Tramaine Brock, Sr. earned praise from coach Kliff Kingsbury on Thursday morning, and four hours later, lined up with the first-team defense during the opening practice of training camp.
The 10-year veteran seems in line to play a significant role for the Cardinals’ secondary during Patrick Peterson’s six-game suspension. The question is, where will he line up?
Brock practiced as the nickel cornerback, the position he played for defensive coordinator Vance Joseph in Denver last season, but Peterson’s absence leaves a void on the outside opposite Robert Alford.
Kingsbury said Brock, second-round pick Byron Murphy and second-year cornerback Chris Jones are among the candidates to win that job. Peterson took every first-team snap at practice on Thursday, so if the Cardinals are leaning a certain way with his replacement, it wasn’t revealed.
If it were up to Brock, he would remain as the nickel and have one of the younger cornerbacks on the outside.
“I’m just trying to lock down the slot,” Brock said. “If they want me on the outside, I’ll go out there, but I’m trying to focus on the slot more right now. But it is my job to play anywhere, depending on where they need me.”
No matter where Brock plays, the Cardinals would get a big boost if he can step up in Peterson’s absence. Kingsbury said the early returns have been encouraging.
“You see the comfort level in which he’s operating,” Kingsbury said. “Vance is thrilled about what he’s seen from him. He knew we were getting a solid player from Denver and he hasn’t skipped a beat. I think he’s playing as good as he’s ever played in his career, so hopefully that continues.”
Murphy played both outside corner and nickel with the second team during practice. Despite the rookie’s inexperience, Kingsbury is willing to give him a vital role early on.
“With the need, there’s not going to be much choice there,” Kingsbury said. “Byron is a confident young man. He played at a very high level in a big-time conference under the bright lights over and over in his career, and showed up in those games. There will be growing pains. We know that. But we like what we’ve seen. And if he’s thrust in there, I know he’s going to be fired up for the opportunity.”
COLE AND SHIPLEY SHARE FIRST-TEAM CENTER WORK
There aren’t a bunch of training camp position battles, but one of the most interesting to watch will be the center position. Veteran A.Q. Shipley took the first 11-on-11 snap with the starters on Thursday, but Mason Cole also rotated in.
Kingsbury was asked if he has a starting center at this point.
“We have two of them,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve got to figure out which one it’s going to be. But two guys that we feel really good about. It’ll be a great competition throughout camp.”
Outside receiver is another position that must be sorted out. Kevin White and Trent Sherfield ran with the first-team on Thursday.
KINGSBURY AND MURRAY COMMUNICATING IN NEW WAY
NFL coaches can talk with their quarterbacks through a headset, which isn’t very common in college football. Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray are both getting used to the new form of communication, which the Cardinals implemented back in the spring.
“We’ve really, really worked on that, for me and for Kyler,” Kingsbury said. “Kyler’s used to seeing the visual, the signal from the sideline. Lincoln (Riley, the Oklahoma coach) would give it to him and (Murray) would give it out. Both of us are working through that process. We really hammered it throughout the spring, and we’re doing it every opportunity we can this fall, as well.”
The Cardinals open up training camp with their annual run test at State Farm Stadium