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Shhh...Don’t Tell Anyone...

Cleveland Browns v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Background: GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 15: Head coach Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals peers out over his play chart during the first half of the NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns at State Farm Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.

Can you read Kliff Kingsbury’s lips?

Of course not.

For the next few weeks, Kliff Kingsbury will be able to shield his lips with far more than just his laminated play sheet.

Call it a bubble.

Call it a castle with a moat.

Call it a cocoon.

Or for old-time Get Smart fans like myself—-call it “The Cone of Silence.”

“Right, Chief?”

“Did you say something, Max?”

Thus far, among the paltry tidbits of info that Kingsbury has shared with the Arizona media and famished Cardinals’ fans, he has claimed that preparing for this unique NFL season without having any pre-season games won’t be any different than how he prepared his Red Raiders for their season openers at Texas Tech.

K2 has a good point.

Kingsbury was 6-1 in his season openers at Texas Tech—-with wins over Northwestern St. (2012: 44-6 W), SMU (2013: 41-23 W), Central Arkansas (2014: 42-35 W), Sam Houston St. (2015: 59-45 W), Stephen F. Austin (2016: 69-17 W), Eastern Washington (2017: 53-10 W) and Mississippi (2018: 27-47 L).

One of the fun things for a college head coach during the pre-season is to keep the talent of his new players as much of a secret as possible. Same for all of the new plays the team has installed on offense and the new blitz and coverage changes on defense—-plus there is always the excitement of sprinting out a brand new, electrifying kickoff and punt returner.

As private Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. loved to infuriate to Sergeant Carter, “Surprise! Surpise! Surprise!”

Well, for Kliff Kingsbury, he hopes to surprise the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara in all three phases of the game, following the Cardinals’ two close losses (25-28 Home and 26-36 Away) to the 2019 NFC Champions.

In the meantime, for those of us Cardinals’ fans who are eager to know how the players are doing and how the team is cohering—-expect nothing but crickets.

No, you will not be able to hear Kingsbury’s say “Andy Isabella has been crushing it every practice.”

Not gonna hear, “We took a look at Isaiah Simmons on the edge today and man, you wouldn’t believe what we saw.”

Nor are we going to hear, “Ryan Winslow is neck and neck with Andy Lee for the punting job.”

Nor—-”as for Chris Streveler, we have a special wildcat package with him at RB. This dude runs over people.”

We are already just a few days into the 17 day “warm up” period of camp and the Cardinals just announced that Marcus Gilbert and Maxx Williams, the team’s projected starters at RT and TE have been placed on the non COVID-19/non football injury/illness list.

No one in the media thus far has a clue as to what Gilbert’s and Williams’ situations are.

Shhh....don’t tell anyone.

The hardest one to connect the dots on is Marcus Gilbert’s situation—-because one of the most interesting tidbits of info from Kingsbury thus far has been his avowal that the team is planning to move him right back in as the starting RT. The innuendo of K2’s statement was that Gilbert is now healthy and ready to roll.

So, whassup with Gilbert, now?

Perhaps this gives us a better idea as to why the Cardinals recently signed UFA T Kelvin Beachum.

Meanwhile as the warm up period continues, the first day of full pads and live contact is in two weeks, on August 17th.

Apparently the NFL is moving up the opt-out date to early this week. Thus far, the Cardinals have yet to have any player opt out. Will that change over the next day or two?

For teams like the Patriots who have already had 7 players opt out, they will be doing their best to gather intel from the camps of the other 31 teams so that they can pounce on some much needed depth and replacement starters when the teams trim their rosters to 53 players.

The art of spying will never be more tested than this pre-season.

Obviously, this is one of the major reasons why the NFL GMs and coaches want to be as hush-hush as possible about the players they will be hoping to re-sign to the new 16 man practice squad.

However, the one thing the GM and the coaches cannot control is the inevitable lobbying the players’ agents are going to wage in order to try to get teams to sign their clients to 53 man roster spots.

In fact, the most rumored info about players is going to come from players’ agents.

Bubble players will be keeping their agents informed about how they are doing in camp—-and thus it will make it even harder for teams to hide players they want to waive and then stash on the practice squad.

It is, therefore, reasonable to predict that teams will be more apt to protect their younger talent over veterans and that we will see more veterans on practice squads than ever before, especially now that teams can activate a practice squad player for two games and not have to expose him to waivers when sending him back down.

Welcome my friends to the Cone of Silence!

Can you hear me, Chief?