Housler has not yet lived up to his potential in Arizona, but many, including myself, thinks this will be a break out year. The former third round pick will be the number one tight end heading into pre-season, and has already begun to turn heads at training camp. We know he is an athletic specimen, however, inconsistent seasons prior to this training camp has led sceptics to believe we wont see the best of him. Impressing with his catching skills and improved blocking, Housler is beginning to look like the finished, rounded product in a passing-based offense. Setting career totals last season, whilst leading all tight ends on the roster, of 45 receptions and 417 yards, Housler is setting himself apart from fellow tight ends on the team as he looks to take advantage of the first capable quarterback he's experienced as a Cardinal in Carson Palmer. I expect Housler to stand-out in pre-season ahead of another career year.
Running back Ryan Williams has endured a torrid time thus far in his Cardinals career, suffering a season-ending knee injury in his rookie training camp, and then in his second year unfortunately being his by a season-ending shoulder injury, but now the future looks bright for the third year pro. Ready to break out at training camp, Williams is getting first team reps and is expected to be backing up Rashard Mendenhall, however, the former second round pick is highly tipped to dislodge Mendenhall of his starter status during the season. Having vastly improved his pass protection, a big deal in a Bruce Arians-run offense, the young runner possesses break-away speed along with strength between the tackles, giving the Cardinals a running back presence they are yet to experience. With carries to be dolled out between him, Mendenhall , as well as rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington in pre-season, expect Williams to emerge as the lead runner.
The versatile defensive back is being lined up all over the place during the early stages of training camp. Expected to back up Yeremiah Bell at safety, Mathieu has been lining up as a slot corner, safety and in dime/nickel packages, as well as a late blitzer where he has impressed. Also impressing as a punt returner, Mathieu may split time with one of the league's best returner's in Patrick Peterson in pre-season, as he looks to make an impact by any means necessary. The ball-hawking defensive back has impressed in training camp with his work ethic, covering skills and recovery speed. Likely to make more of an impact on special teams than as a defensive player his first season, Mathieu's high-upside and determination should get him more first-team looks.
More from Revenge of the Birds:
- 2013 Arizona Cardinals training camp: 10 observations from Monday practice
- NFL training camp 2013: Images from Monday's Arizona Cardinals Monday practice
- NFL training camp 2013: Paul Fanaika 'really looking good' filling in for Colledge
- 53 Man Roster: Early Camp Edition
- NFL training camp: Alfonso Smith praised for blocking, getting coaches' attention