Saturday afternoon, an estimated 17,500 fans showed up to University of Phoenix Stadium for the Arizona Cardinals Red and White practice. Unlike previous years, this was nothing more than a regular practice, but the organization had a few things in place for the fans, including all players signing autographs after the practice ended.
While they were on the field, what stood out?
1. There were NFL officials on hand. On Friday, they made a presentation to the media about the new rules and the points of emphasis. This showed up in practice. One point of emphasis is grabbing the facemask of another player. Officials will be looking for this by offensive and defensive players. Stepfan Taylor was called for it offensively. No longer will a running back be able to grab a defender's facemask.
2. It appeared that Sam Acho has passed up John Abraham in nickel packages. It was Acho running with the first team nickel defense and Abraham on the second team. Obviously, this means very little so far, but for now it means that Abraham is still getting acclimated to the playbook or it means Acho is stepping up his game.
3. There is a big dropoff from the first team offense. The last drills of practice were 11 on 11 from midfield. The first team went down the field and score a touchdown, Carson Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald. They only had to go one drive. The second team was forced to punt the first drive and then got into field goal range on their second attempt. The third team? Not good. They had three attempts. They were forced to punt the first two drives. On the third, it looked like they would get it going. Ryan Lindley hit Tyler Shaw for a big gain. Then Shaw drew a pass interference penalty. Just like that they were in scoring position. They got inside the 10 and the defense held. In fact, the final play of practice was a fourth and goal situation. Lindley fumbled the snap and Colin recovered it and ran down the field.
4. There was one particular situation the offense ran. It was third and five from the 25-yard line, 16 second left and no times outs remaining. The play was kneel the ball and then get the field goal team on to kick the game winner. It worked every time. Everyone on and off the field and in formation.
5. Tyrann Mathieu made a pretty good hit on Alfonso Smith. He was also flagged for pass interference when the receiver he was covering beat him. He grabbed the player's jersey to keep from getting too much separation.
6. Daryl Washington made the athletic play of the game. He made a one-handed interception of a Ryan Lindley pass. Lindley was eyeing the receiver and Washington read it well. It would have been a pick six.
7. Patrick Peterson picked off a Carson Palmer pass intended for Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone. The next play, Fitz caught a touchdown. Peterson also got beat when he gambled on going for a ball headed for Fitz. He jumped in front of Fitz trying to tip away the pass and missed. Touchdown.
8. There were several throws by Palmer that really impressed me. One was a ball thrown into the smallest of windows. Michael Floyd was well covered over the middle. Palmer put the ball right in Floyd's belly. Anywhere else and the defender knocks the ball away.
9. Stanton showed off a very strong arm again. Considering last season's play at quarterback in camp and the preseason, Stanton would have won that job. He has looked better than anyone did in camp last season.
10. In one-on-one drills with the receivers and defensive backs, Patrick Peterson faced undrafted rookie Jaron Brown a couple of times. It is important to note that Brown has looked good in camp, but Peterson was so clearly the superior player both times. Broke up the pass both times.
Bonus: The defensive backs looked good again. The main guys that will be in the mix for the final roster looked good, getting their hands on balls on several occasions. Justin Bethel had a couple of very nice breakups.
This was the last practice we will be at to cover. I am back at work Monday-Friday from here on out. I'll be covering the team at home games, but as for camp, I'm out. We will still keep camp well covered in terms of content.
More from Revenge of the Birds:
- Arizona Cardinals training camp 2013: Ryan Williams says "there's nothing wrong" with his knee
- What to watch for at the Red and White practice
- Arizona Cardinals training camp 2013: 10 observations from Friday practice
- Arizona Cardinals training camp: Bobby Massie having a 'so-so' camp
- Arizona Cardinals training camp 2013: Dan Williams to miss some time with knee, ankle injuries; is having Pro Bowl camp
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