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You've Got Mail: The Pads Are On, The Work Ratchets Up

Topics include backup running back, right tackle and Isaiah Simmons

Mailbag-0818

The Cardinals are finally into padded practices, as the regular season draws closer. Meanwhile, the mailbag is in midseason form. To leave a question for next week, go here.

From Kenyon Carlson via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren. Does such a grouping such as 1 TE (no RB) and 4 WRs exist? What might it be called?"

Sure it exists. I don't think it is used much at all -- to have a spread attack with no running back tends to make things a little more obvious, IMO -- but yes, it's out there. From what I have been able to dig up, it'd be referred to as 01 personnel, which makes sense if one back, one tight end is 11, etc.

From Halee Kleo via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren! I watched Kyler's interview today and one thing really stood out to me. Now I might be reading too much into it, but when he was talking about his weapons, he mentioned (in order) D-Hop, Larry, Kirk... and Dan Arnold. I found it notable that Dan Arnold was the name he mentioned, along with those other obvious big three. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Dan Arnold's name keeps coming up. And Kyler himself was caught on mic saying he'd never had a receiver like Dan (due to his height). As a Cardinals fan, and our long time non TE usage, I think he might be in for something big."

Kingsbury has talked positively about Arnold a number of times, so you know they like him. In his limited time down the stretch last year, Murray threw to him enough that you could tell Kyler already had trust there. I don't know if you can necessarily draw a straight line to Kyler saying his name to a big season -- maybe Murray had just thrown a pass late in practice to Arnold and it was in his head -- but Arnold probably would be happy to know Murray sees him as a factor.

From @DavidOnSports via Twitter:

"Will Eno Benjamin make the team for sure? Being a later-round pick, that's never guaranteed."

For sure? I can't say that. But you have to like his chances just given the numbers. The Cardinals are going to need at least three running backs. I'd think he'd be battling D.J. Foster. It might come down to Benjamin's upside as a runner; we know Foster can catch and play special teams. It'll be just so hard to get a handle of how this is playing out without preseason games.

From Vonnie Lee via azcardinals.com:

"Darren, could you do me a favor please? Go grab the Cardinals' cap guru and have him answer this question: how does K.C. find all of this money?! Please have him explain this. We've spoken about this topic before. But it never ends. Now Travis Kelce becomes the second-highest paid TE in the NFL. So let's take a walk: No. 1 highest paid QB, No. 1 highest paid RG, No. 1 highest paid safety, No. 2 highest paid DT, No. 2 highest paid TE, No. 4 highest paid RT, No. 5 highest paid edge rusher, No. 5 highest paid WR, No. 7 highest paid LT. I feel like the kid from the Sixth Sense. Do you people not see this? Am I alone? How is anyone else not raising their hand and saying what the heck?"

I'm going to trust your research on where these guys rank. Yes, we have had this conversation before. It can be done, especially if you want to make things uncomfortable down the road. Mahomes, again, is not making -- cap wise -- a ton this year. That'll change in the future but it allows you to make moves for 2020. I'd have to break all of it down, but it's not magic. How it impacts depth or even the rest of the starters I do not know.

From A.J. Shravaka via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren, will there be any chance we might see the AZ Cardinals Cheerleaders at home game? Since we cannot be there maybe they can step in for us and acknowledge our team like they always have!"

Given the probable restrictions on who will and won't be on the field this season, I wouldn't expect cheerleaders down there. Could they make an appearance in-stadium somewhere? Maybe. I'll be honest, haven't given that much thought.

From monsterdemo3 via Twitter:

"Who are the returners for the Cardinals at this moment? Noticed they've been bringing some in."

I'm guessing the guys with return experience will be in the mix, like Kirk and Isabella. Kingsbury said at one point it was going to be open. Unfortunately, practices are closed to reporting so we won't be getting specific unless a coach brings it up. I do think it's safe to say there aren't any obvious options. There are decisions beyond just who does it best -- for instance, given that Kirk has been banged up in the past, do you want to risk him as a return guy?

From @adrianbb89 via Twitter:

"What is your expectation for the right tackle spot? Is Justin Murray the favorite for now? Will Kelvin Beachum stay as a backup on the left side or could he be moved to the right side? Or do you think Josh Jones could be quickly ready for the switch and start Week 1?"

