<
>

Cards Mailbag: Training camp begins

7/25/2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Welcome to #CardsMailbag, a weekly installment that allows you to ask Josh Weinfuss questions throughout the week via Twitter @joshweinfuss:. He'll answer them every week during the offseason. Make sure to use the hash tag: #CardsMailbag

@JoshWeinfuss: It's a tough decision but I think inside linebacker is a bigger area of concern right now. The serious issues on the right side of the offensive line can be masked by adding a tight end to that side. It's not ideal or preferred, which is one of the reasons why Arizona wanted to solidify the left side. The Cardinals often had to use a tight end to help Levi Brown and then Bradley Sowell on the left side last year and they don't want to be forced to do that again, on the right side this season. Inside linebacker was totally depleted and for as good as Kevin Minter can be, he's still a rookie on the field. And without a solidified starter next to him, inside linebacker is still considered a major hole in the defense. The way Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington protected the middle, helped on the run and aided in coverage allowed the rest of the defense to play as well as it did. Minter's learning curve will be sped up quite a bit, but to his aid will be the experience of veteran Larry Foote, who might just be the man joining him in the trenches on Sundays. But without the size and speed of Dansby and Washington, the Cardinals' defense will have to make up for it in other ways which means taking away from what the first and third layers do well.



@JoshWeinfuss: When it comes to most interesting position battle, you have to look at a few: the fight for the second and third running back, the jousting for the fourth and fifth wide receiver, and the two youngsters trying to unseat Jay Feely. We know that Andre Ellington will be the starter, but we don't know who'll be backing him. Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer will be going head to head to win that second job, which will be more important this year than a year ago because of Bruce Arians' comments this offseason that he'll be calling more two-back sets. The competition for the fourth and fifth wide receiver jobs will be intense and fast because of the speed that'll be battling for it. You have returners Brittan Golden, Dan Buckner and Jaron Brown going for the spot while rookies John Brown and Walt Powell won't just hand it over without a fight. Four of the five -- Buckner excluded -- can burn rubber off the line of scrimmage and fit the role, Arians wants a receiver to take the top off the defense. Feely was pushed toward the end of training camp last year, but his camp competition arrived early this season. Between rookie Chandler Catanzaro and journeyman Danny Hrapmann, I think Catanzaro has the upper leg in beating out Feely. Feely needs to have a very good camp and stay consistent to convince Arians he's the guy for the job.

When it comes to the most important position battle, I think there are three that fall simultaneously under that category: inside linebacker, right tackle and right guard, in that order. Like I answered above, the middle of the defense rests on the shoulders of the two inside linebackers, especially since one, potentially Minter, will be responsible for setting the plays. Right tackle is naturally an important position because it impedes a direct line to the quarterback. Arizona has questionably not re-signed last year's starter, Eric Winston, leaving the training camp battle to be fought by Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell, neither of whom has shown he's capable of starting. The fight for right guard is not as important as the other two I just mentioned because, as you saw last season, a weakness there can be masked. As of now, however, Paul Fanaika is the choice because he's the incumbent, but the Cardinals will likely be ready to give the job to Earl Watford if he proves himself during camp.



@JoshWeinfuss: I haven't seen enough of undrafted free agent Glenn Carson to know if he has the speed. During most of the offseason he was on the second field with the rookies, far from the eyes of the media. Demens has speed, but his size has long been a concern. If pushed, I think both could be three-down players because they're young and durable, from what we know. Speed isn't a determining factor when it comes to being a three-down player. Strength, stamina and durability are more important. Being an impact player, however, comes down to speed.



@JoshWeinfuss: I think Bryan McCann can be replaced -- and easily by one of the "speedy guys," as you put it, meaning Brittan Golden, Jaron Brown, Walt Powell or John Brown. I doubt Brown would be considered for the other gunner, but I can see the other three being given a long look. Justin Bethel, as you mentioned, isn't irreplaceable but that's clearly his forte and he did make the Pro Bowl in that role so he won't be going anywhere. But McCann certainly is.



@JoshWeinfuss: I think it's very possible that Feely can get beat out during camp. If he struggles, especially from deep, and one of the two young kickers, Catanzaro or Hrapmann, kicks consistently during camp and in preseason games then it's a decision that Arians can easily make. However, one thing that will weigh on Arians is Feely's experience in clutch situations. He kicked two game-winners last season, whereas neither Catanzaro nor Hrapmann has won an NFL game with his foot.



@JoshWeinfuss: I think there are a few who have a really good shot at making it. This has been a theme throughout the offseason, but I think guard Anthony Steen can make the roster if he stays healthy, and either or both of the linebackers, Glenn Carson or Jonathan Brown, can end up on the 53-man.



@JoshWeinfuss: I think rookie John Brown will have a good season but that won't be considered breakout since he'll be in his first year. Ted Ginn Jr., however, hasn't spent the majority of his career as a receiver and I think he'll have a career season for a few reasons. First, he's in a pass-happy offense that thrives on quick decisions and speed. So, he'll be utilized because of that, especially when he comes out of the slot. Second, with defenses focusing on Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, Ginn will likely find himself in single coverage and if he can beat the defensive back with his speed then he'll be off to the races.