Wilson’s five-year plan

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2010 – 8:49 pm

It’s been a whirlwind two days covering Adrian Wilson’s jersey retirement ceremony. There is a lot to sort through (but I will have the ceremony story up Friday afternoon). One thing Wilson did tell me this evening as the event finally started winding down — he is hoping to play five more NFL seasons. Talking about feeling old in light of Thursday night’s presentation, Wilson (below with friend Adrian Mack and Cardinals director of pro personnel Steve Keim in the Andrews High School gym) contemplated his future.

“I’m not saying they are going to kick me out anytime soon,” said Wilson, who will be 31 on Oct. 12 during his 10th NFL season. “I plan on playing another five years and then hanging it up. If it was all said and done today, though, I’d be happy with my career. I’d be content with it.”

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A-Dub comes home

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2010 – 5:28 am

As I have mentioned before, I’m out in North Carolina with Adrian Wilson while Wilson waits to get his high school jersey number retired tonight at his former high school. It’s a huge deal to A-Dub, who has always felt legacy — in the NFL, and even from his high school days — is so important. Wilson wants to make his mark in this world — “a good mark” as he told me — and this is part of that. (Here is the link to the local story about the event).

So yesterday, he took myself and Johnny Hayward from the broadcasting department (and his closest friends, Adrian Mack and Anthony Johnson) on a two-hour-plus trip around his hometown of High Point, pointing out places he had been when he grew up and taking us to his high school — including the weight room (pictured below) where Adrian Wilson first began turning into A-Dub.

“I feel,” Wilson said at one point, “like I’m 17 again.”

I am very much looking forward to writing this story.

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OTA from miles away

Posted by Darren Urban on June 9, 2010 – 12:49 pm

Ahh, the miracle of technology, which allows me to sit in a hotel room in North Carolina and let you know that cornerback Michael Adams was carted off at practice with a turned right ankle but that Adams is going to be fine, according to coach Ken Whisenhunt. The final OTA of the offseason is scheduled for tomorrow.

I should have more info in a bit.

The NFL also announced Wednesday the creation of the NFL Tillman scholarship, in honor of former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. The NFL has already donated $700,000 to The Tillman Foundation since 2004 and now, the new scholarship “will honor each year an individual who exemplifies Pat Tillman’s enduring legacy of service.”

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A side trip

Posted by Darren Urban on June 9, 2010 – 3:30 am

Information will come out a bit different today. I’ll have an OTA update as soon as I can, but it’ll be coming long distance while I fly out to North Carolina to cover the retirement of Adrian Wilson’s high school number. That’s why I am up at this ungodly hour, about to leave for the airport. But it should be interesting, and I will have not only a story about the ceremony Thursday night (or Friday morning) but also a bigger story next month on just how Adrian became Adrian. And again, I’ll have info up later today on the next=to-last day of OTA. Oh, Adrian won’t be at today’s OTA either, FYI. He’s kinda busy.

P.S. Not a huge surprise at the news RFA Deuce Lutui is going to sign soon. The deadline to sign before the team can drop its offer is Tuesday. The smart money was always on Lutui signing before then.

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It’s all about learning

Posted by Darren Urban on June 8, 2010 – 2:02 pm

The Cardinals have benefited from having veterans give some help to younger players, a subject Steve Breaston touched on at the end of his chat today and I wrote about earlier this offseason. It’s not always automatic, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, but it is part of the reason the Cards are successful.

“I don’t know if it natural,” Whisenhunt acknowledged. “I know it’s always been a part of the good teams I have been around. It’s something we have encouraged. It’s not something that always takes off because there are veterans who are worried about their job. But I think the way our team has changed over the years, we have gotten a lot of the right guys here. Look out there now and see the older guys working with the younger guys, that’s an important part of your team chemistry and becoming a good football team. That unselfish quality will help you win.”

— The Cards continue to mix and match in the secondary. Justin Miller now was taking reps with the first unit with Greg Toler (DRC remains out with his sore toe). Whisenhunt said using multiple players in the first unit is both a reward for players playing well and an opportunity for coaches to check out players.

“Whenever you see someone who does something you like, you want to put him in positions with the first team or different situations inside in the sub-defensive packages where you can get a look at them,” Whisenhunt said. “That will continue through training camp. I think what I am more encouraged with now is feeling we have good players there (in the secondary). We have more depth than I thought. It was an area of concern coming in and we have a comfort level there now.”

— The play of the day today (at least, the one I noticed) was Breaston going up and over Toler — who had good inside position — to steal a bomb after quarterback Max Hall’s deep throw came out of his hand a little wobbly.

— The Cards had another (and probably final) team competition at the end of the workout — punt catching out off machine. Gabe Watson was the hero, making the final catch for the defense (seen below) after they had gotten out to a slow start and fallen behind, two catches to none. Guard Reggie Wells couldn’t pull in his try in the bottom half of the inning, and the offense was on the hook for a little extra work. There definitely was some intensity on the line (and a video upcoming later today on the site).

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Already, labor strife’s impact

Posted by Darren Urban on June 7, 2010 – 10:36 pm

I know it isn’t a popular topic for many fans, nor one that some want to even acknowledge. But the reality is this: While a possible NFL work stoppage — because of the expired collective bargaining agreement and its official end date at the beginning of the 2011 league year (approximately March 1) — remains months and an entire NFL season away, it’s already impacting the league.

