Warner’s new career?

Posted by Darren Urban on January 23, 2010 – 9:01 pm

No, we don’t know for sure if Kurt Warner has given up his old career yet. That is yet to be determined. But then my young sons heard through a friend that Warner was making an appearance on a Disney show called “The Suite Life.” A yeoman’s effort by Kurt, given that the show (and the writing) are just as cheesy as you remember for any of those pre-teen Saturday morning-type sitcoms. I particularly liked Warner’s facial expression right before he “injures” his knee (Warner’s appearance comes at the 4:30 mark of this clip). I wasn’t all that fond of his uniform. Perhaps he should stick to football, since I’d still lean towards Fitz’s acting chops.

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Report: Modkins to Bills as OC

Posted by Darren Urban on January 23, 2010 – 3:25 pm

Well, it turns out the Cardinals are losing an assistant coach to the Bills — it just turns out to be running backs coach Curtis Modkins instead of Russ Grimm. XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting Modkins will become Buffalo’s offensive coordinator and work under new head coach Chan Gailey. The two worked together in Kansas City a couple of years ago before Todd Haley took over there. Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt was hoping to keep in coaching staff intact; instead, the Cards will have to find a third running backs coach in three seasons (Modkins basically swapped places with Maurice Carthon last year, after Carthon decided to join Haley in Kansas City rather than stay with the Cards).

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Goodbye Bertrand

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 10:40 pm

I’m not going to lie. Professionally, it stunk those three straight years when Bertrand Berry suffered season-ending injuries. Don’t worry, I’m sure it was much harder on Berry, but as a guy who has to get player comments for a living, losing a veteran who was well spoken and who could give you something on almost any trend story or subject around the team is never good.

That’s one of the things I’ll remember most about Berry, who announced his retirement Thursday night. I’ll always remember how, after he made the Pro Bowl in 2004, he told us in a post-practice press conference he preferred to be called “Bertrand” instead of “Bert” — and then always wonder why so many coaches and teammates called him “Bert.” I’ll remember his dominant 2004 performance where he had 14.5 sacks despite not having anyone else to really draw the offense’s blocking attention. I’ll remember him sacking Giants quarterback Kurt Warner four times in a game that year, the game that drove Warner from the starting lineup in New York (and a game neither one really wanted to talk about after they became teammates).

I’ll remember his emotion after the Cards’ playoff run and Super Bowl appearance a year ago. This was a guy who signed as a free agent when Dennis Green arrived, certain Green was the one to lead the Cards’ renaissance. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and the frustration built for Berry over a few seasons, between the losses and the injuries that cost him half a season in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There was also some frustration with his contract the last couple years, as he ended up having to play for a lower salary than he had when he first showed up.

But Berry noted tonight he thought he “played the game the right way” and he’s right. There were times he could have popped off when he was upset and he never did. He tried to play his role and was a big part of the Cards’ turnaround — which is exactly what he always wanted.

Nothing is set yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Berry hang around. He’s had a thing for broadcasting — hosting the “Big Red Rage” radio show for years and attending the NFL’s broadcast boot camp a couple years ago — and maybe something can be worked out with the Cards in such a capacity. Berry did say he was looking for new challenges. That would qualify (and the Cards did just lose Rob Moore to Syracuse ….)

Including playoffs, Berry led the Cardinals with eight sacks this season. In the end, I’ll remember Bertrand’s ability to still have his shining moments on a football field, delivering his trademark whistle pull — he was the B-Train, after all — following every sack. I’ll remember Bertrand Berry going out on his own terms.

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Cards bring back Byrd

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 2:02 pm

The Cardinals signed five more players to “future” contracts (which just means they don’t officially kick in until the end of the season), including tight end Dominique Byrd — who actually was on the roster this season, inactive for the first 10 games before being released Nov. 24. The Cards are also bringing back fullback Reagan Maui’a, the “Juggernaut” (there’s a little language at the end of the video, FYI) who was with the team in the preseason, along with cornerback Trumaine McBride, safety Herana-Daze Jones and defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi.

McBride isn’t big (5-foot-9) but the former Bear did start nine games in 2007. Jones (whose first name is pronounced “Hernandez”) has played in 30 games since 2006 with the Bengals, Broncos, Patriots and Saints. Muhtadi was an undrafted rookie at Green Bay’s camp this past season.

It’s intriguing that the Cards still want to look at Byrd. He definitely has receiving skills although his blocking isn’t where the Cards would like it. The team will need another tight end going into the offseason, but the future is up in the air for Anthony Becht. Becht is not only a free agent, but it’s possible he’s looking at retiring after a decade in the NFL. Byrd already had shown enough to the Cards for them to keep him half a season.

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Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 12:35 pm

Right now, the Cards are knee-deep in offseason meetings, meaning I haven’t had a chance to talk to general manager Rod Graves for a story. That will be coming. In the meantime, I have collected all the contract situations (at least, organizing what year each player is signed through, or their free agent status) in a file you can find right here. It doesn’t cover every single player on the roster but it has everyone I considered a contributor this season or someone who needed to be addressed.