Given Jones' inexperience, I don't see him in the mix for that job. To much to learn in too short a time. If you have to ask a player to move from left to right, I'd much rather do it with a veteran like Beachum than a rookie. If Beachum is the right tackle, then Jones could back up Humphries at his natural side. If Murray is the right tackle, Beachum can be the top backup both places.

From Nathan Palmer via azcardinals.com:

"Recently there was some news about two things: 1. A Hopkins extension and 2. a trade involving a player and a pick. Can you give any details on either of those things."

There are no details to give. There hasn't been any news about either.

From @toeknee216 via Twitter:

"I'm a big fan of Hakeem Butler with his size and leaping ability. He could be a great red zone threat and, understanding how crowded our receiving room is, is there any chance the Cards can use Butler as a TE2? Have Larry and the tight ends teach him blocking?"

I'll start by saying this -- I can see Kingsbury being the kind of guy who wouldn't mind taking one-time wide receivers and seeing if they can be a tight end. Dylan Cantrell is on the roster right now. Dan Arnold is another former wide receiver turned tight end. That said, I think at this point the Cardinals and Butler both want to see what he can be as a wide receiver. Since he missed all last season, they haven't even investigated that fully yet.

From Lyle Palmer via azcardinals.com:

"Mr. Urban, I'm concerned about finances. I looked at overthecap.com for 2021 and I don't like what I see. We have a lot of free agents. Budda is a cornerstone, must be paid. Patrick. No. 1 CBs are more rare than moon rocks. He must be kept. There is Fitz. On the second tier: Zane Gonzalez. It finally feels like we have a good kicker, but at what cost? Justin Murray. As of right now he's our only veteran right tackle. Third tier: Corey Peters. LOVE Peters. He's our No. 1 rock solid D lineman, but is he becoming a Calais situation? J.R. Sweezy. Kelvin Beachum. There are others but I think these are the big eight. I don't know how we keep them all. And so it becomes a game of who stays and who goes."

Yes, that is the NFL every year. Some stay, some go. The Cardinals will not have all eight of those guys on the roster next year in all likelihood. But the front office -- like every team -- is seeing this through long-range lenses. GM Steve Keim has said a few times he operates over a rolling three-year view. The NFL is all about that game. That's the point of the salary cap, so the teams with the most money can't just hoard all the best players. What makes next year really interesting is the potential of the cap staying flat or actually losing a bit because of coronavirus ripple effect.

From @CGaerner via Twitter:

"Both on Flight Plan and Hard Knocks we got to see COVID tests being done as 'nose swabs.' From what I have heard, reliable tests need to be the dreaded longer version up your nose. Was that a topic of discussion? Any insights on that front?"

All I know is that doctors from both the league and the players' union agreed on the current protocols. I haven't read up on the reliability for any of these tests per se, but I don't see with all the planning and research that went into this that that would be a detail missed. Also, given the thousands of non-up-the-nose tests being given across this country, we're all in big trouble if you're right.

From Hanna Banana via azcardinals.com:

"Crystal ball time. Evan Weaver is a tackling machine and is a better fit at ILB than Isaiah Simmons. Does Simmons move to strong safety? Tell me why he can't be a big Adrian Wilson/Kam Chancellor/Derwin James? Goal is to get the most talented 11 guys on the field at once, so that seems like a great fit. And yes, I do think this is a possible destination, realistically. I'm not 100% sold on Simmons as an ILB, as he's not really a garbage man in the trenches (better in the open field). People overrate how athletic ILBs need to be. London Fletcher is one of the best ILBs of all time and he was 5'8."

I don't know if Simmons' frame makes him best suited at safety. Having been (physically distanced) near him, he's a big boy -- this is a guy they could potentially bring off the edge sometimes, and you want to play him in the secondary? Second, I know Weaver is a tackling machine, but we haven't seen either on the NFL level so I don't know how you'd determine he's a better fit than Simmons. Historically, maybe. I don't see any way Weaver could cover George Kittle. That's part of the job. I still think Simmons' main spot makes sense at ILB, with the way the Cards play. We'll see how it plays out.

From Joop Young via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren, are you going to be watching camp and reporting back daily? I hope so. That would be a nice little series and good content. just highlights and whose standing out and who's struggling, I think that's important."

We will do the best we can under the circumstances. We have highlights every day and I can generally say how a guy is doing. But practices are closed to reporting beyond the first 20 minutes or so -- basically stretching and individual drills. Unless it is said in an interview, we cannot report on if a guy is first string or second string, or anything that happens in team work.

