Intense Practice Has Its Missteps Monday

During the pre-season a day off can be a welcomed relief or a team's worst nightmare. After their first day off in nine days, Monday practice was filled with the good, the bad and the ugly. The day-off obviously re-energized the Cardinals. Players had a bounce in their step as they went about their business. The practice was upbeat and players were back to having fun, maybe too much fun.

The high intensity practice had its missteps. Linemen on both sides jumped off sides numerous times, kick returner Steve Breaston dropped a punt, and several near altercations broke out as the day wore on.

In the trenches

With Gabe Watson sitting out, free agent defensive tackle Bryan Robinson is making the most of opportunity. Robinson looked tough in one-on-ones, using strength and speed to beat starting left guard Reggie Wells. Robinson's 12 years of NFL experience have him taking the majority of reps ahead of second-year player Alan Branch.

At 6'5" and weighing in at more than 330 pounds, Branch has shown flashes of dominance during camp. His powerful bull rush and ability to take up space make Branch tough to block but he hasn't been able to do either with any consistency.

Filling in for center Al Johnson till the start of the regular season at the earliest, center Lyle Sendlein is making a strong case to be the starter. Sendlein buried Branch in the dirt during one-on-ones. Maybe just as impressive, was the pass blocking of right guard Deuce Lutui against big-time defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Lutui held his ground and was able to stand up Dockett both times he faced him.

I'll scratch your back

Offensive tackle Levi Brown and outside linebacker Chike Okeafor both have the potential to make a huge impact in the 2008 season, but both need work as well.

Brown has only a year of experience and after being drafted early in the first round by the Cardinals, Brown is entering his second year with high expectations and no room for errors. Okeafor on the other hand missed all of last season.

Okeafor is big and strong, Brown is even bigger and stronger. There positions have them battling everyday in practice and the match up is just that, a battle. Both are benefitting from trying to beat the talent standing across from them. The speed of Okeafor is helping Brown become a better pass blocker, while Brown is getting Okeafor reacquainted with the size and strength of the NFL.

Off the radar

It happens at least once a day, but even if you're lucky enough to attend a Cardinals practice or two, chances are you won't see it. Most likely you'll just hear the hooting and hollering of players and coaches afterwards. Far down the depth chart Travarous Bain is making noise with his play on the field. Playing on the practice team last year and in danger of ending up there again, Bain can be seen making big plays during one-on-ones as well as team drills. He seems to be making progress and has the staff excited. The coaches, players and increasingly the fans all appear to be supporting Bain. No other third or fourth string players are getting the love that Bain has received so far.

Day-to-day

Like a lot of teams, the Cardinals are beginning to feel the hurt of training camp. The Cardinals continue to lose guys to injury on a daily basis. Rookie backup left guard Carlton Medder hurt his left elbow and was carted off the field late in the day.

Cornerback Rod Hood injured his foot in the morning session and was held out of the afternoon practice. The move was precautionary and Hood should be back on Tuesday.

Anquan Boldin is still out, along with Early Doucet, both dealing with hamstring issues.

Darnell Dockett participated in practice after spraining his ankle on Saturday.


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