Officially the Cards have 14 unrestricted free agents and 10 restricted (the numbers would have been 17 and 7, but Gabe Watson, Deuce Lutui and Jerheme Urban all are going to be hamstrung by the new rules when the NFL deals with an uncapped offseason). On offense, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Starters Dan Kreider (FB), Anthony Becht (TE), Sean Morey (special teams) and Mike Gandy (T) — along with Jeremy Bridges (G/T) are unrestricted. Bigger questions are on defense, where Karlos Dansby (LB) and Matt Ware (S) could walk away, and the Cards are in transition with veteran UFAs like Bryan Robinson, Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Ralph Brown and Monty Beisel.

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The bottom line? No one knows

Posted by Darren Urban on January 20, 2010 – 4:12 pm

Warren Moon thinks Kurt Warner will be back. Rick Reilly doesn’t.

As soon as Warner actually delivers some new insight and doesn’t just reiterate what he’s been saying all along, I’ll let you know, but nothing has changed. And it wouldn’t, not when the last game was still only five days ago.

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Cards in Pro Bowl dwindling UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on January 20, 2010 – 11:19 am

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to play in the Pro Bowl because of injuries (Fitz is citing the knee he hurt against San Francisco), news that came out when the New York Giants announced Steve Smith is going to replace Fitzgerald. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is already out because of his knee injury, and safety Adrian Wilson has said, with his wife expecting, he isn’t going to go. That would leave defensive tackle Darnell Dockett as the only Card, unless one of the Cards’ alternates ends up getting to play.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mike Sando, it’s been hashed out that alternates Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle and Sean Morey still have a good chance to be invited to the Pro Bowl, given other possibly dropouts. Their status will be resolved based on who wins the NFC Championship game, since the Vikings and Saints each have multiple players that would have to drop out. Warner, it turns out, is a second alternate behind Donovan McNabb. So I guess that finally clarifies my ramblings of the other day. Sando suggests injuries would stop Rolle, but my guess is that Rolle — who said he was fine after getting concussed against the Saints — would desperately want to appear in his first Pro Bowl, especially since it’ll be at home in Miami.

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Deciphering the uncapped year

Posted by Darren Urban on January 20, 2010 – 10:49 am

As we close in on free agency and what looks like a year without a salary cap — and then, a possible work stoppage in 2011 — the rules for free agency have changed. I’ve already touched on this of course, but the league has now put out a release putting in relatively simple terms what it all means in the short-term. I’ve put the release here as a link for anyone who’d like to sort through it. The biggest news I was not aware of? There will be a draft in 2011 even if a new CBA isn’t in place.

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Raging one more time

Posted by Darren Urban on January 19, 2010 – 4:41 pm

— The final Big Red Rage of the season comes Thursday, at the normal time — 6 p.m. — at the normal place — Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler (although the rain might force the show under cover). If you can’t make it, tune into Sports 620 KTAR. No guest this week, instead Bertrand Berry will fly solo kind of, with Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley along for the ride.

— Speaking of Calvisi and Wolf, the season wrapup of Cardinals Underground will be posted tomorrow as well.

— Finally, for all those fretting about possibly losing Russ Grimm to a head coaching job, the Bills officially hired Chan Gailey for their job Tuesday, meaning Grimm won’t go anywhere (although it never seemed like it would happen with Grimm in Buffalo anyway). After the coaching staff upheaval of last year at this time, it looks like the Cards will stay constant.

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Warner’s possible last game might not be

Posted by Darren Urban on January 19, 2010 – 9:26 am

I’ll have a story analyzing Kurt Warner’s situation later today, but I wanted to mention this first — even if Warner does eventually retire, that game in New Orleans might not have been his last. Remember, Warner is an alternate for the Pro Bowl — which alternate was never announced, but given that he was fourth in the fan voting, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he’s the first alternate — and the NFC is guaranteed to lose one of its three Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is a Pro Bowler, but so are the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Vikings’ Brett Favre, and one of those guys are going to the Super Bowl. Since the Pro Bowl is the week before the Super Bowl this year, all Pro Bowlers on the Super Bowl teams will be out.

And that should put Warner in the game. UPDATE: As has been pointed out by Emmett below, Donovan McNabb is apparently the first NFC alternate quarterback. I checked with the NFL and the teams are the ones left to decide whether or not to announce which alternate spots their players are named, and the Cards are a team that does not specify. UPDATE II: Now Emmett is saying Romo is the No. 2 alternate. Guess Warner doesn’t have much of a chance to go.

Other Cardinals could still sneak it. There’s still a chance tackle Levi Brown could get in, depending on what alternate he was, since the Vikings’ Bryant McKinnie and the Saints’ Jon Stinchcomb are among the three tackles. And with the Saints’ Darren Sharper at free safety, Antrel Rolle has a shot as an alternate. It works the other way too. The Vikings’ Antoine Winfield was named as a replacement at cornerback today; while nothing official has been released it is a safe bet Winfield is replacing injured Cardinals’ cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

UPDATE III: I did forget to mention special-teamer Sean Morey, who is an alternate somewhere behind Vikings special-teamer Heath Farwell.

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