Training camp is upon us, and with it, the questions that inevitably crop up.
The organization has made multiple moves in ways GM Steve Keim feels has improved the roster. The young players have had another year – and another offseason – to level up. Whether the Cardinals can find their way back to the postseason for the first time since 2015, in what is likely the most difficult division in football, lies behind how many of the questions will be answered.
WHAT LEVEL CAN KYLER MURRAY REACH?
Everybody knows Murray is the engine that makes the Cardinals go. The quarterback wasn't as consistent as he or anyone else wanted him to be last season, especially down the stretch. But losing Murray to an ankle sprain in the disappointing season-ending loss to the Rams drove home the reality that no Kyler means no chance. Murray has been a Pro Bowler, and he's shown he has the ability to be that franchise quarterback. The Cardinals are looking for him to be that guy all the time. In his third year, Murray seems primed to do just that.
WHAT HAS KLIFF KINGSBURY LEARNED AS COACH?
Like Murray, Kingsbury heads into this third NFL season. Like Murray, Kingsbury has had a learning curve that he acknowledged when he arrived was something he would need to climb. This offseason, Kingsbury changed wide receivers coaches, he promoted Sean Kugler to run-game coordinator and moved Cam Turner to quarterbacks coach. He seems to have taken a step back from working exclusively with quarterbacks in the beginning part of practices, choosing a more all-encompassing role. How this translates to game day – and make no mistake, Kingsbury will continue to call plays – will be seen, but like players, the coach's growth will be a factor in how this season plays out.
IS CHASE EDMONDS READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP?
Perhaps that's not the right phrase, because if you know Edmonds, you know the running back has been ready for this chance to be the team's top running back. There are questions about his size compared to the number of carries, yes. But if Edmonds leads the team with 20 touches a game, there's nothing wrong with it being 14 or 15 carries to go with five or six catches. James Conner has arrived to ostensibly take the bulk of the short-yardage situations, but how he and Edmonds mesh will be crucial. Edmonds already has said he looks forward to working as a tandem with Conner. But as Edmonds goes into a contact year, the spotlight will be on.
HOW MUCH WILL RODNEY HUDSON IMPACT THE OFFENSIVE LINE?
That Hudson was available in the first place this offseason was a surprise. The Cardinals grabbing him may end up being the most important move of the offseason (although that of J.J. Watt certainly is a fair argument.) The Cardinals had been hopeful former draft pick Mason Cole would develop into something he did not; Hudson represents a significant upgrade. He should help in the run game, but he has rarely surrendered a sack in the passing game over the last few years and provides an experienced anchor upon whom Kyler Murray can lean. The offensive line overall seems like it will be its most solid in a while – D.J. Humphries and Justin Pugh on the left side of Hudson, a TBD at right guard (but potentially veteran Brian Winters) and Kelvin Beachum on the right.
HOW DOES THE RECEIVERS ROOM WORK POST-FITZ
Yes, at this point, technically we don't know if Larry Fitzgerald will be back but, I mean, training camp starts in a couple of days, so it doesn't look good. So a crew without Fitz – for the first time since 2003 – is odd. But the Cardinals already had their No. 1 in star DeAndre Hopkins, and he should have another 100-catch season. But beyond that? A.J. Green will get the spot as the other outside receiver, but he and everyone else understand he'll have to prove he can still get back to a level that made him so feared for so long in Cincinnati. Christian Kirk will move to the slot, where Fitzgerald resided, but rookie Rondale Moore will get his chances to touch the ball. And we will see if holdovers Andy Isabella or KeeSean Johnson will have an opportunity to get much playing time.