It’s easy to see it in the Cardinals’ backyard. Guard Deuce Lutui, with his four years played in the NFL, would have normally been an unrestricted free agent and a prime candidate for either a contract on the open market or the long-term extension he coveted. But because of the temporary one-year rules because of the expiring CBA, Lutui went from being an unrestricted free agent to restricted. He got no nibbles as an RFA with a second-round tender, and to this date, has resisted signing the Cards’ one-year tender offer of $1.76 million. The Cards could lower his tender next week (June 15) if he doesn’t sign to less than $600,000. Maybe Lutui signs. Maybe he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, the Cards have to consider long and hard if they want to lower the offer to Lutui — whom they still see in their long-range plans. Why? Well, just look at the Chargers, who have warned unsigned RFA T Marcus McNeill and unsigned RFA WR Vincent Jackson they will indeed drop their offers if the two don’t sign by next week. Beat writer Kevin Acee calls it a “potentially toxic stage” in the relationship between players and team, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why. There may be no repairing the potential divide if that happens.

Meanwhile, the union is building up its “war chest” in case of a stoppage even as revenues have gone down. It’s safe to think the owners are doing the same look-ahead kind of process. That’s one of the reasons there are few big extensions being done for players. Another reason are the rule restraints on big salary jumps. Until there is a new CBA, no one knows if there will be a salary cap (although I can’t believe the owners won’t want some sort of cost constraint in place, even if it isn’t a salary cap). No one knows what free agency will look like — the old way, or something different?

No one knows much of anything for the future. So mostly, teams will be cautious, even now. It’s frustrating all around. But it’s a fact of life, even with the 2010 season on deck.

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In a scorcher, Cards resume

Posted by Darren Urban on June 7, 2010 – 1:05 pm

The Cards just got through their hottest OTA today as they begin their final week of offseason work prior to breaking for the summer. There were fewer reps than normal to account for the heat. Everything wasn’t exactly clicking and it may have been because of the weather. A couple of plays I noticed: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie dropped an easy interception on an underthrown bomb by Derek Anderson and Anderson missed a wide-open Tim Hightower on a wheel route down the field. Then again, Darren Mougey used his height advantage to snag a pass above cornerback Tru McBride and Stephen Williams made a beautiful diving catch on on play.

Guard Rex Hadnot, who tweaked his knee last week, was back as expected, as was linebacker Gerald Hayes (back). The Cards are scheduled to work out every day through Thursday.

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Breaston and Feely interaction

Posted by Darren Urban on June 7, 2010 – 9:40 am

Here are a couple of Tuesday chances to interact with a pair of Cardinals. As I mentioned before, wide receiver Steve Breaston will be doing a live chat on at 1 p.m. tomorrow (you can find the chat right here), so he’ll spend 30 minutes discussing whatever you want with the fans.

Then, Tuesday night, kicker Jay Feely will be at the Barnes and Noble bookstore at 21001 N. Tatum Blvd in Phoenix at 7 p.m. signing the book “NFL Dads Dedicated To Daughters.” Feely is one of 70 current and former NFL players who took part in the book (he has three daughters) which is about “what it means to be the father of a daughter and explain what men must do to stop violence against women.”

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Dock and the Sheik

Posted by Darren Urban on June 4, 2010 – 10:27 am

It’s hard not to root for a guy like Dean Muhtadi, as I noted in my column yesterday. But he’s not just the underdog. He’s doing the Cardinals some good in becoming the workout partner of Darnell Dockett. It was a pairing suggested by strength coach John Lott.

“Dock pulled 475 pounds (the other day) in the clean,” Lott said. “I’ll put that number against anyone in the National Football League. It’s not just because of Sheik, but Sheik lifts Dock to another level.”

Dockett took Muhtadi on, telling Muhtadi — when there were workouts only and no on-field work — that he needed to switch to the 7:30 a.m. group from 10 a.m., because that’s when the Pro Bowler would be there. “He’s going to keep up with your pace,” Dockett said of the man everyone calls “Iron Sheik.” “We push each other. We have no down time.”

The day Dockett was lifting 475 pounds on the clean, Lott said, Muhtadi was at 455 pounds. That fits Muhtadi fine. “I loved it here from day one when I found out John Lott was the strength coach,” he said. “This is my place because I am the ultimate meathead.”

Said Lott, “Sheik may be humble, which I like, but he’s got some talent himself. I just hope that motor he has — and he can run for a big man — will help him with us. Maybe he can find a way to scratch and claw on this team.”

Until then, he’ll push Dockett in the weight room, which Lott says Dockett embraces. “Dockett is a beast on the field for a reason, and one of them, his secret weapon, is that he is a beast in here for me.”

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Lutui makes a change

Posted by Darren Urban on June 3, 2010 – 4:06 pm

In news that probably isn’t a shock, unsigned restricted free agent guard Deuce Lutui has changed agents, according to Kent Somers. I’m not sure if anything will change in terms of Lutui’s status, however. If his former agent was the one pushing for Lutui to stay away, then I suppose his new representation may say, “Sign.” But if it had been Lutui’s preference to stay away — and his former agent was telling him to sign, leading to the breakup — then this won’t mean much in the grand scheme.

As as been noted many times, Lutui has until June 15 to sign his $1.76 million tender or the Cards could lower it to 110 percent of his 2009 salary of $535,000, or $588,500. But I think the Cards still see Lutui as a long-term piece, and lowering the offer could strain a relationship that, at least from Lutui’s side, already seems strained.

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