Final Look at Cardinals' OTAs

The Arizona Cardinals quest for a third consecutive division title and playoff appearance is off to an encouraging start thanks to productive offseason workouts that started back in April. After wrapping up this year's OTA action on Wednesday, the Cardinals now break until training camp commences in Flagstaff near the end of July.

The two main storylines heading into offseason workouts were question marks at the quarterback position and in the secondary. While both areas proved serviceable during minicamp and OTAs look for them to remain the focal points when training camp picks up next month. Arizona's coaching staff is comfortable with the progress made during offseason workouts but only time will tell if that progress translates to the regular season.

At quarterback, starter Matt Leinart demonstrated his handle on the Cardinals' offense as well as a positive outlook on leading the team under center. The fate of Arizona's success falls squarely on the shoulders of the fifth-year signal caller. On several occasions Leinart outlined his renewed emphasis on fundamentals and is hoping that emphasis pays of as he returns to the starting lineup.

While Leinart's skill-set isn't overly impressive, the improved attitude and leadership skills he displayed during OTAs are. After being relegated to the sidelines for the last two-plus seasons behind Kurt Warner, Leinart is ready to take advantage of his second chance to lead the team's offense. If Leinart is unable to limit his mistakes, free-agent addition Derek Anderson will likely be called upon at some point during the season.


Greg Toler
(Getty)

Arizona's secondary play has been plagued by inconsistencies and the losses of key performers such as Antrel Rolle and Bryant McFadden could prove disastrous. Newcomer Kerry Rhodes should fill the void left by Rolle but he lacks the ball skills and big-play ability Rolle displayed throughout his career in the desert. Meanwhile, Greg Toler will be depended on to replace McFadden in the starting lineup entering just his second season in the NFL.

Toler was a small-school prospect with raw skills a year ago but put forth a solid effort in OTAs and head coach Ken Whisenhunt is optimistic about his contributions in 2010. If Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is able to shake is mini sophomore slump, it would certainly make life easier for the first-year starter. Toler's performance will be vital during the upcoming season as there are limited options beneath him on the depth chart.

In addition to Rolle, the Cardinals will set out to avenge the loss of other defected star power including the likes of Karlos Dansby and Anquan Boldin. Boldin's time in the desert seemed destined to end for some time and finally happened when he was shipped to the Baltimore Ravens. While Boldin's absence will be felt, Arizona's wide receiving corps is deep and talented. Along with returning wideouts led by Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald, the team's younger receivers were difference makers during OTAs.

The loss of Dansby looks to be filled by a tandem consisting of a veteran, Paris Lenon, and a rookie, Daryl Washington. Washington and the rest of the Cardinals' rookies will stick around the team's training facility for another month working with strength and conditioning coach John Lott. In Washington's case, the extra work could allow him to see an expanded role as a rookie. Washington possesses all the tools to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense but needs to add bulk to his growing frame.


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