FLAGSTAFF, AZ - Craig Fouhy spent some time in Flagstaff with the Cardinals at Training Camp getting to know a little bit about the upcoming season and reflections on last year.
The team has yet to make a decision on who will be this year’s quarterback, but nevertheless the team expects huge improvements over the previous season.
“It gets on us quick. It was the only way that we could work out the practice for the fans,” said Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt about the Red and White practice, which falls after just three practices. “It’s such a big deal to get so many people up there and it’s such a great atmosphere, even though it’s a little bit on the short side as far as practice goes.”
Whisenhunt said that he’s glad the team got the Red and White practice was worked out because the Hall of Fame game altered the schedule enough itself.
“It will allow us to at least look like we know what we’re doing,” Whisenhunt said.
The Running for Quarterback
Two players are currently competing for quarterback and during the off-season they’re working towards consistency and for a chance to prove their talents past practice.
In terms of practice, the Cardinals weren’t even sure if there was going to be a season.
They were then faced with a group of players who had “never set foot on anything before,” including a quarterback.
“There was a period from day to day where we didn’t know if they could practice or not. There was a lot thrown at (the team) at to be able to process that and be successful,” said Whisenhunt. “Do we expect for us to be better? Yeah, we all do. It was tough. The real test is going to be where we go this year.”
Whisenhunt said deciding on a quarterback is an important decision.
John Skelton showed potential and finished strong and Kevin Kolb played very well against Dallas.
“There’s no question in my mind they’re more comfortable with the offense,” said Whisenhunt. In terms of skills it takes to be a quarterback, he “saw improvement with that. The next test is for them to be able to put on pads and do it in that type of environment.”
In order for Kolb to continue to improve, he needs to work on the “language” of calling plays.
“He wasn’t getting a vision of the play and that makes it a lot harder to operate. Hopefully we’re speaking the same language this year and everything will be more efficient,” said Whisenhunt.
Improving the Team
The Cardinals drafted wide receiver Michael Floyd to provide some relief for Larry Fitzgerald, who said he’s on the downhill side of his career.
“Larry has grown as a player and as a leader. When you’re best players are doing that, that’s what gives you a chance. In his mind, I don’t think he feels like he’s on the downhill side. If you look at the numbers then you have to statistically believe he doesn’t have as many years left,” said Whisenhunt.
“(Floyd) physically has the talent to…take pressure off Larry (and) with a number of our different receivers, especially with Todd Watkins when he’s healthy. Jeff King did a great job for us last year. All of that can work together.”
Andre Roberts and Early Ducett are also key players in this sense for the Cardinals.
Whisenhunt says that being more efficient as an entire team can help them get to where they want to be.
Offensive Point of View
Adam Snyder, new to the team from the 49ers, said that a lot of camp revolves around extensive hours of practice, focus on technique and getting respect from teammates and coaches.
“With as much as we do on offense, we want guys that are going to grasp the offense and grow. I think last year we struggled with that early in the season with transition of new (players) and the lockout, a short season, we kind of hit our stride about halfway through the season. We started to figure things out. I think this year we’re tenfold where we were last year,” said Daryn Colledge.
Colledge noted that last year the team didn’t really work together- quarterbacks and the offensive line were on a completely different page- and they’re hoping to reverse that this year.
As far as the battle for who is going to be quarterback, Snyder said that often times, having two players in the same position can pose problems, but the Cardinals now have two players who are willing to put it on the line.
“It’s a pretty good situation to be in,” Snyder said. “We love both guys. They both want to be the guy that helps us win.”
On the Defense
Whisenhunt admitted that the team made a lot of defensive mistakes and gave up plays early on in the season.
The Cardinals have set their minds on becoming more confident in lining up together and making fewer mistakes.
“We have the guys who can make plays and be successful.”
Whisenhunt agrees that Greg Toler, Kerry Rhodes, Adrian Wilson, Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield are among those with huge potential, and Patrick Peterson has the motivation to be the best defensive back in the league.
“There’s going to be some really strong battles in training camp... Ultimately that