From Richard Wakefield via azcardinals.com:

"It bugs me with news about Patrick Peterson wanting to be better this year. Of course he does. He really hurt us last year but his problem is character, not ability. We lost him last year because he chose to cheat, something that athletes, and anyone else for that matter, can't do. I don't welcome him back with open arms."

I understand the frustration. Normally I'd say I'm a little surprised that he hadn't earned a chance to return from a mistake, but the relationship between fans and Patrick has always seemed ... complicated, and that's even before the trade request. I will say this: I think overall, he has been underappreciated considering the kind of player he has been. The Cardinals aren't going to win if he doesn't play well.

From Steven Sundevil via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Urbz, I was looking at our team roster page and noticed Tom Clements listed as the passing game coordinator/QB coach. I'm confused, because I assume Kliff does both of those things. So what does Tom do?"

Kliff does do those things. But Clements has a ton of NFL experience doing the same things, and it helps to have that experience to bounce ideas off of and to have a different perspective.

From Jano Tanasse via azcardinals.com:

"I was today-years-old when I found out that possible Hall of Fame running back Thomas Jones was drafted 7th overall by the Cardinals in 2000. You might as well tell me we drafted Charles Woodson, I was so shocked. And looking at Jones career, its strange how he was pretty non-descript for four years, and then becomes this 1,300+ yard per season all-pro. In looking at the history of the AZ Cardinals, I feel like all of our misfortune has come down to two things. Poor drafting, notably the notorious ones like Adrian Peterson and Suggs. But even worse, was having good players and letting them go. Jones, Leonard Davis, Simeon Rice, Kyle Vanden Bosch, etc."

I was around for all of those guys. And yes, the Cards had some good players and let them go. But they all had their own stories. Jones and Rice were unhappy here. Vanden Bosch had been hurt and they weren't sure he was ever going to get back to the level he did. Davis was surprised the Cardinals didn't want to keep him. Jones did turn out to be a major success story in this league (I don't know if I'd say Hall of Fame.) I will say he was really good in the role he played on the "Luke Cage" Netflix show too.

From Camren Clark via azcardinals.com:

"Is it for certain Chase Edmonds is the No. 2 RB? I'm still on board the hype train. In the few opportunities he got, he looked great. I'm of the belief that RBs are a dime-a-dozen. Meaning you can find great talent late. Don't draft them high and don't overpay them. So if Drake moves on to bigger money next season, I'd really like if Edmonds became our No. 1. He's not as dynamic as David or Drake, but I think he is the best pure runner we've had."

The depth chart isn't out, but I feel pretty confident Edmonds will be the No. 2. He played well in the chances he got in this offense. What that means in the future, we will see -- let's see how 2020 plays out with this running backs room. But a lot of teams certainly believe in that philosophy you mention.

From JH Jenkins via azcardinals.com:

"Hey Darren. Yes I'm asking 2021 draft questions. Assuming Simmons is a star, what do you think our No. 1 need is going forward? I'm leaning towards defensive line, although you never know what Leki or Lawrence will turn into. We have two aging corners, so CB is probably on the list."

As of right now, I'd go with two old reliables: cornerback and pass rusher.

From Pop Grease via azcardinals.com:

"How come we haven't seen much of our other rookies, other than Simmons? I don't feel like I've seen one team photo or contract video or interview or anything in regards to Josh, Leki, Rashard or Evan. We see a bunch of Eno, as you'd expect. But almost no news on our other guys. I don't even know what numbers they chose."

That seems odd to me, Pop. Specifics are escaping me at this moment, but I could've sworn stories have been written and videos have been posted. And I certainly hope they have numbers, since practice has begun. If they start making a push in practice, there will probably be more, but right now, other than Simmons, all are reserves trying to work their way into practice reps.

From Tom Knowles via azcardinals.com:

"Hi Darren, I know its been implied that Cards Camp will be closed to the public, but I haven't seen any official announcements yet. Is it official yet? There will be zero fan attended camp practices this year? Including Red and White/Fan Fest?"

That is correct. We've had that at the top of the camp page for a couple weeks now. We will have some livestream shows showing some practice, however.

From Punchy Juan via azcardinals.com:

"A Cardinals haiku:
Red and Black, Always
No New Attire Since Oh-Ten
We Don't Like These Clothes"

That gave me all the feels, Punchy. Truly.

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