Cards make final three moves

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2010 – 2:56 pm

The Cardinals have made their final three roster moves today to get down to the mandated 75-man limit, and none are unexpected. Fullback Nehemiah Broughton (knee) was moved to injured reserve, ending his season. Linebacker O’Brien Schofield (knee) was moved to the injured/non-football list, which basically has the same rules as the physically-unable-to-perform list — he must sit the first six games, and then the Cards have until the ninth game to decide to put him on the active roster or move him to IR. Finally, the team waived/injured wide receiver Darren Mougey, who broke his hand last week in practice.

The Cardinals have to go from 75 to 53 players this weekend in getting ready for the regular season.

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Lineup unchanged, so Anderson starts

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2010 – 2:16 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was less about Derek-Anderson-is-starting-the-preseason-finale and more about the-lineup-overall-did-well-last-game-so-why-change today, but still, that means Anderson will start the preseason finale, and, you know, we’ll go from there.

Among other practice news today, the biggest was the venue. The Cards were at ASU’s Dickey Dome today for the first of what looks like many, with Whisenhunt calling it a “dry run” to see how the Cards could use a practice bubble (although the coach said he “underestimated” the need for a bubble when he first arrived in Arizona).

The injury list was the same. Of the guys on the sideline, I don’t expect WR Andre Roberts (shoulder), RB Jason Wright (toe) or RB LaRod Stephens-Howling to play Thursday. No reason to risk anything.

Whisenhunt did address his talk with Matt Leinart yesterday afternoon, saying that “they touched base on where everything was.” Whiz said he feels the coaching staff has been consistent through the years in how they communicate with players and Whiz added he was comfortable with that process. But “there must have been some breakdown because he didn’t hear what he wanted, but hopefully we got that cleared up yesterday.”

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After the talk

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2010 – 10:02 pm

Early in the afternoon, Matt Leinart was looking for an explanation, and Ken Whisenhunt reiterated — which he has actually talked about many times in various situations — he has an open-door policy for any player.

Sometime later Monday, Leinart and Whiz finally spoke.

I don’t know exactly what was said, but I think we can all guess. I don’t know if it makes an immediate impact on anything. I’m not sure why it took place four days after Leinart was told he’d be behind Derek Anderson for the Chicago game (don’t get me wrong, the two had been talking, but they didn’t have a sit-down to clear the air). Some have argued Whisenhunt should have instigated it. Then again, if you have a boss and he sets down some rule or situation at work, sometimes you have to go and find out why. Leinart could have done that. And we can talk about this and that with Leinart off the field, but it is true there was concern about the lack of offensive production in those first two preseason games, Whisenhunt shook it up, and then the offense played well.

I was a little surprised at a couple of the things Leinart said Monday considering it didn’t seem like much had changed since he spoke after the game Saturday. Maybe he was expecting Whisenhunt to flip-flop the depth chart back and when it didn’t happen (I am not sure exactly how the reps were doled out Monday) he wasn’t thrilled. I can’t think of another reason, and I’ve been thinking about it since after the media comments hours ago.

Here’s the thing, and whether you are pro-Leinart or anti-Leinart or somewhere else on the spectrum, it’s tough to argue with this — Whisenhunt wants to win. Does anyone really think Whisenhunt would move away from Leinart if he believes Leinart gives him a better chance to win than Anderson? I just can’t see it. Maybe Anderson starts. Maybe Leinart does. Either way, I am guessing Whiz wouldn’t jeopardize his chances at victory by making a QB choice based on anything else. The man has an engineering degree. He thinks through everything and he makes decisions very deliberately. This isn’t Denny Green, making spur-of-the-moment emotional choices — like John Navarre starting in Detroit.

OK. That’s enough on this for now. Maybe I can write about something besides quarterbacks tomorrow.

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After practice, No QB decision yet

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2010 – 1:15 pm

The Cards just had their first practice back after coming home from Chicago. No, coach Ken Whisenhunt did not announce a starting quarterback yet. He said both will play in the preseason finale against Washington “unless something changes” (and no, that isn’t some hint to a trade or something). Whiz has no timeline on his announcement and said that a few times. Whiz also reiterated that the offense wasn’t playing well in the first two games of the preseason and he changed things up to see what would happen. Obviously, something worked.

Matt Leinart said after practice “I really want an explanation” for the situation, but acknowledged he has yet to approach Whiz to discuss the subject.Leinart also said he has “outplayed the competition” in camp. Derek Anderson, meanwhile, continues to be low-key in talking about the situation. I will have a bigger story in a bit.

