The Arizona Cardinals’ 2022 Training Camp is now well underway, and it has so far left us with a number of worthwhile observations about the state of the team as the preseason schedule approaches. The ’22 Cardinals remain a bit of a mystery in the eyes of some of the NFL’s inside observers, but really, this is a team that finds itself in a position not too much different than it’s been in in recent years.
The majority of the preseason talk about the Cardinals in 2021 was that they’d be a team hovering around .500. The team answered this by rattling off seven consecutive victories to start the campaign. Still, ’21 was a disappointing season overall, due to the team going just 4-6 in their last ten regular season games and getting pummeled by the soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round.
Here’s what observations have revealed on some of our Cardinals so far in camp.
Kyler Murray was held out of practice on Saturday for no particular reason other than, according to Coach Kliff Kingsbury, he’d been throwing the ball since the arrival of the rookies at camp. Concern over Murray’s health isn’t warranted. Even still, he handled calling plays with the offense on Saturday, recalling memories of his doing so last season with Kingsbury out of action with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
On COVID, Murray was diagnosed yesterday and will be held out of practice accordingly for at least the next five days.
DeAndre Hopkins / Rondale Moore
DeAndre Hopkins has been taking reps with the offense in the slot position in camp. This has allowed for Rondale Moore to get some time in as an outside receiver. This is significant because Hopkins has never really found himself in the slot role at any point in his career to this point. But it’s also possible that the team is looking to insert Moore in a more authoritative role with the offense this season while Hopkins spends the first six games on the sidelines.
Maxx Williams / Marquise Brown
Maxx Williams and Marquise Brown remain on the PUP list while they look to get healthier. Williams’s knee injury continues to be an issue for him, as well as the primary reason the Cardinals drafted Trey McBride in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Zach Ertz also signed an extension with the team this offseason.
Marquise Brown’s place on the PUP list seems merely cautionary at this point. He has a tweaked ankle, and staff feels it’s best to give him the time he needs to get back to 100% rather than trying to push the issue prematurely and risk a larger injury. Rightly so, fans are anxious to see an aerial connection between Kyler Murray and Brown, as the pairing’s history looks to be rekindled in the professional ranks this season.
Isaiah Simmons / J.J. Watt / Zach Allen
Since Vance Joseph has been the defensive coordinator for the Cardinals, the team has primarily run a 3-4 defensive scheme. That appears to be changing as a 4-3 defensive scheme has been utilized by the Cardinals so far in camp. On top of this change, Isaiah Simmons has been seeing time in a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role within this new defensive look.
Simmons is one of the players with the most hype on the roster heading into the regular season. Joseph and others on the coaching staff have watched his growth as a defender and feel as though this is his time to break out and become one of the elite defenders in the NFL. He’ll be expected to keep up with receiving threats from opposing offenses routinely this season, having spent a significant amount of time in nickel coverage so far in camp.
This new defensive package features J.J. Watt and Zach Allen on the edge of the defensive front. With the departure of Chandler Jones in the offseason, the Cardinals will be looking to get more sacks and quarterback rushes from others this season. If Watt can stay healthy for a full season and Allen can continue to improve in his young career, expect the defensive pressure up front to be able to hold its own.
Don’t sleep on rookie Keaontay Ingram. James Conner looks to continue his ascension as one of the NFL’s premier running backs this season, but the departure of Chase Edmonds means that Ingram is likely to get some carries as well. For a big running back, he’s shown the ability to break away in the secondary with ease so far in camp. With Darrel Williams and Eno Benjamin to utilize as well, the running game looks to be just fine.