Cardinals DE Calais Campbell: ‘We know with success comes constant change’

As a second-round pick out of Miami in 2008, Calais Campbell showed promise as a pass rusher. The promise turned into production in his second year, as the budding star racked up seven sacks as the left end in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. Campbell talked to Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer about the team’s offseason losses on defense, the strength of the scheme and the correct pronunciation of his first name:

Defensive end Calais Campbell says the Cardinals will compete in 2010.
Defensive end Calais Campbell says the Cardinals will compete in 2010.

Q: How has your team reacted so far to losing some of its key players to free agency and trades?
A: It’s tough, but at the same time we know with success comes constant change. I was a good friend of another former Hurricane, Antrel Rolle, and we’ll also miss him as a player. But you’re happy for him, too, for being rewarded for what he’s done. Hopefully, we will bring in some other guys to help us, and we’ve got some young players — Cody Brown, Will Davis — that will only get better.

Q: What did Karlos Dansby mean to the defense?
A: He was the quarterback of the defense. You could count on him every game because he knew the system so well. He is a very versatile player, and you can’t quite replace him. I think he’s a good fit in Miami. I think he’ll do well and like it there.

Q: So how will your role change as one of the Cardinals’ remaining defensive standouts?
A: We’re fortunate to still have some great guys with experience here. The younger guys can still lean on Adrian Wilson, and on the other side of me, we’ve got Darnell Dockett. I felt more comfortable last season. There’s more confidence that I can be a leader, too. We’ll have a strong core in place.

Q: Defensive end in a 3-4 is usually more of a run-stopping role. What allowed you to have such good success as a pass rusher last season?
A: Our scheme is built to rush the passer. We’re dedicated to stopping the pass. I was more comfortable with our blitz packages and had a better feel for different moves. It’s important to be at a good weight because how me and Darnell Dockett get to the quarterback is with a good, strong technique. We’re set up to be aggressive, getting upfield to make plays and get turnovers.

Q: How is the offense getting along after Kurt Warner decided to retire?
A: Kurt Warner is obviously a big loss. He worked hard for us and just knew how to win. That said, we have confidence in Matt Leinart as a starter. I’m also sure the front office will bring in a veteran behind him (former Brown Derek Anderson was signed Wednesday). Our team is built on competition, to help get the best out of your players. The challenge will be good for Matt. He’s a potential Pro Bowl guy. It’s just about working hard.

Q: What was your reaction to the trade of Anquan Boldin?
A: I think the Ravens are a good place for him. As for our team, we’ve got Steve Breaston ready to step in. He’s made a lot of big plays for us. Everyone also saw what Early Doucet could do the playoffs. We still have a very strong corps of receivers. Anquan is definitely hard to replace, but Early is built like him physically.

Q: There has been a trend toward shorter, more compact pass rushers. How is it different getting after quarterbacks when you’re 6-8?
A: It’s an advantage for me to separate and shed blocks because I’ve got the longer arms. At the same time, when you’re taller, you have less leverage and most offensive lineman have a lower center of gravity. It’s a problem only if you don’t use good technique. For me, it’s natural to use a swim move to get past a blocker. You just need to know your body type well and where you can best make your move athletically.

Q: So what’s the origin of your first name and what is the correct pronunciation?
A: I come from a large family, with five brothers and two sisters, so many of us have unique names. I have a younger brother, Severin, who’s playing defensive end at Montana. My first name gets mispronounced often — even though it’s based on a city in France, the "S" isn’t silent.

Q: Have you ever been to France?
A: I plan on going sometime when I get a break from OTAs. I would love to take my picture under a sign in Calais. Also I would love to get one of those plates you get at a carnival with my name on it — they just don’t have those here.

