The Cardinals welcomed linebacker Daryl Washington back from his four-game suspension this week and they don’t plan to waste any time returning Washington to his role in the starting defense.
“There’s no time. It’s full go,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during an appearance with Alex Marvez and Bill Polian of SiriusXM NFL Radio, via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “He’s got 12 games to make it up for us.”
One place where the Cardinals will hope Washington’s presence makes a difference is in covering opposing tight ends, something that the defense has struggled with on their way to a 2-2 record. Jared Cook and Jimmy Graham each shredded the defense earlier this year and the team feels that Washington’s athletic enough to make a difference against such players. Arians hinted that the whole defense can be more aggressive with Washington looking out for opposing tight ends.
“I think we can do some more things that we haven’t been doing to protect some guys as far as what he can do in coverage,” Arians said. “The people he can cover might allow you to do some different things in different packages.”
The Cardinals defense has been very strong against the run this season, but those big games by tight ends have made the efforts against the pass less successful. If Washington returns to form quickly, those efforts should improve along with the Cardinals’ chances of navigating their way to a winning record.