The Arizona Cardinals can be a “much better team” if they find the right mix of players at the skill positions, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com.
In an article previewing the four teams of the NFC West division, Rosenthal takes a look at which players will emerge at running back and at the No. 2 wide receiver position for the Cardinals.
After Larry Fitzgerald, last year’s first-round draft pick, Michael Floyd, and Andre Roberts are battling for the team’s other starting job at wide receiver. (They both should play plenty.) At running back, Rashard Mendenhall enters camp as The Man while Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington all try to unseat him. The position is representative of the Cardinals as a whole: A lot more dangerous than conventional wisdom suggests.
Roberts is entering his fourth year and caught 64 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games last year. Floyd, a second-year pro, had a solid rookie campaign with 45 receptions for 562 yards and two touchdowns while playing all 16 games. Both receivers struggled with dropped passes during the disappointing 5-11 season.
The newly acquired Mendenhall rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season twice during his six years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he played in only six games last season and failed to score a touchdown in 51 carries. Williams sat out his entire rookie season due to injury and then injured his shoulder five games into the 2012 season. He also did not score a touchdown in 58 carries last season. Taylor and Ellington are rookies (5th- and 6th-round draft picks, respectively).
Also in the NFC West preview, Rosenthal has high praise for the Cardinals’ defense and the team’s off-season acquisitions at quarterback.
The Cardinals’ defense quietly holds enough talent to be a top-10 unit. The quarterback position got a big upgrade, even if you aren’t a fan of Carson Palmer.
The Cardinals also signed quarterback Drew Stanton in the off-season, who is expected to back up Palmer, a two-time Pro Bowler. The 29-year-old Stanton has appeared in 12 NFL games in his three year career, completing 55.6 percent of his passes for 1,158 yards with five touchdowns and nine interceptions. Palmer is entering his 11th season and has passed topped 4,000 passing yards in a season three times, including last year with the Oakland Raiders.