Training Camp: Cardinals Players to Watch

Who are the players to watch during training camp? Which players are on the hot seat heading into 2010? How is the front office going about signing this year's draft picks? Find out these answers and more inside.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN TRAINING CAMP

Cornerback Greg Toler: The Cardinals traded Bryant McFadden to the Steelers in the offseason largely because they are excited about Toler's potential. A fourth-round pick in 2009, Toler progressed throughout last season as he made the transition from playing at tiny Saint Paul's College in Virginia.

Injuries to starters forced him into action in the post-season, and he played well. Toler is very athletic, and coaches think he has comparable skills to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a Pro Bowler last season. Toler, however, will be challenged for the job by veterans Michael Adams and Trumaine McBride. McBride was especially impressive in off-season practices.

Defensive end Calais Campbell: He has the ability to be a star. Last season, his first as a starter, Campbell finished with seven sacks and could have had several more if he had used better technique.

Campbell has always been stout against the run, but continues to work on refining his rush skills. It's not a stretch to believe he could get at least 10 sacks this year, a high number considering he's a 3-4 defensive end. At 6-8, Campbell sometimes moves inside in nickel situations. His long wing span can narrow a quarterback's throwing lanes. Campbell is also adept at blocking field goals and extra points.

Wide receiver Early Doucet: He's expected to move into the No. 3 role, a job that opened when Steve Breaston replaced Anquan Boldin in the starting lineup. Entering his third year, Doucet has yet to make much of an impact, mostly because he's suffered injuries during his first two NFL camps.

By the end of last season, he was healthy and starting to make an impact. Breaston has proven himself as a starter, so if Doucet lives up to expectations, the Cardinals have two very talented receivers behind Larry Fitzgerald. But if Doucet can't stay healthy, a lack of depth will come into play. Andre Roberts, a rookie, is the No. 4 receiver.

Hot seat: Guard Deuce Lutui: A restricted free agent, he didn't sign his tender off until mid-June, and missed most of the offseason work. Lutui reportedly weighed close to 400 pounds when he signed the deal. If that's true, it confirms coaches' fears that Lutui's conditioning would suffer because of his absence.

Lutui's decision to stay away would have made sense if the Cardinals had not signed veterans Alan Faneca and Rex Hadnot in the offseason. Faneca immediately became the starter at left guard, and Reggie Wells moved from the left side to the right. Wells, Lutui and Hadnot will battle for the starting job.

Lutui is the youngest of the three and the most powerful, but he had better report to camp in shape.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES

  • The Cardinals are methodically signing their draft picks. As usual, they started at the bottom, and have signed their fifth, sixth and seventh-round picks.

    Unlike previous years, however, those selections signed four-year deals, not three. The Cardinals have traditionally given lower-round picks three-year deals, figuring they controlled the fourth year anyway because of restricted free agency.

    The four-year deals signed this year are a departure from the norm, and probably the result of the ongoing labor negotiations.

  • The Cardinals announced their reporting date for camp. They will arrive in Flagstaff on July 30 and begin work the following day.

  • The club will hold a "scrimmage" on Aug. 7 in Flagstaff. In reality, it will be a standard practice but will conclude with a live goal-line session.


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