clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Full Recap of the 10 Biggest Stories from the 2019 Arizona Cardinals Red & White Practice

New, comments

Gold footballs were found, Kyler Murray impressed again, the atmosphere and introductions felt like a game day, and the pros and cons were aplenty

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

The Red-White practice is one of the highlights of the Cardinals offseason every year, not just for a family gathering at practice...but because it gives perhaps the clearest look of what you might be able to expect from players and a team during a live scrimmage.

Sometimes, sure, the results can be misleading but in the end there’s lots of things to take away. So let’s start at the beginning with some coverage and takeaways:

#1. Congrats to the 3 winners of the golden Cardinals 100 football contest for the 100th anniversary of the National Football League!

While I’m sure a lot of fans felt that it was less “hide and seek” and more “happen to be there as soon as the footballs are placed or know where it will be” it was something that THOUSANDS of people across the state took part in and turned into an overall entertaining experience to follow on social.

I had a friend and I texting back and forth and we ended up guessing a few of the locations (not exactly) and the Cardinals did a unique job with this promotion, congrats to Luis!

2. The melancholy of Patrick Peterson’s Pro Bowl jersey & the dress rehearsal

Peterson received his 8th consecutive pro bowl jersey before practice and sadly this was a reminder that it would be his last time to win it consecutively, as he’s ineligible given his PED suspension.

And the jersey served to remind that but also to remind how special of a player he was that it IS a big deal that this is happening. He has 2 years left on his deal and Cards fans are hoping to see him take home more jerseys.

Also of note was the team introductions with a live voiceover, fire launching and an inflatable...it was a practice run for a game essentially.

It’s also a reminder that Kliff Kingsbury’s never done that before, and in getting some practice it’s interesting to note that he seems to have a specific approach in terms of his offense, presentation and game management:

Practice makes perfect.

So far, that’s a model that I can’t say I don’t dislike given that he’s learning through doing rather than winging it 100% of the time.

3. Kyler Murray was his usual self

If by usual self you mean IMPRESSIVE AS HECK.

Scrimmage, schwimmage but still, there were multiple “wow!” highlights during his time with the first team offense:

-PI call to Larry Fitzgerald (looked like may have been intentional as he was being interfered with by two players as Murray threw the ball)

-Threaded the needle on a perfect pass to Ricky Seals-Jones across the middle for a big gain

-Hit Fitz over the middle perfectly in stride (think the 2009 Super Bowl run where he was running away from everyone)

-Scrambled under pressure to beat a defender around the edge to the side line

-Kept ball on a designed goal-line run inside the redzone that he might have scored on if he’d beaten the one-on-one man

-Threw ball away rather than take a sack/grounding or throw an interception

-And the highlight of the day was at :50 into this video in which Murray threw a slant route perfectly past a defender so quickly he didn’t have time to get his hands up in time. Quite an impressive play and Kevin White landed the sole touchdown on the day.

All in all, when looking at how I was feeling LAST YEAR about the Cardinals in which Sam Bradford was the starter, Josh Rosen wasn’t ready and the whole offense felt...meh? It’s encouraging and entertaining and that makes this point stand out all the more...

Translation: Brett Hundley, Charles Kanoff weren’t impressive and Drew Anderson’s currently the 4th team guy.

Some may argue that this is true of 90% of NFL teams. Imagine the Seahawks without Russell Wilson having to start Paxton Lynch or Geno Smith at QB. Or having to start Austin Davis in 2018? The QB is everything.

But it’s an important point given Murray’s relative size and questions about his frame that plagued his drafting process. It might be that it makes no difference, but given his running ability and the state of the offensive line, he may have to prove he can stay healthy before people will believe it.

Because the depth is PRETTY poor after him for sure from the look of it. Even still, it’s encouraging for me and other Cardinals fans to watch him sling it around with jaws dropped from the plays he’s making.

4. Wide receivers not separating just yet...but that might be a good thing?

Fitz and Kirk caught passes (though Kirk had a 3rd down drop) and other seeming starter KeeSean Johnson looked good hauling in a pass from Kyler Murray.

Damiere Byrd had some nifty catches along the sideline with the first team offense too, and Kevin White had a touchdown.

With Andy Isabella sidelined while Kliff Kingsbury said he’d prefer for there to be some “separation” amongst the receivers, as long as they’re making plays it’s a good thing. Pharoah Cooper was the only player who seemed to struggle the most at wideout, but he’s also a return man. The Cardinals will have a tough decision to make in having to let someone go. That said, there is one receiver who’s separated themself in a very different way.

5. I want to get off Hakeem Butler’s Wild Ride

Perhaps it makes more sense to say that I want Butler to get off his OWN wild ride into a bit more consistency.

I should also explain....

In some backlogs of the internet, there’s a meme born out of familiarity with the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at Disneyland in the fantasyland part of the park.

The ride begins as a simple back and forth foray through a house in a fun, whimsical manner behind the wheel of a small motor car, simulating the Disney adaptation of “The Wind In The Willows”. Fun, kiddy stuff, right?

Well...

Then the ride takes a sudden turn in which you as Mr. Toad are pulled over by police and sentenced to time in prison. Eventually you seem to escape and are driving down a railroad track when suddenly it’s simulated that you are hit by an oncoming train with a loud crash and bang with plenty of noises.

The very next room features demonic looking creatures from the pits of Hell laughing at you as you’ve apparently been doomed to an eternity of torment for reckless driving.

