A new week brings a new installment of ‘Bird Droppings’ as I bring you a periodical look inside Arizona Cardinals training camp here on the campus of NAU in Flagstaff.
I will not only catch you up to speed on the big story lines to follow throughout the pre-season, I’ll bring you some things that may have slipped through the cracks along the way.
Monday, July 30th
*Upon arriving to camp early this morning, the buzz amongst the fans who I spoke to before the walk-through was the monster crowd (14,500) who attended Saturday’s Red-White practice and the reports people started showing up at 2:00AM to get in line for Larry Fitzgerald’s autograph.
*Ken Whisenhunt told us in his daily lunch-time media briefing that although both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton struggled at times Saturday, the coaching staff saw growth and improvement from both and each improved in the first week of camp. Whiz stressed Kolb “was behind the 8-ball” working with the second-string offensive line as he and Skelton rotate days working with the first-team offense.
*Monday was a day to forget for Skelton who struggled with his accuracy overthrowing countless receivers and looking flustered in the pocket. Free agent Eddie Elder from Arizona State stepped in front one of his errant throws making a nice interception in traffic.
*One player who has caught the eye of coaches is safety Kerry Rhodes who Whisenhunt hopes can stay healthy and continue to be a playmaker in the deep secondary with Adrian Wilson. I asked Rhodes after Monday’s practice if he changed his off-season workout regime in hopes of cutting down on the injuries and he told me he trained at home in low-key North Carolina instead of jumping between New York and Los Angeles as he has in the past. He hopes the “calmer” off-season will help his body physically and mentally through the back-end of the schedule.
*There is promise, but plenty of uncertainty in the Cards backfield with Ryan Williams coming back from a season-ending injury and Beanie Wells still on PUP list here at camp. Whisenhunt wasn’t sure if Williams will play Sunday against the Saints, but said it’s important for him to see some exhibition action to adjust to the speed of the game. Wells’ rehab is progressing well and will likely begin working out with the team next week when they train in Missouri.
*Camp always helps the vets ‘work the kinks out’ but it may be an ever greater benefit to young players like second-year tight end Rob Housler who told me this morning he has a much better feel for the offense and things “are slowing down” on the practice field. The Cards are banking on he and Todd Heap staying healthy this year. Both possess size and speed to help open the field for Fitzgerald. Housler had a sweet diving catch down the seam Monday afternoon.
*The Cards won’t practice Tuesday morning, but will be in position meetings until lunch. Their only workout of the day is scheduled for 3:15.