Arizona Cardinals Young Guns and Old Pros Create Competition and Chemistry

2 of 2

Carson Palmer and John “Smokey” Brown

If you watched Cardinals football last season then you saw the 75-yard game-winning touchdown connection from Palmer to Brown, in the fourth quarter of the Philadelphia Eagles game. If you watch the play, Carson had beautiful protection and Brown smoked the defensive-backs. With an even-more-improved offensive line, Palmer might find that same protection and with ten-pounds of added off-season muscle, Smokey might be able to pop and shake those defensive backs in a similar fashion. It looks like their roles have been fortified but what of their chemistry? Carson speaks.

“We have been working together a lot, we have had a lot of hours together [with] him coming back and training with me in the offseason. It’s a work in progress, you’re never a complete tandem, it’s something you continue to work on but I expect huge things from him this year, everyone on this team does.”

Carson continued.

“There’s something different about him, he came in as a rookie different, there’s something different about his sophomore season. It’s in his body, it’s in his work ethic…”

Markus Golden and the veteran linebackers

The young guns are stepping up. Markus Golden has been the golden-child of this idea. He is constantly communicating with the old pros to get their insights into how to improve his game. He fosters the long-standing relationship he has with fellow Mizzou alumni, Sean Weatherspoon. He continues to reach out to other pros to drive his growth. Lorenzo Alexander speaks to this fact.

“He was one of the guys to come up to me on the first day and say, ‘Hey, I want to learn from you, how can you help me?'” Alexander explained. “He’s definitely eager to learn and that’s what I like.”

Positions without Veteran Leadership: Tight-End

Troy Niklas heads up this group after two veteran tight-ends (John Carlson, Jake Ballard) retired over the past two seasons. Niklas could have been considered more of an old pro if he had made more minutes last season but he was oft injured and did not see the amount of playing time that would normally cement a player into a leadership role. The unit is big and talented with Darren Fells beginning to emerge and the team’s recent acquisition of Ifyeani Momah but what of their cohesiveness?

Are they a bunch of talented individuals or do they run as a pack? This is a group that has not received a ton of media attention in the offseason and GM Steve Keim may still be looking to shore up the position… insert Jermaine Gresham or Zach Miller speculation here.

Tyrann and Sean

I expect that as Thursday’s practice come to a close, the vocal leaders of this team will start to get louder. I look to two leaders, Tyrann Mathieu and Sean Weatherspoon to keep the communication alive. Both are loud and both have something to prove.

Sean is an all-pro caliber vet that gets respect but, like many rookies, is new to the team. His career needs a big season. Tyrann is the resilient heart-and-soul of this team, he is the bridge between rookies and vets. He also has to return to his pre-injury potential. These two will help stoke the fire of growth and meld the personalities of the young guns and old pros into one unified family. A family that fights for a Super Bowl.

More from Raising Zona