For the second year in a row, the Arizona Cardinals 2014 training camp will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium. As it gets underway this weekend, there are several positions that will have some intense competition throughout camp along with expectations on individuals that may have break out seasons.
The position that is the most important for the team is the offensive line, as it has been for the last several years. Putting the best o-line on the field is critical in a division featuring some of the leagues best pass rushing units.
The left side of the line seems to be stable with the off-season signing of free agent Jared Veldheer. The return of first round draft pick from 2013 Jonathan Cooper is cemented in his respective position. Although Cooper has been said to not be physically 100% as of yet, training camp should get him up to speed.
As for the right side “let the competition begin” between Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell at right tackle, and Paul Fanaika and Earl Watford at right guard. There are no clear cut starters named since the team decided not to bring back Erick Winston. This will make for a battle in camp that probably wont get decided until the last day or perhaps extend into the season.
The buzz around camp is that Watford is a big and strong, young man showing vast improvement and with a little more work could be the favorite. It will be hard to overcome the experience of Fanaika and it is clear nether one will get cut as they provide much needed depth either way.
The next major position that will get most of the attention will be the battle of filling in for the loss of line-backer Daryl Washington. Who will emerge and secure a position which was a strong point for the number one ranked rush defense in the league last year.
Second year man Kevin Minter is the front runner but has limited experience; although, he does show the most upside at the position. Then its by committee after that, the team will look to get some consistency as early as possible. Now that the team will be in pads it will be easier to gage where they are or how far they are from finding the clear replacement.
Many fans are waiting to see how the defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie will look together, and if they can be the shut down guys they have talked about in the media all summer. Which Cromartie will they get? If it’s the one of two years ago this could make for a very good and scary secondary, once the honey badger Tyrann Mathieu returns from an ACL injury suffered last year.
Bruce Arians has already made it clear that Carson Palmer is his one and Drew Stanton his number two quarterbacks respectively. The third spot is up for the taking as Ryan Lindley and rookie fourth round draft pick Logan Thomas will make for a very interesting battle.
Lindley starts out with the upper hand seeing he has one year of the Arians system under his learning belt.
As a rookie it may be hard for Logan to make up the gap, but in the NFL when a QB is drafted fairly high he’s usually the one specially picked for the future. Making it a disadvantage for Lindley who was not drafted by this new coaching staff. Both guys face some pretty big challenges during camp.
The Cardinals will not keep four QB’s on the active roster to start the season so this battle will have to play out in pre-season. Arians has already announced Palmer will not play much in camp, leaving minutes for these two guys to put their best foot forward and seize the job.
Also intriguing will be how much work Andre Ellington will get seeing he has been named the featured back. he will be a heavy part in the offense this year, perhaps as heavily used as a Jamaal Charles or LeSean McCoy in the offense. Therefore he will need to be preserved and not put in harms way during preseason. We probably will see more of Taylor and Dwyer which will be battling for the short yardage role. Although, seeing both get equal reps in game action this season is likely to happen.
There is a lot to look for today as the fans should pack the front bleachers with flickering lights from the cameras going off. Along with all the yelling of their favorite players, as the excitement of another season gets started. High expectations from the team and fans may be at an all time high, but one thing is for certain, expectations bring excitement.
More stories you might like