clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cards Camp: Day Two Recap

What went down on the second day of Cardinals Training Camp?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The zip of a pass, the thud of a football hitting pads, and safety-turned-dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon had himself an interception of Carson Palmer.

It's been a long time since we've entered training camp without a question about which position Bucannon actually is, but regardless, he has settled into his role.  Much like Bucannon, most of the fans observing today seem to have settled in to knowing which players to watch for in this season of camp.

So what went down today?  Let's find out.

1. No Reported Injuries

In training camp, injuries and coming out as healthy as possible is huge for teams and players alike.

Unlike yesterday's practice in which TE Jermaine Gresham and CB Mike Jenkins walked off with trainers, there were no new names to add to the injury report.  Injuries are always a fluid situation in the NFL, as everyone plays hurt but injuries are a different beast.

Ifayani Momah played well in relief of Gresham as the first team TE alongside Darren Fells.  He's a tall mismatch at 6'7 but has still shown good blocking skills.  He was expected to start last year before a season-ending injury shut him down, so I don't think fans should be concerned about the depth there.

With Robert Nkemdiche, Frostee Rucker and Red Bryant all not practicing, the Cardinals defensive line was tested a bit. Ed Stinson took a starting position, with Mauro, Peters, Gunter, and even UDFA Olsen Pierre rotating in.

Needless to say, the Cardinals have a lot of depth at most positions.  Well, except for perhaps Cornerback.  And that leads us to...

2. Rookie Brandon Williams continues to impress

Considering he'd only been playing cornerback for one season after making the move from running back, any expectation of CB Brandon Williams for this season seemed premature.  Or maybe we were just wrong.

Considering the scrutiny he'd be faced with after Williams' first praised public practice, it wouldn't surprise anyone if he melted.  Instead, Williams stepped up to the challenge.  He had another strong day, capped off by a lunging breakup of a pass intended for J.J. Nelson.

Williams had another pass break-up on Michael Floyd on the day as well.  His length and athleticism is why the Cardinals believed in him enough to spend a third-round pick on him, which ordinarily wouldn't have been too far off for a corner of his size and speed....except this is only his second-year playing the position.

Williams is still raw but has demonstrated that he can ball out.  As a rookie, and a generally raw corner as it is, he will have plenty of ups and downs if he should play during the season, but he's certainly been the talk of camp so far.

3. D.J. "Swolephries" is Kneedeep No More

Part of the praise showered on D.J. Humphries by the Cardinals when they drafted him last year was his personality.  And Humphries demonstrated that today before practice with an excellent quote.

Humphries indeed looks much bigger than he did in camp last year, and has a far better grasp of the offense, run plays and pass protection.

We'll have to wait for games and a real-live opponent to know for sure, but whereas he looked lost and would get beat on every play last camp, Humphries has definitely matured.  It reflects the late season praise Bruce Arians gave him, saying that the Cardinals "would have had no problem starting him" last year.

Some Cardinals fans might still not feel the best about the former "Kneedeep", but he's certainly come far enough that I think it's clear that he's put his immaturity behind him.  And so should the last fans holding out thinking that any laziness has persisted.

4. The Depth at Wide Receiver is Unbelievable

Fitzgerald and Floyd both had good days, but the play of the day went to WR John Brown.

The mentioned name, Matt Harmon, has been one of John Brown's biggest supporters in the mainstream media.  I'd recommend anyone to check out his #ReceptionPerception work on wide receivers.

To continue, J.J. Nelson also had a good day as a receiver, as did second-year WR Jaxon Shipley, a fan favorite from last year who spent the season on Arizona's practice squad.

Shipley will be battling Golden for a spot on the roster this season, as both return kicks and play special teams.  After Shipley, there's a large talent dropoff at the WR position, although UDFA Chris Hubert has the speed to be a deep threat, but is abnormally small at 5'9, 155 lbs.  Hubert had a good deep catch in practice today.

All in all, if there's one thing that Cards fans can expect, it's a lot of talented wide receivers making plays this season.

5. Finally, The Battle of the Third-Stringers

Matt Barkley and Jake Coker entered Cards Camp each with something to prove.  And so far, they've proved that both have upside, but also a long way to go.

In drills, Coker showed he had the arm that fit Bruce Arians' vertical system, but also was a erratic at times and showed bits of inaccuracy throughout the day.

