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Copious Thoughts from the Dark Corners of Cards Camp: Under the Lights

Disclaimers are something I’m not particularly fond of, but in certain
situations they are imperative. This is one of those situations: evaluating
the Cardinals night practice at Lumberjack Stadium without the aid of film
and without the comfort of knowing the play call is a non sequitur, a logical

Having said this, the Cardinals offense is going to be a work in progress.
Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have not distinguished themselves from the
other and no one expected them to do so at this point of training camp.
The running back situation is a little gimpy with Beanie Wells rehabbing his
knee and Ryan Williams slowly making his way back from a torn patella
suffered during last year’s training camp. The offensive line has two new
starters and is learning to play together; and this component of a football
team is usually the last to come together. So far, the receivers have flashed
and appear to be one of the deepest positions on the team.

The quarterback competition has not been very…competitive. Both
quarterbacks have put together good practices; Both quarterbacks have
struggled during practice. Neither QB seemed to pull away from the other
during the Red & White Practice on Saturday. Before the night practice, Kolb
had put together a couple of nice practices and John Skelton looked erratic.

But Skelton seemed to have a better night at Lumberjack Stadium than
Kolb. Although he was working with the twos, Skelton seemed more
accurate and completed some nice passes. He did not throw an
interception. And this might be the most important criterion used to
evaluate the competition.

Kolb threw two interceptions in Team Pass (11-on-11). Both picks were
products of deflections. Patrick Peterson picked off a ball that was tipped at
the line of scrimmage, stepping in front of Andre Roberts on what
appeared to be a curl route (4-route). The other pick came off a scramble,
with Kolb moving to his left, that bounced off the arms of Ryan Williams
and into the arms of William Gay. Kolb also seemed to struggle at times in
finding receivers.

It seems clear that the Cards defense is ahead of the offense at this point
in training camp and that’s no surprise. Traditionally, that’s the way camp
unfolds and it has everything to do with initiative: the offense must act and
the defense reacts. The onus is on the offense to execute the play, to force
the action, and if there is a single breakdown the odds of running a
successful play evaporates.

But there is something else: the defense seems to have a swagger and is
playing with the conviction of knowing they could be something special.
This defense has weapons.

David Carter was a beam of light in the night. He might be listed as a
backup to Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Dan Williams but the
Cardinals really have four starters on the D-line. Carter is the perfect sub
and can play anywhere across the board. It takes a football player to be
capable of playing over a tackle, guard or center and David Carter is a
football player.

Sam Acho is developing his pass rush. I saw Acho use a couple of
techniques that were impressive, but during one-on-one with the O-line I
saw him do something special. Acho has developed a spin move that is as
good as I’ve seen an outside backer execute. Every pass rusher needs a
“go-to” move, and the quickness and technique Acho displayed has me
thinking there’s much more to Sammy than meets the eye. This kid should
have a very good season.

Bobby Massie caught my eye in one-on-one as well. O’Brien Schofield has
worked Massie pretty hard the past week and even embarrassed him.
Massie didn’t get beat once in the drill and seems to be using his hands
and technique better. He shut O’Brien down.

The night practice ended with a goal-line scrimmage. This is a thing of
beauty. Twenty-two bodies jammed inside 20-square feet. Cramming this
bodies into such a confined area is hazardous to your health. The smell
alone is one of the nastiest things about it, an odor you’ll never forget. It’s
like playing a game of Twister with sumo wrestlers and bad hygiene.
Although I have no idea who played well and who didn’t, the defense did a
nice job and seemed to control the line of scrimmage.

The offense has work to do, which is normal for this time of year, and the
defense seems to be building on last year’s successes. Reps are at a
premium as the Cards prepare to play New Orleans on Sunday. And once
the Hall of Fame Game is played we’ll all have a much better idea of where
this team is and where it needs to go.

Disclaimers suck buttermilk but are necessary when film and play calls are
nowhere to be found. But based on what I saw the Hall of Fame Game can’t
come soon enough.