With Lee and Dawson, Arizona Cardinals now a complete football team

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: place kicker David Akers
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: place kicker David Akers /

With the recent signing of veteran punter Andy Lee, the Arizona Cardinals can once again call themselves a complete team.

The 2016 season for the Arizona Cardinals’ special teams unit was anything but special. They finished the season 32nd (last) in both average (41.9) and net average (39.0) on punts.

They needed to address that area badly to avoid putting the defense in bad spots and having to defend a short field. On Monday, that concern all but vanished after the signing of 35-year-old Andy Lee, after being released by the Carolina Panthers.

The aging punter still believes in his ability to boot the football, and is eager to contribute to a team with Super Bowl aspirations. “I feel like I’m still the same,” he said. “I feel like I can still hit those balls; I can still do everything I’ve always done.”

Reunited with another elder kicker, Phil Dawson, the pair look to pick up where they left on in San Francisco. The two were teammates in 2013 and 2014, and Lee served as his placeholder on field goals. “Andy is a welcome addition,” Dawson said. “I think Sunset Acres should sponsor our special teams unit,” joking about the age of the two veterans.

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With two savvy veterans, one of which already a captain (Dawson), the Cardinals have certainly upgraded this unit. A stop-gap for the interim, but with the current squad, the Cardinals can now call themselves a complete football club.

Another great signing by general manager Steve Keim in his commitment to win now. The Cardinals know what they have on offense and defense — a top-10 unit for both sides in 2016. Add veteran presence to the kicking game, and the Arizona Cardinals quest for a coveted ring no longer seems as far-fetched.

It’s been a long off-season for a team that finished under .500 for the first time under Bruce Arians. But finally, the regular season is here. And the first real test beings this Sunday against the Lions.

Will we see a complete football team, or is this squad still a work in progress?