Calvin Pace has never accomplished what the Cardinals wanted him to as a defensive end. So Friday, in the Cardinals’ first day of minicamp, coach Dennis Green was experimenting with the former first-round pick at strongside linebacker.
A big reason was necessity, since the Cards are short of linebackers for practices. Starting strongsider Karlos Dansby remains out with a bad hamstring, and he will not work at all through the rest of the minicamp.
But Green also said Pace has both the size, speed and quickness for the position, and even intimated Dansby could play middle linebacker. Currently James Darling is playing in the middle, while former starter Gerald Hayes remains out while rehabbing from major knee surgery.
The option will only be there, however, if Pace can make the transition.
“My biggest thing, if you want me to play it . . . I don’t want to do it just for numbers sake (to fill out practice),” said Pace, who missed the final 11 games last season after accidentally putting his arm through a window, forcing surgery.
“When (the coaches) stop talking to you, that’s when it’s bad,” Pace said. “You got star players, you got role players, and that’s my role. I’m fine with that.”
Pace said many of the principles of the position are the same as defensive end, although he needs to get used to dropping back into coverage on passing plays.
“We will look to see if that maybe should be his position,” Green said.
OFFENSE OR DEFENSE?
The Cardinals were the only team to work out A.J. Schable on offense before the draft, surprising the University of South Dakota defensive end after he had a school-record 19 sacks as a senior.
When the Cards signed Schable as an undrafted free agent, it was as a fullback, and he was assigned the fullback-friendly No. 37. But Friday, Schable was given a defensive playbook and sent to work with the defensive line. He even had to switch from a white jersey — which the offense was wearing — to red.
“It was confusing sometimes,” Schable said. “(But) I’ll do anything to stay.”
Players were upbeat about Thursday’s news that season tickets had sold out already, excited about playing in front of a full Cardinals Stadium in Glendale.
Besides, receiver Larry Fitzgerald quipped, “I can finally TiVo my home games now.”
Hayes, Dansby, offensive linemen Alex Stepanovich (shoulder) and Reggie Wells (ankle) and cornerback Antrel Rolle (knee) remain out and won’t work this weekend. . . .
Green, setting the expectations high for Edgerrin James, said of his new running back, “We’d love to get 1,600 yards from him this year, shatter every record we’ve ever had.”
The franchise record for rushing yards in a season is 1,605, set by Ottis Anderson in 1979.