Thursday, August 4, 2011
Impressions: Kolb's debut with Cardinals
By Mike Sando
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Thoughts and observations after watching Kevin Kolb's first practice with the Arizona Cardinals:
- Kolb appeared comfortable. He looked like an NFL quarterback. His passes tended to be accurate. Nothing jumped out as negative. He's listed at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds and has a lean look. He threw the screen pass on time and accurately at one point, producing a big gain for Beanie Wells. The Cardinals will find out during games whether Kolb can play. Off the field, Kolb appears to have a relaxed demeanor, according to teammates and based upon limited interviews. He handled himself comfortably when addressing a large media contingent after practice. That is part of the job, too. Kolb: "It feels great. I also know we have a lot of work to do. But it's a starting point."
- Larry Fitzgerald made Kolb look good. His one-handed grab near the sideline stood out. Fitzgerald on Kolb: "He looked good for his first day and threw the ball with some good zip, got the ball to his playmakers. I was excited with the progress."
- Kolb was one of 24 newly signed Cardinals players practicing for the first time this season. Ratification of the new labor agreement allowed them to get on the field. The focus was on Kolb, but there's only so much to see from a quarterback in one practice. This session was notable for extremely physical play as Arizona held live drills in pads, punctuated by a spirited goal-line session.
- It's tough to believe the exhibition season begins in one week. Kolb and the offensive line are still sorting through basic cadence issues. Kolb noticed the difference between a coach calling out plays and Kolb reading them off a sheet. This is remedial stuff and Kolb knows it, but there was nothing anyone could do. It's August and teams are basically where they might normally be coming out of the draft. Teams with new quarterbacks and lots of new pieces -- the Cardinals among them -- have it rougher.
- Newly signed guard Daryn Colledge stood out on his first day. He was blocking far down the field on that screen to Wells, ultimately tangling with strong safety Adrian Wilson. There was no fight, just some jersey tugging. Colledge also blasted linebacker Paris Lenon while the offense scored a touchdown during those live goal-line drills. Colledge's outgoing personality should provide something positive to the locker room and to the line. I also thought Colledge fared well in one-on-one pass-rush drills, which favor defensive linemen as a rule.
- Wells fumbled on the first play in goal-line drills, producing the sort of "ugh" moment he needs to avoid. Wells later scored when Rex Hadnot took out safety Kerry Rhodes at the goal line. Rookie Ryan Williams scored twice on goal-line runs. Williams is an obvious threat to Wells. His quickness and ability to change directions without slowing much stand out.
- Tight end Jeff King, signed from Carolina, has brought his signature leaping through-the-legs touchdown spike to Cardinals training camp. He showed it off after catching a touchdown pass in goal-line drills.
- Rookie fullback Anthony Sherman, a fifth-round pick, produces loud sounds when he hits people. A collision with safety Rashad Johnson reverberated. Keep an eye on him in exhibition games.
- Defensive coordinator Ray Horton should know by now he's not in Pittsburgh any longer. The offense dominated those goal-line sessions.
- Daryl Washington and Lenon were the first-team inside linebackers, with Joey Porter and Clark Haggans outside. A.J. Jefferson was with the first unit at left cornerback, where rookie Patrick Peterson will play eventually. Coach Ken Whisenhunt generally doesn't throw rookies into the starting lineup right away.
- O'Brien Schofield and rookie Sam Acho were the second-team outside linebackers. Reggie Walker and Stewart Bradley were the inside linebackers with the second team. Bradley is expected to move into the starting group at some point.
- Colledge and Hadnot were the first-team guards. Floyd Womack and Deuce Lutui were the second-team guards. I'd expect Lutui to take over for Hadnot at right guard once he's in better shape.
- That's enough depth-chart gazing. It's early in camp and the lineups will evolve.
OK, there we go. Some first impressions.