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An early look at the depth chart spots
Posted by Darren Urban on July 23, 2017 – 9:34 am

There is no official depth chart until right before the first game of the preseason (which, given that the Cardinals play Aug. 3 in Canton against the Cowboys, is sooner than normal anyway), but after the first practice of training camp, we get an idea at least of how the players are stacked for now.
Among the areas to note: The base defense and the offensive line.
On the line, the first unit was pretty plain during offseason work:
LT D.J. Humphries
LG Mike Iupati
C A.Q. Shipley
RG Evan Boehm
RT Jared Veldheer
The second unit lined up this way:
LT Ulrick John
LG Kaleb Johnson
C Cole Toner
RG Tony Bergstrom
RT John Wetzel
Interesting to see that rookie guard Dorian Johnson is not even second unit right now, considering so many have talked about him challenging Boehm for a starting spot. But realistically, it’s not a surprise. A lot can change over the five weeks of camp, but this is where they are right now.
Defensively, here’s how they lined up in base (first-second unit)
DT Josh Mauro Robert Nkemdiche
NT Corey Peters Rodney Gunter
DT Frostee Rucker Olsen Pierre
OLB Markus Golden Kareem Martin
ILB Haason Reddick Gabe Martin
ILB Karlos Dansby Scooby Wright
OLB Chandler Jones Alani Fua
CB Patrick Peterson Jumal Rolle
CB Justin Bethel Brandon Williams
S Tyrann Mathieu Budda Baker
S Tyvon Branch Antoine Bethea
Things change in sub-packages — Bethea, for instance, is ahead of Baker at this point, on the first unit — but again, this will ebb and flow to a certain degree.


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Arizona Cardinals second round draft pick Budda Baker (36) works out during an NFL football rookie minicamp at the team’s training facility, Friday, May 12, 2017, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
LISTEN: Budda Baker, Cardinals safety


Unfortunately Budda Baker’s college schedule prevented him from joining his Cardinals teammates for OTAs and mini-camp.

Besides missing out on practices and the chance to get to know everyone, the second-round pick also did not get to ease into the Arizona summer.

“I’m not going to lie, the first week I was dying,” Baker, formerly of the Washington Huskies, told the Blitz with B-Train and Jurecki on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday. “You can do all the conditioning you can in Seattle and all that type of stuff, but once that heat hits you it’s a whole different type of story.

“The first couple days I was dying, but I got acclimated to it and now it’s what, it’s 100 out here right now, and I’m thinking it’s cool.”


Baker will probably figure out that you never truly get acclimated to the desert heat, though one can get used to it. In time he will also learn that it’s the bit of suffering Valley residents must push through in order to be rewarded with fall, winter and spring.

That knowledge will come in time, same as his understanding of Arizona’s defense and his role within the team.

Baker was with the Cardinals during rookie mini-camp but not around for the full-team practices, and though he would have preferred to be around for all the offseason work, he does not feel like he’s too far behind.

“For me, I always try to watch film, watch film of the practices,” he said, adding he stayed in close contact with safeties coach Nick Rapone. “So I feel like I’m not really that far behind.

“The only thing I haven’t done is really taken the reps with the whole team; the rookies have done seven-on-seven and all that type of stuff, so I’ve been able to run the plays consistently during seven-on-seven so now it’s just a matter of doing it at camp.”

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound defensive back whom the Cardinals traded up in the second round to acquire 36th overall said the defense he is part of now is “very similar” to what he ran in college, with the main difference really being the language used by defensive coordinator James Bettcher.

A smaller safety, Baker is capable of playing in the box or as a nickel cornerback, which is the kind of role Tyrann Mathieu fills. In 2016, Baker notched 70 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions, displaying the kind of all-around game that has made Mathieu such a force.

“I believe I have a similar skillset,” Baker said. “He’s been doing it for a while now, longer than me, so for me it’s just I can learn as much as I can from Tyrann just because we have the same type of body stature, we can do similar type of things.”

How much of those things the Cardinals ask him to do will be dictated by how quickly he picks up their system.

Baker will really get to immerse himself in it all when training camp begins in late July, and then when preseason games start not long after. He said he is excited for that time because he will finally get to take the field with all of his new teammates, which will be a fun experience but also one he plans on learning from.

“So for these preseason games, I know the rookies get a lot of reps, so get as much reps as I can. I like to think of it as these preseason games are like my OTAs and mini-camp that I missed,” he said. “Just getting all these reps, taking as much reps as I can — whether it’s defense or special teams — and ultimately competing. That’s my goal.”


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Cardinals first-round pick Haason Reddick (left) has some fun with teammate Chad Williams before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

Haason Reddick, fitting for a first-round draft pick, was certain his stuff would be electric Friday night when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Arizona Diamondbacks game.
The fellow rookies he brought with him expected as much.
“Can’t go up there and look like 50 Cent,” tackle Will Holden said.
Reddick delivered a strike – the Cardinals linebacker was joined by the Phoenix Suns first-round pick, Josh Jackson – and noted that “the D-Backs might want to come holler at me.”
It had been important for Reddick to invite his teammates, who made sure to ask them all after he found out he would be taking the mound. Not all could

join, but in all 11 rookies took part in Reddick’s baseball excursion: Holden, wide receiver Chad Williams, center Lucas Crowley, cornerback Gump Hayes, receiver Krishawn Hogan, cornerback Ryan Lewis, tackle Jonathan McLaughlin, cornerback Sojourn Shelton, tight end Steven Wroblewski, defensive tackle Pasoni Tasini and cornerback Rudy Ford.
“With all the OTAs and the minicamps and the training, to be able to do something as a group instead of sitting around the hotel, we get to be a group and enjoy each other’s company,” Reddick said. “We get to bond.”
It’s not unusual this time of year for the rookies to bond. They arrive as a group – both drafted and undrafted – at the same time, learning their way around an NFL team while the veterans are set.
The rookies have one week left of a three-week stint in Tempe without the veterans. They finish June 30; the Cardinals report to training camp July 21. In addition to work on the field and in the weight room, the group also has taken a field trip to the county jail, part of the team’s off-field player development.
“This is kind of our time,” Williams said. “At first, you’re just trying to find your way around the building. Now, I can walk through the building with a blindfold on.”
Coach Bruce Arians had already praised the work ethic of the class during full-team work. The rookies hope they can use some of the chemistry they are building now to aid once the team reconvenes next month.
“I have a lot of friends on other teams right now and they are back home,” Holden said. “They are not even talking to any of their new teammates. They didn’t really do anything together during their time in OTAs and minicamp. When you get guys together when you really don’t know each other, before the season, it’s really good to go into camp like that.”