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Around the NFC West: Cards' replacements

8/3/2010

Chris Mortensen of ESPN weighs in on the Cardinals after stopping at practice Monday. This quote from Ken Whisenhunt caught my attention: "With the Steelers, you lost a Rod Woodson at safety and a Carnell Lake stepped up … . You'd lose a Joey Porter but you find a James Harrison. If you're a good football team, you go through those transitions and keep going. Look, when Anquan Boldin was hurt, Steve Breaston stepped in and we kept winning. Now it's time for some young guys like [defensive end] Calais Campbell, [cornerback] Greg Toler, [wide receiver] Early Doucet, [running backs] Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower to step their games up." The Cardinals have done a good job developing young players. They'll need to do so on a larger scale this season.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says this 2010 training camp is critical for Cardinals defenders Alan Branch, Gabe Watson and Rashad Johnson. Somers on Branch: "Branch has been the biggest disappointment. The Cardinals traded a fourth-round pick in 2007 in order to move up to select Branch 33rd overall. Yet, he never has started a game and played in only four in 2008. He was listed at 338 pounds in the media guide but often was considerably heavier. This off-season, however, he took his conditioning seriously. He's at 320 pounds, the lightest he has been since he played at Michigan." Branch took a step forward last season and it paid off in a few games, notably against the Minnesota Vikings. Branch appears to have taken another step forward heading into 2010.

Also from Somers: a quick look at rookie tight end Jim Dray.

More from Somers: notes from the Cardinals' practices, including news that first-round choice Dan Williams had agreed to terms and was expected to practice Tuesday afternoon.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Cardinals rookie receiver Andre Roberts suffered through a rough day Monday. Roberts: "With the playbook and plays, I think I am doing pretty good, pretty consistent and not making many mental errors. But I am inconsistent catching the ball right now. … I think I have pretty good hands. I just think it is a loss of concentration. I have to get better."

Also from Urban: Coach Ken Whisenhunt was OK with Darnell Dockett calling out teammate Kerry Rhodes via Twitter this offseason. Urban: "Whisenhunt said he didn’t have a problem when Darnell Dockett called out Kerry Rhodes on Twitter this summer about making sure Rhodes was working and not lounging around. Whiz said Dockett didn’t cross the line. Told Rhodes would rather have not had it out to the public, Whiz cracked, 'There are a lot of things I wish people would keep off the internet.' "

Dockett, via Twitter, volunteers to take Albert Haynesworth's conditioning test barefoot with shades and a headband for $3 million. He'd pass it, too.