Cardinals Rookies Vying for Veteran Jobs

Bertrand Berry (Getty)

The performance of young players at training camp always impacts the job security of veterans, and that's especially true at outside linebacker for the Cardinals. The club drafted two college defensive ends who are converting to 3-4 outside backers. Coaches won't force Cody Brown, a second-rounder, or Will Davis, a sixth-rounder, into action before they're ready.

But if either has a good camp, veteran Bertrand Berry could become expendable.

Berry led the team in sacks last year with five, and figures to be a situational pass rusher this year. The Cardinals don't have a lot of skilled pass rushers, so cutting Berry won't be easy.

Berry didn't attend voluntary practices, which didn't endear himself to coach Ken Whisenhunt. Berry hasn't been available to explain the decision but sources said it's because he's unhappy with his contract.

He wanted to explore free agency but didn't receive a suitable offer. When he decided to stay in Arizona, the Cardinals had decreased their offer, using some of the money to sign other players.

The Cardinals are going to a more conventional 3-4 alignment this year, and it's questionable how Berry fits in that scheme.

His strength is rushing from the edge, not dropping into coverage. That likely will keep him from contending for a starting job.

CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 29. There is a conditioning test on July 30 and the first practice is July 31.

Camp breaks on Aug. 20.

On Saturday, Aug. 8, the Cardinals will host a "Red and White" practice that includes an autograph session a live goal-line session.

The team will also have two night practices, on Aug. 5 and Aug. 18.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Kurt and Brenda Warner's new book about family life and raising children will debut on the New York Times Top 10 list for non-fiction. The Warners write about life with their seven children and their philosophy in raising kids.

--The Cardinals aren't expected to talk seriously with Tom Condon, the agent for receiver Anquan Boldin, about a contract extension for several weeks. The two sides had preliminary discussions late in the spring. Club officials want to get through the preseason to get a better idea of the team's cap situation. Boldin has two years remaining on his contract and hired Condon this spring to replace Drew Rosenhaus.

--The Cardinals figure to have about $2 million in cap space after signing their rookie class. They won't have to make moves to create more room right away, but that could be a factor in determining the final 53-man roster.

--Coach Ken Whisenhunt played well early but faltered later in a celebrity pro-am tournament last week in Lake Tahoe. Whisenhunt finished 27th.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As part of vacation, I was driving and I drove by a high school stadium and saw the goal posts and it kind of got my juices flowing." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt when asked if he was ready for the start of training camp.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Cardinals achieved most of their offseason goals. They re-signed two key veterans, quarterback Kurt Warner and strong safety Adrian Wilson, but failed to reach a long-term deal with linebacker Karlos Dansby, their franchise player.

They bolstered a secondary that struggled at times last year and added some young players who could move into starting roles in the future.

There are still questions, however. The Cardinals lack an elite pass rusher, don't have a proven tight end and are young at running back.

The Cardinals have signed six of their eight draft picks, with the top two still unsigned. Club officials are optimistic running back Beanie Wells, the first rounder, and outside linebacker Cody Brown, the second rounder, will be signed before players are due to report to camp on Wednesday.

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