The Arizona Cardinals made some major strides last year, especially on defense, despite a few major injuries. All-Pro safety Adrian Wilson, for example, spent much of the season playing with a torn biceps tendon. This year, the Cardinals are healthy early, and Wilson’s looking to get back to his superstar form.
Adrian Wilson joined Bickley and MJ on Xtra 910 in Arizona to discuss the luxury of actually having organized team activities this offseason, the young, talented Cardinals defense, his 2011 biceps injury and the team’s goals this summer. He also stated the defense is the strength of this Arizona team.
On being better prepared this offseason with the lockout not getting in the way:
“Yeah, you can play so much faster now. It’s almost like night and day. I think we installed the whole playbook already. … To be at where we are now and to understand what we understand now, I think guys are more in tuned to who needs to be where, why we’re running a defense and what the offense is giving us.”
On how much he likes this defense:
“I love the group of guys that we have now. I think everybody there has a purpose and I think that we’re practicing at a level that we didn’t practice at last year. Obviously it is OTAs, we don’t have pads on, and it’s a lot to that. But once the pads come on, it’s different. It’s gonna be a different feel, everything’s gonna be different. But as of right now, and what we’re doing right now, I love what we have.’
On how a torn biceps tendon affected him last season:
“I think it just affected me mentally. I think it was more of a mental game with me last year than physical. Learning a new defense, having to deal with the injury. But then on top of, you want to prove all your naysayers wrong, regardless of what they say or how they say it. For me, that’s what drives me. What drives me is somebody saying I can’t do something. So having all that fuel built up and going into the season then getting hurt in training camp and having to deal with that, not being able to play in the preseason games, and then coming in the first game and trying to play — and really the first month of the season, my whole game was off. So I just had to deal with a lot of things mentally. Physically I felt like the biceps was fine. Obviously they did what they had to do to kind of protect the biceps and make sure that I could withstand the full 16-game season, so after a while I felt good mentally with my arm and I just took the padding off that it had and I just went out there and I just tried to play football.”
On the goal being to stay healthy this summer:
“The next step for everybody is to stay healthy. That’s the No. 1 thing is to keep everybody healthy, and go into training camp and we have to put it on tape. And that’s something that you want to see when you know that you’re good, when you know that you can be a dominant defense — you have to put it on tape. You have to do it consistently and you can’t have games where you’re allowing 400 yards. And you can’t have games where teams run for 200 yards. Like, you can’t have those types of games and you have to consistently do it. And for us, that’s our next step because I believe we’re very confident in what we can do, we have the playmakers, we have depth. So those types of things, it doesn’t bother us or rattle us, so I think the next step is we have to do it consistently and you have to put it on tape. And I believe that’s what Coach Whisenhunt wants to see as well.”
On the defense being the strength of the team:
“I think the whole mood of the team has changed to a defensive mindset, so we feel like we’re the best unit on our team, to be quite honest with you. We feel like that we should be the ones winning games for us. … We feel like we have a bunch of leaders defensively. Right now, we don’t have that offensively. Not saying that it’s not gonna come around, obviously Larry (Fitzgerald) is a great player an he’s a great playmaker, but you have to have more than just Larry. And defensively we feel like we have guys, we have leadership, and we have guys gonna hold people accountable for what we’re doing.”