Arizona Cardinals Training Camp 2013: Day 2 Highlights, Lowlights

Shaun ChurchContributor IJuly 27, 2013

GLENDALE, AZ - JULY 26:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals hands off the football to runningback Rashard Mendenhall #28 during the team training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on July 26, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Day 2 of Arizona Cardinals training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium was as up-tempo as Day 1 was. There were about twice as many fans in the seats Saturday as there were Friday, when a reported 8,100 people showed up (there is no way that many were there Friday).

It was a better day for the defense than opening day was, as every quarterback had issues completing passes at times.

Tight ends continued to be featured on short passes, and much like Friday, every tight end got in on the action. Many have suggested 2013 could be a breakout season for Rob Housler, and that is looking more likely with each day of practice.

Take a gander at the Day 1 highlights and lowlights, and then come back to continue on to Day 2.


Two Who Impressed

Alfonso Smith Running Hard, Finishing Harder

More will be found out when pads finally are allowed Sunday, but through two days of camp, running back Alfonso Smith has been impressive.

The four-year back out of Kentucky hasn’t had much of an opportunity to this point, and his chances should still be considered slim to make the roster.

But multiple times Friday and Saturday, he was seen giving everything he has to get upfield after taking a handoff or catching a pass.

Smith is running strong so far, and if he carries that into preseason games, head coach Bruce Arians will have a tougher choice than once thought when considering the final running back spot.


Jarett Dillard Caught a Touchdown Pass—or Did He?

Wide receiver Jarett Dillard was not exactly open when quarterback Drew Stanton heaved a deep ball down the middle in his direction during two-minute drills. But Dillard—covered by a corner and a safety over the top—dove and caught the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.

Or did he?

The defenders around him were adamant he dropped it, and so was coach Arians. Arians, standing 50 yards away behind the line of scrimmage, called the pass incomplete much to the chagrin of the offense. It likely was because he wanted a sustained drive to result in a Jay Feely field goal, but the 8,000-plus fans in attendance were 100 percent certain he came down with it.

Dillard also hauled in a deep pass from Ryan Lindley in which he split two defenders. Fans let out an effervescent roar when he hauled it in.


Two Who Depressed

Carson Palmer Not as Sharp the Second Time Around

Day 1 for quarterback Carson Palmer was great. He was on point with nearly every throw, and fans left pleased with what they saw from him.

But Saturday was a different story. The former No. 1 overall pick was inaccurate when targeting Larry Fitzgerald, and the two were seen talking one-on-one multiple times, trying to get it right.

Don’t panic because of this; it’s only Day 2 of official work, and with a new offense and Fitz learning essentially two new positions on top of learning new routes for his usual spot, there are going to be some growing pains.

Palmer overthrew a receiver near the end of the Day 2 scrimmage that was intercepted by Antoine Cason as well.

Even a couple of his throws to running backs during drills sailed high on him, so it could be he simply had an “off day.” The real fun begins Sunday.


When Will Rashard Mendenhall Show Up?

Someone should tell running back Rashard Mendenhall training camp has begun. He is being passed up by Ryan Williams, and it isn’t even close through two days (grain-of-salt time).

Maybe he is saving his energy for the preseason games.

Or maybe he isn’t healthy. Whatever the reason, he has yet to make any significant play, and dropping passes during running back route-running drills is a quick way to fall out of favor of the coaches.

This segment on Mendenhall could be longer, but I’ll hold off until I see him in pads.


Other News and Notes

—For the second day in a row, running back Ryan Williams put a move on the defense that had fans hooting and hollering. Saturday’s move garnered the attention of Cardinals writer Darren Urban, who blogged about it after practice (see the 1:50 mark here).

—Receiver Michael Floyd had an up-and-down practice session Saturday. He badly misplayed a ball down the right sideline and had it sail way over his head. But near the end of practice, Palmer underthrew him on a deep ball down the left sideline, and he made a nice adjustment to avoid two defenders and make the catch.

—Rookie tight end D.C. Jefferson is looking like a solid add early on. He already has made a few athletic plays, including a diving attempt on a ball slightly overthrown by Palmer; it was close, but he ultimately could not hang on.

—Undrafted rookie receiver Dan Bucker (former Arizona Wildcat) was active Saturday, being targeted multiple times and coming through every time. He displayed good hands and turn-upfield-and-go ability down the sideline. With Ryan Swope unfortunately forced to retire, the final receiver spot is up for competition; he is doing his best to stake his claim for that spot.

—Speaking of competition for the final receiver spot, LaRon Byrd totally redeemed himself (related Dumb and Dumber clip) after a poor showing Friday, having multiple receptions—including a great diving catch down the right sideline on a deep ball in which he had to lay out and make the grab. Cornerback Javier Arenas had the play defended perfectly, but Byrd made the catch anyway.

—Left tackle Levi Brown was called for a false start during two-minute work, and coach Arians was not pleased in the slightest. It’s quite possible every fan in the building heard him screaming at the big veteran; that’s not good when your job is on the line (pun completely intended).