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Gonzalez Expects Best Safeties Of The Year


While the Cardinals defense is in Arizona discussing how dangerous the Falcons offense is, in Atlanta, the offensive weapons for the home team have been explaining all aspects of one of the best defenses in the league.

The Cardinals like to blitz, a philosophy employed by defensive coordinator Ray Horton, brought to Arizona after spending seven years coaching with Pittsburgh's Dick LeBeau. The Cardinals get away with so much blitzing because they have faith in their corners to hold up in man-to-man coverage on the outside.

They also have two safeties that do a lot to make sure the blitz has an impact, including some blitzing of their own from the safety position.

Adrian Wilson at strong safety and Kerry Rhodes at free each have one sack and one safety this season, but they're one of the more active groups in the league. On Thursday Tony Gonzalez said he believes they're the best the Falcons have faced this season.

"They've got a real good safety tandem, probably the best that we've played so far this year," Gonzalez said. "It's important that we know where they're at, try to block them up in the run game and try to get open in the passing game."

Wilson, a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro, is an imposing presence on the field. He's a notoriously hard-hitting safety with 23.5 sacks in his career. He's also solid in coverage (27 interceptions) and likely will draw the assignment of Gonzalez in coverage when not supporting the run game or blitzing QB Matt Ryan.

"I have the ultimate respect for him," Gonzalez said. "He has been one of the top safeties for a long time. He's one of the best. He can run. He can hit you. He's strong. He's probably the biggest safety in the league. We have to account for him and know where he's at. In that Dick LeBeau style defense, he's their Troy Polamalu."

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