John Carlson looked wonderful at tight end through the offseason and training camp, but he did not make a catch during his limited preseason time (save for a touchdown called back by penalty in the opener). This was brought up to Bruce Arians Thursday.
“Tight ends catch the ball against our defense all the time,” Arians deadpanned, before pausing.
“That’s what I read, anyway.”
Ahh, the tight end. It’s a position that, on both sides of the ball, definitely made things interesting in 2013. How it plays out this season, given the efforts to fix such issues, will definitely be something to watch. On offense, Carlson’s play in practice has been a revelation, the defense notwithstanding. His ability to catch the ball should mean a lot to an offense that needs such a weapon.
Does it mean he’ll get seven targets a game, necessarily? No, for the same reason he didn’t get any preseason grabs. “You don’t force balls to people,” Arians said. “You design things and you read them out. Sometimes he’ll get balls, sometimes he won’t. We don’t say ‘We’re going to get John Carlson five balls.’ It’s just not going to happen.”
On the other hand, it’s hard to think other teams didn’t do that last year with their tight ends against the Cardinals. It was definitely an Achilles heel in 2013. Asked if the Cardinals would be better against it in 2014, Arians said “I hope so.” Rookie safety Deone Bucannon is a player who is supposed to help, although one play in the preseason finale, Bucannon lost track of the tight end he was covering because he got caught looking at the quarterback. The tight end slipped only a few yards away, but made the catch and got a big gain out of it.
The Chargers have LaDarius Green, a 6-foot-6 raw target for one tight end and the ancient but still talented Antonio Gates at the other. Gates shredded the Cardinals in their last regular-season matchup, although it was 2010 against a totally different defense. It’s safe to assume the Cardinals know they need to be better in that area.
“We didn’t show it a couple of times in the preseason in zone defense, letting guys run behind us,” Arians said. “As far as man to man, we have some length now with Deone and other guys.”
Tags: Antonio Gates, Bruce Arians, Deone Bucannon, John Carlson, LaDarius Green
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