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Arizona Cardinals training camp: Injury bug returns to Glendale

The road to success in the NFL begins each year with the hard work and wide-open possibilities of training camp. As teams around the league gear up for the 2015 campaign, NFL Media reporters will be checking in from all 32 camps around the league. Andie Hagemann visits the Arizona Cardinals.

Where is NFL Media?

The Cardinals are holding training camp inside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, escaping the triple-digit temperatures outside. Fans surround the corners of the lower bowl of the stadium, looking to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and what's to come for the 2015 season.


1) The injury bug has hit Arizona. Tight end Troy Niklas is sidelined again with a hamstring injury, his second since the beginning of camp. No timetable has been given on the second-year pro, leaving multiple question marks at tight end, with Jermaine Gresham's status still up in the air. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is hopeful newly acquired running back Chris Johnson will be back in action later this week after sustaining a hamstring injury of his own last week. Johnson has yet to make an impression on the field for his new team. However, it's believed that Johnson will still make the roster, as he has made a positive impression on his new teammates overall. Once Johnson is cleared, it is expected he'll share the workload behind starter Andre Ellington.

2) Two weeks remain before the Cardinals commence regular-season play, and numerous position battles are coming down to the wire. Veteran QB Carson Palmer said the competition throughout camp has been great and many decisions won't be made until the last day. The receiving corps battle is one of the most intriguing. Michael Floyd is currently recovering from surgery after dislocating three fingers in camp. No timetable has been set for his return, though Arians is hopeful it will be soon. The head coach told the assembled media Wednesday that he would not be surprised if Floyd played in the season opener against the Saints. On the plus side, this allows less-proven players to log more reps. Jaron Brown and Brittan Golden are battling fifth-round pick J.J. Nelson for the fourth wideout spot. Nelson, who recorded the fastest 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine (4.28 seconds), impressed in his Week 2 start with this 57-yard grab.

3) Arizona continues to shuffle around its offensive line, which has been a weak link for the team in recent years. Earlier this month, the Cardinalslost veteran guard Mike Iupati to a knee injury, which will sideline him for three to eight weeks. In last Saturday's loss to the Chargers, O-line issues flared up again, as Palmer was sacked in back-to-back possessions. However, Arians says those pass-protection woes weren't necessarily a red flag for the line's outlook. Earl Watford, who had been spending his time at guard, will receive more reps at right tackle this week. Arians also said rookie D.J. Humphries, who struggled through Saturday's game while playing right tackle, will be a backup left tackle going forward. Arians doesn't think this will be a dramatic adjustment, as left tackle is Humphries' natural position. Like in the receiving corps, competition within the offensive line likely will continue until the end of the preseason.

New additions

The Cardinals added a bunch of veteran talent this offseason, in addition to seven draft picks and 13 rookie free agents. Of the 88 players currently on the roster, 35 were not with the Cardinals for the 2014 season. The team added much-needed depth at offensive line and in the secondary. One particular player to keep an eye on is ...

Rodney Gunter, NT:Cardinals defensive tackle Corey Peters was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season after suffering an Achilles injury in practice last week. Gunter will fill the void at nose tackle alongside Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker, as the rookie fourth-rounder has impressed the coaching staff with his play, tallying a sack for a safety in the fourth quarter of the preseason opener.


"As far as being faster or slower than another team -- everybody is fast. I think what may separate us is we have the ability to go really fast and employ] four-receiver sets. We have the ability to put a bunch of tight ends in the game with two running backs, run behind [Mike Iupati and Jared Veldheer and have that kind of size and that kind of explosion and strength. Most offenses I've been in, you're 'X' offense. Because we're very multiple and have different types of players at each position, it's hard to lump us into one category."

-- Carson Palmer on Arizona's offensive versatility.

Extra point

The Cardinals made history last month when they hired Jen Welter as a training camp/preseason intern coaching inside linebackers, making her the first woman ever on an NFL coaching staff. Welter's coaching internship ends next week after the Cardinals complete the preseason. Arizona already boasts one of the biggest coaching staffs in the league. Arians expressed that he would love to keep all seven of the coaching interns on a permanent basis, but unfortunately for Welter and Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship recipient Levon Kirkland, it is not possible. During her coaching stint, Welter has made a lasting impression on Arians and her players.

"I am waiting to see what will happen next, and I am excited," Welter said. "I consider this a complete win. The question coming in was, Would guys respond in the NFL to a woman coaching them? Obviously, that's a yes."

Follow Andie Hagemann on Twitter @AndieHagemann.

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