SARASOTA, Fla. — Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is expressing confidence in his new influx of players and promises his scheme will be adjusted accordingly this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Cardinals lost starting linebackers Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho and top backup Alex Okafor to season-ending injuries in last Sunday’s loss at New Orleans.
Replacing them in the lineup will be Matt Shaughnessy as strong-side linebacker and John Abraham on the weak side. Bowles said the Cardinals will be in their base 3-4 defense but will also use more 4-3 looks.
“We don’t stay in just the 3-4,” Bowles said Thursday. “We have 4-3 guys and we do play 4-3 during the ball game. It’s a matter of having the right people outside doing the right things at the right times.”
Bowels added that Shaughnessy and Abraham have experience playing both linebacker and defensive end.
“Abraham came into the league as a 3-4 guy with the Jets,” Bowles said. “And Shaughnessy’s role in Oakland had a lot of linebacker elements to it.’
Also joining the unit will be Dontay Moch, who was elevated from the practice squad during the week.
“He definitely plays fast and he was very productive in college,” Bowles added. “Obviously you can only simulate the game experience in practice so much so we’ll see how much he can do.”
Bowles will be preparing the Cardinals defense for rookie Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon. The 2013 third-round draft pick will be replacing Josh Freeman, who was benched this weekend and has requested a trade.
“Our system is not going to change. He was a good quarterback coming out of college,” Bowles said. “They have a good offensive line and a strong running game. So our approach is going to stay the same and we are just going to try to do our things better.”
Bowles also said safety Rashad Johnson (finger) remains day-to-day and remained sidelined at practice. Whether Johnson plays Sunday or not is a pain tolerance issue, according to Bowels. He was still unsure of exactly what Johnson could do Sunday if he were available.
“I’ve never had a finger cut off so you’ll have to ask Rashad what he can do,” Bowles added, “Either Rashad or Ronnie Lott.”
The Cardinals are practicing in Florida this week in preparation for Tampa Bay rather than flying from New Orleans, then having to return to Florida.