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Time To Head North For Cardinals Camp

NFL is finally here as the Cardinals prepare to kick off training camp.

It's 110 degrees out everyday.

I sweat my balls off during my 10-foot walk from my condo to my car. Once I'm in my car, I sweat through whatever shirt I am wearing as I get where I need to go. When I arrive, I try to maneuver myself to hide the puddle of sweat that is now on my back.  

All of us from the Valley should be miserable people, but screw it: the NFL season is finally here; I am excited.

It's crazy how big the NFL has become. Growing up, the beginning of training camp wasn't even a blip on the radar. We would all be gearing up for the pennant races in baseball. Now MLB gets tossed to the side not for the regular season, not the preseason, but for practice (insert overused Allen Iverson joke here).

With how bad the Diamondbacks are, we have been waiting to boot them for the past two months. For a while, we were able to use the Suns offseason to ignore them, but that excuse is gone.

About three days after the trade deadline passes, the Diamondbacks will be punted out of the public eye quicker than an illegal immigrant gets sent away because of SB 1070 (too soon to make jokes?).

The Arizona Cardinals are at a weird place.

I thought they had a horrific offseason. 

On the offensive side, they lost two of their three best players in Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin. Boldin I'm not really worried about. I liked what I saw from Early Doucet late in the season/playoffs and WR is a replaceable position. The one tiny concern is the depth at the WR position has dropped; if there is an injury, this could be a problem.

Going from Kurt Warner, a Super Bowl winning quarterback, to Matt Leinart, whose biggest accomplishment in the state of Arizona consists of underage girls and a beer bong, is a huge worry.

Coach Whisenhunt will say all the right things. He is going to sell a change in the style of offense. The Cardinals will feature Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower in the running game, making things easier for Leinart. For this to happen, "Beanie" and Timmy better be holding onto a football all day like Omar Epps in The Program. If they have fumbling problems, this newfound philosophy goes right out the window.

The big O-line acquisition in the offseason was Alan Faneca. He will help out in the run game immediately, but there was a reason the Jets let him go. New York plans on passing the ball more and Faneca had become a huge liability pass blocking. Leinart needs time to throw the ball; Faneca can't be letting guys run through putting shots on the former Heisman Trophy Winner (he still has his, right?).

On the defensive side of the ball, I also see the Cards taking a step back. Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson, and Calais Campbell can't do everything.

Look at the list of corners who might be playing opposite of DRC: Michael Adams, Rashad Barksdale, Jorrick Colvin, Wilrey Fontenot, Marshay Green, A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Justin Miller, or Greg Toler.

Whoever is on the other side better be ready. When there is a drop-off like that, from DRC to the #2, there is no reason to attack DRC.

If you want to be positive about the Cardinals #2 corner, at least he could have a really cool name: Barksdale (used in The Wire), Jorrick, Wilrey, Marshay, and Trumaine! I couldn't have made up a better group.

Adrian Wilson's new safety partner, Kerry Rhodes, is another character and a significant downgrade from Antrel Rolle. Rolle has his flaws, but he makes game-changing plays in the secondary. There is no price tag on what Rolle brings to a defense. Rhodes has shown in his career he is capable of stepping up at times, but he doesn't bring it on a consistent basis. "Hollywood," as Rhodes likes to call himself, needs to prove he is as dedicated to the game of football as he is to his Twitter account.

The front seven has its holes, also. The Cardinals are relying on Joey Porter to get his leg kick on like it is 2008 (take a look at Joe Porter's career numbers - he has only broken 10 sacks three times in 11 years).

To top it off, Paris Lenon is now expected to start next to Gerald Hayes instead of Karlos Dansby.

The Cardinals defense stunk last year and on paper it has gotten worse.

The Cardinals offense also got worse on paper.

The crazy part is there is still reason for optimism with the Red Birds for two big reasons.

#1 - The NFC West still stinks. It is truly a 50/50 toss up who is going to win between the Cards and the 49ers. San Francisco has a lot of the pieces in place to be good, but Alex Smith is still their quarterback and they are a young football team. The Seahawks are a year away from competing and the Rams are just starting to rebuild around Sam Bradford.

#2 - Ken Whisenhunt is still roaming the sidelines. Ken Whisenhunt comes from a Pittsburgh Steelers organization that never spends money on free agents and builds primarily through the draft. So if anyone is going to take young players like LB Cody Brown, RB "Beanie" Wells, WR Steve Breaston, WR Early Doucet, OT Brandon Keith, DE Calais Campbell, DT Dan Williams, LB Daryl Washington or one of the young CBs and help them take the next step in their football career, you should trust Ken Whisenhunt.

Cardinals fans, as disappointing as this offseason was, there still might be good things ahead.

Stop sweating your balls off and head to Flagstaff.