Disclaimers are something I'm not particularly fond of, but in certain situations they are imperative. This is one of those situations: evaluating the Cardinals night practice at Lumberjack Stadium without the aid of film and without the comfort of knowing the play call is a non sequitur, a logical fallacy.
Having said this, the Cardinals offense is going to be a work in progress. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have not distinguished themselves from the other and no one expected them to do so at this point of training camp. The running back situation is a little gimpy with Beanie Wells rehabbing his knee and Ryan Williams slowly making his way back from a torn patella suffered during last year's training camp. The offensive line has two new starters and is learning to play together; and this component of a football team is usually the last to come together. So far, the receivers have flashed and appear to be one of the deepest positions on the team.
The quarterback competition has not been very...competitive. Both quarterbacks have put together good practices; Both quarterbacks have struggled during practice. Neither QB seemed to pull away from the other during the Red & White Practice on Saturday. Before the night practice, Kolb had put together a couple of nice practices and John Skelton looked erratic.
But Skelton seemed to have a better night at Lumberjack Stadium than Kolb. Although he was working with the twos, Skelton seemed more accurate and completed some nice passes. He did not throw an interception. And this might be the most important criterion used to evaluate the competition.
Kolb threw two interceptions in Team Pass (11-on-11). Both picks were products of deflections. Patrick Peterson picked off a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage, stepping in front of Andre Roberts on what appeared to be a curl route (4-route). The other pick came off a scramble, with Kolb moving to his left, that bounced off the arms of Ryan Williams and into the arms of William Gay. Kolb also seemed to struggle at times in finding receivers.
It seems clear that the Cards defense is ahead of the offense at this point in training camp and that's no surprise. Traditionally, that's the way camp unfolds and it has everything to do with initiative: the offense must act and the defense reacts. The onus is on the offense to execute the play, to force the action, and if there is a single breakdown the odds of running a successful play evaporates.
But there is something else: the defense seems to have a swagger and is playing with the conviction of knowing they could be something special. This defense has weapons.
David Carter was a beam of light in the night. He might be listed as a backup to Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell and Dan Williams but the Cardinals really have four starters on the D-line. Carter is the perfect sub and can play anywhere across the board. It takes a football player to be capable of playing over a tackle, guard or center and David Carter is a football player.
Sam Acho is developing his pass rush. I saw Acho use a couple of techniques that were impressive, but during one-on-one with the O-line I saw him do something special. Acho has developed a spin move that is as good as I've seen an outside backer execute. Every pass rusher needs a "go-to" move, and the quickness and technique Acho displayed has me thinking there's much more to Sammy than meets the eye. This kid should have a very good season.
Bobby Massie caught my eye in one-on-one as well. O'Brien Schofield has worked Massie pretty hard the past week and even embarrassed him. Massie didn't get beat once in the drill and seems to be using his hands and technique better. He shut O'Brien down.
The night practice ended with a goal-line scrimmage. This is a thing of beauty. Twenty-two bodies jammed inside 20-square feet. Cramming this many bodies into such a confined area is hazardous to your health. The smell alone is one of the nastiest things about it, an odor you'll never forget. It's like playing a game of Twister with sumo wrestlers and bad hygiene. Although I have no idea who played well and who didn't, the defense did a nice job and seemed to control the line of scrimmage.
The offense has work to do, which is normal for this time of year, and the defense seems to be building on last year's successes. Reps are at a premium as the Cards prepare to play New Orleans on Sunday. And once the Hall of Fame Game is played we'll all have a much better idea of where this team is and where it needs to go.
Disclaimers suck buttermilk but are necessary when film and play calls are nowhere to be found. But based on what I saw the Hall of Fame Game can't come soon enough.