Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians jokes around about how the offseason when teams have OTAs and mini-camps are soccer and not football because no pads are allowed and the practices are all non-contact. As a result, there are some things you can't see out of players as they battle for a spot on the roster.
Arians mentioned a pair of players who need the pads to come on for a true evaluation. They are linebacker Kareem Martin and their seventh round pick, tight end Gerald Christian.
Martin was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker this offseason. He is currently practicing on the second field, behind players like Alex Okafor, Lorenzo Alexander and LaMarr Woodley. The team knows he has some pass rushing ability, but the question about his ability to cover and defend against run.
"He's doing well," Arians said about Martin. "He needs to put the pads on to see if he can set the edge, but he doesn't look out of (place) in space. He's looking good."
So he looks decent in space. He has pass rushing skills. The rest we won't see until training camp. Arizona's outside linebackers have to be able to set the edge to defend against the run. Arians doesn't know if Martin will be any good ta that.
As for Christian, this year's "Mr. Irrelevant," or final player taken in the draft, "he's doing a real good job," Arians said.
He is, like all the rookies, getting his work on the second practice field. "He's getting all his reps down there," Arians said. "Again, he's another one of those guys who needs pads on because he's a hitter and sometimes those guys don't look as good when we're out here in shorts."
According to Arians, Christian is a physical player. That will serve him well if he is going to play the H-back role he is projected to have. Martin, who found very little playing time his rookie year despite the defensive line being ravaged by injuries, will need to show his value at a new position.
Unfortunately for the fans, we won't know more until training camp rolls around.