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Cardinals’ Training Camp Journal: Day 2

NFL: Arizona Cardinals-Training Camp Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Day 2 is in the books and while Bob McMananan pointed out that QB Kyler Murray wasn’t quite as sharp as Day 1, there were still plenty of standout plays.

This a a perfectly executed fade pass from Kyler Murray to Christian Kirk, delivered in much the same fashion as the fade Murray threw to Larry Fitzgerald on Day 1. Good blocking up front. Good coverage, beaten by perfectly timed throw and superb catch.

Here is a series of plays:

1—-an effective RB counter run to the right side—-although the blocking is out of sync and needs work (to be expected at this point). But it gives us an idea of one of the ways the Cardinals will run the ball out of the shotgun.

2—-Murray throwing another dime on a right sideline fade pass, this time to Pharoh Cooper over tight coverage fro Byron Murphy.

3—-This is the classic “Y Cross” that Robert Ban highlighted this week—-on this play TE Maxx Williams is lined up tight to the RT and on the snap releases downfield on his crossing route and is hit right in the hands by Murray. Watch how Murray avoids the pressure and still makes a perfect throw while stepping backward.

4—-This is a good look at a Murray scramble—-check out the quick decision and feet. Good ol’ Larry Fitzgerald was quick to see it and turned into blocking mode.

Great to see this outstanding catch by Kevin White. Look at the way Kyler Murray looks off the safety and quickly turns his throw to the left.

Here is rookie UCFA QB Drew Anderson getting flushed to his right and throwing a strike downfield to Trent Sherfield.

Anderson is athletic for his size—-and he shows his athleticism on this play—-but, this also reminds us, in comparison, how quick Kyler Murray is.

Here is a nice throw from QB Brett Hundley on a quick in-route to WR Andy Isabella, with S Jonathan Owens in tight coverage. Hundley also hooked up with Isabella on a nice long fade route up the right sideline. Here’s the play:

Here is Patrick Peterson’s interception of Kyler Murray’s deep post pass attempt to Christian Kirk, Peterson does an excellent job of tracking the errant throw and making the pick.

Peterson offered praise for Murray after practice but advised Murray “to stay away from #21.”

In actuality, Kyler Murray should take advantage every day of trying to complete passes against Peterson in coverage. Passing against a superb cover CB can accelerate Murray’s growth and confidence. You always want to compete against the best.

Nice timing on breaking up a flat pass from Murray intended for Larry Fitzgerald by Budda Baker. Notice that there must have been a mental mistake by the “L” WR #14, Damiere Byrd, as he didn’t clear out the flat and wound up in the same vicinity as Fitzgerald.

The two most notable negative notes of the day involved Cardinals DTs: (1) an apparent knee injury for Vincent Valentine—-hopefully it is not serious; (2) Robert Nkemdiche showing up to camp out of shape.

Just a day after predicting that Kliff Kingsbury wouldn’t be like BA and criticize players to the media, Kingsbury was openly critical, albeit in a slightly understated way, of Nkemdiche: “Not in shape, I guess,” Kingsbury said. “And that’s kind of where we’ll leave it. I mean, he’s on PUP and he’s working through that. When he is cleared, we’ll work with him.”

Look—-everyone can understand the Cardinals’ frustration with Nkemdiche—-but I think was a mistake to call him out publicly. Other teams don’t do this because they have a policy of protecting their assets. Now there was nothing the Cardinals could do to prevent the public from knowing about Nkemdiche’s recent brushes with the law, his speeding while while driving with a suspended license and the discovery of traces of a white substance in his car.

But—-on this one—-it’s not like Nkemdiche will be ready to play anytime soon anyway. The Cardinals have three months to get him in shape for an October return. Assign one of the trainers to him and get him lifting, doing cardio, get him water training in the pool and put him on a regimented diet.

Because he is injured, if the Cardinals wanted to release him, they would have to get him and his agent to agree to an injury settlement. In the last year of his rookie deal, Nkemdiche counts $2.74M on the cap—-with a base salary of $1.12M and an upcoming roster bonus of $400K. The dead money on him is $1.113M—-so with an injury settlement the Cardinals could gain close to $1.6M of cap space, although the agent will probably want a split of the $400K roster bonus.

However, with a likely return in October, if the Cardinals can get Nkemdiche in good shape, mentally and physically, who knows what can happen. He could be a factor in the DT rotation where the Cardinals are not especially deep—-or if he puts a good game or two on tape, the Cardinals might be able to get some value for him in a trade before the deadline.

It would seem that the Cardinals have more to gain by helping Nkemdiche mount a comeback, than by merely letting him go. Even if the Cardinals won’t sign him beyond this season, if he comes back and plays well, the Cardinals could at least get a comp pick for him. Plus—-there is a lot to be said about helping a person save his life.

So—-let’s conclude this journal entry with a great and amusing interview of Andy Isabella. Without giving any spoilers—-do yourself a favor and watch the part where Isabella talks about how his aunt got him into caddying when he was 12 years old. This kid is a hoot!