In other news:

— Whiz did say it is “always dicey” to have a rookie as a backup, should something happen and the Cards decide to move one of their veterans. But he did say both Max Hall and John Skelton have impressed him and he feels more comfortable about such a possibility than he did before camp.

— TE Ben Patrick (knee) was back at practice, slowly getting back into the groove. WR Andre Roberts (shoulder) remains out, while RBs Jason Wright (toe) and LaRod Stephens-Howling (concussion) were out. Both aren’t expected to be long-term injuries; the Hyphen rode a bike yesterday and did OK and was getting further tests today.

— WR Larry Fitzgerald is wearing a smaller knee brace but he will not play Thursday.

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Calvin traded for fullback UDPATE with cuts

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2010 – 9:50 am

The Eagles have announced that the Cards have traded cornerback Jorrick Calvin to Philly for fullback Charles Scott. Not a surprise since fullback Nehemiah Broughton blew out his knee in Chicago. Nothing official from the Cardinals as of now, but since the Eagles have put it out there, I’m pretty sure it’s done. Like Calvin, Scott was a sixth-round draft pick this year. It looked like Calvin was a long shot to make the team anyway, so if Scott pans out, the Cards may have salvaged the pick.

Scott needs to beat out holdover Reagan Maui’a. Calvin fell behind the undrafted Marshay Green, so he was probably going to be a practice squad guy at best.

UPDATE: The trade has now been announced by the Cards. The team also has released TE Dominique Byrd, and OL Casey Knips and David Moosman. They also brought in WR Isaiah Williams. That’s the extent of the moves coming today; the Cards have until tomorrow to make three more moves to get the roster to 75.

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Bears aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2010 – 2:40 am

Life on the charter flight. I write this version of the Aftermath well after midnight Arizona time, sitting in the back of the plane as flight attendants Billi and Candice serve dinner and fullback Reagan Maui’a sits across from me, playing his ukulele at 30,000 feet.

But we must go on to the game. That’s what you’re here for.

— I don’t know exactly what Ken Whisenhunt was aiming for when he decided to start Derek Anderson this week over Matt Leinart, but whatever his intention, it worked. Both played well, and frankly, I don’t envy Whisenhunt’s decision going forward. Nothing was made easier Saturday night in the Chicago win, although Whiz was clearly feeling better about life than in the Tennessee game.

“I take my hat off to (the QBs),” running back Tim Hightower said. “A lot of people they can say whatever they want to about Matt, but he showed a lot. D.A., he played well, and when he had opportunities, he capitalized. But Matt came in and did his thing and he handled himself well.”

It was interesting that twice, Whisenhunt noted the quarterback choice will come down to chemistry with the team and how the QB handles things when he is in the fray – and that it won’t necessarily be about stats. Given that Leinart has completed 19-of-23 preseason passes and not turned it over, Whiz’s comments seem to pump the brakes on the idea Leinart could be the favorite. One of the issues swirling around Leinart for a while has been whether he is able to inspire the team.

“I don’t know what the decision will be made on,” Leinart said, smiling. “I feel like I have a great relationship with my guys, my team for four, five years now. Like I said, I can only control what I control, and that’s playing good football and being a leader. I have a great relationship with all my teammates and I don’t think it should be based on that because I feel like I am doing a good job in that department.”

— Arguably, the guy with the biggest stake in the quarterback position is Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. His thoughts on the QB controversy/competition? Fitz told this to ace beat man Kent Somers: “I’m just a hired hand, man. I’m just a pawn on the chess board.”

Something tells me Fitz has his opinions.

— Hightower ran the ball well (62 yards on eight carries). Beanie Wells didn’t have the greatest night. He gained 14 yards on eight carries, dropped a pass and, most crucial, fumbled the ball late in the second quarter inside the Bears’ 10-yard line when it looked like the Cards were going to drive for a TD. Replays seemed to show Beanie might have been down a split-second before losing control, but it wasn’t overturned, and Whisenhunt wasn’t happy considering Beanie’s fumbling issues as a rookie.

“That is something with Beanie we have made progress with and he obviously was criticized for not paying more attention to the ball there,” Whisenhunt said.

— Deuce Lutui logged significant time with the starting offensive line at right guard, although Reggie Wells started. Given all the talk about Anderson, Greg Toler and Daryl Washington moving into the starting lineup, you wonder if Deuce is next.

— All four guys who can play nose tackle – Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and Dan Williams – logged time there by early in the second quarter. It’s beginning to look like the Cards could very well keep them all, and seven defensive linemen overall (Campbell, Dockett, Iwebema).

— Speaking of the defensive front, they again played well and sparked the overall good defensive night (four sacks and two picks of QB Jay Cutler and Mike Martz’s latest attempt to revive the Greatest Show on Turf, except on grass).

