Rookie defensive end Kenny Iwebema sacks Saints quarterback Mark Brunell during last week's preseason opener in Glendale.
FLAGSTAFF – Tucked in an auxiliary locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium – the roster remains too big for rookies to be in the main locker room – Kenny Iwebema and Calais Campbell were standing around after their first NFL game giving each other grief.
The insults were good-natured, although not repeatable. Their personalities – and their similar positions -- had made it easy for the two defensive linemen to become friends after April's draft.
Their personalities have also cleared a path for veterans to give them advice,
perhaps one of the reasons both, in the words of coach Ken Whisenhunt, "showed up" against the Saints.
"We are outgoing people and it makes it easier for players to want to help you," Campbell said. "We bond well."
Iwebema, the team's fourth-round pick from Iowa, got a key fourth-down sack. Campbell, the second-round pick out of Miami (Fla.), disrupted a few plays and got in on the Cards' goalline stand that stopped the Saints.
Given their draft status, a decent debut shouldn't have been a big surprise. Yet both players came off disappointing final college seasons – seasons that, at a brief glance, make it easy to question whether either was driven to succeed.
If Campbell and Iwebema have proven anything to coaches and teammates during their short NFL stints, however, it's the opposite.
"It is really easy to work with guys like Kenny and Calais," said defensive lineman Bryan Robinson, a 12-year NFL veteran. "They want to learn. They don't feel like they know it all. They know the ladder to improve is easier to climb if they listen to an older guy."
The 6-foot-7 Campbell plays behind Darnell Dockett at left defensive end. Iwebema, whose game is stronger against the run, plays behind right end Antonio Smith – who could become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Campbell can slide inside to play defensive tackle in nickel situations, his size causing all kinds of passing lane problems for opposing quarterbacks.
Both play multiple special teams, so much so that Iwebema joked "it'll be hard to cut me."
Neither are in much danger of going anywhere, however.