Bob Golic once described playing nose guard in the National Football League like being a fire hydrant in the middle of a dog kennel. You're the object of unwanted attention and treated with indignation and scorn; and it stinks.
Cards 1-Technique, Dan Williams, can empathize. Dumpster Dan has been in the middle of the maelstrom since he came into the league in 2010 as a first-round draft pick. And the Cardinals believe he is the fulcrum for their rush defense in 2013.
Williams has been beat up and banged up in his three years with the Cards, missing eight games during that dispensation, and the difference on the line of scrimmage is palpable when he isn't playing. Williams is 327 pounds and capable of holding up at the point of attack. He had his most productive season last year, recording 33 solo tackles and 44 combined. He has lost a considerable amount of weight, which allows him to move down the line and make plays via pursuit, but still has the butt and gut to stand in the breach.
As the Cards prepare to open their season on the road in St. Louis this Sunday, it's good to see Williams is practicing and believes he'll be at full speed by game day. The left ankle that has given him problems throughout his career is healing well and this is great news for Arizona.
Although the reports out of St. Louis say the Rams are going to move away from being a run-first team, something their color analyst confirmed on the Doug & Wolf Show, I don't believe those reports. And, for the record, neither does Williams and teammate Calais Campbell. They told me as much during the Big Red Rage broadcast Wednesday night.
Sunday is going to reveal the strengths and weaknesses of this football team. If Williams is healthy, don't expect their rush defense to be a weakness.