[Glendale, AZ] – The Arizona Cardinals are as ready as they’re going to be nearing the final stretch of training camp. Saturday’s “red vs. white” practice revealed good and bad things from both sides of the ball. Both teams (on defense as well as on offense) showed that there is plenty of room for improvement, but when the chips are down this formidable squad will perform to their highest abilities and come up huge in tough situations.
These players are hungry, greedy. The Cardinals are a very proud team. They are a team not only built for winning, but a team who is ready to beat the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game on Thursday night. All is good for the Cardinals. That is, if they can keep healthy players out on the field.
Healthy Arizona Cardinals Sizing Up Dallas Cowboys
“You guys keep asking about individual guys, and they keep getting hurt,” said head coach Bruce Arians at the pre-practice press conference on Saturday. When asking the coach what he has seen out of rookie cornerback Ronald Zamort. “You (Mike Juercki) and Josh (Weinfuss) are two-for-two so if you get this one, you’re done.”
Now they are three-for-three.
After going down with a debilitating injury about an hour into Saturday’s “red/white” practice, Zamort was seen being carted off the field. Later tests confirmed that Zamort had suffered a torn ACL. He is now out for the season. And the season hasn’t even started. Of course, news hounds Juercki and Weinfuss are not responsible for the injury to Zamort and truly wish him the best with his future endeavors.
The question is, what does this mean for the Cardinals and their already depleted cornerback position?
Next Man Up
Cornerback Justin Bethel was sidelined during Friday’s practice and continues day to day. Bethel hyper extended his knee earlier in the week. The injury is said to be minor. With Bethel out, rookie Zamort was to fill the important defensive backfield position, leaping over second year cornerback Brandon Williams. Fortunately, Bethel should be available to start against the Cowboys on Thursday night. Next up, of course, would be Williams.
As for depth in the cornerback position, the Cardinals went ahead Sunday night and signed 34-year-old cornerback Tramon Williams to a contract. No report as of yet how much the contract is worth. Last season for the Cleveland Browns (in 12 game appearances), Williams recorded 36 tackles and one interception.
Other recent injuries include star wide receiver John Brown (quad) and wide receiver Aaron Dobson (hamstring). While Brown’s injury is listed as minor and has him only missing a couple days, Dobson’s injury may be more serious and will require longer to heal.
Likely keeping only six wideouts on the 53-man roster makes it more difficult for Dobson with a nagging injury to land a position on the team. Wide receiver depth is not really an issue for the Cardinals. Five of the wideout positions are held down by Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown and most likely, rookie Chad Williams. This leaves three players, Dobson, Briton Golden, and Jeremy Ross, each vying for the one available slot. Thursday’s match up against the Cowboys will be a great opportunity for these rookies and unsigned players to show their stuff and impress in front of a national audience.
Sizing Up The Cowboys
Taking a peak at the Cowboys in practice (like an inquisitive neighbor peering over the backyard fence) would make any opponent queasy, kind of sick to the stomach. Especially on the defensive side of the ball, what the Cowboys have in the backfield with former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll and second year cornerback Anthony Brown can be described as nothing short of solid. Added to the stellar, backfield mix is rookie sensation Markuez White. On paper for the Cowboys, their defense appears to have something really good going for the 2017 NFL season.
On the offensive side of the ball, it will be up to the performance of second year quarterback Dak Prescott that determines the fate of this team. Prescott showed last season that he has the ability to take over at the helm, orchestrate with efficiency, and win football games. Hopefully, as with most young quarterbacks, he doesn’t get hampered by the famous sophomore slump.
Thursday’s night Hall Of Fame match up is scheduled for 6:00pm MST, on NBC. The game will be played at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.