Arizona Cardinals rookies to keep tabs on during training camp
Training camp, the next NFL test for the Arizona Cardinals’ batch of rookies.
And with a few notable positions seemingly up for grabs, their play over the course of camp will be something to closely monitor.
A look at some of the intriguing names to circle on the roster sheet as rookies report to training camp on Thursday:
TE Trey McBride (No. 85)
As the highest-drafted Cardinals rookie in the class, a lot of eyes will already be on tight end and 2022 second-rounder Trey McBride.
In the small sample size that was OTAs and minicamps, McBride certainly looked the part given his route-running and overall ability as an NFL pass catcher, albeit without pads.
His athleticism with the ball in his hands will make him a threat when he’s on the field, but it’s his ability as a blocker that can really give McBride a boost in the playing-time department.
“I think I’m a very unique guy. I think I’m a guy who really can do it all,” McBride said after being drafted. “I’m a guy that can be an asset in the run game, I can go and put people on their back and make plays. And I think I’m also a guy who go out and catch balls and be a third-down tight end. … I really feel like I can do it all.”
The Cardinals were at their best when they really focused on running the rock last season and I see a heavy dose of that once again this year behind power back James Conner. Arizona ran a total of 254 plays out of 12-personnel last year, 22% of all its offensive plays ran in 2021, per Sharp Football Stats. Only 11-personnel (662; 56%) was ran more by the Cardinals.
If McBride can get up to speed in all facets of the NFL world, the rookie could very well challenge for meaningful reps early on, especially with Maxx Williams’ status up in the air following a season-ending knee injury last season.
Locking up the No. 2 tight end spot is a very real possibility for McBride.
Rondale Moore was Arizona’s standout rookie last training camp, McBride carries the best odds at taking that title this year without a doubt.
OLBs Cameron Thomas (No. 97) and Myjai Sanders (No. 41)
Cardinals OLBs Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders will likely be linked together for some time given they were both taken in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft and are vying for starter reps at pass rusher opposite Markus Golden.
There’s an obvious hole with Chandler Jones’ departure to Las Vegas, and with no clear-cut candidate to fill the void, starter reps are up for grabs between the rookies and a handful of veterans including Dennis Gardeck, Devon Kennard and Victor Dimukeje.
“I think they both have the opportunity to be long-standing guys in this league and can really step up and make a difference,” Kennard told the Big Red Rage in June.
“I’m interested to see how things go when the pads come on. … The most I can say is in the classroom they’re really starting to pick things up. That’s important.”
RB Keaontay Ingram (No. 30)
Sixth-round running back Keaontay Ingram has a tough uphill battle to claim a roster spot with the Cardinals.
With James Conner, Eno Benjamin, Darrel Williams and Jonathan Ward the four leaders in the clubhouse, Ingram has to put together a strong camp, both on offense and special teams.
Don’t be surprised if he makes a few standout plays this camp.
CB Christian Matthew (No. 35)
The Cardinals need depth at cornerback. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, seventh-round CB Christian Matthew has the size to pester opposing wideouts.
OL Lecitus Smith (No. 54)
Sixth-round pick Lecitus Smith was one of the two men tasked to take center reps with Rodney Hudson nowhere to be seen at mandatory minicamp.
Sean Harlow was said to be the backup center earlier this offseason, but could we see Smith take over those reps at camp?