There was a record crowd of 25,000 in attendence, per Mark Dalton, and it definitely showed as a deafening roar leapt up from the crowd as Larry Fitzgerald took a hand-off from Carson Palmer on a sweep and then, suddenly moved back to his right and threw a touchdown in the Endzone to Jaron Brown.
The Red and White practice has almost always been the practice with the largest attendence at Cards Camp throughout the years, and as the Arizona Cardinals prepare for another shot at the Super Bowl, it couldn't have been a bigger stage.
So who stepped up and impressed? Let's take a look with a quick run-down:
-First off, the crowd was INTO IT for a practice. Was great to see how dialed in they were to what was going on. Here's a quick video example (mind the finger on the replay)
TD, Fitz! pic.twitter.com/dcoV9jLtOS— Blake Allen Murphy (@blakemurphy7) August 6, 2016
-The big name at practice today? Jaron Brown was very impressive all day, not just in the Fitzgerald pass for a touchdown. He beat Patrick Peterson and Brandon Williams on deep balls, which isn't easy to do, and didn't let anything hit the ground.
Fitz wide receiver pass to Jaron Brown for a 25-yard TD. Crowd goes wild. #CardsCamp— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) August 6, 2016
Jaron Brown is in a contract year with Arizona along with Michael Floyd, and has been a valuable asset to the team both on special teams and in case of injury. He's made some big-time plays in games (the juggling Seattle catch in '15, the TD from Stanton vs. the Chiefs in '14) but hasn't climbed up the depth chart. It'll be interesting if Arizona wants to bring back the 4th or 5th WR on their depth chart (depending on J.J. Nelson's status) or if another team will pay him at the end of this season.
-John Brown didn't practice as he's still in concussion protocol. The team's offense does look very different without him, while it has depth, there's no deep threat without him or J.J. consistently.
-Non-"J-Brown" WR Jaxon Shipley showed off his hands with a diving catch and generally, was the target of Matt Barkley's best throws on the day. There's a lot that goes into Quarterback development, and Barkley has looked best when he's had good protection and consistent weapons. It might seem simple to put it that way, but quarterback success isn't merely dependent on the Quarterback themself.
-Speaking of Barkley, it's clear that Jake Coker is still struggling to learn the offense, as the one 11-on-11 snap he was put in on was a read-option play goal-line handoff, similar to how Arians installed more of those plays that Logan Thomas was comfortable with. The reason? Giving them a chance to adjust and impress with what they know. I wouldn't expect Coker to make the roster or practice squad at this point unless he balls out in the games. Simply too few reps and he's been far too inaccurate.
-No injuries to report. Huge on a physical day like the Red/White practice. Mike Iupati went down after getting his ankle rolled up on, and for a second it was a scary moment, but he was fine and went back in later.
G Mike Iupati getting looked at by trainers. Leg got tangled up in short-yardage drill.— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) August 6, 2016
The players seemed to not pay it attention like they did last year with Mathieu's injury as far as concern, so it was clear he was alright pretty early on. The Cards need to stay as healthy as possible with how many starters have been lost for the season in non-contact drills as of the last few years.
-DJ Humphries had an up-and-down day, but had a few nice plays on Markus Golden. He did have a holding call on Chandler Jones, however, according to Kent Somers.
TD to Jaron Brown, tho is appeared Humphries held Jones— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 6, 2016
Young as he is, I'd expect Humphries to remain the top option at Right Tackle until we can see how he does in Preseason when the lights are truly on. It's only later that if a move will be made, it will be made.
-Newly signed CB Alan Ball had an impressive first practice with the team:
CB Alan Ball with the pick six off Stanton, tho Stanton likely would have been sacked by Okafor in real ball— Kent Somers (@kentsomers) August 6, 2016
At 6'1, 195 lbs, and excelling in press coverage, Ball is an almost perfect fit for Arizona's scheme. Even a few Jaguars fans (who have seen Ball play the last few years) seemed to appreciate both Ball and his fit in Arizona:
@blakemurphy7 He's at his best when he has a chance to jam the WRs at the line. He just lost out in a numbers game here and wasn't resigned.— Handlebar-less Henne (@DuvalPls) August 6, 2016
If competition breeds success, adding a veteran like Ball to young CB's Bethel and Williams will likely only help. I don't know if Ball will crack the starting roster or not but he had a great introduction. I'm VERY curious to see how Bethel/Williams/Ball/Brooks/Branch shakes itself out when Bethel and Mathieu come back.
Some other assorted thoughts:
-DB Chris Clemons worked out with the linebackers today. It seems like he's the backup for Deone Bucannon, which means that if Bucannon misses time, their defense won't miss too much of a beat. Maybe more teams will start moving safeties to that spot.
-Speaking of linebackers, Donald Butler dropped an INT thrown right at him today, as did Gabe Martin. Gotta make those plays. Butler might be a long-stretch to make the roster if Clemons is now going to be ahead of him at linebacker.
-Marqui Christian keeps impressing me with big hits and instincts in coverage. Even when the pads weren't on, he looked the part, but once they were, he became a different beast. He seems to have already moved to the 2nd team deep safety role (or 3rd team, depending on if Mathieu coming back slides Tyvon Branch back to that spot and D.J. Swearinger to the #2) but he had a few great plays today, including a nice pass-breakup of a Stanton pass that was textbook coverage. He's going to be an instant impact on special teams.
-Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington caught receiving TD's today. David Johnson may get a ton of fantasy love but Arians won't hesitate to use the best matchup to win. Andre, in particular, had some sensational plays. Health has always been his issue, maybe as the #3 back he finally won't see the field enough where he can be that explosive difference?
-It's tough to see if Brittan Golden will be able to hold off both Jaxon Shipley and Chris Hubert to stay on the roster. He has experience, but also had a few drops today and all three have similar abilities as a kick returner.
-The defense, at times, was smothering, but when Carson Palmer was in there, he picked them apart in the secondary. It'll be interesting if this is a case of Palmer being that good, or if the losses of Rashad Johnson and Jerraud Powers will be felt by this team into the season.
-No new ground was broken in the longsnapper battle today, although if you do really care about that position, I envy you.
-Finally, there are VERY few spots truly open this year on the 53. I'll have a future article up with some new projections as well as a depth chart sometime next week with what we've seen so far in practice. There will be some tough cuts to be made over the next few weeks. Until then, it'll be up to the games to decide. At this point, that's the next big box to check off on the calendar.
Until then, I'll sign off for now.