Cardinals’ camp preview: Special teams

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
2:25
PM ET
Among the five staples on the Arizona Cardinals' special teams -- kicker, punter, long snapper, kick returner, punt returner -- only two positions are a given heading into camp.

Veteran long snapper Mike Leach, who's entering his 15th year in the NFL, and punter Dave Zastudil won't be competing for their jobs. The rest of special teams, however, will be decided during the next month.

Leach is one of the league's iron men, having played in 184 straight games entering this season. Zastudil is coming off one of his strongest seasons despite finishing 2013 with his fewest punts in 15 or more games since 2008. But his average of 45.7 yards and net of 40.1 yards were both the second highest for his career.

The battle at kicker is a three-legged race between incumbent Jay Feely, Danny Hrapmann and rookie Chandler Catanzaro. That Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is making Feely compete for his job comes as no surprise since Arians gave Dan Carpenter a shot to unseat Jay Feely late in camp a year ago. Feely hit 30 of 36 field-goal attempts last season, including game winners at Tennessee in overtime and at Tampa Bay. He missed two from 20-29 yards and from longer than 50 throughout the season. Hrapmann kicked in college in 2011 but hasn't caught on with an NFL team for regular-season action. Catanzaro missed 15 field goals during his four years at Clemson but just one in each of his last two seasons.

When it came to returning punts for the Cardinals for the past three years, there was no doubt who'd be deep to receive. Patrick Peterson made his name in the NFL as a punt returner as a rookie in 2011 but he's evolved into one of the league's top cornerbacks since. That's why Arians said earlier this offseason that Peterson's days as a punt returner are limited. His replacement will be determined during camp but it'll come down to either Ted Ginn, John Brown, Walt Powell or Bryan McCann. Jerraud Powers, Antonio Cromartie and Justin Bethel will also probably take reps during camp. Last season, Ginn returned 26 punts for 316 yards.

But when it comes to kick returns, it's likely Ginn's job to lose.

Arizona didn't re-sign last year's primary kick returner, Javier Arenas, and inked Ginn during the offseason as a third receiver and returner. In 2013, Ginn returned 25 kicks for 595 yards with the Panthers. Arians also mentioned during the offseason that John Brown will be given a chance to return kicks. While the battle will come down to those two, Ginn holds the upper hand.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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