3 big things to watch as the Arizona Cardinals open training camp

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-28 14:37:28-04

The Arizona Cardinals report to training camp Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium to begin their pursuit of the first Super Bowl ring in franchise history.

Here's what you need to know if you plan to head to Glendale to watch the team practice.

Here are some of the top storylines to keep an eye on heading into this year's camp.

1. Badger Watch.

Tyrann Mathieu is one of four players who will open training camp on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list due to the ACL tear he suffered late last season. Players are eligible to come off the PUP list at any time -- and on Tuesday, the Honey Badger said he doesn't expect an extended stay.

Indeed, Mathieu's rehab appears to be ahead of schedule, and with the Cardinals losing two key contributors in their secondary to free agency, they'll need a healthy Badger heading into the regular season. Will the 2015 All-Pro selection be cleared to return to action during training camp -- and will he be close to 100 percent heading into the games that count in September?

2. Which rookies will stand out?

As well-rounded a team as the Cardinals were last season, they came up short in their ability to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The team drafted defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche with their first-round pick to help rectify that. Will the 6-foot-4, 300-pounder make an immediate impact and nab a starting job heading into the regular season?

Another rookie who seems to have a chance to start right away is the Cardinals' fourth-round pick, center Evan Boehm, who's expected to compete with eighth-year pro A.Q. Shipley, and possibly fourth-year pro Earl Watford, for that job. This will be another classic rookie-trying-to-unseat-the-veteran storyline to watch, and it should be a good one.

3. Will Humphries get over the hump?

Speaking of the offensive line, the Cardinals are hoping last year's first-round pick will make an impact on the field in 2016 after not seeing any regular-season action during his rookie season. Right tackle D.J. Humphries wasn't deemed ready for NFL play last year, but the team expects him to take a step forward heading into his second pro season.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder has been training hard during the offseason in order to earn a starting job on this year's team. Will he begin to look like the man Bruce Arians & Co. hoped he would become when they took a chance on him with the 24th overall pick in 2015?