In Part 3 of our preseason preview, Doug Farrar of NorthwestFootball.net asks Amberly Dressler of…
Cardinals Five to Watch: Sophomore Players
The Cardinals' organization had to be impressed with the performance of first-round draft pick Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie in 2008. The product from Tennessee State showed his small school background would not plague him in the NFL. Rodgers-Cromartie cracked the starting lineup by Week 4, and finished the year with a very respectable 42 tackles, four interceptions, and one touchdown return. Rodgers-Cromartie is the clear bright spot for the future of Arizona's secondary. Expect this ballhawk to have another solid campaign in 2009, emerging more as a leader in the secondary and contributing more spectacular plays to the highlight reel.
RB Tim Hightower
Tim Hightower brought a much needed punch to the Cardinals running game in 2008. He excelled in short yardage situations, piling up 399 yards and 10 touchdowns during the season. However, the Cardinals did finish last in the league in rushing in 2008, due mostly to their pass happy offense. As long as the Arizona possesses such a strong aerial attack, don't expect Hightower's rushing statistics to go up much.
Hightower will likely be the starter come September, but 2009 first-round draft pick Chris Wells will split carries with Hightower and may eventually take over the starting job.
DE Calais Campbell
Calais Campbell saw action in all 16 games last season as a non-starter. The second-round pick in 2008 finished with 28 tackles and got needed experience in limited playing time. Much more is expected of Campbell this year. He has been thrust into the starting lineup as Antonio Smith departed to the Texans.
Campbell will compete with fellow 2008 draft pick Kenny Iwebema for the starting spot at left defensive end, though Campbell clearly has the inside track. The Cardinals expect Campbell to make considerable contributions in his new, expanded role.
WR Early Doucet
It is hard for a rookie wide receiver to make much of an impact when he plays behind Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Jerhame Urban. That was the problem for Early Doucet in 2008 as he totaled just 14 receptions for 90 yards. He did have a nice game against Buffalo in Week 5, filling in for an injured Boldin and grabbing six balls for 42 yards, but contributed very little throughout the year. Because Doucet does possess playmaking ability, the Cardinals will try to get him more touches in 2009. If he has a strong summer, he could surpass Urban on the depth chart and see his role increase.
OT Brandon Keith
Brandon Keith, the Cardinals' seventh-round draft pick in 2008, impressed coaches enough in training camp last year to earn a roster spot. He was Mike Gandy's backup at left tackle for the 2008 season, but saw no game action. Keith is a massive product at 6'5", 340 pounds, and has the versatility to play guard also. With all starters on the offensive line returning in 2008, Keith will remain on the bench for his sophomore season unless injury occurs. Assuming another strong offseason for Keith, he and veteran Elton Brown will be the team's top backups. At the least, Keith will fuel the competition in training camp this summer and put the pressure on Gandy to perform.
CardinalFootballTalk.com Recommended Stories
Week 8: Super Sleepers
Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Jeb Gorham digs in his list of rankings to find the best sleepers for deeper formats. Consider giving these players a chance, but be aware of the risk! Tampa Bay…Read More
Watch: Sailfish Goes Psycho!
Check out this classic video of Dan Larson battling an acrobatic sailfish on a trip to the world-famous Tropic Star Lodge in Panama.Read More
BOMBS AWAY: ISIS BEFORE AND AFTER AIRSTRIKE
Photographer Bulent Kilic captured these amazing images of ISIS members who were on the very wrong end of an allied bombing in Turkey.Read More
TBT: Pumpkin Carving With A Handgun
While many hunters are focused on pursuing big game in late October, it’s also time to make sure you’re ready for Halloween, and specifically trick-or-treaters. In this throwback Thursday video,…Read More
Sullivan weighs seriousness of concussions
John Sullivan has suffered five concussions in his seven-year career, but he doesn’t believe his future is “in doubt.” He weighs the severity of the concussions against the number of them.Read More