Behind enemy lines: A look at the Cardinals

A look at this weekend's matchup with the help of Cardinals Football Talk's Brad Wilbricht.

Chris McClain1. The Cardinals were cruising last year until veteran quarterback Carson Palmer went down with another injury last season. How has Palmer looked in his return?

Brad WilbrichtPalmer has looked great thus far, and it's no surprise as his rehab has been ahead of schedule all summer long. There appear to be no ill affects from the torn ACL that he suffered a year ago with both his velocity and mobility in the pocket looking better than ever. Palmer was also slowed by a shoulder injury last season, so he's proved to be injury prone but the Cardinals are hopeful that Palmer will be on the field for all 16 games this year. If he is, look for Palmer to flourish now in is third year in coach Bruce Arians' offense and under the guidance of quarterback guru Tom Moore.

CM2. The Cardinals front office addressed the need for a running back fairly early in the draft by selecting David Johnson in the 3rd round. Johnson played a solid game last week, racking up 66 yards on 13 carries. What are his strengths and what are his weaknesses? What have you seen from him?

BWI've hyped David Johnson up quite a bit this offseason, even going as far to predict him overtaking Andre Ellington as Arizona's starting running back by midseason. We haven't see a ton yet from Johnson as he's been slowed by a hamstring injury but his debut in the team's second preseason game was certainly worth waiting for. Johnson is a powerful runner with a good burst of speed and excellent vision. He also excels catching passes out of the backfield. The only question mark would be how Johnson holds up in pass protection and if he's able to do that Johnson should see extensive action in 2015.

CM3. The Raiders lost left tackle Jared Veldheer in free agency a couple of years back. How has he been performing? How does the offensive line as a whole look?

BWUpon his arrival in Arizona, Veldheer immediately became the catalyst of the Cardinals' offensive line. The team's performance in the trenches had plagued them years but has improved exponentially of late, in large part due to Veldheer's ability to protect the quarterback's blind side. Arizona did suffer a big blow when free-agent addition Mike Iupati went down with a knee injury and he'll miss up to eight weeks of action. The Cardinals are also dealing with an expected three-game suspension of starting right tackle Bobby Massie. Despite those setbacks, Arizona has stockpiled depth along the offensive line and has players ready to step up.

CM4. Rookie wide receiver J.J. Nelson adds another dimension to the Cardinals offense. What have you seen from him in camp, and how is his chemistry with the quarterbacks looking?

BWSpeed, speed and more speed. J.J. Nelson has as much gameday speed as anyone in the NFL. Some players can run a fast 40-yard dash but that doesn't always translate to the field. That's not the case with Nelson, however, as he plays just as fast as is blazing sub 4.3 40-yard dash time. Nelson is still raw in his route running and has a very slender frame but you just can't teach his speed, something the Cardinals will look to exploit this year. Palmer has raved about the growth of Nelson throughout training camp and results are showing on the field as Nelson recently reeled in a 57-yard bomb against the San Diego Chargers.

CM5. Arizona has quite a bit of talent at the wide receiver position, including the veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Who is the team's "number-one" and how do you see the ball distribution working throughout the corps?

BWI've been saying all offseason that John Brown will be the team's No. 1 wideout this year and I'm sticking to that. Fitzgerald is still a serviceable wide receiver, but his best days are behind him. Michael Floyd, who was thought to be Fitzgerald's heir apparent, just hasn't progressed as expected and is currently sidelined with broken fingers. Rumor has it that Floyd will be back for Week 1, but his absence until then has opened the door even more for Brown to be the Cardinals' top target in 2015. Following Brown (in terms of production), I'd go Floyd, Fitzgerald, Nelson and Jaron Brown - in that order.


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