As the Arizona Cardinals took to the practice fields at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff on Saturday afternoon, the clouds and rain that had persisted through the morning finally broke. Despite the stormy conditions that caused flooding throughout Flagstaff on Friday evening, there was an impressive turnout of Cardinal fans from around the state eagerly awaiting their first look at Big Red's revamped roster.
The low-key practice on the field featured a few bright spots, including an impressive run from Beanie Wells and a diving catch by Larry Fitzgerald that prompted cheers from the crowd of onlookers.
Despite the pre-camp commitment to Matt Leinart at quarterback, he and Cardinals newcomer Derek Anderson split snaps fairly evenly, and even on the first day of practice a quarterback controversy could be brewing. While Leinart completed a pass to Early Doucet streaking down the middle of the field for the day's best completion, he also made dangerous throws into the flat on several occasions. Anderson looked sharp on completions to wideout Andre Roberts and tight end Dominique Byrd. However, he also attempted a dangerous throw on the run that would have been a pick six in a more competitive practice.
Both Wells and Tim Hightower broke nice runs Saturday afternoon, but Wells looks to be the leader of the backfield moving into the future. His physical presence, even without pads, is intimidating to say the least, and he appears poised for a breakout year. Wells will be a focus as camp continues, especially with the quarterback situation as it currently stands.
As practice wrapped on the field, Leinart and Anderson paired off and appeared to be in good spirits as they warmed down. Both men appear dedicated to the program, but don't think for a second that Anderson is gunning for the backup spot. Anderson appears ready to stand toe to toe with Leinart throughout camp, and if necessary, into the regular season. For the new-look Cardinals, competition at every position should be welcomed and encouraged, and the battle is underway in Flagstaff.
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