Faneca is a Cardinal

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2010 – 4:20 pm

UPDATE II: It’s official — the Cards have agreed to terms with Faneca. Barring any setbacks, he will be here for minicamp, coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Well, I know I am surprised,  but the Cardinals have signed guard Alan Faneca for $2.5 million for one season, according to Adam Schefter. You figure he gets dropped into the starting lineup, meaning I wonder what happens with Deuce Lutui — since he hasn’t signed his tender, it’s possible the Cards take it off the table. The Faneca deal hasn’t been announced officially, so I hope to have more details soon.

UPDATE: Reports are Faneca gets $300,000 for a signing bonus and $100,000 as a workout bonus — but since the money is guaranteed (according to Schefter) it means Faneca will definitely be in the mix on the line. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and especially Russ Grimm wanted Faneca when the Steelers bounced him a couple of seasons ago, but the Cards couldn’t make the money work at the time. He is 33.

Again, the question becomes, who is the odd man out? Is the tender pulled for Lutui (it was/is for more than $2 million). Here are the veteran offensive line candidates: Levi Brown, Jeremy Bridges, Brandon Keith, Herman Johnson, Lyle Sendlein, Ben Claxton, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot, Faneca and Lutui. Seven guys were active on game days last year. You’re probably only keeping eight on the active roster. What was that that Whisenhunt says about competition?

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Questions for the fans, and a live chat

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2010 – 1:45 pm

Let me start by saying I will be holding a post-draft/pre-minicamp live chat tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11 a.m. Arizona time (2 p.m. Eastern). I will go for at least an hour but I may push it to 90 minutes if there are a lot of questions. The link will be here.

Speaking of questions, I wanted to take this chance to get some website feedback from the fans, which can be answered in the comments section below. We are trying to figure out what works — and what doesn’t — on the website. So please, answer what questions you can of those listed below, and if something else pops into your mind, let us know that too. And be sure to put in your correct e-mail address when you submit, in case we might want to follow up with you.

  1. What aspects of multimedia do you watch/listen to; i.e. podcasts, videos?
  2. How much time do you spend watching/listening (i.e., do you pay attention to the whole thing, or is there a time limit)?
  3. What do you like/dislike on our multimedia platform?
  4. What do you like/dislike of the stories (articles that aren’t on the blog)?
  5. What do you like/dislike in the blog?
  6. What elements would you like to see more of?

We will try and figure out what we can do and how we can put it into practice. I am sure there would be an audience for a Larry Fitzgerald daily video for instance, but that’s not going to happen, not with the demands on his time. We need to make sure our resources are in the right places, and whether it’s worth continuing to do some of the elements we already are doing.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Dockett has arrived

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2010 – 11:04 am

The locker room was buzzing this morning. Certainly, I wasn’t going to do any entire run-down of the roster — and rookies have yet to arrive — but it looked like everyone else was there for John Lott’s final workout before minicamp starts Friday (players are off Wednesday, and have pre-camp physicals Thursday).

That group included Pro Bowl defensive tackle Darnell Dockett for the first time this offseason. Dockett, looking in shape and knocking back a homemade berry smoothie following his workout, said he plans to be around from this point forward. We’ll see how that turns out — other than the minicamp, everything else is voluntary and given his desire for a new contract, Dockett has been scarce the last couple of years for voluntary work — but he looks like he’ll be healthy for this weekend’s work.

He reflected on the changes the Cards have been through since he last spoke back the day after the season.

“We lost a lot of people who had been through big experiences with us, that started from the bottom up,” Dockett said. “A lot of people you can’t replace in terms of leadership ability and toughness, like Anquan (Boldin) … As far as the other guys they got into dream situations as free agents. Karlos (Dansby), we were together since we came in. That’s tough. But the show has got to move on. We can base our success on a few guys. The guys (filling in) know the level those guys played at. They know there are big shoes to fill.”

As for the idea Dockett will have more pressure on him in terms of a leadership role, “I think I’ll have to be more vocal and push myself to the next level. But I don’t think I have to create the will. I think we have guys who know what it takes to win. Maybe I need to be more vocal, but I can led by the way I play. That alone speaks louder than words. We have Adrian, Fitz, we just have to continue to do what we have been doing.

“We’ll have a good team. A lot of people are counting us out early and that’s OK. I think when we fight adversity it makes it better while we fly under the radar.”

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About some rookies

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2010 – 3:19 pm

Some various links about some of the draftees …

— Here is a Sports Science video segment about QB John Skelton, measuring his reaction time and his throwing mechanics.

