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You've Got Mail: Offseason Work Rolls On

Topics include locker-room neighbors and expectations for Murray


The final week of OTAs is underway as the Cardinals move toward the end of the offseason work. The questions don't stop, however, so here is another batch. As always, you can leave a question for next week's mailbag by clicking here.

From Alfredo Rodriguez via

"In what week of the regular season do you think we will be 'cohesive' and running like a 'well-oiled machine'? In a perfect world it's right away to beat out the Lions, what do you think?"

I'm not gonna lie -- when I read the question with the quote marks, I couldn't get Chris Farley out of my head. But I digress.

It's tough to know that right now, since they can't really play real football until training camp. But if everyone stays healthy in camp, it makes sense they will be able to perform at a high level going into the season. What we don't know is how that high level might compare to, say, the level at which the Lions are at, especially since they have the same coaching staff as last season. Regardless, no team is playing at its best in Week One -- or if they are, they'd rather hit their stride later in the season.

From Mike Watts via

"Do you think training back at NAU in the future will prepare us for better games in the future? I felt the better years were us training at higher elevation. Granted we have the new Tempe facility. How much of the NAU training camp do you think helped us compared to the new training facility?"

Well, there is no "new" facility. The Cardinals simply moved training camp to State Farm Stadium. There were advantages to training in Flagstaff, certainly, and elevation was one. But in the end, logistically, the way the Cards do it now is so much better, both for the players, the organization and even the fans. The business of camp ultimately moved the Cards back to the Valley, but personally, I don't think the location of camp had too significant of an impact on the team itself. If the team is good, it'll be good whether it trains in Glendale or Flagstaff.

From Bryan R via

"The Cardinals website and app have Corey Peters listed at 335 lbs. They have Will Holden and Colby Gossett both listed at 330 lbs-plus. Last year Peters was listed at 305 lbs and Holden and Gossett both around 312 lbs. Did these three really gain that much weight in the last few months? There is a big difference between a run-stuffing nose tackle at 305 compared to one at 335. Same with a big difference between an O-lineman at 312 or a roadgrader at 330. What are their true weights? I know they fluctuate throughout the year but in the case of Peters, a fluctuation of 30 lbs?"

These are fair questions. Usually, it's just an update on heights and weights that many teams don't necessarily get into the public roster every year. I'm pretty sure those guys didn't jump up in weight that much this offseason. As the one who updates such things, I can also say there were a couple of minor changes with heights as well.

From Fred Gadless via

"Why did Patrick Peterson get six games (for suspension) when other players only got four games?"

We do not have the exact breakdown of why the punishment was what it was. But if you look at the CBA's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, there is this under the punishment section: "Positive Test Result for a Prohibited Substance plus a Diuretic or Masking Agent/Attempt to Substitute, Dilute or Adulterate a Specimen/Attempt to Manipulate a Test Result/Violation of Section 5 -- six regular and/or postseason games."

From Chris Minton via

"Does Peterson's lost money still count against the salary cap? He obviously loses the $3.8 million, but is that money the team can spend since he's technically not getting paid? Or is it based simply on contracts?"

A team gets back a credit on the salary cap for a suspended player's lost salary once the suspension begins. So yes, it will increase the Cards' cap space once September comes around.

From Punchy Juan via

"Could you run through some of the notable locker-neighbors, especially with the rookies? Once upon a time, Palmer had Smokey next to him. I noticed in a recent video David Johnson mentions a very quiet rookie next to him, but doesn't say who. Limiting it to the draft pick players, can you tell us who is next to who?"

The quiet guy near Johnson is Andy Isabella. Kyler Murray is next to Brett Hundley. Byron Murphy isn't with the defensive backs yet -- I'm sure he'll move once we get to the regular season -- and he is between DT Terrell McClain and punter Kyle Winslow. Zach Allen is in a corner with the defensive linemen next to Rodney Gunter. Hakeem Butler is with the running backs right now (like Isabella), next to D.J. Foster. The rest of the draft picks are all in the auxiliary locker room for now, until cutdowns allow shifts into the currently full main locker room.

From Steve Drumm via

"I feel those Cardinals fans and certain media members who are expecting Kingsbury and Murray to come blazing out of the gate and set the league on fire need to temper their expectations a bit. First-year rookie QBs always experience bumps and bruises and I think Murray will be no different. Statistically, what kind of numbers do you feel Murray needs to reach this season for the Cards to feel good about his progress? I would like to see at least a 60-to-62% completion percentage and 20-to-25 passing TDs with no more than 17 interceptions in this offense and, of course, staying healthy."

