The Arizona Cardinals have almost two full weeks of training camp and a preseason opener in the books. Here are three "camp sleepers" I've highlighted as players to keep an eye on heading toward the season.
Carter was drafted last year in the sixth round out of UCLA. At 6'4", 292 pounds, some consider his physique more fit for a defensive end, not necessarily a nose tackle. In limited action last season, Carter showed that he has not only the ability to hold his own against blockers, but also the quickness to make plays when needed.
If he can improve from his 2011 rookie season—and his work ethic suggests that he can—the much talked about Arizona Cardinal defense would be quietly, but significantly, assisted by having a physical, athletic nose guard.
Drafted this year in the sixth round out of Presbyterian, Bethel boasts a 4.53 40 time, and in a video, boasts a 60-inch vertical flat-footed. While his athletic ability makes him an intriguing prospect at defensive back, he is likely to make an immediate impact in special teams, particularly when it comes to blocking kicks, an ability he displayed Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Elder, an undrafted rookie out of Arizona State, turned some heads on Sunday with some bone-jarring hits against the Saints, one of those forcing an Andy Tanner fumble. Elder is somewhat undersized for the position at 5'10" and 185 pounds, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in physicality and a nose for the football.
If Elder can continue to make plays like he did Sunday, I wouldn't be the least surprised to see him make the final cut before the season starts.
These three could all easily become solid additions for an already stacked Cardinal defense. We'll see how they progress as the preseason moves on.