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Arizona Cardinals

Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium | Coach: Bruce Arians
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense23rd105.7 (21st)230.0 (17th)
Defense5th71.7 (4th)244.7 (18th)

Kolb might not suit Cardinals' offense

The Sports Xchange
 
Kolb might not suit Cardinals' offense · Strategy And Personnel · Notes, Quotes
 

--If the pundits are correct, then Philadelphia backup Kevin Kolb is likely headed to Arizona once the moratorium on trades is lifted, probably for a couple of second-round draft choices. There are still some concerns about Kolb among Arizona coaches.

They note that Kolb, who has indicated that he would prefer to be dealt rather that sit behind Vick for another year - and for whom the Eagles need to net a return, rather than just allow him to depart in free agency in 2012 - has thrown more interceptions (14) than touchdown passes (11) in his brief playing time.

They wonder about his decision-making. But mostly the Cardinals' brass wonders if Kolb is the right fit for coach Ken Whisenhunt's offense.

Kolb averaged only 6.46 per pass attempt in his five starts in 2010. Until last season, when the Cardinals were forced to play quarterback roulette and started a pair of rookies at various times, the Arizona passing game averaged over 7.0 yards per attempt under Whisenhunt. The number dropped precipitously to a paltry 5.81 yards in 2010, but, again, there were mitigating circumstances.

In theory at least, the Arizona passing design is more vertical than that in Philadelphia, takes some pages from the Mike Martz passing game and expects quarterbacks to drive the ball into the intermediate and deep windows with accuracy.

At age 27 (in August), Kolb could solve the Cardinals' quarterback problem for a long time if he's the right guy. The Cards, who in a perfect world likely would pursue a veteran such as Marc Bulger, just have to convince themselves he's the right guy.

--Len Pasquarelli

--About 30 Arizona Cardinals players have been at workouts this week at Arizona State University, and center Lyle Sendlein explained some of the issues they have to deal with.

After Sendlein put seven athletic sandals on the playing field, he said, "These represent defensive players. It's like I'm a kid playing football in the backyard again."

Still, work is being done, and that's what important. Several players traveled from out of town to be there. Said second-year quarterback John Skelton, "We're doing a lot of (team-specific) stuff, while other players are sitting on their couches."

Varying numbers of players have been working out over the last month. Former Cardinals receivers coach Jerry Sullivan came from Austin, Tex., thanks to Fitzgerald, to help.

Said Sullivan, "This is good; they need the structure. These guys haven't been down this road before. They need to be in the right mind when they go to camp."

--In the week before the draft, the Cardinals made some noise about possibly trading down in the first round of the draft, but in the end that's all it was: noise.

The club was content with any of four players with the fifth overall pick: Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, Georgia receiver A.J. Green and LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

It's unknown what order the team had those players in, but Peterson was the only one left on the board when the Cardinals' turn came.

They aren't complaining.

"I like the way he plays tough and physical," said coach Ken Whisenhunt. "That's an attitude that we need to get better with defensively, and that certainly helps."

Whisenhunt typically doesn't hand starting jobs to rookies, but there's little doubt Peterson will be in the starting lineup when the season opens. He's a playmaker and he's tough.

Cornerback is not the team's greatest need, but Peterson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie give the Cardinals an impressive young duo.

"They know I'm bringing a fierce, competitive, confident young man," Peterson said. "I believe I'm all the way NFL-ready."

Peterson brings the added benefit of being a gifted returner. He was not only the SEC's defensive player of the year, but also the special teams player of the year.

He returned two punts for touchdowns and averaged 29.1 yards on kick returns.

The Cardinals already have a talented kick returner in LaRod Stephens-Howling, but Whisenhunt would like to use him more on offense in 2011. To give him rest, Peterson could take over.

Peterson also could eventually have a role as a punt returner.

"I think he could line up today and be a kick returner in the NFL," Whisenhunt said, "and be one of the best ones. As a punt returner, he certainly has the skill-set to do it, but we obviously want to see him do it."

At 219 pounds, Peterson is big for a cornerback, and some draft analysts think he might one day move to safety. But Peterson runs the 40-yard dash in under 4.4 seconds and impressed the Cardinals with his ability to play the ball.

"He's fast, he's talented," defensive coordinator Ray Horton said. "One of the great things is when you watch him on film, he doesn't panic. You see some guys panic at the ball, bat it down. When the ball is in there, you see a subtle shift from 'I'm a DB to I'm a receiver' and go get it. Some guys can't do that."

--The Cardinals didn't ignore their needs in the 2011 draft, but they certainly didn't make them a priority.

They waited until the fourth round to take a pass rusher. They didn't select a quarterback or an offensive lineman. They took a running back in the second round, even though they are deep at that position, and they took a fullback in the fifth round, which was a surprise.

In almost every instance, the Cardinals simply took the best player on their board. And in fairness to them, only time will tell if they made good decisions.

Running back Ryan Williams, the second-round pick, was dynamic as a freshman but was banged up last year. The team took him in the second round despite having some of the top names at tight end and outside linebacker available to them.

BEST PICK

Cornerback Patrick Peterson: It's easier to take the fifth overall pick for this category, but it's important to note the Cardinals didn't outsmart themselves. Unlike 2007, when they used the fifth pick to fill a need and took tackle Levi Brown over running back Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals simply took the best player left.

COULD SURPRISE

Linebacker Sam Acho: The fourth-round pick has some pass-rush skills, and while he played end at Texas, he also played some outside linebacker in his first two seasons. He's smart and a hard worker. He could develop into a good player.

A closer look at the Cardinals' picks:

Round 1/5 - Patrick Peterson, CB, 6-1, 215, Louisiana State

The Cardinals had Peterson ranked as one of the top four players and weren't overwhelmed with any trade offers. Peterson will be a starter from Day 1 opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and gives the Cardinals a second corner who can press coverage.

Round 2/38 - Ryan Williams, RB, 5-9, 207, Virginia Tech

This pick was a shock because running back wasn't a need. Williams joins a crowded backfield that includes Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Coaches thought Williams was too good of a player to pass on, however.

Round 3/69 - Rob Housler, TE, 6-5, 250, Florida Atlantic

Housler runs the 40-yard dash in under 4.5 seconds, and coaches think he will create matchup problems for defenses. Housler does not block well, however, and will need a lot of work in that area.

Round 4/103 - Sam Acho, OLB, 6-1, 257, Texas

The Cardinals waited until Day 3 to address one of their greatest needs: pass rusher. Acho played defensive end at Texas but also has some outside linebacker experience. The club has little depth at outside linebacker, so Acho will compete to be a part of the team's sub packages.

Round 5/136 - Anthony Sherman, FB, 5-10,242, Connecticut

The Cardinals use a fullback 15 to 20 plays a game, but that could increase if Sherman is the player they think. He's a good blocker, can catch and the club had him rated as one of the top special teams players available.

Round 6/171 - Quan Sturdivant, ILB, 6-1, 241, North Carolina

The Cardinals tried to address another need, since they are expected to release Gerald Hayes some time this offseason. Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington return as the starters but there isn't much depth behind them.

Round 6/184 - David Carter, DE, 6-4, 292, UCLA

Carter started only one season at UCLA, so it's obvious he is a project. The Cardinals need some depth at the position, given the questions about the contract situation of Kenny Iwebema. Carter played well at the East-West Shrine game.

Round 7/249 -- DeMarco Sampson, WR, 6-2, 204, San Diego State

Sampson is strictly a developmental player. He was productive in his last two years of college but hampered by injuries before that.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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