Players grow frustrated with inability to work with coaches

The lockout has hit the Arizona Cardinals hard.

Coming off a 4-12 season, which was preceded by consecutive NFC West titles, Ken Whisenhunt remade his coaching staff in an effort to inject a shot of energy in his suddenly stagnant team.

In particular, the arrival of Steelers assistant Ray Horton to run the defense got the attention of players. And the shame of it is that they won't get to learn more about their new defensive coordinator until the CBA mess is cleaned up.

"All I know is he's got a reputation for being a great coach who everyone in the NFL respects," said defensive end Calais Campbell. "This team has a lot of talent and a lot of talent on defense, so to get a very good coach who you have respect for, who will be easy to play for, who gets the best out of his players, I'm excited.

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"I've talked to guys who played for him, and he works with the players, and he'll talk with them about what they want to try, and he'll try it. I'm real interested in that, because I have a strong football mind. So I'm excited to give him ideas and have him tell me why this is a good idea, or why we shouldn't try that."

But because of the lockout, Campbell's exposure to Horton has been limited to what he's heard from Pittsburgh-connected guys like Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, and what Campbell has seen with the playbook he was able to get before the doors shut.

He's trying to get the terminology down, for now.

What's frustrating, though, for the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder is coming off two solid years, with a total of 13 sacks piled up, and going into his fourth season without much knowledge of what his role will be or having the ability to settle in with the third coordinator of his short career.

"I'm not sure how he even wants me to play," said Campbell. "I can imagine what my role will be, but I don't know, and that does depend on how everything comes together. It sucks, to be honest. How this is all gonna work for us, I can't just call him. The lockout hurts us as a team a lot that way."

And the Cardinals have work to do on defense, coming off a year in which they ranked 29th in yards and 30th in points allowed.

For now, Campbell's working out at the Los Angeles facility he used to prep for the NFL Scouting Combine with other NFL guys like Clay Matthews, Andre Carter and Donald Brown.

But his mind is on how the Cardinals can bounce back off that 4-12 season. He'll have to wait to actually do anything about it.

"I really believe the more confidence we have in what we can do as a team, the more we believe we can win, the more we'll get the best out of our ability," said Campbell. "When you're not sure what someone else on the team can do, it creates insecurity in yourself. I think that the quarterback situation, and a few other things in our defensive front, created that insecurity, and guys were trying to do too much. We have to fix that."

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @albertbreer.

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