Training Camp Battles to Watch: Offense

With training camp rapidly approaching, many positional battles are beginning to take form. Several players have already made an impact during last month's mini camp and OTA's currently taking place. Brad Wilbricht dissects the Cardinals offensive positional battles in this exclusive.


While Matt Leinart was named the starter back in April, coach Ken Whisenhunt won't hesitate to bring in veteran Kurt Warner off the bench. The oft-injured Leinart played only five games last season after suffering a broken collarbone. Although he boasts tremendous potential, Leinart has struggled early in his career. He's completing only 56 percent of his passes with a QB rating of 71.2. Meanwhile, Warner has been outstanding since joining the Cardinals in 2005. In 31 games, Warner has completed 64 percent of his passes while maintaining a QB rating of 88.3. Leinart will be given every opportunity to retain his starting status, but Warner could be used in a platoon role if Leinart continues to struggle.


Although Tim Castille received reps with the first-team offense during mini camp, incumbent starter Terrelle Smith still resides atop the depth chart. Smith played in all 16 games for the Cardinals last season, but only had one carry for three yards. Smith is purely a blocking fullback, lacking ideal hands and rushing ability out of the backfield. Castille has experience lining-up at running back in college and features excellent hands. He provides more versatility than Smith and could be utilized as an additional weapon on screen passes. Although the battle for the starting position will likely last through training camp, Castille has a good chance of dethroning Smith as the opening day starter.

Tight End

The Cardinals stock-piled talent at the tight-end position and are hoping at least one player will emerge in 2008. Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick both show outstanding promise and are the favorites to win the starting job. Free-agent acquisition Jerame Tuman is a minimal pass-catching threat and will be used mainly in blocking situations. Also in the mix is second-year TE Troy Bienemann. Bienemann has seen limited playing time, but has been impressive in practice. While a true starter may not surface before the season begins, look for Pope and Patrick to be utilized often in multiple tight-end formations. Both players exhibit great athleticism and will cause match-up problems for opposing defenses.

Wide Receiver

While Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are etched in stone atop the Cardinals depth chart, the third wide receiver position is up for grabs. The competition should be fierce as rookie WR Early Doucet is the early favorite. Doucet has already made a positive impact on Cardinals coaches and players, demonstrating his exceptional awareness and hands. He shows the potential to immediately contribute in 2008. Also vying for the third spot on the depth chart is second-year WR Steve Breaston. Like Doucet, Breaston was extremely impressive during mini camp and should see an expanded role at receiver. Veterans Sean Morey and Jerheme Urban round-out the competition, but will likely see limited action in a reserve role.

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