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Four-Down Territory: What Doug & Wolf are watching for at Cards camp

Running back David Johnson #31 and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona Cardinals practice during team OTA's at the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center on May 29, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals have arrived for 2019 Training Camp at State Farm Stadium.

With a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury and a rookie quarterback in Kyler Murray, there’s plenty to be intrigued about as the season gets going. But beyond the obvious, what else is there to see?

The hosts of Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station discussed on Thursday — the first day of practice — what they were most looking forward to seeing at camp.

Here’s what they said in a segment called Four Down Territory, where each host took turns listing four things, lightly edited here for brevity:

Doug Franz:

1) “I want to see exactly how much the Cardinals are working on shifting and motions now. I’m assuming it’s going to be four wide most of the time. I want to know, how often are you actually showing everything pre-snap in day one?”

2) “Not only today but every single day for me, my eyes are on Patrick Peterson. I would actually play Patrick Peterson a ton in the first week and a half or so, and I’d run him with the ones [first team]. Because I want the guys who are young to do one of two things: I want them to see Patrick Peterson on the field and, why not get him used to everything on the field and get him used to this defense? I would play him early. But after about a week and a half, I’m sending him all the way to second or third team.

“Imagine how easy it would be to get these young receivers ready if they’ve got to go against Patrick Peterson, because he’s running with the threes? And, that’s giving me a week and a half to get the Byron Murphy’s up to speed to run with the ones. I’m watching Patrick Peterson.”

3) “Granted, I saw a little in OTAs, I saw a little in mini-camp — but I’ll just never forget the transition of watching a Ken Wisenhunt practice, and with all due respect, to a Dennis Erickson practice. To watch a college practice on the same day I watched an NFL practice, it punched me in the face like, man, one’s fast, one’s slow. My third down is simply, for the first day of practice, watching Kliff Kingsbury run his first NFL training camp practice. How quickly do they go from drill to drill? How smooth is everything?”

4) “I am looking at this every day of camp and specifically today: Hakeem Butler, can you catch? I think you can be a monster. I think you can be a monster. And I even mean statistically. And the way you fight for every ball at Iowa State that was high-point, alley-oop above your head, you were fantastic at that. But just can you run the dig, “BOOM!” and then catch it? Can you run a slant and then the ball’s on you like lightning, and you catch it? Hakeem Butler, other than your family, I’m your biggest fan. But please, there’s one thing a receiver has to do: Catch the ball.”

Paul Calvisi:

1) “Speaking of wide, I want to see the wide receivers not named Larry and Christian Kirk make plays, make catches, make DBs look stupid. Day one, we need to see evidence that there are legitimate receiving weapons beyond the top two, because that’s what this offense is predicated on: Getting the ball out quick and getting to guys who can make plays. Do they have those guys? I want to see evidence of it right away.”

2) “I’ll keep one eye on Pat, but I’m also keeping the other eye on everyone not named Robert Alford. And Kliff Kingsbury mentioned some of those names, including Chris Jones.”

3) “The O-Line we see today, I want to see next month, I want to see in December. I want to see the same five guys all season long. When the Cardinals made the Super Bowl run, did they have a great offensive line? Everybody now, “no!” But they had the same five guys all year long. Just don’t have it be a turnstile this year. Just give me that same five and let them be.”

4) “David Johnson. Who are you? How are you going to be used? What will you mean to the Cardinals’ offense? Sadly, tragically, a year ago he meant next to nothing because they used him so incorrectly. Maybe the worst stat — and there were tons of heinous stats on offense a year ago — was the Cardinals were dead last when it came to David Johnson in yards before contact. Get him in space, get him the football and let’s see what he can do.”

Ron Wolfley:

1) “How many people actually show up today? I’m serious. The Cardinals were 3-13 last year. We know how bad it was. It was as bad as bad gets. And yet, I am very, very interested to see how many people, how much the Red Sea is actually going to turn up today to watch Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. That, to me, as the football universe continues to morph, how many people are showing up today to watch us practice?”

2) “My second down of four-down territory has got to be Byron Murphy. Where do they line him up day one? … Are they going to put him in the slot? Are they going to put him out on the perimeter? To me, I think it’s going to be the slot and that’s where I would start it. To your point, in regard to Patrick Peterson, right, that’s what I would do. I would start Pat P out, obviously, with the first team. and I’d get my defense established. And then I’d slowly taper that off. (…)”

3) “Alright Basinonians, my third down of Four Down Territory has got to be how predominant is 10 personnel going to be today? As we go out in the coming days — that’s one back, of course, no tight end, four wide receivers — 10 personnel. How predominant is that going to be? How much 11 personnel are we going to see? The Kansas City Chiefs love 11 personnel. But do you know why they love 11 personnel? [Travis Kelce]. They’ve got a guy out there that’s a glorified wide receiver who can actually get the job done at the point of attack as well. That’s what makes him so special. How much 11 personnel? Will there be any 12 personnel — one back and two tight ends — today? Will there be any of that? We’ll see.”

4) “How much tempo? My fourth down for Four Down Territory is going to be how much tempo they use today. And how pronounced that tempo is. Is it a hurry-up offense? Or is it a no-huddle offense? What is it?”

Doug & Wolf

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