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You've Got Mail: Preseason Week One

Topics include offensive pace and preseason expectations


Finally, a football game is upon us for 2019. The Cardinals open the preseason Thursday night at home against the Chargers. In the meantime, let's answer some questions, shall we? As always, you can leave a question for next week's mailbag right here.

I don't know about hands down, but it's close between, in my opinion, wide receiver KeeSean Johnson and defensive end Zach Allen. Johnson is going to draw more attention because of the position he plays. Johnson has impressed all offseason and into camp with his ability to run routes especially. Allen just looks strong and that unit needs to him play sooner rather than later.

From Mike Gadaev via

"Hey D, big fan of the mailbag. Do you think the offense is gonna be a hurry-up-type like Chip Kelly's that wore out the defense? Or are they gonna pace it a little better so they don't run out of gas at the end of the year ? Go Red Sea!"

I think there will be a little of both -- although obviously, they don't want to or plan to wear out the defense. Kliff Kingsbury figures a lot of scoring can offset any issues. That's still to be seen. But I don't think they will be going at breakneck speed all the time -- I think they will ebb and flow with the game so they can control the tempo the way they want.

From Phillip Gillam via

"With all the talk about a lot of four-wide receiver sets, how are the tight ends going to be incorporated? Who's the best tight end going in and how many snaps will they get?"

Those are difficult questions to answer right now. We don't know exactly how much Kingsbury will want to use his tight ends. It was up and down depending on personnel when he was at Texas Tech. The other issue is that they don't have a standout at tight end at this point. Ricky Seals-Jones makes a lot of sense because he has a receiving background. But Charles Clay, the guy who many thought was the best fit for Kingsbury, has yet to practice and this deep into his career, that's a concern.

Any players that should get an extended look? Or will get an extended look? In the first preseason game, it'll be the guys deeper on the roster getting the longer looks. So I'm interested to see the receivers -- Hakeem Butler, Kevin White, Pharoh Cooper, Damiere Byrd, in particular -- that should get long looks. Cornerback Chris Jones should be out there for a while. And some of those offensive linemen battling as backups, like Joshua Miles, Lamont Gaillard, Korey Cunningham, Rees Odhiambo, among others, should be out there a while.

From Punchy Juan via

"All of Kyler's snaps are his hand-clap from shotgun formation. Is that to say that our offensive line is essentially on a 24/7 silent count? They surely wont be able to hear the clap in a loud stadium. And furthermore, doesn't that take away from hard counts? No more offsides? It seems the defense will be able to T-off just by watching Kyler clap for the snap."

That's a fair point, but Murray (and the other quarterbacks) have been using a faux clap, which could serve as a "hard count." But yes, it's like being on a silent count most of the time. Clearly, Kingsbury is comfortable with it, because that is the direction it has gone. But the defense still has been offsides sometimes, so to assume they won't ever jump I think is not accurate.

From Kenny Williams via

"Despite the massive differences between this year's offense and what we thought we had going into last season; we're still hearing some of the same things; 'we're going to get the ball out quick', 'we're going to utilize David Johnson, get him out in space'. What went wrong last year with that, and why might we have reason to hope for better results this year?

I'll answer both those 2018-narratives-in-2019 separately. The Cards did get the ball out quick last year, but often it wasn't with the best design and didn't actually contribute to progress. I think Kingsbury's system is better suited for production even while getting the ball out quick, and make no mistake, there will be shots downfield -- I believe more than what they did a year ago. As for David Johnson, well, they said that last year but they never really did it. I think Kingsbury will actually do it this year -- although Johnson is going to work a lot out of the backfield too, because there will be a fear factor built in to he and Murray standing next to each other and defenses having to worry about what might happen.

From Kenyon Carlson via

"Hi Darren! Could you expound on some points you brought up in one of your blogs? You stated that Kingsbury used a headset, and Arians and McCoy used a walkie-talkie. Precisely how does using a headset differ from using a walkie-talkie? I'm assuming that when a HC uses a headset, he's communicating directly with his QB (similarly to how McVay communicated with Goff). Is it a one-way communication or would Murray be able to communicate with KK as well? Also, with whom would the head coach be communicating if he used a walkie-talkie?"

The walkie-talkie was only in the offseason and training camp. Works exactly the same in that it's a one-way communication, coach to player. It's just easier to grab rather than hook up the entire system they normally use in the game. Don't overthink it.

From Robert Burns via

"Not a question, and no disrespect to you Darren, but I have to say that the new feature of the Ride Along with Lisa Matthews is a fantastic addition to the website. She does great interviews and gives a personal insight into the players. Love what she does for the Cards. I hope they continue to keep the Card Chronicles as well. I really enjoy them."

So noted. I would agree that Lisa's new feature is a great addition to camp coverage. And Cardinals Chronicles should be returning in the regular season.

From Simon from China via

"I was wondering whether Kyler or the Cardinals as an organization are planning to utilize Kyler's Korean heritage to expand their fanbase in east Asia. The Rams have drafted a player with Chinese anestry (Taylor Rapp), which has caused quite a fuss here in China. If so, let me know if I can help."

I have not heard any plans of that at this point. It's an interesting concept, but at this point, I'm thinking the Cardinals want to establish Murray with the local fanbase -- and more important, establish him within the NFL as a quarterback.

From Robert Malicki via

"How about a today answer to a yesterday question? It concerns the center position. We reportedly have two starting centers and a long snapper in Brewer. In the timeframes of coaches Don Coryell and Jim Hanifan the Cardinals had all-pro Tom Banks and super-sub Tom Brahaney. Both handled the long snapper duties. With rookie Lamont Galliard on the roster what's to prevent returning to that former setup and opening up a roster spot?"

Nothing is stopping them except that long snapping has become a very specialized art, and frankly, special teams are more important than they were considered back in those days. In those days, if Jim Bakken was hitting 65 percent of his field goals it was pretty good. Now if a guy doesn't hit 90 percent of his field goals, people are asking what's wrong. The guys who long snap now are just really good at it.

From Brett Lawrence via

"How exactly does the practice squad work what is its function? How are its players used who can be placed on it and for how long?"

The practice squad is 10 players -- two of whom can have played two accrued seasons, the other eight must have none or one -- who practice with the roster but are outside the 53-man roster available on game days. They can be signed to a 53-man roster at any time by any team. It's used as a developmental spot or as a place to have some depth ready to go if there is an injury. A player, if he isn't poached or promoted, can be on the practice squad all season. It's created after the final cutdowns, and after all the teams have a chance to sign/claim the players cut from around the league.

From Tim Phoenix via

"I loved the three-word challenge last week. I'd be curious to hear your similar take on the following veterans so far this camp: Fitz, Humphries, Suggs, Jones, Peterson, Gonzalez, Hundley, Cole, Shipley, Pugh."

OK, although as a warning, I'm not going to do these all the time. It's not easy. But we'll do it once more.

  • Larry Fitzgerald -- big season ahead
  • D.J. Humphries -- wait and see
  • Terrell Suggs -- regular season matters
  • Chandler Jones -- 100 snub stupid
  • Patrick Peterson -- still looks excellent
  • Zane Gonzalez -- team has confidence
  • Brett Hundley -- works as backup
  • Mason Cole -- role still TBD
  • A.Q. Shipley -- feels like favorite
  • Justin Pugh -- injuries clearly frustrating