Daryl Washington is a guy who has always performed once he got his chance.

— This guy compares Andre Roberts to Green Bay’s Greg Jennings (man, do the Cards hope that turns out to be right).

— Roberts also endured The Citadel just to have a chance to play football.

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Undrafted rookies and vet possibilities

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2010 – 10:39 am

As expected the Cardinals are bringing in 10 undrafted rookie free agents. Many names have already been floated out there, but here’s the official list:

  • WR Juamorris Stewart (Southern)
  • RB Alfonso Smith (Kentucky)
  • QB Max Hall (BYU)
  • T Casey Knips (South Dakota St.)
  • WR Stephen Williams (Toledo)
  • CB AJ Jefferson (Fresno St.)
  • T Devin Tyler (Temple)
  • C David Moosman (Michigan)
  • WR Max Komar (Idaho)
  • CB Marshay Green (Mississippi)

The Cardinals are also bringing in two guys for minicamp on a tryout basis: WR Deryn Bowser and CB Justin Miller. Miller was a second-round pick in 2005 with the Jets and also has been with the Raiders. Bowser played at Akron this past season.

The look at Miller gives perspective of what the Cardinals are searching for cornerback support, if they actually sign a veteran. They aren’t going to chase a “name” free agent because they believe Greg Toler will be the starter. They want a veteran to serve in a reserve role, and many “name” guys would be looking to start I would think — and at least get some starter money.

The same goes with G Alan Faneca. GM Rod Graves told me this morning the Cardinals will likely touch base with Faneca’s agent, but I didn’t get the sense this is something the Cards will push for. The way I see it, Faneca definitely will be looking to start and I don’t think the Cards feel that’s the best direction to go in right now. If nothing else, it may spark Deuce Lutui to finally sign his tender offer, because at this point he surprisingly hasn’t and remains away from the team as minicamp approaches.

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Final draft thoughts

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2010 – 3:26 pm

Well, I don’t think anything could have prepared anyone for today’s final day of the draft Cardinals-wise. Heck, when the O’Brien Schofield story came down — stud pass rusher who just ripped up his knee three months ago — I was just happy there was something interesting to write about. Then the Cardinals traded cornerback Bryant McFadden. Then they took a quarterback. Then we’re in the press room trying to find stats on CB Jorrick Calvin, not realizing at first he didn’t play in 2009. Even the last pick, Stanford tight end Jim Dray, had his own backstory — in 2007 covering a punt, he tore the ACL, MCL, LCL meniscus and hamstring in his left leg. Yikes.

Stories galore. But before I rush off to coach my son’s basketball game (yes, thank you NFL for hustling through this last day), some kibbles and bits I didn’t get to elsewhere:

— Calvin is intriguing. Coach Ken Whisenhunt even said the fact he didn’t play in 2009 probably helped the Cards wait until the sixth round to get him. You like the idea he took responsibility — “I had to live with the consequences,” Calvin said when he didn’t turn in an assignment and was flunked. “It was all my fault.” — and Whiz and Rod Graves sounded sure they knew what they were getting. It helped that Troy assistant coach Maurea Crain took part in training camp last year as part of the NFL’s minority coach intern program. They reached out to Crain and got all the info they needed on Calvin.

— That said, I wonder like everyone about cornerback depth. I do think Greg Toler was going to end up as the starter, so that part doesn’t concern me when it comes to the McFadden trade. And knowing McFadden was supposed to make almost $5 M catches your eye. Will they sign a vet? I think they will consider it. And this may end up being a situation where they nab a guy when final cuts come at the end of training camp too, a la Jeremy Bridges last year.

— The Cards sent both Mike Miller and Chris Miller from the coaching staff to work out QB John Skelton about 10 days ago. I was hearing his name connected with this team since the combine. I think they’ve liked him for a while. And he them. “In the back of my mind I always thought I would be a Cardinal.”

— I can’t see Brian St. Pierre signing now, though. I think the Cards get an undrafted rookie arm, but between Skelton and the work needed for both Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson, I don’t know how many reps a fourth QB would even get. And I don’t see anyone beating out the two vets and a draft pick for a roster spot either.

— Dray, on his injuries: “I knew coming back from a big knee injury like that, my way to get back on the field wasn’t going to be running double move routes or deep routes because my knee wasn’t up to that level. I knew I would have to come in right away and try to get back on the field blocking.”