You may think I’m joking but I’m dead serious...that’s the ride. It’s why it’s become a meme. Used in areas such as “I want to get off Keanu’s wild ride” in the hype of the John Wick movies, or if something is going very bad very quickly.

Hakeem Butler is just that sort of ride going up and down with the same set of twists and turns as far as big plays and lack of consistency.

Observe:

And almost LITERALLY 30 seconds of real time later...

He has questionable drops and then follows it up with a swagged-out one handed grab that Randy Moss might have made.

Overall, I like him and it’s obvious watching the difference between him having Brett Hundley or Chad Kanoff as his quarterback versus seeing Drew Anderson. He had a nice incoming route that was in stride and well run, while earlier with Kanoff there was what seemed to be a drop (though the ball hung and the safety was able to close on the ball well in time) and that’s right now how it is.

What you’ll hope for is progress and considering his personality and work ethic, I think he’s got a lot of fans rooting for him.

6. The rotations were really heavy and often on Saturday

We’ve know that A.Q. Shipley and Mason Cole have rotated back and forth at center but today was on a different level.

At one point I think I saw the Cardinals first team defense almost rotate out completely with the exception of Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson and Jordan Hicks.

Pete Robertson and the defensive line rotated in behind guys, and Tanner Vallejo and Dennis Gardeck rotated in at linebacker, and even Budda Baker came off the field at times to see Josh Shaw and even Jonathan Owens see some first team reps.

Two guys were having to hold back Michael Dogbe at times when I did catch a glimpse of him, and the tight ends saw everyone from Seals-Jones to Darrell Daniels catch passes.

Chris Jones was impressive and broke up 2 passes in his time at corner, and Robert Alford picked off a pass. The most impressive play from the defense came at the very end with an interception of Drew Anderson by Deionte Thompson that went back for 6 and half the defense sprinted onto the field to toss him to the ground and celebrate. It was the first big play I’ve seen from Thompson all camp long.

The biggest rotation story of the day, however, came with this shocker:

Cole played left tackle in college for Michigan so while not a complete surprise it’s definitely interesting that they’re trying him out at a completely new position when he isn’t getting first team reps with the starting OL. Galliard played at center in college and Steve Keim on Cards Flight Plan Episode 6 specifically mentioned he might play some guard in AZ.

What could this mean?

Perhaps the positional flexibility might help with roster decisions (ex. no need to keep a left tackle plus Cole when he can play both spots) but it also speaks to the idea that many believe A.Q. Shipley is “the guy” at center until proven otherwise.

7. No major injuries (whew!)

I say major because Cards beat-writer Darren Urban pointed out that Mason Cole got time at left guard with the 1’s near the end of practice with Justin Pugh standing off to the side, with no mention or visible injury.

Perhaps it was some rest or seeing how Cole did, but given that the last two years there have been players legit carted off with season-ending injuries, it was refreshing to have a practice that wasn’t marred (that we know of) by a brutal blow to the team’s lineup.

After all in 2017, starting CB Ronald Zamort tore his ACL at the practice, and so did A.Q. Shipley last year in 2018. To avoid the cart is always a good day on this day.

8. Gonzo not donezo with some some miss-o’s

Zane Gonzalez had an up and down day, but it probably wasn’t as bad as it seemed. He kicked well in the special teams drills up until the team hit around a 40 yard field goal, and then he missed 3 of 4 kicks.

The last kick going “DOINK” off the side. The Cardinals brought no one in to challenge the kicker, who’s had misses that were notable with both the Browns and Cardinals last year, and that’s been a big storyline for the team.

Course, later in a more pressured situation during the scrimmage, Zane kicked a perfect ball 45 yards for a field goal, which might be more of the “realistic” scenario you’d want anyway rather than a few simulated kicks in a row. Still, it does remind me a bit of when Catanzaro started missing some kicks way back in 2016 in training camp. We’ll see how Gonzalez does in preseason as he’ll get plenty of practice.

9. The “Big Red Air Raid Siren” was prophetic...but not today.

The so called Air Raid siren sounded for the first time this season, as it has ever since the 2014 season.

Ironically, the Cardinals are now indeed air-raid inspired, almost “Air-Raid-Zona” to a point with their hire of Kliff Kingsbury for a quarterback in that sort of spread offense like Kyler Murray.

However, that was NOT on display at all during today’s practice. There were no 4-wide wide receiver sets or jet sweeps but rather a straight forward 11 personnel (1 tight end 1 running back) offense with plays that, outside of a few designed runs and a moving pocket for Kyler Murray, looked about what you might see from nearly any NFL team.

I saw looks the Chiefs might have used with looks the Mike McCoy offense might have used. Both ran 11 personnel just in...different ways. It was speculated by some that Kingsbury’s offense couldn’t function without a tight end for running plays on the field, and maybe that’s the case.

But I do wonder if this is part of the “vanilla” offense as well and the real looks will be there in the regular season. You know when the games actually count and the Cardinals have a real opponent.

Until then, we’ll have to try to piece together as much of these mysteries as we can.

Thanks for reading, folks and we’ll be back the next scrimmage when there IS another opponent in the San Diego Chargers next Thursday night.

10. Some images just mean so much

I have to stop by to pay tribute at least once a year when no one is around, and it led to a great shot of a great Cardinals legend. For everything Pat Tillman stood for.

That’s where I’ll end this one for now. Further camp coverage as well as the preseason games will continue here on Revenge of the Birds, so don’t go too far!

For more takes and reactions, the Revenge of the Birds podcast has a great breakdown below of camp so far to listen to as well at the bottom of the article.

Take care, and Rise Up, Red Sea!