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Sampson Makes An Impression

Notebook: Defense gameplan TBA; Kolb learning from mistakes


Wide receiver DeMarco Sampson makes a catch during practice.

FLAGSTAFF – DeMarco Sampson stayed with Larry Fitzgerald for a month this offseason, but it could still be a lonely existence, thanks to the size of Fitz's house.

"There were other guys (staying there) who were working out but you would never see too many people," said Sampson, a wide receiver who the Cards chose in the draft's seventh round. "You'd see everyone at the field but when you get to the house, it was like a ghost town."

That's OK for Sampson, because when he was on the field with Fitzgerald he left enough of an impression. Fitzgerald was high on Sampson – whom Fitzgerald called two days after the draft to invite him to Arizona to train and live with him – before training camp, and Sampson has shown well since coming north.

"He has football smarts," Fitzgerald said. "He knows how to run routes already, he catches the ball very well. He's mature. I know he is 25 years old, but he has a maturity about him, a swagger that you don't see in a lot of rookies. I saw it right away when he showed up for workouts. It was never going to be about his confidence. I am really excited to see him against Oakland (Thursday)."

Sampson's age can't be forgotten – "It took me a long time to get here," he said – but his route from San Diego State to the NFL, including missing two full seasons with injuries, left him in school for six years. Now he's playing catch-up.

But Sampson is running as the fifth or sixth receiver already and has impressed, something he attributes to a summer with Fitz.

"I feel like the offseason helped tremendously," Sampson said. "I feel I would have done half as good, but with the offseason with him, that's how I feel I got to where I am now. What I learned, tricks he taught me, things to help me get in and out of breaks, routes, it was great."

Fitzgerald said he likes having teammates train with him. "Anytime you can get together, sweating together in the summertime, pushing each other when you're out there, I think that translates to the games," Fitzgerald said.

It stayed on a professional level, but that was all Sampson wanted.

"Fitz does his own thing," Sampson said. "But he's a good dude. I was just trying to get the plays down, go to sleep early, do all the right things. I didn't want to invade his space. I just wanted to keep to myself and learn what I could."

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about walking the fine line between not showing too much defensively to the rest of the league and still trying to see if his unit – now under new coordinator Ray Horton – knows what they are supposed to do.

Whisenhunt smiled.

"Well, seeing as how about half of them can't do the stuff we're trying to get done in practice, it's not really an issue," Whisenhunt said. "We're going to try and tailor something so we can line up in the right spot and cover the right guys. I can pretty much guarantee there will be a couple of times in the game when we don't do that. We're trying to figure that out right now as we continue to try and install and grow. I'm not too concerned about showing or not showing. We will limit some of the calls just because we haven't had a lot of chance to prepare."

Quarterback Kevin Kolb isn't going to forget the interception he threw in the end zone on his final drive during the Red-White practice, an ill-advised attempt to get the ball to tight end Todd Heap that ended up with linebacker Daryl Washington.

"Don't force things," Kolb said of the message that delivered. "That happens to me sometimes, get caught up in trying to make too many plays and sometimes we are capable of making great plays, but that situation down at the end I should have held on to the ball a little bit better.

"Again, better to learn there than on Sundays. I know I am going to make some mistakes, I just want to learn from them."

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