The Arizona Cardinals are back in Flagstaff for their final four days of training camp. With two more preseason games on the schedule, both at home, head coach Ken Whisenhunt said he's, "Ready to get back to work. Ready to play at home."
The plan for this week is to install more of the regular season packages and blitzes. These won't be used in preseason, but it's helpful to work on them now so when they are addressed during the regular season for specific games they will be familiar to the team.
What the Cardinals won't do this week is scheme for the San Diego Chargers, their Week 3 preseason opponent. According to Whisenhunt, there's not enough tape on them anyway and he likes having the team react to things they haven't covered in practice. It happens during the regular season no matter how much game prep goes on. Consider it practicing for the unexpected that you haven't practiced for.
Typically, the third NFL preseason game is treated most like a real game. Starters play longer, often into the second half, and the teams use the game as a dress rehearsal that's still far enough from Week 1 to recover from any non-serious injuries to key personnel.
Whisenhunt said he will probably follow that plan and play some of this starters into the third quarter but not in all cases. For example, don't expect veteran OLBs Joey Porter and Clark Haggans to play as much. This gives the team to further evaluate young players O'Brien Schofield and rookie Sam Acho.
Schofield played well in the Green Bay preseason game and is making progress learning the defense. Most of what he needs to improve on is the mental part of the game. Whisenhunt wants him replicate that good performance and see if he can do it against first-team opposition.
Larry Fitzgerald contract
It goes without saying that both Ken Whisenhunt and Kevin Kolb were happy to see Larry Fitzgerald sign a long-term deal. Whisenhunt gave all the credit to team president, Michael Bidwill.
"There's a lot of teams that would have liked to have had an opportunity at him and they didn't get it because our ownership stepped up."
Kolb said he'd been nudging Fitzgerald to sign the deal for the last week or so. He's excited to have the opportunity to throw uncatchable balls to Fitz and have them turned into receptions for many years to come.
Ryan Williams surgery is scheduled for early this week and the team feels for him as a person and for the loss of his talent. But it's football so they are moving on.
There's no sense of panic to get a replacement for Williams but, Whisenhunt said, "We're always going to look for an opportunity to address that and if somebody comes available that's going to help our team, which next week is when is when some of that situation may happen, then we'll address it."
Third string running back Alfonso Smith has worked hard for year and a half, and the team wants to see how he handles the opportunity to step into a bigger role.
As expected, the Cardinals did sign a young player to help with the reps in camp. Undrafted rookie free agent running back William Powell was brought back to the team. He had been released on August 2. Powell played two seasons at Kansas State.
Whisenhunt was happy with how Beanie Wells ran during the Green Bay game. He wants to see him get even lower and to accelerate when he makes contact. Wells did better in protection but missed one assignment. His coach was pleased that after he missed the blocking assignment, he was immediately asking about it on the sidelines wanting to get better. Overall, Wells is doing very...well.
Other roster moves
The Cardinals brought back defensive end Kenny Iwebema who played seven games with the team last year before hurting his knee. They also brought in cornerback Thad Thurner. To make room on the roster, the Cardinals released cornerback Desia Dunn and punter Derek Epperson.
The Cardinals practice at 3:00 p.m. Monday at NAU.