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You've Got Mail: Vacation Edition

Topics include the camp schedule, the "DH" in football, and the uniform


It's another edition of the mailbag, as the calendar trickles toward training camp July 24. There will be another mailbag next week -- with Kyle Odegard pinch-hitting on July 2 one more time -- before the mailbag will go on hiatus until the week training camp opens. As always, you can leave a question by clicking here.

From NJAZCardsFan via

"Darren, who was the most impressive draft pick in camp, the same for the veteran free agent pick up. Thanks!"

Those are always difficult questions, because of the limited amount of time we can actually watch practice, and also because it's not really football, with the lack of pads and contact. Linemen will never catch anyone's eye. But in the end -- maybe because he was in the middle of everything at his position -- I'd say the rookie was QB Kyler Murray. His tools were easy to see and impressive. As for the veteran free agent, I'm going to go with Robert Alford, who looked solid at cornerback. I know the coaches are high on Jordan Hicks too.

From Rob Layock via

"What do you think the maximum number of wide receivers the Cards keep on the roster? Fitz and Kirk are obvious locks plus two high draft picks and KeeSean Johnson getting a lot of praise, so that's five already. Are the remaining receivers battling for just one spot?"

That's still TBD, because the end-of-the-roster makeup is fluid based on special teams, camp performance, etc. But for a team that figures to a) use a lot of receivers and b) have so many young, raw receivers, I wouldn't be surprised if they kept seven. They will definitely keep six. I do believe all three draft picks will make it, so if they kept seven, that would leave two spots for the rest of the candidates. Training camp and preseason games will definitely be intense.

Will that be Kingsbury's signature hat? Only if it's 100-plus degrees and sunny with a threat of skin cancer wherever he goes.

From Freddy R via

"If you had to build the practice squad today, based on the OTAs and camp, who would be on that team?"

That's an impossible question, because not only would you have to comb through an entire 53-man roster first, then figure out of the guys you cut who would make it through waivers -- which also would mean knowing who the other 31 teams built their rosters. Generally, look at some of the undrafted guys or first- or second-year guys that seem unlikely to make it. It's too early to really know at this point. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a couple of offensive linemen, a couple of defensive linemen. There are just so many moving parts.

From Punchy Juan via

"Hi Darren. The practice schedule just dropped (as the youth would say), and I'm just curious about 1 detail: I noticed practice times seem to jump around a lot. Is that not weird to you? I like it because it gives fans lots of options to attend. But from a players perspective, it seems to make it hard to develop a routine."

It is a lot different in that regard compared to previous years to be certain. But to begin with, don't forget there is a new coach with a new thought process. Obviously, no one has been able to ask about it, but I'd think, because the players have long days anyway, that it doesn't necessarily matter too much. Also, it's possible the work will be somewhat different depending on what time they are on the field.

From Robert Malicki via

"This is a NFL question from a MLB point of view. MLB has the DH in the American League and was intended to spark fan interest by keeping aging superstars in the game when their skills were flagging. Would the NFL consider giving its aging stars a roster exemption for similar reasons? Their diminishing play would be offset by their veteran presence/fan interest. Subtract a 'legacy player' from the roster and keep an up-and-comer?"

No, I don't see it. For starters, the baseball players with "diminishing skills" -- i.e. too old or poor athletically to field, but can still hit -- doesn't have a parallel in football. If you are a receiver who becomes older and slower, there is no way for you just to just catch passes. The other issue would be money. How would that work with the cap? Older stars expect their money. To pay it for less production than once upon a time doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

From Steve Drumm via

"Darren: I applaud the philosophical change the team has made over the years to become more open-minded to signing players with checkered pasts such as Tyrann Mathieu, Robert Nkemdiche and now Desmond Harrison. In light of Nkemdiche's recent arrest, do you think team officials might be rethinking that philosophy moving forward, especially if Harrison gets into trouble too?"

Well, my first thought is that Harrison at this point deserves a chance to prove himself. If you're going to sign him, he should get at least one strike before worrying about what to do if he makes a mistake. Bigger picture, I think the Cardinals -- and I'd agree -- see all these things on a case-by-case basis. Clearly there were red flags with Nkemdiche, and he has had difficulty getting past those things. But talent is often hard to pass up. Every team in the league has to walk that line.

