Doug & Wolf’s bold Cardinals preseason predictions
The checklist for the Arizona Cardinals’ preseason is lengthy.
Learn a new offense. Learn a new defense. Develop physicality. Help quarterback Sam Bradford find a rhythm. Prep rookie quarterback Josh Rosen for the reason. Find a No. 2 receiver. Determine how to best utilize a defense that has returning playmakers at every level.
First-year coach Steve Wilks has just more than a month before the regular season begins to get through that list. The Cardinals have four preseason games to accelerate that process.
Doug & Wolf of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, plus Paul Calvisi, needed two segments to make a series of bold preseason predictions, setting the tone for the rest of training camp and the preseason. Here are what Doug Franz, Ron Wolfley and Calvisi are banking on happening before the regular season begins on Sept. 9 at home against the Washington Redskins.
Wolf: Chad Williams wins the battle for No. 2 receiver
After Larry Fitzgerald, it’s an open competition at receiver.
Williams enters his second season with just three catches and 31 yards to his name after Arizona drafted him in the third round out of Grambling State, but Williams appears to be right in the mix with veterans like Brice Butler, J.J. Nelson and Greg Little, not to mention rookie Christian Kirk.
Doug: Josh Rosen will throw a preseason pick before a touchdown
There’s hype around Rosen. He’s the quarterback of the future. But Franz thinks it’ll get off to a rough start.
Wolf: Offensive lineman Mason Cole will develop faster than any rookie in camp
Calvisi: J.J. Nelson will squarely be on the bubble and will sweat out the final cuts
As a speedy deep threat in Arians’ old offense, Nelson must prove he can compete with defensive backs on more intermediate routes as he matures.
Though he caught 29 balls for 508 yards a year ago, he must also improve his consistency in terms of making the catch.
Wolf: T.J. Logan will lead the Cardinals in rushing this preseason
The Cardinals’ fifth-round pick in 2017 looked like an impact rookie early on in camp a year ago.
He rushed just four times for 24 yards and brought a punt and two kick returns back in Arizona’s first 2017 preseason game before the 5-foot-10 running back injured his wrist, ending his season before it even began.
Again ready to fight for a role behind running back David Johnson and in the return game, Wolfley believes the North Carolina product can compete with rookie Chase Edmonds for the backup running back gig in 2018.
“Boy does he look good,” Wolfley said. “You watch him out there at practice, the speed, the explosion is there.”
Calvisi: Ricky Seals-Jones will firmly establish himself as the third-best offensive weapon
The tight end caught 12 passes for 201 yards and three scores as a rookie.
A converted receiver, he has a chance to become a weapon with veteran Jermaine Gresham on the PUP list and a receiver group that’s not expected to do much.
Doug: The offense will be complete and utter trash through the preseason games
It’s a steep learning curve for Arizona under new offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. And with the first team offense incrementally getting more run through the preseason, it could take a bit before the team finds continuity.
“You got a new right side of the offensive line, you got a new scheme for David Johnson to learn in pass-pro, you’ve got a new quarterback and a new offensive coordinator,” Franz said. “Fans will go absolutely nuts, but because of who they have in Mike McCoy, they’ll get it figured out, and it’ll look dramatically different against the Redskins than it did in the preseason.”
Wolf: The Cards will have more undrafted rookie free agents make the roster than any year in the Bruce Arians era
Wolfley believes Vanderbilt receiver Trent Sherfield, Sioux Falls University linebacker Dennis Gardeck and Washington safety Zeke Turner have a shot of landing on the Cardinals’ 53-man roster.
Doug: Sherfield makes the 53-man roster
Doug: Fans will raise $100,000 for the 100 Club of Arizona on Saturday
Arizona will raise funds for the 100 Club of Arizona during the Red & White Practice Saturday with a barbecue at 12:30 p.m. and through a 50/50 raffle during the practice, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium.
“The more and more people that find out if they’re eating the barbecue or playing the 50/50, that that’s where the money’s going, they’re going to come with cash in hand,” Franz said.
The fundraiser will benefit Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper Tyler Edenhofer’s family after he was killed in the line of duty on July 25. It will also support troopers Sean Rodecap and Dalin Dorris, who were injured in the same roadside shooting.
Calvisi: Second-year safety Rudy Ford will establish himself as a special teams Pro Bowl possibility
Wolf: The Cardinals will institutionalize the fullback in this offense — and keep TWO fullbacks
Signing Derrick Coleman made it clear the Cardinals would bring back the fullback — former coach Bruce Arians didn’t use one — to enhance their downhill attack.
Wolfley doesn’t think Wilks stops there.
“If in fact you’re going to have a fullback on your team, why in the world would you go with four tight ends?” he asked. “Maybe you go with three tight ends and two fullbacks. Elijhaa Penny right now, from what I’ve seen, he’s picking up the blocking aspect of being a fullback pretty well.”
Penny, listed at 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, is a running back by trade who rushed 31 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns last year.
Doug: DT Robert Nkemdiche gets flagged first for violating the NFL’s new helmet-to-helmet contact rules