NFL: AZ Cardinals 2014 Training Camp Begins
When the Arizona Cardinals open up the 2014 training camp this week there will be several interesting and aggressive roster battles for starting positions, as well as back up spots.
Here are some of the position battles I will be following during this year’s training camp:
The Cornerback position will certainly be an important one at camp this summer, with several players going at it for the backup spots. There are currently ten corner guys on the training camp roster. We already know that Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie will be the starters. Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers will be going up against each other for the main backup spot. With Tyrann Mathieu still out with an injury until after the regular season starts, this will be one of the better roster spot battles. Powers is a significant contributor in the nickel package and his smart decisions on the playing field make him a favorite of Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. Special Teams ace Justin Bethel still has more to prove, but is making strides at corner. He is getting better at understanding routes and seeing coverage. He should provide some serious competition for Powers. One guy to keep an eye on for a possible roster spot or maybe the practice roster is rookie Todd Washington from Southeastern Louisiana. He missed six games last season with a toe injury, but is coming into camp healthy. He needs to develop his press-man corner and cover skills, but he will be given a chance to work on those skills during the pre-season games, and might be a strong candidate for the practice roster, if he does not make the full 53 man roster.
Running back will be an interesting battle to watch as well. Players such as Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman are battling for possibly only one open spot. Coach Arians came out early praising Hughes, the former Norte Dame player, for his work ethic. Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league for four different teams. What will be interesting during camp is if the Cardinals want less of a big type bruiser back. If they do, then look for local hometown player and NAU Lumberjack Zach Bauman to be given an opportunity to make the team. Bauman might be considered a practice roster player if he does not make the 53 man roster. We do know whoever makes the team will be the fourth running back behind Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor.
How about at kicker? Yes kicker! The veteran Jay Feely will once again have some competition in camp. Chandler Catanzaro from Clemson and Danny Hrapmann, who went to Southern Mississippi and was in the Pittsburgh Steelers camp in 2012 and 2013, will provide that competition. Feely is expected to win the job easily, but it will still be fun to watch; because as we know NFL kickers may be subject to the most unstable careers in all of professional sports. Feely did have a solid 2013 season as he connected on 30 of 36 field goal attempts. But if you remember during the 2013 season Coach Arians brought in a kicker to push Feely. Some have speculated that Feely is not a Bruce Arians guy and others say Feely just needs competition.
There are other positions with spots up for grabs, such as the offensive line, wide receiver and even the QB position on the offensive side of the ball. On defense all eyes will be on all the linebacker positions. With Daryl Washington out for the season and Karlos Dansby gone, several players will be showcasing their talents to try and make the roster.
This isn’t to say the Cardinals aren’t going to stand pat with this current roster, things can change quickly. Players can fail physicals or sustain an injury, something we do not want to see, but it is a reality. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how camp develops and how the Cardinals coaches evaluate the players and begin to pare down their roster.
So get out to the University of Phoenix Stadium and enjoy the training camp battles for 2014.
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