Cardinals coach Bruce Arians didn't sound as if he was whistling past a graveyard or wishing upon a star when asked about his defense on Wednesday.

He seemed sincere when he said the group should be better against the run than last year and that the secondary is "as strong as I've ever been around."

And entering his 22nd year coaching in the NFL, Arians has been around.

Arians, however, might have a hard time selling those statements outside the team's headquarters in Tempe.

Last year's starting inside linebackers, Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington, rarely came off the field. Now, both are gone. Dansby signed as a free agent with Cleveland. Washington is suspended for at least one season for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.

When the Cardinals open training camp on Saturday, the starters will be Kevin Minter, who played one defensive snap last year as a rookie, and Larry Foote, who turned 34 in June and is entering his 13th season, his first in Arizona.

The Cardinals defense ranked first against the run in 2013, yet inserting Minter into the lineup should make it even better, Arians said.