Cardinals tight end Darren Fells impresses at training camp

  • Ian Johnson
(Kyle Odegard/azcardinals.com)

(Kyle Odegard/azcardinals.com)

In any sport roster depth provides balance, comfort and overall competition. Going into the preseason the Arizona Cardinals have tremendous depth throughout their roster, especially at the tight end position.

This logjam of sorts is conflicting since Arizona has six tight ends on their roster heading into the preseason opener on Saturday against the Houston Texans. Of the six, one has surprised and impressed others with his improvement and should get a ton of reps on Saturday. Darren Fells, brother of veteran tight end Daniel Fells, is that man.

He spent the 2013 season on the Cardinals practice squad proving his raw potential and ability over time earning him an opportunity going into training camp. Fells has had an interesting career that began at the University of Cal-Irvine playing basketball. Throughout four seasons playing center and forward he averaged over 10 points and six rebounds per game.

Fells stated that after a couple of years grasping football and the tight end position he feels confident in his ability, understanding of plays and the role he plays on the field.

Oh, 90 to 100 percent better. Last year, it was like a foreign language to me. Now I’m starting to learn the football language and just getting the grasp of everything.

It’s funny, I was just talking to teammates about how I can understand the whole play now instead of just my spot. It’s coming to me.

The 6-foot-7 and 281 pound Fells spent 2012 with the Seattle Seahawks before being cut before the 2013 season. Yet, throughout his year or so with the Cardinals he has certainly impressed teammates and coaches among others. Head coach Bruce Arians expressed his confidence and belief in Fells to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

He could always run and catch — he has unbelievable ball skills being a basketball player. The physicality of the game was the one thing missing. When he left (last year) I said ‘look, you can make the team, but you’ve got to be able to block defensive ends.’

He went and he worked. It’s obvious right now, his pad level is low, he is striking people, he’s rocking heads back. When you see that light go on you say, ‘we might have found something here.’

Fells has developed tremendous physicality that is certainly needed at his position and is a trait in which he previously lacked. He realizes what it takes and that’s mainly due to the position battle taking place. Even admitting that his teammates are surprised with Fells’ new found physicality.

It’s just a mentality. It’s just coming out there and saying you’re not going to be afraid of contact, no matter who’s in front of you. Whether it’s the third-string or a Pro Bowler, you’ve got to go at them. You’ve got to make the contact.

They see me as a basketball player not a football player, so I’m trying to get that mentality out there. I’m a football player now.

Considering the Cardinals signed Fells, John Carlson, Jake Ballard and drafted University of Notre Dame product Troy Niklas, there is a ton of talent and potential at tight end. Realistically only three, possibly four of the six tight ends on the active roster will make the 53-man roster after the preseason, it will be very interesting to see who makes the cut.

Phoenix Sports-Kings Assistant Site Manager Ian Johnson

Follow me on Twitter @IanJohnsonSK

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