The Cardinals hot start in 2014 was suddenly derailed due to key injuries, particularly to quarterback Carson Palmer.
Thus far in training camp, the club has already dealt with a number of injuries: Michael Floyd (hand), Andre Ellington (hamstring), David Johnson (hamstring) and D.J. Humphries (knee), among others.
Will 2015 bring better fortune and health?
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Here are five things to watch for in the Cardinals first preseason game:
1. Carson Palmer
Health is paramount for the Cardinals this year, none more important than Carson Palmer. The former No. 1 overall is coming off ACL surgery, so how will he look physically? He isn’t expected to see much playing time, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Will he be sharp? How is he moving? It will be interesting to see how Palmer performs, even in limited time, after a long layoff from real competition.
2. Sophomore sensation John Brown?
Floyd’s injury opens the door for John Brown to receive the bulk of the targets outside perhaps Larry Fitzgerald. Brown added 10 pounds of muscle and cut out fast food from his diet in the offseason in hopes of enduring a long season and battling bigger, stronger cornerbacks. Can he step into a larger role come fall, particularly if Floyd is out longer than expected?
3. Rookie watch
The Cardinals’ first-round pick, Humphries, was expected to be their right tackle for the future, but Bobby Massie’s reported suspension suddenly changes those plans from the start. Humphries missed about a week with a knee injury, but could be asked to contribute more right away. At wide receiver, J.J. Nelson has also turned heads in training camp, and his teammates have been more than impressed with his playmaking abilities on the outside. Nelson could perhaps emerge as another weapon for Palmer in 2015.
4. Center position unsettled
Whatever the Cardinals saw out of A.Q. Shipley and Ted Larsen in the early parts of training camp wasn’t enough, so the club decided to bring back Lyle Sendlein. As of now, head coach Bruce Arians indicated Shipley is ahead of Larsen, so it looks to be a two-way battle between Sendlein and Shipley.
5. Running back help?
Ellington recently returned to practice after battling a nagging hamstring injury. The Cardinals third-round draft pick, Johnson, has also been sidelined for the majority of camp as well. With the backfield fighting injuries, a recent report indicated Chris Johnson is expected to visit the Cardinals this weekend. This begs the question: What will this mean for Ellington’s role going forward? How will the rotation shake out once David Johnson is healthy?