I expect Gonzalez to be the kicker. As for punt returner, I'd think it'll be Christian Kirk. The kick return job seems pretty open, depending on who might make the roster.

From John Turilli via

"I would like to know your thoughts on our upcoming defensive scheme. I truly think we will again be a top-five defense once again. I'm thinking this because we are back in the 3-4. Vance Joseph could be the second coming of Todd Bowles? Does he have a history of halftime adjustments?"

The hope is, yes, the Cardinals' defense will bounce back (although losing Patrick Peterson for six games will not help.) I think being aggressive is the right style for the personnel the Cardinals have, so that is a plus. They have to get back to being able to stop the run. It starts there.

Those are three different coaching staffs, so there are slight differences in all. On a non-football level, B.A. never used music. Wilks would play music for stretching and individual work. Kingsbury has the music play throughout practice. Arians and Wilks would tend to watch over all of individual work, while Kingsbury is engaged at all times with the QBs and the offense. But mostly, practices look the same. It doesn't matter a ton who the coach might be, there are only so many ways to structure a practice.

I haven't had a chance to talk hoops with a lot of the new players yet. However ... you have to start with Terrell Suggs, who loves his basketball and who I would not be surprised if he still took part in shooting around once in a while. He's got a good body-type for halfcourt 3-on-3 as well, right? Hakeem Butler is 6-foot-5 and was a basketball player before turning to football (and former Kentucky guards the Harrison twins are in the family, so there's that.) And I'll throw D.J. Swearinger in there, because the defensive backs, whether it is D.J. or guys like Tre Boston or Tyrann Mathieu or Tony Jefferson always believe they have a lot of game.

From Jude Fomeche via

"Hey, you guys do a great job covering this team! My absolute favorite team page in all of sports. My question is do you know if Dennis Gardeck is playing ILB or OLB? I know he was a pretty productive edge rusher in college so perhaps if he has shown so much promise thus far and that carries over into training camp, he could down the road develop into a running mate with Chandler Jones when Suggs hangs it up."

Gardeck is an inside linebacker. The way this defense is set up, Gardeck isn't really big enough to set the edge at linebacker -- which is essentially a defensive end in passing situations. He has done well and apparently made a nice move forward in his development going into his second season, even with a coaching change. His best spot is still special teams right now, and if he can become a solid depth guy at linebacker, that'd be a win for the Cardinals. Maybe he'll be more, although the hope is that Hicks and Reddick become the inside duo for a few years.

From Kenyon Carson via

"Hi Darren! I remain curious as to why David Amerson (a second-round pick by the Redskins in 2013) would be dismissed shortly after minicamp? This was surprising to me as I thought the Cards would be thin at the CB position after P2's six-game suspension. Vance Joseph even spoke highly of him on the Kingsbury Chronicles. What gives?"

The release of Amerson came after media availability so there are no direct answers right now. Did it come as a surprise? To me, yes, because it was believed Amerson would be in the mix to replace Peterson in the short-term. (Amerson's draft status doesn't really matter, especially six years ago.) It's possible that, after all the practices the Cards held and seeing all the cornerbacks at work, they knew Amerson was one guy who wasn't going to be a Peterson-candidate, so they moved on. It happens. It does seem to speak well for Byron Murphy as well as the other cornerbacks they kept on the roster.

A better question for You've Got Mail at, right? But as a long-time Suns fan, I think signing Russell would make the draft-day moves make sense a bit more. I just think Russell is going to have options, possibly more money elsewhere, and however close he might be with Booker, there are other factors in signing with a team.

From DeAndre Williams via

"Do you ever see the Cards getting new uniform and helmet? Just a new design. A team that is rebuilding should make everything new. In my opinion."

Ever is a long time. Ever? Yes. Soon? I don't expect it. I don't know if the helmet is ever going to change. This is one of the original NFL teams and just adjusting the birdhead logo in 2005 was a significant move.

The mind races, no?