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You've Got Mail: Summer Vacation Begins

Guest host Craig Grialou talks training camp, Paris and Kyler future

Paris Craig Mailbag 0627

It is very quiet around the Dignity Health Arizona Cardinals Training Center. Many, including the gentleman who normally handles the mailbag, are gone on vacation. So, in Darren Urban's absence, he has entrusted me to answer some mail. I wonder if I'll get asked back. (I'm not sure how that will work; the mailbag will take a week off during July 4 and the always popular and never duplicated Dani Sureck will handle the mailbag for July 11.) Today's questions have been edited for length and clarity. As always, you can send in a question for a future mailbag here:

From Haley Williams:

"I know we have a new coaching staff in place, so this might be difficult to answer at the moment, but other than fanfest Saturday, what open practice day would you recommend as generally being a good one? I want to go this year, during the week, but want to try and hit one of the higher energy days, rather than one of the slower walkthrough days. Any insights?"

With Jonathan Gannon you're always going to see high energy. But I get what you're saying, Haley. You want to see action. More specifically, I'm guessing you want to see a padded practice. The earliest the Cardinals can practice in pads is July 31. Now, will they actually be in pads that day? I can't say for sure. And you're right, the Red/White Practice is always a fun one. It's always the best-attended practice of training camp, and players tend to feed off the crowd. The Cardinals will hold 11 open practices at State Farm Stadium, and here's the whole schedule.

From Steve Zukowski:

"Do you see the Cardinals eventually working Isaiah Simmons into a strong safety (in the mold of another Adrian Wilson)? I think he could match up well with the top tight ends in the league since he's about the same size as these freakish athletes. Then we could trade Budda to a contender next year for a future first-round pick and give Isaiah the contract that Budda is currently seeking. Any thoughts?"

Hang on there, Steve. Before we even think about moving on from Budda in favor of Isaiah – or begin to discuss Isaiah in the same breath as A-Dub – how about we see how Isaiah looks in training camp. Can he handle what will be asked of him in a Nick Rallis-led defense? There's no question Isaiah's role is going to be one of the bigger defensive storylines in camp. And even if he excels, I'm still not trading Budda. Personally, I'd like to see Budda end his career in a Cardinals uniform. Also, here's something to keep your eye on: Isaiah, Budda and Jalen Thompson on the field together. Might that work? They are three of your best 11 defenders, in my opinion.

From Cole Miller:

"I heard somebody mention that Paris Johnson Jr. is playing right tackle? I thought he was playing left guard? If he's our RT, then who's playing LG? And also, what about Kelvin Beachum? Beachum is the old man leadership of our OL, you can't have him not playing. I don't get this."

Not sure where you heard Paris was playing left guard. Since he first took the field during rookie minicamp, he's always lined up right of center. The expectation is that he will begin his career at right tackle and compete with Kelvin to be the starter in Week 1. If we've learned anything from Gannon and the new coaching staff, it's that no starting job will be handed to anyone, regardless of draft status or tenure in the league. Though, to be honest, you would like to see Paris win the job and then have Kelvin (or Josh Jones) be your swing tackle. You're right, Kelvin is great to have in the locker room. Now, left guard is the real question mark along the line. The team worked in a handful of different players at the position during the offseason. That competition will likely extend well into camp and preseason games before a final decision is made.

From J Schubert:

"In your last mailbag it was mentioned that it would be unlikely that the Cardinals would ever suit up four tackles for a game, which is understandable. You also mentioned we were a little low in the RB position. Why not suit up one of your tackles as a blocking lead back and let him blow open holes for your feature back to run through? He could even carry the ball or catch a pass once in a while. Several teams use big linemen in the backfield and if we did it, it would allow us to keep all of our big men active on game day. Any rule against having three tackles on the field at one time in the NFL as long as you declare one an eligible receiver?"

There is no restriction on the number of tackles on the field. Once you get past five offensive linemen, any additional lineman – including a defensive lineman – would have to report to the referee and be declared an eligible receiver. Now, having said all that. I can certainly see that as an option in short yardage or, more likely, goal line situations. You wouldn't, however, want to make it a regular occurrence because it tips your hand to the defense. I could also see a scenario where the Cardinals use a tight end as an extra blocker in the backfield. What we won't see, though, is a fullback. Sorry, Ron Wolfley.

From JPR Cards:

"I have read multiple reports that speculate that the Cardinals are ready to move on from Kyler Murray. I have no idea if that is so or not, but my question is where do these outlets get their information? I seriously doubt that that sort of information came from anybody that works in the Cardinals organization. However, the way these outlets present their story makes it sound as though it is not just them speculating but rather like they have some inside information. Like I said I seriously doubt that anything like that came from within the organization. I think it comes off as a bit of irresponsible journalism for them to present their story as though it is based on some inside knowledge. What do you say?"

