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Cardinals camp report: Revamped roster gives reason for hope

Pat Kirwan recently visited Cardinals camp in Flagstaff, Ariz. Here's what he saw.

Observation deck

1. The Cardinals are much better at tight end.  Even in the Super Bowl season, Arizona didn't scare anyone at tight end. The Cardinals have added veterans Todd Heap and Jeff King, and are high on rookie Rob Housler. They are working on some very interesting offensive packages using multiple tight ends.

2. Dan Williams has to get in shape. The Cardinals really don't have an answer at nose tackle if Williams doesn't get it together. He looked good on tape during the practices but can't sustain his play. Panic has yet to set in, especially since former Steelers coaches now with the Cardinals remember that Casey Hampton came to camp in poor shape and needed the preseason to get physically ready for the season.

3. The right side of the offensive line has work to do. From the center to the left tackle, the Cardinals look ready to go under the direction of position coach Russ Grimm. The right side of guard Deuce Lutui (overweight) and tackle Brandon Keith (coming off a knee injury) needs to improve to solidify the line. Kolb has had a decent pocket to throw from, but the Cardinals need more up front.

4. Second-year guys looking good. Two players from the 2010 draft look ready to make a move. Linebacker Daryl Washington is playing fast and will be disruptive. Wide receiver Andre Roberts has gone from a guy who probably shouldn't have made the team as a rookie to a probable starter.

5. Adrian Wilson's health is a concern. He has a torn right biceps tendon and no one is sure that he will play in 2011. At this point, there's some optimism that treatment is the right course to take, but stay tuned over the next few weeks. Wilson on the sideline would be a major setback.

New guys

» Kevin Kolb. I watched his first five throws in the inter-squad scrimmage and it was clear he has what it takes to change the Cardinals around. He has a very lively arm and solid mechanics. He assured me that the switch from a West Coast offense to a digit system hasn't been that difficult.

» Patrick Peterson. On tape, he's already solid, especially if he's in any form of man coverage. He's working hard to make his zone coverage on par with everything else he does so well. Peterson told me he likes the opportunity to see the quarterback in zone coverage and working to close on receivers that want to break routes off. This guy has a chance to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

» DeMarco Sampson. Keep your eye on this seventh-round pick. Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and some coaches all mentioned Sampson numerous times as a big guy with speed, route running and hands.


Larry Fitzgerald on what Todd Heap can mean to the offense: "Todd can split the safeties and needs to be respected up the seams. We haven't had that in the past."


The Cardinals made a big move trading for Kolb. After watching him practice, studying the tapes and talking with him, it looks like a much better move than I anticipated. Kolb makes Arizona competitive right now. Coupled with the way the defense seems to be using an attacking scheme, look for the Cardinals to be in the division race right to the end.

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