The Arizona Cardinals held their annual Red and White practice Saturday in front of an estimated 17,500 fans, all of whom were eager to get out of the hot, muggy Glendale sun.
The attendance total is a camp record, beating last year’s Red-White total of 14,500, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
This Red and White practice was unlike those of the past, however, as it essentially was just another practice for the boys in Cardinal Red.
Fans had an opportunity to get autographs from all players following practice, which is different from the usual stars who devote time every day to signing footballs, T-shirts, jerseys and the like. Other than that, it was a typical day for the Cardinals.
The defense stood out all day, so this edition of highlights/lowlights will mainly feature that side of the ball.
Three Who Impressed
Justin Bethel Covers Like a Champ
Special teams ace Justin Bethel will make the 53-man roster as head coach Bruce Arians’ top gunner. But he made a case Saturday for playing time at cornerback.
During wide receiver/cornerback drills, Bethel covered everyone like a glove.
He made plays on multiple occasions, intercepting Drew Stanton after undercutting receiver Robby Toma and getting his hand on another pass to knock the ball away from Michael Floyd.
Bethel has displayed elite athleticism all throughout camp, and while he is a lock to play on the punt coverage team, he is an interesting option at corner or even at safety down the road.
Patrick Peterson Picks Palmer (Again)
Don’t take the subheadline out of context. Carson Palmer has been great through eight practices. He has been far and away the best quarterback at Cards camp, as expected.
But Patrick Peterson has bested Palmer twice this week—on Wednesday (Day 5) and again on Saturday. This time, he was covering Floyd on a play occurring in the end zone.
Peterson was on lockdown mode again, with the exception of allowing a touchdown pass from Palmer to Larry Fitzgerald.
Undrafted rookie Jaron Brown had the misfortune of drawing Peterson in coverage twice during wide receiver/cornerback drills, and both times Peterson came away the victor. He batted away both passes, the second after initially being beaten off the ball by Brown.
Daryl Washington Single-Handedly Mocks Ryan Lindley
While Ryan Lindley’s quarterbacking is a daily punch line, inside linebacker Daryl Washington did what he could to make the joke even better.
On a play where Lindley stared down a spot he expected receiver Tyler Shaw to be, Washington instead was there to make the highlight of the day.
The soon-to-be suspended linebacker made a great one-handed interception that would have resulted in a pick-six had the play not been blown dead (see it here, via AZCardinals.com).
Lindley expected Shaw to run an out route when, in fact, he ran a slant.
Washington also had a couple nice hits on running backs even though tackling was technically not allowed. To his credit, he later geared down just before blowing up running back Andre Ellington on a play near the goal line.
“We” Who Depressed
Third-String Offense Stuck in Quicksand
Singling out Lindley is a bit tired, so here the focus is on his entire offense. From inaccurate passes to dropped accurate passes—mixed in with poor protection from the line—the third-string offense did not impress one bit on Saturday.
The Cardinals’ third-string defensive line can take a bow, because they had more pressure on Lindley than an enlarged prostate does on a bladder.
Undrafted rookie nose tackle Padric Scott stood out more than once, stuffing the run and making Lindley nervous in the pocket.
Ellington made a couple good moves to avoid defenders in the backfield, which was a good sign for a suddenly—not so surprisingly—gimpy backfield. But other than that, the roster bubble-dwellers were disappointing.
Practice ended on a fumbled snap while Lindley was in the shotgun. The defense recovered and ran it the other way to about midfield before the play—and the practice—was blown dead.
Carson Palmer Report
Palmer was sharp once again Saturday. He really is impressive when throwing over the middle, and the Red and White practice was no exception.
Floyd ran multiple intermediate routes into the teeth of the first-string defense. At least twice, Palmer found him through windows so tight that any inaccuracy at all could have resulted in disaster for the offense.
Fitzgerald was in on the action once again, as he and Palmer connected on two touchdowns—the aforementioned catch versus Peterson, and he also beat cornerback Jerraud Powers to the corner of the end zone late in practice.
Things are coming together for Palmer and the starting offense, and Arians acknowledged that fact during Saturday morning’s press conference, via AZCardinals.com.
In all, Palmer tossed four touchdowns Saturday: two to Fitz and one each to Floyd and Andre Roberts.
Other News and Notes
—Undrafted free agent receiver Dan Buckner had a nice day catching passes from Drew Stanton. He had multiple receptions and ran better routes than during the first week of camp.
—Speaking of Stanton, he was impressive as well. He threw two more touchdown passes: one to Jaron Brown and the other to Andre Roberts on a deep ball. The Roberts play was stopped, but he would have scored because no one was close to him.
—Roberts caught two touchdowns. First was Stanton’s, then came Palmer’s. He did not do much outside of those two scores, but that’s good efficiency.
—Tight ends had a bit of a rough go Saturday, with Rob Housler and rookie D.C. Jefferson both dropping multiple passes. To this point, they had been bright spots at practice. It's nothing to fret over, but it still hurts their egos.
—Tyrann Mathieu was at fault for the long touchdown to Roberts. He was turned around in coverage by Roberts, who put a move on him and blew right by the rookie. Mathieu had been playing as a single-high (free) safety on the play when Stanton hit Roberts in stride with a bomb down the middle.
—The team has Sunday off before hitting it again Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium. They also will go Tuesday and Wednesday at the stadium before using Thursday as a travel day. They will be off to Green Bay for Game 1 of the preseason against the Packers, which can be seen locally on ABC-15 Friday at 5:00 p.m.
Once per month during the season, I will put together a mailbag article featuring email questions from you, the readers, answered by me, the writer. As long as you keep it Cardinals related, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com with the subject, “Birdgang Mailbag.”