The Arizona Cardinals held their yearly 'Red and White' practice on Saturday that included the most spirited practice to date and a lengthy autograph session for the fans. Not surprisingly there were again record crowds this weekend and some estimate the numbers were well over 10,000 for Saturday's festivities. Saturday's practice was highlighted full 11-on-11 with the offense starting at the forty yard line and finished with yet another goal line session. The defense dominated the early goings but the offense did some work towards the end of the practice and after a quick flurry of touchdowns, tempers started to flare. A dust up between Stephen Spach and Will Davis led to a scrum that had to be broken up by the coaches, but Coach Whisenhunt said after practice that this is about the point in training camp where players want to start hitting someone other than their teammates. Here are some other news and notes from the weekend including a complete run on injuries and the official depth chart for Thursday's game with the Steelers.
- The worst news of the weekend involves Elliot Vallejo who dislocated his left knee cap during individual drills on Saturday. He'll have an MRI done but Whiz didn't expect there to be ligament damage and that the swelling had been minimal so far. I'd imagine we get some more information on his status after the AM practice today.
- Update: The initial word on Vallejo's knee is that he'll be out for a month although the MRI showed no ligament tears and he was putting weight on his leg yesterday. Of course a month's time means that he'll miss the rest of camp and every preseason game. That's certainly not good news for Vallejo (who's roster spot wasn't guaranteed) or the Cardinals considering that he was the primary backup at left tackle. It's still possible that Vallejo could retain his spot on the roster but I'd imagine it'll depend a great deal on how close he is to 100% by the final cut down day and how the rest of the depth at OL shakes out.
- As for the rest of the 'walking wounded,' Keilen Dykes, (quadriceps strain), Early Doucet (left shoulder sprain), Beanie Wells (sprained ankle), Chike Okeafor (back) and Anthony Becht (hamstring) were all held out of Saturday's practice. We've inquired about Okeafor's status considering that he's been a specatator for most of camp so far but it's still not expected to be a major injury. Still though a 30-something year old player with a bad back is something to keep an eye on, especially when it lasts for more than a week as this one has. Also Gabe Watson is battling some tendinitis in the same knee that he fracturued last off season. Watson and Okeafor are two defenders that the Cardinals are really counting on this year and they need both players to be very close to 100% by the season opener.
- There has been some talk about the running game and so far during the full squad sessions the defense has dominated. Darnell Dockett has been a beast and Adrian Wilson is looking like he's in mid-season form already (he blasted Tim Hightower during the goal line session). Whether or not the defensive dominance means that the running game still has a long way to go or the Cards front seven has improved, we'll have to wait and see.
- The 'battle' for the backup QB job still sounds like stalemate at this point. Both quarterbacks had their good and bad moments over the weekend. It's fair to say that neither Matt Leinart or Brian St. Pierre did much to help or hurt their case. Kurt Warner started to look better towards the end of Saturday's practice as well after having several balls knocked down at the line of scrimmage and having another pass picked off by Gerald Hayes.
- For a rookie update, Cody Brown has shown flashes as a pass rusher and some are speculating that he'll replace Clark Haggans in passing situations but it's pretty clear that he has a long way to go before he fully graspes the OLB position. Rashad Johnson had his first 'wow' moment of camp when he leveled Dominique Byrd on a crossing route but outside of that he hasn't really stood out. That could easily be seen as a good thing though considering that he could stand out for getting beat deep. Greg Toler continues to impress with his athletic ability but he's extremely raw and suseptible to double moves and play action. He's still a work in progress but the raw talent is there. Herman Johnson has been running with the third team at right tackle (although he moved up to second team when Vallejo went down) and it's clear that he can dominate a defender once he locks on but his feet are not ready to play tackle at this level. He's routinely beaten by rushers on the outside, especially in the one-on-one drills. One of the guys who's been beating Johnson is Will Davis who is pretty much in the same boat as Brown. He's flashed as a pass rusher but he's even more raw than his second round counterpart. LaRod Stephens-Howling, who is getting work at running back and kick returner, has shown the ability to be elusive in the open field and is actually showing some toughness between the tackles as well. Trevor Canfield is running with the third team at right guard and has shown a mean streak from time to time but consistency has been an issue.