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Team Report - ARIZONA CARDINALS

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INSIDE SLANT

--Defensive end Darnell Dockett left Monday's practice on a cart after suffering a sprained right knee in an 11-on-11 session. However, the worst was discovered later when an MRI revealed that he had suffered a torn ACL and will be lost for the season.

Losing Dockett is a huge blow to the Cardinals. At 33, Dockett isn't the player he once was, but he's still effective.

The Cardinals have some depth. Frostee Rucker, a nine-year veteran, played well last year and has looked good in camp. Kareem Martin, a third-round pick, would then be the top backup.

The Cardinals list Dockett as a defensive tackle although he's really an end in their 3-4 base defense. The distinction was made several years ago, mainly because it helps Dockett's chances of making the Pro Bowl. In fairness to him, he does play a tackle position often and occasionally plays on the nose in nickel situations.

The defense has taken another massive hit with Dockett's loss. During the offseason, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby signed with the Browns as an unrestricted free agent. Later, fellow inside linebacker Daryl Washington was suspended for at least one year by the NFL.

--The Arizona Cardinals starting offense has been impressive through two preseason games, although serious questions remain unanswered at three spots on the line.

The unit has scored on its opening possession in each game. In a loss to the Vikings Saturday night, the Cardinals went 94 yards. The week before, it went 79 yards.

In both, the Cardinals revealed what could be a terrific passing attack, provided quarterback Carson Palmer gets protection.

Against Houston in the opener, Palmer went 5-for-5. Included were passing plays of 25 and 38 yards. Against the Vikings, receiver Jaron Brown took a short screen pass 51 yards.

"It's good to come out fast and have some really nice running plays, convert on third downs," Palmer said. "Good execution, good efficiency, which is what you want out of these games."

The Cardinals' depth at receiver has been evident in both. Against Minnesota, Larry Fitzgerald had an acrobatic catch early, then left the game after a quarter. Michael Floyd is nursing a groin strain and didn't play but he's expected back this week.

In Floyd's absence, Brown has impressed. In two games, he has only four catches. But he has 101 receiving yards. One of the catches was for a touchdown and the other three helped set up scores.

"Big play every day," is how coach Bruce Arians described Brown's performance in training camp. "I don't care if it's Patrick (Peterson), Cro (Antonio Cromartie), who's on top of him. He's really developing a confidence factor to become a really solid player."

It's becoming more apparent every day that if the Cardinals can get solid play up front, this offense will be much improved over a year ago. That is a lot to ask, but the expected starting five has yet to start a game together.

Left guard Jonathan Cooper wasn't playing well before he suffered a turf toe injury that's caused him to miss a week of practice. His replacement, Earl Watford, has never played an offensive down in the NFL.

Center Lyle Sendlein has missed most of camp with a calf strain but is expected back this week. Right tackle Bobby Massie has played well through the preseason but he spent most of last season on the bench.

Keeping Palmer upright and healthy will be vital this season. It's evident he's comfortable now in Arians' system. The indecision and miscommunication that marred the first half of last season is gone.

This will be a critical week for the line's development. Sendlein is due back. Cooper might be. Watford played a lot last week, so he knows what he has to work on.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Ted Larsen will become the team's starting left guard when center Lyle Sendlein returns to practice, which is expected this week. Larsen has played well at center and they have a problem at left guard.

Jonathan Cooper wasn't playing well early in camp and has missed the last week with turf toe. Coach Bruce Arians clearly isn't pleased.

Asked on Monday about Cooper, Arians replied: "He's in the training room. He can't do anything."

Earl Watford, a fourth-round pick a year ago, played the position last week. His performance against the Vikings was uneven. He showed some tenacity in the run game but blew some assignments.

--General manager Steve Keim said in a radio interview on Monday that he's received calls from other teams interested in trading for one of the Cardinals receivers. Keim didn't name the team, nor the players but a deal isn't imminent. The Cardinals appear to be deep at the position, especially with the improvement of Jaron Brown this season.

Battle of the week: Rookie Logan Thomas is clearly ahead of Ryan Lindley for the third quarterback position. Lindley played the second half last week against the Vikings and was decent: 8 of 15 for 64 yards. Lindley wasn't bad but he didn't play as well as Thomas did the previous week. He completed 11-of-12 in a nearly flawless performance. It was a huge night for Thomas, who struggled with accuracy at Virginia Tech. The competition isn't over but Lindley has a lot of ground to make up.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Rookie Logan Thomas is clearly ahead of Ryan Lindley for the third quarterback position. Lindley played the second half last week against the Vikings and was decent: 8 of 15 for 64 yards. Lindley wasn't bad but he didn't play as well as Thomas did the previous week. He completed 11-of-12 in a nearly flawless performance. It was a huge night for Thomas, who struggled with accuracy at Virginia Tech. The competition isn't over but Lindley has a lot of ground to make up.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

--S Tyrann Mathieu passed his physical and was cleared to practice Tuesday (Aug. 19) by the Cardinals.

--NT Alamdea Ta'amu passed his physical and was cleared to practice Tuesday (Aug. 19) by the Cardinals.

--WR Michael Floyd (groin) didn't play last week but is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.

--WR Jaron Brown has four catches for 101 yards in two games. He scored once and his three other catches came on touchdown drives.

--RB Andre Ellington isn't going to get much work this preseason as the team tries to keep him healthy for the regular season. He will be in the game in most situations. He might come out at the goal line at times, with Jonathan Dwyer taking over in short-yardage situations.

--T Max Starks, the backup on the right side, is out for at least a week with a sprained ankle.

--C Lyle Sendlein, who suffered a calf injury early in camp, is expected to return to practice this week.

--ILB Kevin Minter (pectoral) might not play again this preseason after suffering the injury in the opener. The Cardinals are hoping Minter can strengthen the injured area and avoid surgery.

--ILB Desmond Bishop, signed last week, wasn't supposed to suit up against the Vikings. But he did and coaches were impressed in his 15 plays.

--G Jonathan Cooper suffered a toe injury against the Texans but isn't expected to miss much time. Cooper is competing with Earl Watford for the starting job.

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Draft time:
Aug 28 9:00 am
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