After last Thursday's loss to the Saints, the Cardinals returned to camp with a better outlook of…
Camp Update: Injury Bug Biting Hard
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie limped off the field during one-on-ones favoring his right ankle. Once he hit the sideline he went down. After receiving medical attention, Rodgers-Cromartie showed his toughness by trying to rejoin practice with a taped ankle. It was obvious he could barely walk, yet he still tried running to the next drill. A valiant effort, there was just no way he could continue. In the best interest of both Rodgers-Cromartie and the Cardinals, he would not return to practice.
Lack of focus
The Cardinals were almost perfect in practice before their first pre-season game last week. Since then they have reverted back to making the mental errors Cardinals fans are accustom too. Matt Leinart's first play during team scrimmage began with two false starts and finished with a dropped pass by fullback Terrelle Smith. Kurt Warner wouldn't fair much better.
After a bad pass on the previous play, Warner and the center had a poor exchange to start the next play. Warner's accuracy during team drills has been getting progressively worse the last few days. He looks lost on flood plays, lobbing passing in between receivers, usually to a defender. Not getting a chance to play in the preseason opener may have affected his confidence.
D getting it done
Both the first and second string Defenses were able to shut down the offense's two minute drill at the end of practice. Both defenses blitzed heavily, sacking the quarterback or throwing off the offense's timing on almost every play. The starting defensive backfield was able to get it done without Roderick Hood, Antrel Rolle or Rodgers-Cromartie. That's a good sign for a first unit that got lit up by Drew Brees on the first pre-season series last Thursday.
Alan Branch isn't letting a little friendly competition get in the way of him being a team player. Branch is currently behind free agent Bryan Robinson on the depth chart at defensive tackle. Robinson impressed coaches early, starting in place of the injured Gabe Watson. "Get em B. Rob," Branch yelled out, when the first team defense was called upon to stop the first team offense. He yelled it more than once and seemed genuine. In his second year Branch is finally starting to respond to the challenge. Often criticized for taking plays and reps off, Branch's attitude may be what the coaches were looking for. He looked energized and played big today when he got his chance. The constant mismatch created by 6'5" 330 pound Branch, changes the direction of running plays and makes it impossible for the quarterback to step up in the pocket during a pass.
Filling in for injured starting center Al Johnson, Lyle Sendlein continues to show coaches he is a capable back-up. He did a great job withstanding the bull rush of Branch and Robinson all day. This is extremely positive considering he is smaller than both of them. He seems prepared to handle the strength of NFL linemen. Another blocking standout was second year man Levi Brown. Brown was able to keep veteran, free agent pass rusher Clack Haggans from reaching the quarterback during one-on-ones.
On the other side of the ball Calais Campbell was giving the back up linemen all they could handle. Campbell's spot on the depth chart is the only thing second string about him. He is huge at 6'8" weighing more than 280 pounds. What makes him special is the agility and speed that accompanies his strength.
He can bull rush, spin, or extend his long arms to get the job done. Trying to block him has been great experience for the Cardinals back-ups who need all the practice they can get with the injury bug going around.
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