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Rapid development of Washington key for Cardinals

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Dan Arkush
Executive editor

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Posted April 24, 2010 @ 3:54 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

In a Friday commentary on Cardinals second-round pick Daryl Washington, I did not immediately project him as the heir apparent to Karlos Dansby, Arizona's leading tackler last season who left a gaping hole in the middle of the defense when he signed with Miami as a free agent.

It turns out, however, that Washington, who at the moment weighs around 230 pounds soaking wet, will indeed be given every opportunity right away to challenge veteran free-agent addition Paris Lenon for the starting ILB spot vacated by Dansby — even though Washington played more outside than inside at TCU.

The way I see it, for the Cards to have any chance of remaining the kingpin in the NFC West, Washington must beat out Lenon and begin effectively filling Dansby's industrial-sized shoes as soon as possible.

Apparently, the Cardinals really think the world of this kid and believe he is up to the task.

Cardinals GM Rod Graves said Washington was the "most athletic linebacker in the draft," and the consensus before Dansby left the desert was that he was the team's most athletic defender.

The key will be how quickly Washington can beef up, which will become a challenge that well-regarded Cardinals strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott will probably savor.

As it is, Cardinals defensive coordinator Bill Davis thinks Washington can be just fine at his current weight, conjuring up similarities to Greg Lloyd, whom Davis previously had coached.

Lloyd, Davis said, weighed only around 220 but played much bigger. Can Washington do the same?

He's going to have to. Lenon is serviceable, but he is a dramatic downgrade from Dansby at this stage in his career.

Clearly, Washington needs to start carrying his weight big-time from the get-go.


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