Late Arrivals Make for Successful OTA's

The Arizona Cardinals Organized Team Activities kicked off this week and the defending NFC Champs had a respectable turnout. Although the workouts are strictly voluntary at this point, almost all of the Cardinals players were back in the desert. Brad Wilbricht breaks down the recent happenings in Arizona and outlines this week's practices.

Although the likes of QB Kurt Warner and WR Larry Fitzgerald were absent earlier this week during OTA's, there is no reason for Cardinal Nation to panic. Warner and Fitzgerald both arrived late but picked up right where they left off a year ago. Their tardiness benefited the younger players, giving them an opportunity to receive expanded practice time.

In addition to Warner, backup QB Matt Leinart spent time with the first-team offense. Although WR Anquan Boldin is still a no show, wide receivers Steve Breaston and Jerheme Urban were on the playing field for the entirety of the workouts. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald arrived mid-week and continues to perform at a high level.

RB Tim Hightower soared to the top of the depth chart for a portion of last season but will battle incoming rookie Chris Wells for the starting spot this year. Hightower was present for OTA's while Wells is unable to participate due to a rule which prohibits him from taking part.

Darnell Dockett

On defense, DE Calais Campbell picked up the slack due to the void left by disgruntled DT Darnell Dockett. Furthermore, Bertrand Berry has yet to show up freeing up more room in pass-rushing packages for rookie LB Cody Brown. Both Campbell and Brown will push for playing time and will be counted on more as the season goes on. DE Kenny Iwebema didn't take part this week due to a tumor removal and will be out of action for the immediate future.

Like Boldin, Dockett is holding out for a new deal and has made remarks about being traded. Boldin and Dockett share the same agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and are taking similar actions towards a restructured contract. Boldin was unsuccessful with his attempt a year ago and only time will tell how the contract negotiations play out this time around.

DT Alan Branch is a key player to watch given his struggles to make an impact. Branch was mentioned as a possible breakout performer prior to last season but that hasn't materialized. He'll battle Gabe Watson for a starting position with veteran Bryan Robinson likely reverting to a backup role.

In the secondary SS Adrian Wilson was also a late arrival, opening things up for backups Aaron Francisco and rookie Rashad Johnson. Francisco showed a great deal of promise a year ago but struggled down the stretch. Meanwhile, Johnson will experience a crash course of information both during drills and while learning the playbook. Being able to see the field early will certainly help Johnson speed up his learning curve.

The list of young players benefiting from non-participating veterans is abundant. In addition, the Cardinals' coaching staff will get a better look at incoming prospects and returning players who have yet to demonstrate their full abilities.

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