Luckily for Arizona, things can only get better as the team ranked last in the NFL in rushing a year ago. The Cardinals invested a first-round draft pick in Wells and Hightower, a fifth-round pick in 2008, severely outplayed his draft status a year ago. While Arizona will lose a great deal of experience with the departure of James, Hightower and Wells boast excellent potential and the Cardinals' running game could be poised to improve dramatically.
Along the defensive line, movement is also expected to take place on the perimeter thanks to the departure of DE Antonio Smith. Smith left for the Houston Texans and second-year DE Calais Campbell is expected to take his place in the starting lineup. However, Kenny Iwebema will also be heavily involved in the rotation and the versatility of Keilen Dykes could allow him to contribute at a variety of positions.
Although there won't be much jockeying for position within the starting lineup, there's handful of areas that will be under the microscope during training camp and the preseason. Improving Arizona's rushing attack and stopping the run on defense will be major factors in the Cardinals' 2009 success. Given that adjustments are imminent in those two spots, preparations beginning later this month will be extremely important.
Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at email@example.com
or click here to access the AZRedReport.com message boards.