Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Cardinals Camp Watch
By Mike Sando
╗ NFC Camp Watch: East | West | North | South ╗ AFC: East | West | North | South ╗ Dates
Three thoughts as training camps open around the NFL:
One thing I'm certain of: The defense won't be hurting for swagger this summer. These guys think they're good after finishing strong last season. They should have the upper hand in practice against an offense with question marks on the line and at quarterback.
The aggressive, brash tone coordinator Ray Horton sets reflects his roots as a longtime NFL cornerback. Horton marked his introductory news conference last offseason by vowing to blitz on the Cardinals' first play. He hadn't lost anything in the attitude department when I visited the Cardinals' mandatory minicamp last month. On the field, Patrick Peterson and O'Brien Schofield are outwardly confident young players. Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson are veterans with swagger.
One thing that might happen: Injury concerns at running back could linger, renewing questions about how the Cardinals handled the position this offseason. The top two backs, Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, are coming off knee surgeries.
Durability was a concern for Wells when the team drafted him in 2009. Wells suffered an ankle injury during his first camp practice as a rookie. In 2010, a knee injury suffered during the final exhibition game sidelined Wells for the first two weeks of the regular season. Wells missed both Seattle games last season. He topped 1,000 yards anyway,ábut Wells' knee clearly limited him late in the season. His average yards per carry fell from 4.7 yards in September, October and November to 3.1 yards in December.
Williams, meanwhile, has made great progress in his return from a torn patella. He might not be ready to contribute extensively in the short term, however. The injury he suffered was a serious one.
It'll be interesting to see how the Cardinals divide their carries for running backs during camp and the preseason.
One thing we won't see: A quick resolution to the quarterback situation. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was ready with a quip when asked when he wanted clarity at the position. Two years ago, he answered. The race between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton appears too close for one player to suddenly earn Whisenhunt's endorsement early in camp.
Whisenhunt said he wants an honest competition. That seemingly can't happen without both quarterbacks getting ample reps during preseason games.