Without specific examples, it's hard to say what is and what isn't "irresponsible journalism." To me, there is a big difference between what is a report, i.e., something that did happen, versus what is speculation, i.e., something that may happen. No one has reported the Cardinals are ready to move on from Murray. It is, as you said, speculation from a lot of national writers who cover the NFL. This is the time of year when a lot of those stories are written; something to get fans to click on a link or other media to talk about when there isn't anything to talk about because there are no games. I find a lot of it silly since no one has a clue 1) how Murray will play once he returns from injury and 2) how he will perform in what is a brand-new offense for him. Let's all be patient. (I know, easier said than done.)

From Mark Mason:

"I feel like the team moved into a better management and coaching position this offseason and even though we lost some big names to free agency, we also kept some big names and acquired some definitely talented players in the draft and free agency signings as well. They say that the Cardinals will finish next to dead last this season. I don't see it. I will be keeping my eye on Clayton Tune. In 2018, my number one pick for QB was Lamar Jackson. I believe that Clayton Tune is my number one pick as far as QBs this year. Don't get me wrong. I really think Colt McCoy has done a great job for the Cardinals; however, during this rebuild season, I hope Clayton Tune gets his chance to shine. Do you believe that the Cardinals are going to do better than the naysayers or does this team need a little better review than it's been getting lately?"

There are teams that do better than expected every season. Can the Cardinals be one of those teams? Of course. I also understand why many are not very high on the club given the roster turnover and the uncertainty of when Murray will return. I am intrigued by a lot of the new faces and the opportunity that there is for the entire draft class to contribute right away. Outside of Paris Johnson Jr., no rookie was talked more about – and talked positively about – than wide receiver Michael Wilson. I'd be careful, however, expecting too much too soon from QB Clayton Tune. He's in a great spot to learn from a veteran like Colt McCoy, and even Murray. Let's see how Tune performs when pajama ball (what Gannon called offseason football) becomes real ball.

From Matthew Stroh:

"Hey Craig Grialou, I've been listening to and watching in the Cardinals app for several years have seen people come and go. I think you are doing a good job. I like you on Cover 2. Here's my question: Do you think Greg Dortch has a chance to surpass Hollywood brown and Rondale Moore if they still have injury availability issues next season? If we don't add any more players this offseason, how do you think this season will go? P.S. Who is your favorite person to do Cardinals' media with?"

For starters Matthew, I appreciate the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy what we do. We have a great team on the Content and Creative side, and it is very much a team. So, I have no favorites. Working with Darren, Paul and Dani is always fun. All four of us, in any combination, have very good chemistry. As far as Dortch, he proved last season he is more than capable of handling an increased workload on offense. Is that in his future this season? I'm not sure. It may, as you mentioned, depend on the availability of the other receivers in the room. For a player like Dortch, it's likely we will see his biggest impact come on special teams.

From Michael Weber:

"Hi Darren. In Germany we have a soccer coach with a great sense of humor who once wanted to draw people's attention to an important thing. He said, 'If the head works the right way, it is as valuable as a third leg.' So, I would like to know if the Cardinals are working together with psychologists or mental coaches or something like this. I think being a professional athlete can be challenging for your mind and soul and if you don't find a way to deal with it, it will affect your performance on the field and (that's way more important) it will also affect every other aspect of your life. Thank you for your work, Darren. Greetings from Germany."

Great question, Michael. If Darren wasn't on vacation, he would say thank you for your kind words. He does do good work. Alright, back to your question. The Cardinals do have people on staff who specialize in mental health and psychology. This is a subject that more and more leagues, teams and players are devoting time and resources to, and for good reason. As much as it is a physical challenge for athletes to do what they do, you're right, the mental challenge often times is greater. It's why we've heard Gannon repeatedly say, when asked about a timetable for injured players, i.e., Murray or Zach Ertz, he wants them 100 percent both physically and mentally before a return to action.

From Sol Man:

"Thoughts on the Suns getting Bradley Beal? I like it. Matty Ish is going for it man! Championships are won by superstars, and we got them. I'm not too worried about our depth, I think some savvy, veteran ring chasers will fill out the bench. I love that D Book turned Phoenix into a sought-after destination for superstars."

Like Darren, I, too, am a Suns fan. The trade came as a complete surprise. Adding a third superstar was not the direction I expected the team to take this offseason. Now let's see how GM James Jones fills out the rest of the roster. That will be key.

From Scott McDonald:

"Hey, Craig. Since it's a pretty quiet time I figured it was safe to go off topic a bit. It's fairly well-documented that Jason Isbell is favorite among sports writers, including your colleague Kent Somers. So are you a fan of Isbell and will we see you at his show on July 7th?"

OK, so this is not going to endear myself to my fellow sportswriters, including a man who I respect a great deal in Kent Somers – and, yes, Darren as well – but I'm not familiar with Jason Isbell. I am, though, always looking to expand my musical interests. That said, a quick check of Isbell's upcoming tour dates indicates he'll be in Tempe on July 11th, not the 7th, and I am out of town that week. Maybe next time.

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