Rookie defensive end/linebacker Kareem Martin takes part in Phase 2 work this week.
It took just two days for Calais Campbell to notice the defensive end the Cardinals drafted in the third round.
"I really see a lot of myself in Kareem Martin," Campbell said.
The similarities are obvious in some ways. Campbell, the Cardinals' veteran defensive end is 6-foot-8; Martin is 6-foot-6. Martin needs to add some weight just as Campbell did when he arrived as a rookie back in 2008. And while Martin may be moved around in his first season – as an above-average pass rusher, the Cardinals already have had him do some work at outside linebacker – there is little question where his future will take him.
"I think when it's all said and done I can be that (defensive) end," Martin said Wednesday during an introductory press conference.
That's the "end" that Campbell has become after six years in the NFL.
Campbell still hasn't made a Pro Bowl but that feels like an oversight due in part to playing defensive end in a 3-4 set. It doesn't
bother Campbell much. He knows he has become one of the key components on what was the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL last season.
He has every intention of guiding Martin so he can make the same type of impact.
"I see me even in the way he plays, because he is so long and the way he moves," Campbell said. "He really has a lot of upside. I am going to try to take him under my wing. He has the potential to be a great player."
As far as Martin is concerned, Campbell already has become a mentor. Martin said Campbell told him if he needed help just to ask, and Martin knows Campbell already has mastered Todd Bowles' defense.
"He's definitely someone I can turn to," Martin said.
When Campbell got to the Cardinals as a rookie, he weighed 272 pounds. Martin also weighs 272 pounds. These days Campbell plays around 295 – a brief foray in 2011 to 315 pounds proved too big – and said most of his weight gain came naturally as he filled out into his frame.
He expects Martin to do the same without much effort. But even now, as a lighter rookie, Campbell said he believes Martin can help the defense because of his smarts and his technique. Veteran defensive end Frostee Rucker plays at around 278, Campbell said, and Martin can do the same.
General Manager Steve Keim said "the sky's the limit" for Martin's potential, and the idea at least at first is clearly to capitalize on a guy who had 11½ sacks as a senior at North Carolina. That means Bowles will move Martin around in a quest to get the quarterback.
"I like to harp on his size and athleticism," said guard Jonathan Cooper, Martin's college teammate. "They usually don't go hand in hand, but with him, I think he's a former basketball player, he has a lot of athletic ability but not finesse by any means."
Eventually, though, the "hand in the dirt" with which Martin feels most comfortable should be his regular spot.
Campbell spent his early years battling the need for leverage, and getting his lengthy frame low enough to make it work for him. That's a message he wants Martin to understand quickly in order to blunt the learning curve.
Eventually, if the Cardinals end up with Calais Campbell 2.0, they will be thrilled.
"He seems pretty quick, pretty bright and he has someone like me to teach him," Campbell said with a grin. "So it'll be fine."
The Cardinals continue to prep for upcoming OTAs