Day 3 of Cards Camp 2019 is in the books.
What did we learn? Well, a lot.
Let’s take a look, starting with the topic on everyone’s mind...K1.
#1. Kyler Murray actually looked like a rookie at times which...might be good?
Murray threw an interception to someone NOT named Patrick Peterson, and should have thrown a second one near the end of day goal-line drills.
While he wasn’t as sharp as he was on thursday, it’s notable that there weren’t as many deep bombs being thrown either, whether by design or due to the nature of the pads. Murray still had some impressive throws to Christian Kirk and Keesean Johnson in coverage, but I did notice that a lot of the work was in the run game.
Murray’s not going to go out and throw for 50 touchdowns like Patrick Mahomes in his first year (at least I’m pretty sure) but he’s clearly still got a special presence and while fans would prefer smooth sailing without any choppy waves, it’ll be hard for the rook to learn unless he can sail through some stormy waters. Because those always will be there in the NFL.
2. The 2nd round rookies had themselves a day
- CB Byron Murphy
- WR Andy Isabella
Remember those names.
One was the first pick in the 2nd round who was projected to go as high as the top 15 and the other a small slot receiver out of UMass. Both were expected to be counted on as rookies, but hadn’t flashed so far.
They did today once the pads came on.
Murphy had two interceptions and showed a bit of physicality and while he had gotten beaten once or twice on the first day of camp...he certainly didn’t today, and even took away a ball from Kyler Murray on a fade route intended for Larry Fitzgerald, showing the ball-hawking and athleticism they drafted him for.
But it was Andy Isabella who drew the most “oohs” and “aahs” today.
Andy Isabella and Christian Kirk too quick #AZCardinals #CardsCamp #redsea #NFL #NFLTrainingCamp pic.twitter.com/Mey5T3cgM6— Arizona Sports Fan (@CoyotesKessel) July 27, 2019
Isabella caught a touchdown and hauled in a pass over the middle before getting stood up by safety Josh Shaw which leveled him (he’s a small guy after all) but he showcased a lot and seems to be getting better as camp has gone on.
That said, he still isn’t getting prime playing time ahead of the other veterans on the roster in Trent Sherfield, Damiere Byrd and Kevin White. So it seems like he’s making progress and nothing is guaranteed for him at this point...but we’ll see if that changes if he keeps making plays like these.
On another note, Keesean Johnson seems to feel more and more like he belongs, as it’s tough to believe he’s a rookie when he seems on par with the likes of Christian Kirk with comfort in the offense. For a 6th rounder that’s a heck of a pick up if he turns out to get starting reps this season. He’s arguably even a bigger story than Isabella so far.
#3. Hakeem Butler has a role but needs a year if he’s going to see time
Butler was praised by many as having a shot to be the top wide receiver in the draft amongst the analytics community, but he hasn’t looked like it so far.
Doesn’t mean he won’t, as he was definitely a high ceiling, low floor sort of prospect. He’s been stiff but showcased his size (guys seem to bounce off of him) and had his first BIG catch of the week hauling in a perfectly thrown deep pass from Brett Hundley for what would have been a 40 yard touchdown, beating his man and the safety. Size and speed. The hands have continued to show up, as he did drop a surefire catch and in a goal-line play Kyler Murray threw it a bit behind him and he didn’t come up with it. Kyler also threw that pick to Budda Baker.
#4. The Center battle is still far from set it appears
Mason Cole got the majority of the first team snaps today, with A.Q. Shipley moving to the 2nd team. Some of the 3rd team guards seemed to struggle (Tariq Cole in particular).
So Shipley’s no sure thing. For my money, it felt like the offensive line was better in protection on Thursday than it was today for one reason or another. Maybe that was Cole being input and Right Tackle Marcus Gilbert having a day off. But it was good to see that it’s going to be a true battle as both have a lot to prove after having 2018 not quite go the way either wanted or expected.
Korey Cunningham seems to be the penciled in guy as the swing/backup right tackle, even ahead of some other veterans or guys who’ve been around the league so that’s a solid step forward for him.
#5. Arizona’s depth is starting to be tested via injuries and “veteran days”
Haasan Reddick was out with an injury today, as was D.J. Swearinger and guys like Chandler Jones, Corey Peters, Marcus Gilbert meant that a lot more guys filled in on the team.
You saw Dennis Gardeck (an undrafted special teamer last year) take Reddick’s place and rookie guys like Zach Allen and Michael Dogbe were impressive as pass rushers in the drills. Behind Swearinger was DB Josh Shaw who’s had quite an NFL journey and with all training camps, injuries test your depth.
Arizona’s got to hope that they have guys who can step up. Today, some did. But it’s easier to do it when it’s not another team trying to ram your throat in but your own guys getting some work in at the office.
#6. Tight Ends might be used in Arizona a lot more than people might think
The majority of what Arizona ran on Thursday was 10 personnel, or 4 wide receivers with 1 running back.
It was the tight ends who got a lot of playing time, with Maxx Williams seeing a big role as a guy blocking or even on pass-catching. While in total passing sets Ricky Seals-Jones had some nice catches and a touchdown even they didn’t seem to want him as a blocker. Perhaps a healthy Charles Clay changes the mix but the influence of the Broncos’ Sean Kugler on the run game seems to be in effect here. Maxx is the truest “blocking” tight end and they’ve used them enough gotta think that they keep 3 on the roster, including Clay.
It wouldn’t shock me if Kingsbury’s offense changes week to week depending on the opponent where it might even feature guys if they can find a mismatch.
#7. Nkemdiche gone & the legacy of Steve Keim
Yes, Robert Nkemdiche was cut (just after practice once the media left, too) and with it comes a lot of expectations only to have disappointment and wasted potential be at every turn.
Now, with Reddick sidelined until the season starts it’s really only D.J. Humphries left as far as former Keim first-round picks to reshape the narrative. Keim essentially has had failure after failure on his resume with only a few picks truly working out. Even last year’s addition of Josh Rosen was promptly shown the door (and after seeing Kyler Murray, I can understand why). The future of the Cardinals will be up to Keim and more to rebuild the team by adding talent around K1 and honestly, part of today WAS an addition to the team.
It was just addition by subtraction, subtracting a player who rehabbed, came in overweight & not caring after two arrests and as a result lost $400,000 and a spot on the Cardinals. Possibly in the NFL.
That will hopefully send the right message to the rest of the team, although I highly doubt they needed it.
You can follow @blakemurphy7 on Twitter.