Camp K notes: Cardinals want ‘biggest human’ Leki Fotu to be a bully
It remains to be seen what 2019 fourth-round pick Leki Fotu can provide for the Arizona Cardinals this season.
Corey Peters and Jordan Phillips are givens for the defensive line, while Zach Allen and Jonathan Bullard are likely contributors at end. The Cardinals are trying to allow their two rookie defensive tackles, Fotu and Rashard Lawrence, to play catch-up.
What we do know about Fotu is this: He’s a big, big man.
“Leki’s the biggest person I’ve ever seen,” said Phillips, who sees himself daily and is listed as 6-foot-6 and 341 pounds. “I don’t get around people that make me feel small. You just look at him, how are you this big, how do you move this well?”
On Thursday, defensive line coach Brentson Buckner echoed the similarities between Fotu and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Vita Vea. Arizona general manager Steve Keim made that comparison back in April, and Buckner coached Vea in 2018.
Fotu has a learning curve. He is making a switch from a two-gap defense at Utah to a more aggressive rushing role for an Arizona defense led by coordinator Vance Joseph.
The key to unlocking Fotu’s athleticism, Buckner said, is reworking his body to play a more explosive position after the lineman mostly played as a nose tackle at Utah.
“He wants to be coached. Even when he’s right, he’s trying to find me a way to tell him he’s wrong,” Buckner said of Fotu.
“The thing I want with him, I said, ‘Leki, this is what I want you to realize: You’re going to be one of the biggest men in the NFL. You’re stronger than everybody. Be a bully. It’s free to be a bully in the NFL. Realize can’t nobody whoop you. Be a bully, get mad, tear somebody’s arm off.”
— Receiver Christian Kirk, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and Phillips were not present during the team’s open portion of practice. Right guard J.R. Sweezy and backup offensive tackle Brett Toth were present but not participating. It is likely that those players were taking veterans days off, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t available to reporters after Thursday practice.
— Yes, receiver DeAndre Hopkins was again at practice as he continues to slowly ramp up action while dealing with left hamstring tightness.
— Arizona coaches and players have said the pace at this year’s camp might be faster than last year’s for two reasons: 1) Because it’s the second year in the offense and 2 (Kingsbury wants to up the tempo just to get his guys in shape to hit the ground running without a preseason.
“It’s crazy fast,” Phillips said of the offensive pace. “Kliff has them doing stuff that is going to give anybody problems. Without giving anything away, it’s just fast. It’s something I’ve never experienced before in training camp.”