Urgency and intensity naturally pick up when teams put on pads for the first time, and things were no different at Arizona Cardinals camp on Tuesday. They also give us a better idea of who has an inside track on the competition to either start or to at least become a major role player as opposed to when everyone is playing in shorts and a helmet.
Therefore, if you’re seeing young players or those battling for roster spots receiving ample time with the First and Second Teams when the pads are on, then they are worth watching. On Tuesday, there were a handful of such players whose play demanded attention at three different position groups, and they serve as our biggest takeaways from Tuesday’s practice.
Top 3 takeaways from Arizona Cardinals practice on Tuesday
1 - Fotu, Lawrence playing with starters
Per Tyler Drake of Arizona Sports, Leki Fotu and Rashard Lawrence were still seeing time with the starting defense, along with Jonathan Ledbetter. Fotu and Lawrence’s names jumped out, given the relative disappointments they had been under the old regime, but both still cast a ray of hope last season.
Fotu played in all 17 games for the second year running in 2022, registered 31 tackles, and a fumble recovery, which was his best season to date. Lawrence played in just five games before injuries ended a promising 2022 campaign that saw him tally 10 tackles, a forced fumble, and three tackles for loss.
2 - Josh Woods favored to land the starting linebacker spot?
All summer, I’ve been talking up Krys Barnes and Owen Pappoe as the two likeliest pieces to start at linebacker alongside Kyzir White. But known special teams ace Josh Woods could have the inside track, and he only helped himself on Tuesday with a heads-up interception of quarterback Colt McCoy.
Woods, who turned 27 on July 1st, is still young enough to become a long-term fit on this Arizona Cardinals team. But with just two career starts and 61 total tackles, he also poses quite the risk. Barnes, however, has 24 starts and 190 tackles in three seasons (35 total games), and he should still be given serious consideration to land the job next to White.
3 - Emari Demercado emerging?
Second year running back Keaontay Ingram appears to be a major contender to win the RB2 role, but he sat out of practice on Tuesday. This opened the door for Corey Clement and undrafted rookie Emari Demercado.
Demercado was one player I was excited to see the Cardinals scoop up following the draft. And his solid play so far in camp could have him emerging as a dark horse to win the RB2 job, or at least further convince head coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing to keep him around as part of a running back committee.
Source: New era notes: Pads come on, intensity ratchets up at Cardinals camp by Tyler Drake, Arizona Sports
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)