Thursday was the Arizona Cardinals ’ first day off during this year’s training camp, and it gave me a chance to reflect on what I’ve seen, heard and learned thus far about this year’s team. A quick rundown of the Cards’ timeline last week: They reported Friday for the conditioning test, which second-year safety Tyrann Mathieu was able to shadow alongside his teammates. Camp started Saturday and pads were added Monday.
What I’ve learned since Friday:
It’s very clear that quarterback Carson Palmer has picked up this offense and all its nuances, even if he’s telling us the same thing. I’ve seen Palmer often pull a running back or wide receiver aside after a play and start motioning with his hands where he should be lined up. He’s done it a couple times with new tight end John Carlson, who’s just learning the offense. Palmer's ability to teach more shows how far he's come, but Palmer's also getting help. His receivers know exactly where they’re supposed to line up, compared to last year, when both often looked confused.
All the hype about John Brown is looking legitimate so far. He’s been fast off the line and quick once he catches the ball. It’s obvious his time in San Diego with Palmer paid off as the two have a burgeoning connection. While Brown looked just as fast in pads as he did out of them, it will be hard to tell if he’s a true standout until he goes across the middle when a safety or linebacker is actually trying to take his head off. If he can take an NFL hit and bounce back and still be fast, then he might be a star in the making.
It’s pretty clear that right tackle isn’t up for grabs anymore. Bobby Massie has been running with the first team since camp started and three days into padded practices, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere. However, it’s still early. He’s worked hard at overcoming mental errors and the coaching staff has noticed. But Massie’s downfall earlier in his career was his inability to learn the playbook. If he begins slipping mentally, it sounds like Arians won’t have a problem replacing him.
Larry Foote has looked better than I expected during camp. At 34 and coming off a season in which he played just one game, Foote would’ve been excused for being a step or two slow. But he’s been steady in the box and is providing the type of leadership needed as his compatriot at inside linebacker, Kevin Minter, is a second-year player.
Jay Feely’s job might be in jeopardy. It’s plain and simple. The way rookie Chandler Catanzaro has been kicking has to make Feely sweat a bit. Catanzaro missed his first kicks – albeit three of them in a row – of camp on Tuesday but he’s recovered since. The decision on which kicker to start won’t be made until Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann have kicked in preseason games, but for now, it looks to me as if Catanzaro has a leg up on the other two.