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Arizona Cardinals

Personnel and penumbras

Carson Palmer reaches to hand the ball off during Arizona Cardinals training camp July 26, 2014. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

Personnel groups in the game of football represent the shadow world of the NFL. The chess match that football is tends to focus defenders on formation recognition and down and distance. Offenses try to confuse defenses with personnel groups while running the same plays.

Personnel does matter. Should an offense get into Pair Personnel, 2-Backs, 2-TEs and 1-WR, it tells the defense to expect run, especially if in run down situations (1st & 10, 2nd & 1-6). This is why it can be one of the most effective personnel groups to use play-action and throw the ball downfield.

Personnel is not pitch dark nor is it pure light; personnel is a penumbra in the game of football, the shade between darkness and light.

And the Cards may use two personnel groups more this year with the idea of misleading defenses: Regular (2-Backs, 1-TE and 2-WRs) and 10 Personnel (1-Back, 0-TEs and 4-WRs).

Bruce Arians runs a TE-centric offense and does not have a fullback. But Robert Hughes may change that. Hughes is stout, can be a good lead blocker and can catch the ball. He will most likely be the fourth and final running back on the team. This means we will actually see BA use two-back sets.

With all due respect to Mike Tyson, 10 Personnel is NICE! Imagine getting Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, Jr. and rookie sensation John Brown on the field at the same time. The combination of speed and power is tantalizing. Also, it should be noted, it doesn't mean the Cards are just going to throw the ball from that grouping. Penumbras are fascinating because they're not easily identified and running the ball from 10 Personnel will be much more prevalent than most people (and defenses) think.

Andre Ellington will get the ball in space out of this grouping but he may not be the only back we see. Jonathan Dwyer could be an excellent option to be the "third-down back." He's big enough to pick up blitzers and he's capable of doing it again and again without getting nicked up. He catches the ball well and runs it well enough between the tackles to be the kind of back that could make 10 effective -- even in run down situations.

Where BA takes this offense will be one of the better stories of the preseason. I think a night and day difference is coming in 2014. You just have to know where to look.

About the Author


School: West Virginia University

When you started with Bonneville Phoenix: January 2, 2007

Favorite sports memory: Walking between the white lines.

Favorite all-time athlete: Walter Payton

Favorite sports movies: Major League

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