— After listening to Schofield this morning, it’s tough not to feel good about the pick and what he’ll do to return to his pass-rushing ways. You look at the numbers — 12 sacks, 24 tackles for loss — and you can understand why the Cards took a chance. And coming back from ACLs isn’t the same as it used to be. I remember covering Kyle Vanden Bosch back in 2001-2003 when he blew out his knee twice and look how he turned out after he left. It takes so much less time to recover too. Whisenhunt pointed out that when he played in the 1980s, you put a guy in a cast for six weeks after tearing an ACL, and then going from there. Schofield was walking around the combine without a limp about a month after his injury.

OK, that’s all for now. I’ve gotta go. I’m sure there will be much more to talk about soon. I’ll monitor the comments on the blog, but otherwise, I’m off until Monday.

Unless the Cards make another trade … or news of their undrafted guys leak … who am I kidding. I’ll probably write again tomorrow.

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Toler says he’ll “keep working”

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2010 – 12:48 pm

Greg Toler answered his phone and was clearly surprised teammate Bryant McFadden was gone.

“He was traded?” Toler said. “I just woke up … No wonder I have all these people calling me.”

Toler was going to get calls. The second-year cornerback had a good chance of unseating McFadden as a starter across from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2010 but the McFadden deal sealed it. Not that Toler wanted to dwell on it. “You know me,” Toler said. “I just want to keep working. Coming from a small school (St. Pauls) you have to keep working. You’ve just got to be ready and capitalize when the opportunity comes.”

Toler had one interception in limited defensive work last season, one more pick than McFadden. His tools have been compared with DRC and now, he’s one of the “veterans” of a very young cornerback group which grew when the Cards drafted Troy’s Jorrick Calvin Saturday.

“I just want to fill a role,” Toler said.

Now, that role is of starter.

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Sixth-round cornerback didn’t play in 2009

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2010 – 12:10 pm

The Cardinals took Troy cornerback Jorrick Calvin in the sixth round, necessary after the Cards dealt Bryant McFadden earlier today. At 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, Calvin ran a 4.64 and 4.46 40s at his pro day. The negative? He didn’t play as a senior after being ruled ineligible, because Troy administrators figured out he had run out of eligibility after starting his college career at Northwestern State in 2005 and then going to community college. An interesting choice, although he was a starter for Troy before that (two interceptions in 2008) and was on the radar of NFL teams.

UPDATE: Calvin said he was academically ineligible because, after a “couple of deaths” in his family in the spring of 2009, he failed to inform one of his teachers he would be missing some classes and he ended up with a failing grade. That put him below the 24 credit hours for the year he needed to play. “I’ve had problems in my past, but I have come to realize there is more in life to worry about than bull,” he said.

Calvin said he spent the football season with the team and lifted weights. “I just couldn’t play on Saturdays,” he said. Calvin added he wasn’t worried about rust. “Once an athlete, always an athlete,” he said.

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Skelton: A Card “in my heart of hearts”

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2010 – 10:24 am

Quarterback John Skelton said “in my heart of hearts, I always hoped the Cardinals would pick me.” That’s not a surprise. The Cards worked him out at Fordham just 10 days ago, and when Skelton — 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds — compares himself to anyone, it’s Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. You know, the guy who coach Ken Whisenhunt coached in Pittsburgh and with whom passing game coordinator Mike Miller is also very familiar.

He’s raw. He threw for 3,708 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this past season and in his own words, he has “the leadership qualities to be a starter in the NFL and the arm to make all the NFL throws.” But the Cardinals needed a young quarterback to try and groom for the future. I don’t know if they would have considered anyone else but him, at least in the draft.

It took trading CB Bryant McFadden to move up to get him, but McFadden struggled last season and I am thinking the Cards are fine with this swap.

“In the back of my mind,” Skelton said, “I wanted to be a Cardinal.”

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Cards trade McFadden to Steelers, get Skelton

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2010 – 10:07 am

The Cardinals have traded cornerback Bryant McFadden and their own sixth-round pick (195) for the 155th pick in the fifth round to nab Fordham quarterback John Skelton. I am sure there will be plenty of fans happy with this, and I know the Cards were looking hard at Skelton. Greg Toler is your starter now that McFadden is a Steeler again.

And here I thought taking injured LB O’Brien Schofield was going to be the big news of the day.

I know the Cards liked Skelton; he was probably the only lower-round quarterback they were really interested in. And they needed to trade into the fifth round to get him. The question is whether the Cards can find another cornerback going forward; they have signed Trumaine McBride in the offseason and have Michael Adams and Rashad Barksdale. But this puts some pressure on Toler to step up soon — and DRC has to be the leader of the corners now.

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