Arizona Cardinals Training Camp 2012
Each year thousands of Arizona Cardinals fans flock to Flagstaff to see the team take the field to train at Northern Arizona University. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King ranked the Cardinals training camp among “My Top 5 Training Camps: Places to Get Up Close and Personal with NFL Players.”
The AZ Cardinals will return to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on July 24 and begin practice the following afternoon on July 25. In all, the team will conduct a total of 21 practices during their stay in Flagstaff. On Saturday, July 28 the Cardinals will host a special “Red & White” outdoor practice from 11:30AM to 1:20PM. Weather permitting, the practice will be preceded by an outdoor full-team autograph session for children 12 and under (10:45AM-11:10AM) and conclude with a live goal-line session. The Cardinals will also have a night practice on Wednesday, August 1 from 7:15PM to 9:15PM at the Lumberjack Stadium. All other practices in Flagstaff will be held on the grass fields adjacent to the NAU Walkup Skydome.
Admission and parking are both free. Select Cardinals’ players and coaches will be available following each outdoor practice to sign autographs as they come off the field. I encourage you to check the team’s official website azcardinals.com for the most up-to-date practice information. Remember In the event of inclement weather, practices will be moved indoors. And as we all know the weather in Flagstaff is very unpredictable during the monsoon season.
Here are some position battles to look at as you watch training camp.
Quarterback: This will be the position everyone will talk about all camp long; both fans and media. Who’s going to start? Will it be John Skelton or Kevin Kolb or? It might come down to the quarterback who has the best showing in camp and preseason. I am sure Coach Ken Whisenhunt will make the right decision
Running Back: Are Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams healthy? Can they remain healthy all season? Wells was limited in the second half of the 2011 season by a knee injury that required surgery after the season. He did not practice this off-season. Williams missed all of his rookie season with a knee injury but he has told both the media and the coaches that he is ready. LaRod Stephens-Howling doesn’t have the size to be a No. 1 back but is an excellent situational running back. What happens if Wells and Williams are slowed up due to their injuries, would you be happy with Javarris James? Alfonso Smith? Or William Powell as your running backs?
Offensive Line: This is the most interesting battle. The Cardinals allowed 54 sacks on their quarterback last season. The second-highest total in the NFL to only St. Louis with 55. Kolb went down 30 times; Skelton went down 23 times; and Rich Bartel went down once. Adam Snyder, a free agent from the 49ers, already seems like a good fit at right guard. The right tackle position is undecided. Jeremy Bridges is starting there for now but rookie Bobby Massie is expected to make a big push for the job. Massie is one of three offensive linemen that the Cardinals drafted this year. The Cardinals did not draft any offensive linemen the last two years.
Secondary: The only thing fans know at this point is that Patrick Peterson will start. He started slowly as a cornerback last year as he learned the NFL game. There are four good contenders for the other starting position. William Gay, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson and rookie Jamell Fleming. Toler missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but his recovery is on schedule. There are too many cornerbacks and too few roster spots, but that’s a good problem to have. It’s a passing league and quality cornerbacks are at a premium. If the Cardinals stay healthy at this spot, they are either going to have to trade a corner or two, or end up cutting someone who can play elsewhere. The safety positions are well-stocked with Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes as the starters and Rashad Johnson and James Sanders as the main backups.
But, we all know, when it comes to training camps all jobs are up for grabs. So take a drive to Flagstaff and enjoy the cool weather and experience the 2012 Arizona Cardinals training camp.