NFC West: Flagstaff

Good morning, NFC West.

Our recent discussions haven't included the Arizona Cardinals all that much. They were not among the 18 teams attending the recent MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. They did not have a candidate for the franchise tag. They have not made a significant trade.

Two recent Cardinals-related stories are on my mind, however.

One involves the potential relocation of training camp from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff to Glendale, home of University of Phoenix Stadium. The other touches on a philosophical shift regarding how to handle playing time for young players, including rookies.
  • On camp: I've always enjoyed visiting Cardinals camp in Flagstaff. NAU provides a training site unique in the NFL for its combination of moderate temperatures, 7,000-foot elevation and campus setting. But if the team could get around obvious temperature concerns in Glendale by practicing at its stadium, camp would become more readily accessible to a larger number of people, including those unable to break away from work long enough for the drive to Flagstaff.
  • On youth: The youth issue, raised by Darren Urban, stands as a positive development, in my view. The Cardinals have had older backup players in recent seasons. Former coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't averse to youth, but he was big on making younger players earn their playing time. Meanwhile, division rivals Seattle and St. Louis have moved forward with young rosters. The Seahawks in particular have developed younger players quickly, allowing the team to maximize affordable rookie contracts. Sounds like Arizona will take a step in that direction as well. Personnel departments generally want to see young players on the field. Having new head coach Bruce Arians on board with such an approach should be good for the organization -- if the team drafts well, of course.

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