I don't know if there are pure numbers connected to how they'd like to see Murray achieve to note progress. I think you have to complete at least 60 percent of your passes in today's NFL, so to me, that's the floor. As for the other numbers, I'm sure the Cards would love at least a slightly lower interception count. Last year, Baker Mayfield was 63.8-27-14 in your stats. I'm thinking the Cards would be thrilled with that, especially when you figure (at least I figure) that Murray will get you at least 500 rushing yards and five more TDs rushing, conservatively. But if he doesn't reach those numbers, it doesn't mean it's a miss. There will be nuance there, and I'd want to see all the details of 2019 before I'd analyze.

From Rod Derby via

"Hello Darren. From the little you've seen (understandably) what do Kliff Kingsbury OTAs look like? Every new regime has their own vibe. I know Steve Wilks seemed to be very regimented, like a military. And they had music playing, etc. Can you break down the vibe you see under Kingsbury? Is it looser, is it tighter. Is it player friendly, or more serious Patriots-esque?"

I would say it's pretty player-friendly. Like Wilks, Kingsbury has music playing, and unlike Wilks -- who would turn the music off at a certain point -- Kingsbury has the music play through the balance of practice (albeit turned down at times.) As Kingsbury said Monday, he doesn't mind the players showing a little swag on the field. But make no mistake, the pace is quick and Kingsbury makes sure they know to keep up the pace if he feels like it's starting to drag.

Even with all the coaching changes, there were no changes in the strength and conditioning staff, so the Cardinals continue to train the same way.

From Kyler QB1 via

"Hi D - The Cardinals picked up D.J. Humphries' fifth-year option. Do you think this will be the make-or-break year for D.J.? There are two really good left tackle's in the 2020 draft (Walker Little and Andrew Thomas). I'm wondering to myself if the Cards start looking at other guys who either have higher ceilings, or can just stay healthy. Or if they view Hump as the long-term LT here."

I think it's a little early to know that, since 2019 will be part of the equation. Here's the issue with Humphries -- given his age, and the dearth of young tackles available on the market, he's going to make a pretty decent contract. So there are a lot of factors in play here, both with what Humphries might want in a contract, what the Cards think they might be able to replace him with if they were to move on, Humphries' health and of course, how he plays. Personally, doing what I do, I hope Humphries sticks around. But I don't think anyone knows for sure right now how it might go in January or February.

From 11 4ever via

"Silly question, I know, but I sure do see a lot of photos of defenders running back interceptions, in addition to stories about Byron or PP getting an interception. Is Kyler out there throwing a bunch of picks? Or is that normal from what you've experienced. If I knew Kurt Warner threw a bunch of interceptions every practice, it might alleviate some concern."

To be honest, other than the Peterson pick -- because he said it was Murray -- I don't know who was throwing the passes. Also, I'm a lot less concerned about INTs this time of year than, say, a regular-season practice. This is the time of year when plays are tested out, where everyone (not just the QB) is learning the offense. It's not going to be perfect.

From Miles Laughlin via

"What is the time line for Robert Nkemdiche's return to practice? Has he been rehabbing with the Cardinals organization? And what is your opinion on him getting a fair shot to play with this new coaching group?"

Nkemdiche is rehabbing at the facility. There hasn't been a timeline put out for his return to the field, which now looks like it won't be before training camp. As for a fair shot -- I think that's up to Nkemdiche. They could use another quality defensive lineman. But at this point, he still has a lot to prove.

From Fletcher Battles via

"After Rodney Gunter had a special season last year, why is nobody talking about him? I understand Zach Allen has some hype and Darius Philon should be solid, but I believe Gunter is going to be very special this season. What are your thoughts?"

As much as I think Gunter had a solid season in 2018, you and I have a different definition of special. To me, special is what Chandler Jones did in 2017. Or what Larry Fitzgerald did in the 2008 playoff run. Or what David Johnson accomplished in 2016. As for people talking about him, I think had he had the free-agent market develop as he thought, that might be different. But the way it played out, it seems the league is still waiting for Gunter to prove himself again.

Um, I'm feeling confident that a) he has multiple shirts and b) Kliff takes advantage of the daily laundry the equipment staff does for everyone downstairs in the locker rooms. You can't blame a guy for having a look. How come you're not worried about, for instance, Larry Fitzgerald wearing that same No. 11 shirt he has on every practice?