Arizona Cardinals Young Guns and Old Pros Create Competition and Chemistry

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Arizona Cardinals Young Guns and Old Pros

A great NFL off-season is characterized by two essential factors: competition and chemistry. As OTAs and Minicamp both come to a close on Thursday, we take a look at what the Arizona Cardinals 90-man roster was able to accomplish together. Were they able to build out the intangibles? Were they able to lay the cultural foundation of growth and respect for this year? If a familial current starts to run deep within the veterans it trickles down to the rookies. When a locker room gets electrified and unifies under a common belief that tells a fan base that they are a team that is ready to win.

During Last year’s OTAs, the Arizona Cardinals gelled into that cohesive unit. Mike Mayock described it best on the NFL network.

“Every player on that team believes in the guy next to him and they trust and embrace their coaching staff.”

The Cards went on to win 11 games and made their first playoff birth since 2009. This happened only because the veterans embodied the team philosophy and the rookies bought in. Now, it looks like something similar is cooking up in the valley of the sun.

Somebody just said it, family. This band of brothers can’t be broken and we’re going to play for 60 minutes. – B.A.

Bruce Arians knows it all starts with the veterans and he has been very pleased with the way OTAs have gone. He touched on the young guys gunning for a spot on the team and addressed the veterans and how they see this team forming.

“The best thing about it was great competition every single day. We’re finding out more and more about the young guys, we’ve got a group of young guys that can help us. [The veterans] see the young guys and they see the depth that we have and they are very excited and very confident… It was a really good OTAs.”

As the Cardinals set to break after Thursday’s final mini-camp practice, the onus is on each individual to rest, keep in-shape, and continue to grow in their mental games. The responsibility also falls on the vets to make sure the young players stay steadfast with their commitments to growth. These veteran-rookie relationships are an integral piece to team chemistry.

Calais and his defensive front

Calais Campbell is the unquestioned leader of the Cardinals defensive-line. After being named in the top-100 NFL players, the league recognized his prowess as a player and as a leader, a perspective that young Cardinals players are very familiar with too. Last year he acted as big brother to rookie Kareem Martin. Kareem has since moved to the outside linebacker position but Calais still keeps an eye on him.

“One person I saw today that flashed a lot was Kareem Martin. Playing outside linebacker, he’s been doing well coming off the edge. He can really help the team win.”

This year Calais looks to motivate his core group of young lineman, Ed Stinson, Xavier Williams, Rodney Gunter. He likes what he has seen out of the younger group.

“A lot of the young guys are going to make it tough for the front-office to cut them and that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Calais was asked about his role in maintaining the competitive edge and chemistry as mini-camp breaks.

“When we break from here people still got to continue to work… especially the defensive line you know I keep track of the D-line and make sure they are studying.”