The Cardinals' top two draft picks -- LB Daryl Washington (left) and NT Dan Williams will play immediate roles on defense starting in St. Louis Sunday.
Already, Daryl Washington – the second-round draft pick – is getting more publicity than Dan Williams – who was the first-rounder.
And to think, if Williams, as a nose tackle, does his job this season, that will likely only make Washington, an inside linebacker, more famous. After all, Williams' main purpose is to occupy offensive linemen so guys like Washington can speed to the ball and make the tackle.
"It's cool," the affable Williams said with a grin. "Part of football. On the nose it's about eating up blocks and controlling your gap. It's fine. (Darryl) knows we're holding people off. His job is to make the plays, my job to hold them off of him. We're both ready to do our part. As long as he gets them down and we get off the field, that works for me."
Washington, coming off an impressive preseason as he went against the Ken Whisenhunt odds of cracking the starting lineup as a rookie, isn't about to try and steal all of Williams' thunder.
"They all say it starts up front," Washington said. "You can see he is playing well, holding those guys off. Those guys double team him, he gets them and makes it easier for me."
The Cardinals need their two top picks to make an impact sooner rather than later. Washington may be the lone starter for now – Williams is playing in a rotation with starter Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson – but Williams will get playing time.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis said both players have had a good camp and preseason. Williams may be more unnoticed, Davis acknowledged. "He doesn't have the wow plays," Davis said, "but he's a nose guard – they don't have the wow plays."
"Dan has done everything we asked, played the techniques we needed him to, he's made some tackles and he does move laterally well and get in on a lot of plays," Davis added. "Daryl is coming along great. He has earned a starting role. We will continue to grow him. He is talented – and he's young."
Both young players, given their draft status, will continue to garner attention too.
"He'll get his opportunities just like I am," Washington said. "(We will) prove 'em right or prove 'em wrong."
Ben Patrick was starting at tight end before a dislocated knee early in camp sidelined him for most of the preseason. He is back and doing well, Whisenhunt said, aided by his ability to get at least a few plays in the final preseason game against the Redskins.
But there is a chance it will be Stephen Spach starting Sunday for the Cards – the same Spach who was a healthy inactive for a handful of games last season, including the postseason. He came back in 2009 from a shredded knee in the 2008 playoffs, and only starting feeling 100 percent after the 2009 season was over.
"I have a lot of respect for Stephen and what he has gone through to get to this point," Whisenhunt said. "He probably had as good a training camp as anybody. I think part of it is being completely healthy, but he fought through a lot of things last year and he never lost his will, never lost his competitive edge."
WILSON TALKS ABOUT HOME
Adrian Wilson's trip back to High Point, N.C., this past summer was captured in a two-part video piece put together by the Cards' broadcast department. "The Wilson Legacy – part one" airs multiple times this weekend: On Ch. 12 (NBC) Saturday following the Michigan-Notre Dame game (about 3:30 p.m.) on "Maximum Cardinals; during the "Ken Whisenhunt Show," which airs Saturday at midnight following "Saturday Night Live," and Sunday on Fox Sports Arizona at 8 a.m. when FSN re-airs "Maximum Cardinals."
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Sep 10, 2010 at 07:32 AM
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