- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

ARIZONA CARDINALS (11-6)

OPEN CAMP: JULY 31, Glendale, Arizona.

LAST YEAR: Cardinals raced to 9-1 record before multitude of injuries, particularly at quarterback. They were 6-0 with Carson Palmer as starter before he went down with torn ACL. They still were successful behind backup Drew Stanton, but he, too, injured knee. By end of season, Arizona was down to third-stringer Ryan Lindley. Cardinals still made playoffs, but mustered virtually no offense in wild-card loss at Carolina. Defense, so strong most of season, faded down stretch, particularly against run. Still, team’s success despite injury woes made Bruce Arians NFL Coach of Year for second time in three seasons. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, voted NFL’s top assistant coach, was rewarded with head coaching job of Jets.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RG Mike Iupati; LBs Sean Weatherspoon, Darryl Sharpton, LaMarr Woodley and Markus Golden; DT Cory Redding; C A.Q. Shipley; CB Damond Smith; RT D.J. Humphries; RB David Johnson.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: CB Antonio Cromartie; C Lyle Sendlein; NT Dan Williams; DT Darnell Dockett; LBs Larry Foote and Sam Acho; TEs John Carlson and Rob Housler; WR-KR Ted Ginn Jr.; RG Paul Fanaika.

CAMP NEEDS: By all accounts, Palmer’s return has gone well and he expects to fully participate in camp, although Cardinals may take cautious route. There will be competition at center (Shipley and Ted Larsen). Bobby Massie remains the right tackle while first-round pick D.J. Humphries tries to work into the mix. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher must show he can maintain essentially same blitz-dominated 3-4 scheme. Third-year ILB Kevin Minter, bothered by injuries in past, must show he is worth 2013 second-round pick. RG Jonathan Cooper, 2013 first-rounder, is healthy again; he missed entire rookie campaign with broken leg. Pro Bowl special-teamer Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers will vie for cornerback job opposite Patrick Peterson, who was slowed by diabetes in 2014. S Tyrann Mathieu also seeks return to dominating rookie form after knee and hand injuries.

EXPECTATIONS: Team brimmed with confidence in offseason workouts; Cardinals believe they can contend with Seattle in NFC West if Palmer can stay healthy. Arizona is 13-2 in Palmer’s last 15 starts. Addition of run-blocking standout Iupati and anticipated effectiveness of Cooper would help running game. RB Andre Ellington, slowed by foot injury last season, should get help from rookie Johnson. Secondary looks strong, especially if Peterson is 100 percent. Look for big season from WR John Brown. Arizona has won 21 games in Arians’ two seasons as head coach and, if brutal midseason schedule isn’t disruptive, Cardinals fully expect to be in thick of race come December.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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