With the second half of the season just starting to heat up, so is the Cardinals' defense. Nowhere is the improvement more apparent than at linebacker, where a youthful injection courtesy of second-year ILB Daryl Washington, second-year OLB O'Brien Schofield and rookie OLB Sam Acho has provided a major boost. Washington, who had his share of growing pains in his rookie season, has come on particularly strong. "He's been playing great," one daily team observer said. "His speed just jumps out at you. In the upset in Philadelphia, he was used in a variety of ways, at times lining up outside the formation as a blitzer. He's really starting to get a feel for this defense and has a great knack for making plays without having to take blockers on. And he's been excellent in pass defense." With Joey Porter continuing to battle a knee injury, Acho and Schofield have been sharing the load very effectively at right outside linebacker.