked two Bears defenders to the ground near the line of scrimmage.

"Oh my goodness, it feels good to get a win, and to go back home," Hightower said.

"As a team, we just stuck with it. We did a great job responding to everything that was thrown at us. We got into a rhythm."

Whisenhunt said the ability of quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Matt Leinart to complete passes was what the Cards needed to run the ball.

"Anytime you play a defense bringing a lot of pressure, you've got to be able to hit some passes to get them out of that and that's what we did," he said. "What it comes down to is making some plays."

NEEDING A FULLBACK


Starting fullback Nehemiah Broughton likely tore the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee in the game, and while Whisenhunt said further tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis, Broughton is probably done for the season.

That leaves the Cards with only Reagan Maui'a as a healthy fullback. Broughton was the probable choice to remain on the 53-man roster for the position, so now the Cards have to make a decision and bring in another player. Charles Ali, who was with the team earlier in camp, is not an option – he was released injured and his injury settlement prevents him from coming back until October.

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