Petrino had ex-Cards "so ready" for the NFL

The University of Louisville had a school-record 10 players taken in the NFL Draft and seven others off last year's team have inked free-agent deals with NFL team. After more than a month as professional, a majority of the former Cardinals rave about how easy the transition to the next level has been because of their preparation at U of L. We chatted with several former players on the subject.

Former University of Louisville offensive lineman Jamon Brown spent a lot of time with the first team during organized team activities since he was taken in the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Brown, a third-round pick, has been playing right guard and has a chance to start for the Rams.

The former Fern Creek High School star said he owes "a whole lot" to U of L coach Bobby Petrino and his staff for getting hims ready for the next level during his senior season with the Cardinals.

"I wouldn't say it's been easy," Brown said. "But I do believe it has been easier for me than it has been for some others because I was so prepared for the next level. The terminology is a little different and some of the offense is a little more complex.

"But I was so ready for the next level. What we did in coach Petrino's offense got me ready for the NFL."

Brown isn't the only former Cardinals with those feelings.

Cardinal Authority talked to a handful of the 17 players off last year's U of L team expected to compete for a job on an NFL roster in training camp and as Eli Rogers said the majority of the players are all thinking the same way, "we were so prepared and so ready."

"I was ready for it," said Rogers, who signed a free agent deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. "I've really been picking everything up with ease. I'd say it's been a lot faster than some of the others."

The fact that so many players are trying to make it in the NFL and they're ahead of the others in camp should be a "huge" recruiting tool for Petrino, according to Brown who said he "couldn't have been more ready for the pros."

Petrino is known as an offensive genius and his system is a pro-style, complex offense that is built around balance and attacking the defense. He wants to score on every play and while some think he wants to just sling it around the yard, a Petrino offense with a solid rushing attack is typically when he's at his best.

And Brown said that's what he's seen with the Rams.

"It's so similar," he said. "We ran an NFL offense at Louisville. I would assume that every college is different and some might be similar to what we did, but I just know it's taken some guys a while longer to adjust.

"It's really helped me to get where I want on the field."

Brown said the Rams seem to "really like me" and noted he has spent much of the time during OTAs with the starting group.

"I'm getting a lot of reps," Brown said. "It's been so much fun so far."

The highest draft pick in the group was wide receiver DeVante Parker, who was taken with the No. 14 pick by the Miami Dolphins, was well on his way to earning a starting spot before he recently had surgery on his foot.

Parker, who is expected back for week one of the season, said in an interview in the days after the draft that Petrino's offense "had me ready for what to expect" in the NFL. One Dolphins blog during OTAs said Parker "is certainly going to have an easy transition" into the NFL because of his talents and his college tutelage.

Rogers has been tabbed a "long shot" to make the Steelers roster because of his size but said he "has been doing great" in OTAs and said his knowledge of the offense "gives me an advantage."

"Being in that pro-style offense, I feel like I had a head start," Rogers said.

Buffalo Bills lineman John Miller has also been running with the first group and said he felt "really ready" to make the transition, while Mr. Irrelevant - Gerald Christian - was the last pick of the draft by the Arizona Cardinals but has been impressive in camp.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians said Christian is "doing a real good job," and has a shot to make the team as an H-back. Christian played tight end at U of L his final two seasons after transferring from Florida.

"I've just felt really comfortable," Christian said. "I felt like I knew what to expect and I knew the offense. I really think playing for (Petrino) gave me an advantage over some of the other guys. I haven't been perfect, but I've felt pretty good."

Christian said the Arizona staff has lauded his knowledge of the offense "from the start" of OTAs.

But it's not just the offensive guys with a leg up on the competition after playing for U of L. Many of the defensive guys have also been ahead of the game - and the others - in the early stages of their careers.

Lorenzo Mauldin said in an interview with the New York media recently that he was "so excited" about how he's started his career with the Jets and said he was "well prepared" by the staff at U of L.

Deiontrez Mount is only expected to be a backup this season with the Tennessee Titans but he said he had "a lot of thanks for" defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and getting him ready to compete.

"No doubt, that was an NFL defense," Mount said of the defense at U of L. "It was just all of the little things. The way he called defenses, the terminology, the little things in college. I couldn't ask to be in a better place and I couldn't have asked to be more prepared."

And that seems to be a trend with the former Cardinals.


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