Darnell Dockett is too young for fans to pine for the good old days. But after a so-so sophomore campaign, the third-year defensive tackle conjured up images of his rookie season in the Cardinals' 21-10 loss to Seattle on Sunday.
Dockett led the team with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops and a sack, and nearly dropped Shaun Alexander in the end zone for a safety. Coach Dennis Green said, "it might have been his most explosive game" as a professional, and Dockett took advantage of his opportunity to fire back at his critics of a season ago. "A lot of people want to see sacks and tackles for loss, but sometimes it's not built like that. Sometimes it's designed for other people to make plays," Dockett said. "When defensive linemen get greedy — where I want to make a sack, I want to make a play — then you blow an assignment and that costs us a touchdown. I've never been that type of player."
Dockett recorded 46 tackles and 3 sacks as a rookie. He had the same number of tackles and just half a sack last year.
The defensive front was often outmanned last year following season-ending injuries to tackle Russell Davis and end Bertrand Berry. Dockett gave some of the credit for his big game against the Seahawks to Berry's health and the presence of fellow tackle and first-year Cardinal Kendrick Clancy.
He also said he trained "10 times" as hard this offseason compared with any previous offseason.
"I'm capable of playing like that every week," said Dockett, who was credited with one assisted tackle in the season opener against San Francisco. "This league is about putting back-to-back performances together like that. All the great ones do that.
"All the things I heard last year, it was disappointing because people didn't know the situation. I did a lot of things good last year, but people want to see big plays."
Oliver Ross dressed for the first time this season Sunday, but he didn't get on the field. Though he was mentally ready to go, coaches didn't see any reason to rush him back into action too soon.
That should change this week for Ross, as the projected starter at right tackle coming into the season will likely start there against St. Louis.
"(The coaches) didn’t say anything about that," Ross said. "If you're dressing you have to take it like (you're starting). You have to prepare the same either way. You prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That's the saying, right?"
Asked what he's seen out of the line from his vantage point on the sideline, Ross said, "Just little things really, nothing major. Missing a step here or a step there. Just little steps, so nothing major that can't be fixed."
Linebacker James Darling (calf) and cornerback Eric Green (groin) missed Wednesday's practice and are listed as questionable for Sunday's game. . . .
If Eric Green remains out, Matt Ware is expected to take his spot as starting cornerback. . . .
Rams Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace missed practice Wednesday with a concussion, and he is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.