Cardinals Preview Capsule
ARIZONA CARDINALS (7-8-1)
New Faces: ILB Karlos Dansby, K Phil Dawson, S Antoine Bethea, S Budda Baker, QB Blaine Gabbert, ILB Haason Reddick.
Key Losses: S Tony Jefferson, DT Calais Campbell, S D.J. Swearinger, ILB Kevin Minter, K Chandler Catanzaro, OG Earl Watford, CB Tyvon Branch.
Strengths: With David Johnson, Cardinals have one of best and certainly most versatile running backs. Team still is loaded at skill positions led by WR Larry Fitzgerald and, if healthy, John Brown. Carson Palmer returned to form second half of last season, and Arizona expects strong passing game if redesigned offensive line provides adequate protection for 37-year-old QB. Patrick Peterson and healthy Tyrann Mathieu make secondary one of strengths of defense that should be quicker and deeper this season.
Weaknesses: Offensive line now has D.J. Humphries at left tackle and Jared Veldheer switched to right tackle, position he hasn’t played. Much depends on performance of new RG Evan Boehm, drafted year ago as center. On defense, second-year DT Robert Nkemdiche is part of new rotation on defensive line which will be absent dominant presence of Campbell, so run defense is question mark. Special teams were awful last year and will need improved play from large group of newcomers and holdovers.
Fantasy players to watch: Johnson, Brown, Arizona defense.
Expectations: Cardinals were worn down by high expectations year ago after going 13-3 and making NFC championship game in 2015 season. Coach Bruce Arians and players believe they still have talent to contend.
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