Barkley, on the other hand, was far more accurate in drills, but didn't fare as well on the field at times.  He checked the ball down quite a bit, and seemed to struggle with getting the ball out quick on hot routes, something that he didn't have to do often in college.

Barkley's velocity, however, seemed to show no issues.  Many had mentioned that velocity might be a problem for him as a draft critique, but I saw little trouble or wobble with it.

Honestly though, these are two third-stringers and developmental quarterbacks that we are talking about.  Expectations for them shouldn't be too high, and while both have shown strengths and potential, both have a long way to go and need to show that they belong, either on the practice squad or the 53-man roster.  Putting more stock into these quarterbacks before we can see them in the preseason games is premature at this point.

Some other assorted notes to close:

-CB Cariel Brooks also saw time with the first-team today, and had a few good plays as well.  The coaching staff likes him a lot, and if he can hold up on special teams, he might be an active candidate for the 53-man roster.  Until Justin Bethel comes back, or the Cardinals sign a veteran corner, Cards fans can expect a lot of these two.

-With Rucker and Jenkins down, do I think the Cards will pursue a veteran corner or pass rusher?  Maybe.  Some big names like Antonio CromartieChris Culliver and Leon Hallare still out there, but I don't expect them to pursue just yet as these young players develop and show what they have.

-No, I don't think we will be talking Dwight Freeney any time soon, not just due to Golden but also due to the timeframe.  There's no reason to bring Freeney in until it's much closer to the regular season, or unless there is a cataclysmic injury. Even then, I wouldn't expect his name to be added, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility either.

-LB Markus Golden got a pick today, recognizing a screen route.  He's a smart player and has shown that he's not giving up his starting spot easily.  Alex Okafor seems to be the 3rd-ranked pass-rusher at this point.

-Earl Watford is the second-string center, while Rookie C Evan Boehm is third-string.  It might have been too much to expect Boehm to challenge A.Q. Shipley, but it says a lot more about how hard Watford has worked to learn not only guard and tackle, but the center spot as well.  He even got a few first-team snaps in but again, this is Shipley's job to lose.

-CB Cariel Brooks is knowledgeable in his responsibilities in zone.  Brooks has been loved by the staff, and while he doesn't show the sheer man-coverage talent that Brandon Williams has demonstrated, he hasn't been out of place in his responsibilities.  When building a team, one must scheme to the strengths and weaknesses of their players.  Having a guy like Brooks to help balance out Williams' lack of zone might be key for the Cardinals.

-Ed Stinson is a valuable player.  Stinson could play multiple positions and I even would give him a "sack" versus Carson Palmer and the first-team offensive line.  After him, the interior pass rush is a bit lacking without Frostee Rucker.  Calais Campbell is Calais Campbell, but with Rucker out as well as Nkemdiche, it's a very different defensive line.  That said, the edge rushers seem much better with Chandler Jones already, and a few double A-gap blitzes showed that the Cardinals can still bring pressure.

-Speaking of the defensive line, Rodney Gunter is Calais Campbell's backup.  Worth mentioning as this is Campbell's last year under contract and it's not a guarantee that the team brings him back.  Could the team be testing Gunter as Campbell's replacement?

-Darren Fells had a nice TD today.  He's quite athletic for a big body, and is going to be a matchup nightmare in the redzone.  Maybe we will get to see him used there more this season.

-Battle of the Long Snappers.  I am not a coach, so I couldn't tell you who is the leader or loser for the day.  I'd give Kameron Canaday the slight edge, and if you are truly passionate about long-snapping duties, I appreciate your enthusiasm.  (Side note: Earl Watford and Troy Niklas worked on long-snapping post-practice, perhaps as an emergency backup in Niklas's case).

-Ellington the Wide Receiver looks explosive.  Andre Ellington has had a pretty terrible relationship with his own health while he's been in the NFL, as the abuse is one-sided.  As a wide receiver, he made a few great catches, including one for a touchdown.

-T Rob Crisp is the second team left tackle, which is important to know for the final 53.  Keeping a "tackle-only" player vs. a more flexible one like Earl Watford.

Whew!  A lot certainly happened, and there's more to come tomorrow even still.

That's all for today, it's been a good start to the season and I hope to have a fantastic turnout at the Sunday practice.

You can follow Revenge Of The Birds and @blakemurphy7 here on Twitter.