Cardinals' Calais Campbell 'almost' a sack machine

The statistics say Calais Campbell has six sacks this season for the Cardinals, which is a fact he can't dispute.

"Yeah, but I probably should have 13 by now," the second-year defensive end said, shaking his head in disgust.
And he is right. In his first year as a starter, Campbell has had his hands on a quarterback numerous times only to see him wriggle away.

It's to the point that his teammates have saddled him with a nickname.

"They're calling me 'Almost,' because I've got so many 'almost' sacks," Campbell said. "They're on me pretty tough."

Every player has missed a tackle or two, but if Campbell had finished what he started, he'd likely be leading the NFC in sacks. He also would be gaining national acclaim and Pro Bowl votes.

"I know. I know," said Campbell, one of the taller ends in the league at 6 feet 8 inches. "When I'm playing, I get too excited at times and I hesitate or put my head down and dive instead of finishing as well as I could.

"I've been worried about a fine or a penalty a couple of times, too, and that's definitely not something I should be thinking about out there. That happened to me against (Tennessee's) Vince Young and I ended up stumbling around instead of taking him down."

With three weeks left in the regular season, including Sunday's game in Detroit, Campbell has a shot to get his sack total into double digits. Only once in this decade has a Cardinals player finished with 11 or more in a season: Bertrand Berry with 14½ in 2004.

Campbell said his teammates, namely fellow defensive linemen Bryan Robinson and Darnell Dockett, have reminded him to "stay focused on the big picture" and "not get caught up in statistics."

But 13 sacks sound sexier than six.

"We hold each other accountable and that makes you want to play better and not make those mistakes," said Campbell, who was a two-time All-ACC selection with the Miami Hurricanes. "When I have a chance to make a play, I have to make that play.

"I'm encouraged because I know that's something that is easily changeable. I know how to tackle. I've been playing ball since I was a 6-year-old. But I'm maturing and learning so much more, that I know for next year and for years to come I'm going to get there and be faster and be better."