With July here and training camp scheduled to start soon, azcardinals.com will take a look at the Cardinals’ individual position groups during this quiet time in the NFL and give our opinions about where the groups stand prior to camp. Today, special teams.
The Cardinals’ kicking woes last season contributed to an 8-8 record despite a plus-43 point-differential. Many games in the NFL come down to the final minutes, and the hope is that the veteran Prater comes up big in the clutch. Brewer is a constant at long-snapper, and it would take a drastic fall-off from Lee for his spot to be in jeopardy. Lee, 38, has averaged 47.3 yards per punt in his four seasons with the Cardinals and was given $600,000 in guaranteed money this offseason when he re-signed. While it’s not a huge amount, it affirms the team’s faith in him despite his advancing age.
WORK TO DO: P Tyler Newsome
The only wrinkle to the projection would be a standout camp from Newsome. He was a record-setting punter at Notre Dame but has bounced around the NFL since going undrafted in 2019. Newsome has yet to punt in a regular season game, and even if he doesn’t make the team, could make a good impression for the future. With the expected expanded practice squad, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him stay around in that role.
The Cardinals aren’t expected to sign anyone else to upgrade special teams, but it will be interesting to see how the return and gunner roles shake out. Wide receiver Rondale Moore is expected to take over as the punt returner, while Moore, Andy Isabella and Eno Benjamin could be in the kick return mix. The departure of Trent Sherfield leaves a hole at gunner which will need to be filled. One of the late-round rookie defensive backs – James Wiggins, Marco Wilson or Tay Gowan – could be a candidate. Safety Charles Washington could be a gunner if he makes the team.