Re-signing Ta'amu first step for Cards

After the season, Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said he wanted the entire defense back, even though he admitted the likelihood of that happening wasn't very high.

The Cardinals began that process Thursday when they re-signed exclusive rights free agent nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu to a one-year deal. Bringing back Ta'amu, who started three games in place of Dan Williams while he dealt with the death of his father, shows how much the Cardinals valued Ta'amu. Even though he was a reserve, he was critical piece to Arizona’s defensive success, especially against the run. By having two agile nose tackles, Arians was able to conserve their energy by using Ta'amu and Williams in a rotation. Ta'amu played 224 snaps in 2013 compared to Williams' 269.

Normally, backup nose tackles aren't a priority but Ta'amu played a level worth more than the $480,000 he made in 2013. He was signed off waivers on Sept. 1 and was inactive for the first two games of the season. Arizona activated Ta'amu for the Saints game in Week 3 because Williams left the team.

Arizona must also be pleased with the progress of Ta'amu's rehab from an ACL injury he suffered in Week 17 against San Francisco.

In 14 games, Ta'amu had 13 tackles.

But his quickness off the snap made him tough for offensive linemen to handle. He would push centers and guards far enough back to alter opponents’ run schemes, which helped Arizona finish with the best run defense in the NFL.