Arizona Cardinals’ depth at cornerback seen as a strength
GLENDALE, Ariz. — At the start of training camp, Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians mentioned all 22 starting jobs were open except quarterback (Carson Palmer), a certain wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) “and one corner” referring to Patrick Peterson.
So, what about the other corner? Which of the other eight cornerbacks currently on the rosters will start opposite Peterson?
More than a week into camp, it’s been four-year veteran Jerraud Powers holding down the job.
“He’s the starting point right now,” cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross said.
Added quarterback Carson Palmer, “Powers is phenomenal. He’s so smart, so intuitive.”
Powers, who turned 26 last month, spent the past four seasons in Indianapolis.
“I honestly say, besides quarterback, corner is probably the hardest position to play. That’s because you’re matched up with probably the best skilled person on the team on the outside,” he said. “Whenever you’re out there on that island by yourself and you feel like all eyes are on you, you’ve got to be a confident player to do it. If you’re not confident, you won’t last long in this league.”
Aside from Powers, the other cornerbacks vying for playing time include former UA standout Antoine Cason, who left San Diego after five seasons and Javier Arenas, acquired in a trade with Kansas City.
All three have starting experience.
“You want as many good corners as you can possibly have on this team,” said Powers, who started 42 games with the Colts. “At the end of the day, we all know we’re going to play. Everybody in there is going to prepare as the starter, anyway. I’m trying to push Pat. I want that title of the No. 1 corner. We all want to be the best, and to be the best, that’s competition.”
Add Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming, Josh Hill, Bryan McCann and Ronnie Yell and the depth at cornerback is one of the Cardinals’ bigger strengths.
“You can never have enough corners,” Ross said. “Guys go down. People come out with four wide receivers these days. It’s important to have guys like we have right now. It’s pretty good depth right there.”
Powers called it a “healthy competition” among the group, adding they are all learning from one another.
“That’s what makes the secondary so good,” he said. “We got a lot of guys that have played a lot of ball. We talk about techniques. Me taking something that Cason do to my game and Cason might be taking something Pat do and Javy the same way. It’s just been fun just picking each other’s brains a lot. I think we’ve gotten off to an excellent start to get to where we want to be at the end of the year.”
How they’ll all line up at the start of the year, however, remains undecided.
“The job is wide open,” Ross said. “You can’t really evaluate until you start getting in game situations. That’s when you start evaluating those guys and see what happens.”