This is your primer for the 2015 Arizona Cardinals, to learn what to look for in training camp and preseason. Your gonna get an in-depth look into this years Arizona Cardinals, what the in-and-outs of the season seems to bring, and maybe my sneak-peak version of the Cardinals; Playoff Bound.
For years, the Cardinals have attempted to build the equivalent of the Super Bowl team from 2008. Since the hiring of Bruce Arians, there seems to be a trajectory for Arizona, and appears after all the heartache and suffering, the only way to capture the elegance of Bruce Arians style (the hat and swagger) is to continue to win. Last year they went 11-5, this year they have all the pieces back, trust me, this year has the makings of a title contender.
Preseason & Training Camp:
Preseason is still fresh in the minds of everyone who watches football, and already it’s a story that continues to get old. First I will review probably the biggest aspect of preseason (and training camp). Injuries. So far there have been two injuries through a week of preseason football. The least severe of the two was Mike Iupati, the prized free agent addition, who has the prognosis of 3-8 weeks, while another free agent, Corey Peters, has been declared out for the season, already placed on IR. Will these injuries eliminate the chances of making the playoffs?
Something that seems intriguing to me is the return of Carson Palmer, who went 6-0 for the season, appears to be healthy for the first time in over 9 months. I thought that after his knee giving out in November, he would be ready by seasons beginning, but not by training camp. Yes he has been limited, but in limited action Carson seems stronger, both in the aspect of the knee and in Carson returning stronger than previous years. In the first preseason game, Bruce Arians would have probably preferred Carson in bubble wrap and body armor, but the fact of the matter is that Carson needs contact right away. If he stays upright, this team has limitless potential.
- Tyrann Mathieu: He is an interception magnet this preseason and training camp, already breaking on coverage and attacking with physicality, he is proving that last year is officially behind us. But we shouldn’t be surprised of this amazing play we were not accustomed to last year, yet we should be happy that he officially is completely healthy. This secondary looks amazing, and it only makes it that much more exciting with the dynamic of the dynamo Mathieu.
- Ifeanyi Momah: This is one of the few guys we don’t really talk about, but because of his publication by Arians, he appears to have a lot of skills. The NFL tryout back in February seems to have finally found his home in Arizona, but let me remind you that he isn’t a typical Bruce Arians tight end. Bruce loves his blocking tight ends, but the lack of a vertical threat from the tight end position, one who could stretch the field, and maybe relieve some pressure from Carson was lacking. Momah has really outplayed last years 2nd round selection, Troy Niklas, and it has become apparent that the lack of blocking experience hasn’t dampened Arians opinion of Momah. Development is key, if he can continue to develop key attributes, he could become the first major tight end who had pro-bowl potential (finally).
- Deone Bucannon: Someone who gets lost in the secondary, he is really the kind of guy who the Cardinals envisioned when they made the somewhat surprising pick in the 1st round. He seems to be putting an emphasis on coverage, and it shows in the practices. The Cardinals have really never had the dynamic of a safety who could cover a tight end like Jimmy Graham or Vernon Davis (during his heyday). No, I will not say he will be a pro-bowl safety, but a tremendous playmaker who will play in the NFL for 10-15 years. Deone showed last year the comfort of playing in the box, if not for the great play of Tony Jefferson, he would have developed into a coverage safety. This seems to be the year that he worked hard on his craft, and credit is due to this specimen of physical proportions.
- Troy Niklas: I don’t think Niklas is going to be threatened for a roster spot, but the lack of him showing up, and the strong showing of Momah and Fells seems to keep him on the bottom of the tight end depth chart. He is a great blocker, but injuries keep derailing him. If anything, this could very well be his last straw to show coaches that he has what it takes to be the starter, and also show that the Cardinals didn’t waste a 2nd round pick like the Cardinals remember doing just a few years ago with recent departure of Rob Housler.
- Matt Shaughnessy: I know, don’t read too much into preseason, but I have to admit it was sad to see an established veteran running with the third and fourth units against the Chiefs. Shaughnessy wasn’t terrible last year, but the inability to stay on the field after an injury that sent him to IR, he could eventually be a surprise cut during final cuts. He should still have plenty in the tank, but it needs to show NOW!
- Kerwynn Williams: My last one isn’t very surprising, with Williams dropping passes consistently through passes, he seems to be on the chop block. The addition of Chris Johnson doesn’t help much at all, and clearly Williams didn’t work enough on his weaknesses this offseason. He could still make the final roster, considering its only week 2 in preseason, he just needs to show more consistency.
My next article will be put up as soon as possible, keep in mind, a lot of problems on the roster should be solved by then. Don’t be frustrated with the offensive line, they are in a better position, a lot of journalists insist are going downhill, but they will be way better than last year. I didn’t mention that Justin Bethel looks impressive, a little bit more development, he could be better than last years pro-bowler Antonio Cromartie. It’s only preseason, but Logan Thomas looks very impressive, and could finally be taking positive steps to development. And my observation of the biggest training camp battle has to be inside linebacker, were I see so much potential for disaster if they don’t attempt to develop someone, like Kevin Minter or Andrae Kirk, very soon.
Thanks for reading.