Calais Campbell can’t afford to “disappear” anymore

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians saw a lot of good things out of defensive end Calais Campbell last season, and he saw some not so good things from Campbell.

“I’d like to see a more consistent player out of him [Campbell],” Arians said. “He went to the Pro Bowl, but I still think he’s not even scratched his consistent level of play. He disappears too much.”

“I told him that the other day, ‘You can’t disappear in games anymore. You gotta be dominant the whole game,’” Arians said.

Campbell didn’t take any issue with what Arians said about him. He completely agreed with him.

“Yeah at times. I wish I could win every play, but it’s hard out there.” Campbell said. “There were times when I knew I could take over a game. One play here, one play there I could’ve made, I missed, would’ve changed the game. It’s probably more than one, like five or six plays throughout the game, seven or eight sometimes.”

“I love that Coach [Bruce Arians] has high standards for me. I have high standards for myself. I know he knows how good I can be, and I know how good I can be,” Campbell said. “I know that I haven’t really hit my prime yet. I feel like I still have room for growth and I think this is the year.”

Campbell is heading into his eighth year with Arizona, and he’s gotten consistently better each year. It culminated last season with Campbell being selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. He was able to rub elbows with some of the greats in the NFL like J.J. Watt, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and see the way they operate and how they prepare for games.

“My mindset’s very similar as well,” Campbell said. “I guess it shows that you’re on par with the best of the best, so there’s not reason to doubt yourself ever. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Campbell gritted it out last season, playing through an MCL sprain and a sports hernia, which he got surgery on shortly after the Pro Bowl. He says he’s not 100-percent, but he’s going through the “process,” and hopes to be ready when offseason workouts begin on April 20.

What should aid Campbell in his return is new defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Campbell has been able to forge a tight friendship with Bettcher in the two years he’s been on board as outside linebackers coach and now defensive coordinator in Year Three.

“I’ve always picked his [Bettcher] brain over the years, so to see him get the [defensive] coordinator job is great,” Campbell said. “I know he’s smart, I know he understands the defense very well and I know he’s going to put his own spin on it.”

“I think we’re going to be just as good. Our defense will be just as good,” Campbell said. “He has a lot of talent. He knows all the guys, all the guys know him. He’s ready, he’s very, very smart, he’s hungry and he’s excited and that’s all you need.”

The Cardinals made some huge upgrades to their facilities and to their roster in the offseason, adding six new players in free agency – four of them on the defensive side in Corey Peters, Cory Redding, LaMarr Woodley and Sean Weatherspoon.

Campbell likes what general manager Steve Keim’s done with the new additions.

“We got a lot faster. I think [Sean] Weatherspoon is a great player. I’m excited to play with Cory Redding and Corey Peters. They’re great players. They’re gonna add a lot of depth and be able to make us a lot more explosive on the [defensive] line,” Campbell said. “I’m really excited. We have a great team. A lot of free agents wanted to come here because they know how close we are. I just hope I can help them get a ring in their first year as [an Arizona] Cardinal.”

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