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Cardinals push for playoffs with QB Murray, improved defense

Cardinals push for playoffs with QB Murray, improved defense


CAMP SITE: Glendale, Arizona.

LAST YEAR: In first season with coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, Cardinals were exciting on offense and showed promise for future. Team's defense was among NFL's worst and big reason they had losing record. Murray showed ample playmaking ability after being selected No. 1 overall from Oklahoma. Mid-season trade with Dolphins brought RB Kenyan Drake, who played well during last half of season. Though defense struggled, linebacker Chandler Jones and safety Budda Baker made Pro Bowl.

IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: WR Deandre Hopkins, LB Isaiah Simmons, LB Devon Kennard, LB De'Vondre Campbell, DT Jordan Phillips, OT Josh Jones, DT Leki Fotu, DT Rashard Lawrence, OT Kelvin Beachum.

IMPORTANT LOSSES: RB David Johnson, WR Damiere Byrd, WR Pharoh Cooper, TE Charles Clay, C A.Q. Shipley, DL Rodney Gunter, DL Zach Kerr, LB Cassius Marsh, LB Joe Walker.

PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: Cardinals would have liked to have more time developing Murray, who will have new No. 1 receiver in Hopkins. They've also made lots of changes to defense and would like to have seen how all their new pieces fit.

CAMP NEEDS: All eyes will be on Murray to see how big of a jump he makes in second season. There's also potential position battle at right tackle, where returning starter Justin Murray, veterans Marcus Gilbert and Beachum, and rookie Jones are all in mix. Defense will be work in progress with coordinator Vance Joseph figuring out how veterans Kennard, Campbell and Phillips fit in his system. Joseph also must figure out how best to use Simmons, the No. 8 overall pick who was do-everything defensive star at Clemson.

EXPECTATIONS: Cardinals want to push for winning record and spot in playoffs for first time since 2015. Considering roster improvements, that's not totally unrealistic, but NFC West is tough place to be. San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks all expect to make the playoffs as well.


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