TEMPE, Ariz. -- Early last week, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim sat down with second-year linebacker Alex Okafor to discuss the team’s expectations of Okafor, who missed the first three games with a quad injury and played just 10 snaps in his season debut in Denver. Whatever Keim said worked, as Okafor finished with four tackles -- two for loss -- two sacks and two quarterback hurries.
"I know he has the ability," Keim said Monday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. "He’s got a big frame. He’s got great length. I know he has the ability, because I saw it on tape at Texas. Now, he’s been bit by the injury bug quite a bit since he got here.
"Early in the week I sat him down. I had a little talk with him and just told him what our expectations were and what type of an opportunity he had with some of the injuries, and then the fact that I still had faith in him. I know James Bettcher, our outside (linebackers) coach, has done a nice job with him. And we just needed to get him on the field and see him play. I’m telling you, he ran sideline-to-sideline, he created pressure, obviously (with) two sacks, he turned speed into power, he was able to bull rush. He really did a nice job for us, and hopefully he continues to grow and develop as well."
Keim didn’t find out Carson Palmer was ready to play Sunday until about 11 a.m., with the game about two-and-a-half hours away. He said when Drew Stanton passed the concussion protocol late Friday afternoon, the backup became an option to play against Washington.
Keim said he could tell Palmer wasn’t throwing at full velocity Sunday against Washington: "What he did a great job (of), I thought yesterday that may have gone unnoticed, was his pocket presence, his mobility, his ability to slide in the pocket laterally to find those open windows, which I thought was excellent."
One of Keim’s concerns against the Redskins was defending their run, because the Cards didn’t have Calais Campbell or Matt Shaughnessy, who, Keim said, "are arguably our two best run defenders." But Arizona held Washington to just 72 yards on the ground. "I was concerned a little bit, but the guys rose to the challenge, but again so many young defenders played well and stepped up. Guys like Tommy Kelly stepped up, Deone Bucannon continues to play at a high level."
Keim raved about rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro and his 14-for-14 start to the season on field goals. "I can’t say enough good things about him, and you see the ball jump off his foot and he’s been great with his touchbacks," Keim said. "We’ve been very, very pleased with what he’s done in the kicking game for us so far."
Keim discussed Michael Floyd's practice habits when he was drafted in 2012 and how they have evolved and improved. Floyd had 47 yards on four receptions, including his first touchdown of the season on Sunday. "His growth and maturity has been excellent," Keim said. "He’s taken it to another level, and it’s certainly shown in his play. I mean, the guy goes out every day in practice, and Larry (Fitzgerald's) been a great mentor to him. Larry, I think, has taught him how to be a true pro. Just the fact that Michael (is) using his size and physicality down the field has really shown. And yesterday was certainly no exception."