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Top Questions Heading Into 2023 Training Camp, Part One

In the spotlight include Kyler's knee, Hollywood Brown and Paris' place

(Clockwise from bottom left) Head coach Jonathan Gannon, tackle Paris Johnson Jr., quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver Hollywood Brown and running back James Conner.
(Clockwise from bottom left) Head coach Jonathan Gannon, tackle Paris Johnson Jr., quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver Hollywood Brown and running back James Conner.

The offseason of change for the Arizona Cardinals is transitioning into the season when it matters.

By this time next week, the Cardinals will have started training camp at State Farm Stadium, finally putting into motion the vision of Jonathan Gannon – and GM Monti Ossenfort – since they arrived in January. How that plays out when the games start counting in September is TBD. Expectations nationally are not high, but Gannon, in his own words, "cringes" when the idea of the Cardinals rebuilding is mentioned.

Camp will be different, with only about two weeks at the stadium, followed by a week at the Dignity Health Training Center prior to preseason game No. 2 and then a week in Minnesota practicing against the Vikings. In that time, the Cardinals will have questions they will begin to answer. Here are some of those, with more posting Friday.


That's the overriding question of all, isn't it? Not necessarily when Kyler Murray is back to practice, but when the quarterback will be behind center in a game. The Cardinals aren't going to want to give any hints about it – both to keep opponents guessing but also to make sure Murray doesn't have any undue pressure of a timeline – although in the end, the Cardinals need to have Murray on the field at some point this season to see what he looks like in this offense and with these coaches. There is no doubting Murray wants to be out there himself. But with an ACL and meniscus injury, and the reality between being cleared to play and playing at a pre-injury level right away, Murray's comeback will be a long process.


The handful of open practices will give insight to what schemes the new head coach will be running on both offense and defense, and that is of interest. But camp will also begin to show how Gannon approaches the rest – the way he structures camp, the intensity of both practices and preseason games, how setbacks like injuries are handled. His energy is always going to be a component of what he does, and he has already won over players (like Murray.) Now everyone will get a glimpse of his style, and what that will mean for the Cardinals.


If we are judging from the offseason, the first-round rookie might end up at right tackle. That's where he spent his time in minicamps and OTAs, although to be fair, veteran Kelvin Beachum wasn't available for much of the volunteer work and still could make a push to return to his starting spot. If that were to happen, might Johnson – who played guard for a season in college – be the left guard? Maybe. There are lots of offensive line questions left, including if Hjalte Froholdt will remain the starting center. But a lot of it starts with Johnson and where he will set up shop.


The Nuk era is over, one in which DeAndre Hopkins was good when he was on the field but simply not on the field enough. So the Cardinals move on, and on deck as WR1 is Hollywood Brown – himself heading into a contract year. Brown played well early last season before his injury, necessary with Hopkins' suspension. He'll have to do it this season without Kyler Murray, at least at first. But Brown will be the top of the depth chart of a changing position, one that needs to get more from Rondale Moore and will try to integrate Zach Pascal and rookie Michael Wilson, as well as holdover Greg Dortch.


Playing on a team that struggled offensively last season, running back James Conner had a solid year. His yards per carry was up (4.3) even if his total touchdowns dropped from 18 to 8. Now he plays for a coaching staff that, at least right now, seems to want to lean into the running game. Given that the No. 2 running back spot is unsettled at best, Conner is in line to be a potential workhorse. That is a role Conner would embrace. Circumstances in-game and with the rest of the RB depth chart will have something to say about it, but who knows? Maybe this is Conner's chance to gain 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career.