Pre-Training Camp Primer: Five to Watch

Mike Singletary proclaimed the NFL Scouting Combine is more for fans than it is for coaches. When we asked, most NFL hopefuls agreed. Looking ahead, training camp offers fans a similar close-up look at players, but there's no denying training camp is where coaches separate starters from part-time help. With training camp dates released, we look at five players who fill the bill.

5. Going, Going, Gant? It would seem WR Ed Gant's opportunity to earn a spot on the Cardinals roster fell by the wayside with the announcement of a four-game suspension dished out by the league for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, but Gant shouldn't take his opportunity to compete at camp lightly. Gant must become the training camp darling to beat out rule-following receivers who are chomping at the bit. If Gant shows up to camp humble from his mistake and ready to give 300 percent, the Cardinals are a pretty forgiving group once a player makes amends.

Take TE Ben Patrick for example. While frowned upon, Patrick made his bed and slept in a four-game suspension only to come back and prove to Coach Ken Whisenhunt why he drafted him in the first place. The Cardinals aren't as invested in Gant, but with the right work ethic and an in-your-face training camp, he could be a surprise in camp or at least hang on to a practice squad spot.

4. Lutui Come Lately: Deuce Lutui is officially signed and accounted for as of last week, but he needs to get his act in gear to push Reggie Wells for the starting right guard spot. This battle could be just what the former Trojan needs to kick it in high gear. The Cardinals coaching staff likes the player Lutui becomes when he is challenged, whether it be by another team or a teammate. Either player could be their own worst enemy here.

3. Right On Time: With Anquan Boldin out of the picture, WR Early Doucet can fully develop into the high-caliber player the Cardinals drafted him to be. He will compete with WR Steve Breaston for playing time, but Doucet is the future of this group. His production in camp will give Doucet the perfect opportunity to make his case for a full-time Boldin replacement.

2. Love Him? Leave Him? Coaches, players, fans and the media have waited for QB Matt Leinart to hammer in that last nail in his NFL career or surprise the masses with awe-inspiring performances. Either aisle aside, this is Leinart's no-excuse season. There isn't a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in his way; there isn't a shoulder injury (although maybe a chip on one) to compete against; there aren't distracting, media-attention grabbing hot tub photos and the list goes on... There is a starting quarterback role on a silver platter, which, arguably, might be the issue.

1. Oh Danny Boy: Dan Williams takes the No. 1 spot for players to watch this training camp not only becuase it seems fitting with his draft status, but also because he has the real potential of making the Cardinals question who should get the most reps at nose tackle this season. He will push Gabe Watson and Bryan Robinson who are more apt to take the lead due to experience and Williams' transition time, but a solid training camp showing could make the Cardinals even higher on the player they feel so lucky to have.

Here's a look at the training camp schedule at NAU...

Date Practice Time
Saturday, 7/31/103:20—4:45 p.m.
Sunday, 8/1/103:05—5 p.m.
Monday, 8/2/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 3:05—5:15 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/3/103:05—5:15 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/4/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 7:05—9:15 p.m. (Coconino High School)
Thursday, 8/5/103:05—5:15 p.m.
Friday, 8/6/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 3:05—5:15 p.m.
Saturday, 8/7/109:15—11:15 a.m.
Monday, 8/9/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 3:05—5:15 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/10/103:05—5:15 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/11/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 3:05—5:15 p.m.
Thursday, 8/12/103:05—5 p.m.
Monday, 8/16/103:50—5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, 8/17/103:05—5:15 p.m.
Wednesday, 8/18/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 7:05—9:15 p.m. (Coconino High School)
Thursday, 8/19/103:05—5:15 p.m.
Friday, 8/20/109:05—10:30 a.m. and 3:05—5 p.m.
Saturday, 8/21/109:05—10:30 a.m.

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