You spend the time after the Super Bowl waiting for the draft combine. You spend the time after the combine waiting for the draft. After the draft, you think OTA’s and mini-camp will help you push through — but that doesn’t do enough for you. The offseason drags waiting for training camp. Finally, it’s game time.
Oh sure, after the third preseason game, I will be sick of meaningless football and want the regular season to get started, but Friday night, when the Cardinals open the preseason against the Raiders, is a much more tangible sign that the wait is over.
Here’s what has stood out to me watching practice in the first two weeks of Cardinals training camp.
D.J. Humphries has a long way to go to justify being a first-round pick, but he isn’t far from becoming a productive starter. No matter how much practice time a player earns, nothing is like a game. Humphries has to be allowed to get on the field and learn from his mistakes. The catch is he plays a position where one mistake could end the Cardinals’ Super Bowl hopes if Carson Palmer is injured after Humphries is stampeded.
Humphries earned the right to get to Friday night with no competition for his job. His performance against the Raiders will determine whether that same luxury continues.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Rookie Evan Boehm has been a major disappointment. It’s not to say he can’t play. Boehm may develop into an outstanding NFL center. Two weeks into his first NFL training camp will not determine whether or not he can become a legend. However, two weeks were plenty long enough to know he’s simply not ready.
There’s a big difference between disappointment and bust. Disappointment is only a temporary condition. Being a bust means a player was either a result of bad scouting or he failed to fulfill fair expectations. Boehm just looks like a player trying to figure out what is the right decision. While he’s deciding, someone else is running him backward. Right now, Boehm is thinking and not playing. It might take a few games or a season for Boehm to begin naturally reacting.
THERE ARE TWO BROWNS
Any Cardinals fan has seen glimpses of Jaron Brown. Most know he can play, but he looks better this year. Certainly, Brown won’t vault to No. 2 status or anything remotely close, however, I do think this will be his best year. He needs to back up his camp with good preseason games.
I don’t know what happened in New England. I’ve read the reports like you. “The Chandler Jones incident” is a large red flag. Watching him play, though, it immediately strikes you that it only cost a second-round pick. Jones practices hard. The outside linebacker Arizona acquired from the Patriots challenges tackle Jared Veldheer every practice. If he plays as hard as he practices, the Cardinals will reap a huge reward.
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