Loss of Levi Brown could impact the Cards run game this season
As we come into the home stretch of the preseason and get ready for the regular season, here is where I see the current stock levels as having gone so far.
With a returning Calais Campbell and solid Vonnie Holliday now fully acclimated to Ray Horton's defense, I expect to see continued improved play, which should be a scary thought for opposing offenses. Stock up.
Dan Williams lost some weight in the off-season and the athletic David Carter has some experience under his belt. Either one of these two should be able to wreak a little more havoc in the middle of the line this year. Stock up.
Darnell Dockett took some time last season to embrace Ray Horton's defense, now that he has, I expect to see more out of Dockett after what some called an off year last season. Nick Eason has also quietly had a nice camp. Stock up.
Lot's of people are expecting big things out of Sam Acho this season. Throw in O'Brien Schofield and Clark Haggans and I'm seeing improvement in this position as well. Stock up.
Daryl Washington is poised to be one of the elite linebackers in the NFL, and the Cardinals are rightfully working on extending him long term. In the meantime, Paris Lenon is always solid and Stewart Bradley looks more like he is becoming the linebacker the Cards thought he might be when they signed him last season. Stock up.
Patrick Peterson looks and acts like he's been in the league for 6 years. Look for him to build on his rookie season and start to become one of the premier cornerbacks in the league. William Gay is a nice fit and a guy that knows Horton's system. Greg Toler will be looking to pick up where he left off in 2010. Stock up.
Hopefully Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are both able to stay healthy this season. If so, they should be a formidable duo in the secondary between the physical play of Wilson and the ball hawking tendencies of Rhodes. Rashad Johnson adds solid depth as well. Justin Bethel and perhaps Eddie Elder could be intriguing to watch this season. Stock up.
Hard to tell here. No question this group of receivers improved when they drafted Michael Floyd, but can anyone get them the ball? Still, more weapons are more weapons, and LaRon Byrd will be one to watch develop if he can make the roster. Hesitantly, I say stock up.
For as much as he's been criticized in Arizona (by myself included), the loss of Levi Brown at that left tackle position is going to hurt. What Brown lacked in pass blocking he made up for in run blocking. While Daryn Colledge and Lyle Sendlein are both solid performers, the Cards now must hope D.J. Young, Jeremy Bridges, Bobbie Massie and D'Anthony Batiste can step up. Patchwork offensive lines are never a good thing. Stock down.
Jeff King emerged last season as a good receiving threat to go along with his blocking skills. Rob Housler has improved his blocking ability in the off-season. Add Todd Heap as a situational player and the Cards are as strong at tight end as they've been in years. Stock up.
Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells figure to be a great duo in the Cards backfield this season, two questions remain however. One, can they stay healthy, two, how will they do when it comes to blitz pickup. LaRod Stephens-Howling is a good third down back, but not an every down guy. Alfonso Smith and William Powell have looked good this preseason, but could they perform the same against first team defenses. Stock up in Williams and Wells can stay healthy, stock down if the season is plagued with injuries.
Last but certainly not least is the quarterback position. Obviously I am not the coaching staff, but unless John Skelton goes out and underp-erforms Thursday, or Kevin Kolb suddenly decides to light it up, you would have to give the edge to Skelton. I like Ryan Lindley, but he isn't the answer at starter this season. As I've mentioned previously, if Skelton can get his completion percentage above 60%, I think you'll see better quarterback play. As we've all seen though, this isn't necessarily a guarantee. Based on the assumption thank Skelton is the starter, I say stock undecided.
As far as the Cardinals as a whole go, the only two question marks are very large ones indeed, offensive line and quarterback. As far as the Cardinals go as a team, stock undecided.