While rookies, quarterbacks and injured players have been at the facility since Monday, today the entire Arizona Cardinals report to camp.
Much has been made of some of the bigger stories in camp, from David Johnson to a possible quarterback competition between Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen to the upcoming wide receiver and cornerback battle behind Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson to the development of Robert Nkemdiche in his third year.
But what are some of the storylines that aren’t being discussed as frequently?
Let’s take a look at three underrated storylines heading into Cards Camp 2018:
- Do the Cardinals have enough edge rushers?
Chandler Jones being the league’s reigning sack champion might mean no. But after Jones there’s question marks at defensive end with Markus Golden (who seemed to take a step back in the games he played in 2017) coming off of a serious leg injury, the only players at the spot are Moubarak Djeri and Benson Mayowa. Not very inspiring.
It might not matter in the long run given Jones, the Cardinals potentially having four quality defensive tackles and Wilks affinity for blitzing to manufacture pressure, but with Golden already on the PUP list it’s possible the Cardinals could look to bring in another body at the position if no one stands out. And if Golden isn’t the same or leaves the team in free agency, it’ll be a major need moving forward.
2. Is there a kicking competition?
There’s two ways to look at Phil Dawson’s struggles in the kicking game in 2017. You can either chalk it up to terrible coaching from special teams coach Amos Jones that got corrected later in the year, or you can chalk it up to inconsistency coming with age.
If the latter is true, it might not matter that Dawson is the one who was signed to a bigger contract. He did hit 20 of 22 down the stretch after a slow start but only finished with 80% of his field goals made and at 43 years old, there will be questions. Matt McCrane is 23 but as we learned from Chandler Catanzaro, there’s a level of quality with older, veteran players at the kicking position that can’t be ignored. If Dawson should struggle at all and McCrane steps up, it might be something to watch.
3. Where does Mike Glennon fit into everything?
By many reports, it seems as though rookie 1st round pick Josh Rosen might have already passed up Mike Glennon on the depth chart. If Rosen is mentally prepared enough for the Cardinals to step in for Bradford should he go down at some point in the season, or even if he’s in that spot as early as Week 1...what happens with Glennon?
Charles Kanoff has a possibility of being signed to the practice squad and could be an emergency backup if needed to; is it worth letting another player walk to keep Glennon on the 53 man roster?
Glennon was likely signed by the team with the intention of being a multi-year backup but the addition of Rosen could change that need. Glennon’s a professional who signed a 2-year, $8 million dollar deal and would be able to spot start if needed similar to a Drew Stanton. But if there’s a lot of those guys in and around the NFL, what happens should Bradford remain healthy for the majority of the season? Or what happens should Rosen demonstrate that he should be the starter and Bradford becomes the backup?
There’s a lot to shake out here but while I do believe Glennon will end up being on the 53-man roster the rapid progression of Josh Rosen seems to be making him into more of a QB3 than a QB2 this year. And most QB3’s are often expendable in the NFL.
4. Mason Cole’s position: Center, Guard or both?
With Evan Boehm seemingly now a full-time guard, the addition of Mason Cole has had many Cardinals fans pegging him as being the Center of the future after A.Q. Shipley. But whenever Cole’s been mentioned by the team, guard has been mentioned before center nearly every time.
The Cardinals have struggled with their draft picks of offensive linemen in previous years, from Boehm and Turner to Dorian Johnson and even Earl Watford to an extent in being able to develop a starter.
They still haven’t been able to draft and develop a quality starting center or find a player who can outperform Shipley since Lyle Sendlein retired. Fans should watch how Cole is used and see if he’s a guy who will end up replacing Shipley in 2019 or in case of injury, or if he’s being prepped to pair across from new free agenty signing Justin Pugh at the guard position.
5. The Running Backs not named David Johnson or Chase Edmonds
After seeing the 28-year-old Andre Ellington move to Wide Receiver and 31-year-old Chris Johnson leave the team following training camp in 2017, there’s now an infusion of youth at the position.
4th round rookie Chase Edmonds seems locked into the RB2 spot following David Johnson, but there’s much that’s left unknown after those two players.
T.J. Logan missed the whole season with a wrist injury in the first preseason game. D.J. Foster has been on and off the roster. Elijhaa Penny seems to be moving to fullback but will struggle to pass up a veteran in Derrick Coleman. All are also very young players without a ton of game experience in totality, and pass protection will also be a big part of McCoy’s quick passing scheme to protect his quarterbacks.
No matter what, there seems to be too many players for too few spots, so one of those recognizable names will likely be off the Cardinals’ roster when the 53-man group is finalized.
Seeing how Logan, Foster and Penny respond to the competition, or if Mike McCoy will want to try to bring in a veteran back is a storyline that fans should pay attention to in Camp this 2018.
What are your thoughts on these underrated storylines? Sound off in the comment section!