Arizona Cardinals: Early impressions from training camp

With the first day of training camp in the books, the Arizona Cardinals unofficially begin their 2014 campaign without the pads on. With fans in the stands and everyone present (even the injured Honey Badger), this is the earliest everyone in the organization is present. Sure, minicamps have come and gone. But these camps are the last big hurdle until preseason games.

Only one day has gone by, but here’s a couple things that stood out to me after the first day:

Carson Palmer is a leader of this team

This may not be a new development since the end of last season, but it is one that is noticeable compared to last year’s training camp. Sure, Carson Palmer is a quarterback and therefore the role is nothing new to him. But for the 2014 Arizona Cardinals, one of the unquestioned presences in the locker room is now clearly Palmer.

He’s been a team spokesman, on-field coach and so much more thus far in training camp. There’s even an element of “Papa-Bear” to his leadership, especially considering his veteran status. Now that it’s been a year and there are no surprises in the playbook, the offense has gelled. A lot of that is because Palmer has embraced the role.

If he has a great year, we may even be talking contract extension at year’s end. Really, he’s just one part of an even bigger impression, which is…

This offense can be one of the league’s best

If not one of the best, this is a much improved offense from last year. Really, where the offense ended at last year is a vast improvement. But several things separate that offense from the one now at training camp:

First, Jared Veldheer and Jonathan Cooper have left their footprint on the offensive line already. Their additions alone make the line faster and stronger and should help keep Palmer off his back.

But let’s also look at the skill positions. Larry Fitzgerald always means business, but it’s the younger players that are standing out. Michael Floyd, Andre Ellington and John Brown all look primed for breakout seasons. As far as the actual camp is concerned, Arians has coached the offense very little,which is a sign that the offense is doing everything it’s supposed to. After only one day of camp, that’s nothing to write off.

Antonio Cromartie is healthy

One player on defense who stuck out was Antonio Cromartie. Noticeably down from his All-Pro form last year due to a hip flexor, he has shown zero signs of that bugging him so far in camp.

Shadowing Fitzgerald most of the day, Cromartie was turning his hips, keeping stride with him and even denying Fitz on a couple passes.

When the Cardinals brought on Cromartie, it was based on the idea of a Cromartie-Peterson punch that very few teams would be able to overcome. We already knew what Peterson was capable of, so it’s reassuring that Cromartie’s 2013 was an anomaly. Of course, we won’t know until the games get played, but as of right now, Cromartie is looking the part. That spells good things for the defense.