Philadelphia Eagles News

Beware The Cardinals Special Teams

It's an old cliché, but it's one that bears repeating this week: to win football games, teams must execute on offense, defense and special teams.

No one understands this better than special teams coordinator Bobby April. When watching the Arizona Cardinals on special teams, April sees an opportunistic unit that takes its job very seriously. Take, for example, their field goal and punt blocking units.

The Cardinals use three defensive starters in their blocking package, and it has paid dividends. Since 2008, Arizona has blocked 13 field goals and two punts. So far this season they have one of each.
Leading the way is defensive end Calais Campbell, who, at 6-8, has the size to block a kick at any time. Against the Seahawks in Week 1 he did just that. The Cardinals also use starting defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Adrian Wilson to create pressure.

"Certainly, (Campbell is) a factor in there, but the other real factor is Patrick Peterson," April said. "He comes off that edge; man, he is really a really good player. Adrian Wilson, number 24, is a factor on that too because those three guys set the tone. Now, they blocked some punts…They've got some guys that can get their hands on the ball. That's a big play.

"I mean, last week they blocked one against New England in a two-point game. That's a big play."

To April, what sets the Cardinals special teams apart from other special teams units is their confidence.

"I think their success at blocking them is right now the main thing they have going for them, because they come flying off," April said. "They believe they're going to get it.  You can tell by the way they play, they believe they're going to get it. So, that's their greatest thing."

That isn't to say the Eagles can't keep up. After all, defensive tackle Derek Landri blocked a field goal last season against the Redskins. But to prevent these big plays, the Eagles' kickers must be sharp and ready to go. That means punter Chas Henry must repeat his strong outing from Week 1, when he averaged 55 yards per punt and boomed a 62-yarder in the third quarter. April knows that his punter will be focused come game time.

"He's a tough-minded guy so he knows all of the facts and he's got to be mentally tough always because that position is really technical and really kind of a mind game," April said. "You have to be mentally tough and you have to be mentally tough too when the weather comes up."

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