Q: What’s your goal for this season?
A: Personally, I would like to make it to the Pro Bowl. As a team, just keeping winning our division. We’ve done it back to back, and we have some great players to return to the playoffs again.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

As a second-round pick out of Miami in 2008, Calais Campbell showed promise as a pass rusher. The promise turned into production in his second year, as the budding star racked up seven sacks as the left end in Arizona’s 3-4 defense. Campbell talked to Sporting News‘ Vinnie Iyer about the team’s offseason losses on defense, the strength of the scheme and the correct pronunciation of his first name:

Defensive end Calais Campbell says the Cardinals will compete in 2010.
Defensive end Calais Campbell says the Cardinals will compete in 2010.

Q: How has your team reacted so far to losing some of its key players to free agency and trades?
A: It’s tough, but at the same time we know with success comes constant change. I was a good friend of another former Hurricane, Antrel Rolle, and we’ll also miss him as a player. But you’re happy for him, too, for being rewarded for what he’s done. Hopefully, we will bring in some other guys to help us, and we’ve got some young players — Cody Brown, Will Davis — that will only get better.

Q: What did Karlos Dansby mean to the defense?
A: He was the quarterback of the defense. You could count on him every game because he knew the system so well. He is a very versatile player, and you can’t quite replace him. I think he’s a good fit in Miami. I think he’ll do well and like it there.

Q: So how will your role change as one of the Cardinals’ remaining defensive standouts?
A: We’re fortunate to still have some great guys with experience here. The younger guys can still lean on Adrian Wilson, and on the other side of me, we’ve got Darnell Dockett. I felt more comfortable last season. There’s more confidence that I can be a leader, too. We’ll have a strong core in place.

Q: Defensive end in a 3-4 is usually more of a run-stopping role. What allowed you to have such good success as a pass rusher last season?
A: Our scheme is built to rush the passer. We’re dedicated to stopping the pass. I was more comfortable with our blitz packages and had a better feel for different moves. It’s important to be at a good weight because how me and Darnell Dockett get to the quarterback is with a good, strong technique. We’re set up to be aggressive, getting upfield to make plays and get turnovers.

Q: How is the offense getting along after Kurt Warner decided to retire?
A: Kurt Warner is obviously a big loss. He worked hard for us and just knew how to win. That said, we have confidence in Matt Leinart as a starter. I’m also sure the front office will bring in a veteran behind him (former Brown Derek Anderson was signed Wednesday). Our team is built on competition, to help get the best out of your players. The challenge will be good for Matt. He’s a potential Pro Bowl guy. It’s just about working hard.

Q: What was your reaction to the trade of Anquan Boldin?
A: I think the Ravens are a good place for him. As for our team, we’ve got Steve Breaston ready to step in. He’s made a lot of big plays for us. Everyone also saw what Early Doucet could do the playoffs. We still have a very strong corps of receivers. Anquan is definitely hard to replace, but Early is built like him physically.

Q: There has been a trend toward shorter, more compact pass rushers. How is it different getting after quarterbacks when you’re 6-8?
A: It’s an advantage for me to separate and shed blocks because I’ve got the longer arms. At the same time, when you’re taller, you have less leverage and most offensive lineman have a lower center of gravity. It’s a problem only if you don’t use good technique. For me, it’s natural to use a swim move to get past a blocker. You just need to know your body type well and where you can best make your move athletically.

Q: So what’s the origin of your first name and what is the correct pronunciation?
A: I come from a large family, with five brothers and two sisters, so many of us have unique names. I have a younger brother, Severin, who’s playing defensive end at Montana. My first name gets mispronounced often — even though it’s based on a city in France, the "S" isn’t silent.

Q: Have you ever been to France?
A: I plan on going sometime when I get a break from OTAs. I would love to take my picture under a sign in Calais. Also I would love to get one of those plates you get at a carnival with my name on it — they just don’t have those here.

Q: What’s your goal for this season?
A: Personally, I would like to make it to the Pro Bowl. As a team, just keeping winning our division. We’ve done it back to back, and we have some great players to return to the playoffs again.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

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