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Whisenhunt: ‘Offense is building chemistry’

Whether it be Kevin Kolb or John Skelton lining up under center, the Cardinals’ offense will be a force to be reckoned with.

At least, that’s what we hope for.

But as the Cardinals’ annual Red and White practice showed on Saturday, the offense embarrassed themselves in front of a record crowd of 14,500 fans. Skelton’s time under center could only muster a field goal, and although Kolb led the team to a touchdown, he threw two interceptions during his reps.

Nevertheless, head coach Ken Whisenhunt believes his team is just going through the offensive growing pains that occur in every training camp.

“I think you have to temper it with the fact that it was our third day of practice in pads, so it was sloppy,” Whisenhunt said on Monday. “They’re struggling a little bit offensively when you first get into camp. They were not happy with the way they performed and that’s a good thing.”

Ideally, the Cardinals will improve on their offensive rankings from last season. Although the team featured a 1,000-yard runner in Beanie Wells and Larry Fitzgerald racked up 1,411 yards receiving, the Cardinals finished in the bottom half of the league in major offensive per-game categories, including total yards (19th), passing yards (17th), rushing yards (24th), scoring (24th) and sacks allowed (31st).

The messy display of the offense will hopefully be ironed out come September 9th’s season-opener against Seattle. Until then, the Cardinals have the preseason to work on their deficiencies, beginning with Sunday’s Hall of Fame game against New Orleans.

“Regardless of whether we’re running the football, passing the football or spreading people out, we’ve got to be better on 3rd down,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve got to be efficient in the red zone and we got to have consistency.

“I think one of the things we struggled with last year was having a sustained drive early in the game.”

That weakness showed during Saturday’s contest, as both Skelton and Kolb’s first possession resulted in a three and out. But there are reasons to be optimistic about the Cardinals: after rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee and missing his rookie season, tailback Ryan Williams looked fantastic in the scrimmage, breaking off a 44-yard run before being brought down inside the 10-yard line.

Apart from Williams’ performance, Whisenhunt praised the intensity and physicality of the practice, and believes the team is on the cusp of delivering.

“I think we’re building a stronger chemistry with the group,” the coach said. “We’ve got more players that are more familiar with our offense now [but] we’ve got work yet to do.

“We’ve put a lot of work into the offseason and I’m excited to see how it goes.”