The name of this column is "Pasch Factor," which is another way of saying I'm a jinx. (And, might I add, was not my choice.) Paul Calvisi loves to remind me that whenever I make a positive statement or prediction about the Cardinals, the opposite often comes true. Ron Wolfley will start shaking his head during the course of a broadcast, if he thinks I've invoked the "Pasch Factor" with a seemingly innocuous statement.
With that disclaimer serving as a warning, I now present my pre-season Arizona Cardinal awards. If the "Pasch Factor" rule ends up applying to any of the following people, I truly and deeply apologize in advance.
Most Improved Player: Darren Fells. Fells only had a handful of catches last year, and I expect to jump to around 30
receptions in 2015. Fells improvement is noticeable in camp, and I predict he'll be a viable red zone and down-the-seam threat.
Most Unsung Player: Jared Veldheer. He was probably the team's most valuable offensive player last season, and will provide tremendous stability again this year. Veldheer is flat out solid and reliable. I wouldn't be surprised if Veldheer ends up representing the Cardinals in the Pro Bowl in 2015.
Rookie of the Year: Markus Golden. The outside linebacker from Missouri could end up starting this season opposite Alex Okafor. Golden has a high motor, so you know what you're going to get from game to game. He may not become an elite pass rusher, but should get a handful of sacks in 2015, and be solid against the run.
Comeback Player of the Year: Carson Palmer. It's amazing to think that the year before Palmer's injury riddled season, he played every single snap at quarterback. Palmer is healthy again, and has looked fantastic throughout training camp. He was 6-0 as a starter last year, and I expect him to have a big year in 2015. 30 TD's, and over 3,500 yards will get him Pro Bowl consideration.
Breakout Star: John Brown. After setting the record for game-winning touchdown catches by a rookie, his production dropped off. Not surprising considering all of the injuries at quarterback. Brown has developed great chemistry with Palmer, having spent a lot of the off-season with him. Plus, Brown has added muscle to his slight frame. I could see Brown getting 60-70 catches, and 800-1000 yards in 2015.
Most Valuable Player: Patrick Peterson. Now that Patrick has his diabetes under control, look out. He has dropped 15-20 pounds, and looks lightning quick. I doubt teams will throw at him a lot, but I still think he ends up with four or five interceptions, and a couple touchdowns. He will be in the NFL defensive player of the year discussion by season's end.
The pressure is now on Darren, Jared, Markus, Carson, John and Patrick to reverse the "Pasch Factor." Slay the curse forever, and provide a new name for this column by season's end.