— I’m not sure Stephen Williams has had a bad day since training camp started. Anderson played well, but he owes a little something to the rookie receiver for coming up big in traffic.

— Awesome play to score your touchdown, Steve Breaston (pictured below). Oh, don’t ever leap like that in a preseason game again. Your legs looked like they were going to snap as you went up and over the goal line.

— QB Max Hall looked sharp at the end. And I’m beginning to think Max Komar will be the second rookie receiver to stick around, if they decide to keep six receivers. All he does is make plays. (UPDATE: Oops. Forgot Andre Roberts is a rookie. He will make it too).

— Offensive linemen David Moosman and Casey Knips haven’t gotten into a game yet. That doesn’t bode well with a cut of five coming Monday. And speaking of not boding well, the fact tight end Dominique Byrd didn’t play Saturday usually isn’t a good sign either.

Wow, I wrote a lot there. Might have to take Sunday off.

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Broughton probably done

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2010 – 9:16 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said fullback Nehemiah Broughton, who would have been the starter and probably the lone fullback on the roster, likely tore the ACL in his left knee. The team will do further tests, but if true, he is done for the season. It makes for a bind for the Cards. Do they keep current backup Reagan Maui’a? Do they bring back Charles Ali, who was the backup earlier in camp before getting hurt and cut?

UPDATE: The Cards can’t bring back Ali. He was released through an injury settlement, and the Cards wouldn’t be able to bring him back until October.

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Doucet to play

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2010 – 4:25 pm

The Cardinals will use wide receiver Early Doucet tonight on about 10 plays as he works back from his abdomen injury, and the inactive players are expected: WR Andre Roberts (shoulder), WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee), WR Darren Mougey (hand), TE Ben Patrick (knee), LB Gerald Hayes (PUP-back) and LB O’Brien Schofield (PUP-knee).

Stephen Williams is still starting for Fitz, while LB Daryl Washington and CB Greg Toler will officially start.

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And now, a word from our sponsors

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2010 – 3:46 pm

We briefly interrupt our talk about Derek Anderson and Matt Leinart to discuss a couple other things:

— Very interested to see how linebacker Daryl Washington responds to playing with the starting unit tonight. All along I didn’t think Washington would get to the starting lineup by the beginning of the season but it turns out I may be wrong on that. In many ways, it makes sense. If you aren’t sure of what you’ll get from the rest of the linebackers, maybe you just get the top talent on the field and live with a few mistakes.

— The Bears don’t usually blitz, so I don’t expect a repeat of what the Titans did to the offense and offensive line Monday night. Still, the line needs to hold up against someone like DE Julius Peppers, who has apparently played pretty well thus far. Obviously, regardless of it’s Anderson or Leinart, they need to run the ball a little better. Or a lot better.

— OK, maybe there are a couple of real sponsor-esque things to get to. The NFL, trying to fight childhood obesity and promote the game, has put together a new campaign called “Back to Football Fridays.” The idea is that offices have a Friday tailgate or something else to make people think about being active/football. I’m guessing most people wouldn’t mind having time away from the cubicle. There is even a drawing to enter to have a past or current player visit the office during one of these times.

— Speaking of meeting players, there is still time to get a ticket for Wednesday’s Kickoff Luncheon at University of Phoenix Stadium. You’ll sit at a table with a player or two, have a chance to walk around and meet everyone if you want, and be able to bid on auction items all on the floor of the stadium. Always a cool experience.

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Leinart talks about not starting

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2010 – 9:46 am

Quarterback Matt Leinart just talked about getting demoted behind Derek Anderson. Not surprisingly, he isn’t happy, but he said he still planning on starting the regular-season opener:

— “It is disappointing and a little bit frustrating,” Leinart said. “I can’t sit up here and say I’m happy and all smiles. It is frustrating. I am not sure the expectation put on me. I have high expectations on myself, and I think, based on my body of work in the preseason, I have been accurate and not turned the ball over. I think the preseason is about gelling together as an offense. We have a lot of new faces on the offense.

“When you don’t move the ball, it’s not what you want, but that is what preseason is for. To gel together as an offense. It is what it is. I don’t make these decisions. I have done everything coach has asked of me. I have been committed and I have worked extremely hard. If it is an open competition, then let’s have it that way from the start, if this is what this is.

“Moving forward, I have to keep working. Go out (Saturday) and work my butt off and let my play do the talking. I am confident in my ability. I am extremely disappointed, and I’m not exactly sure why this decision was made, but it’s not my decision.”

— Leinart said he still expects to start in St. Louis, although he acknowledged he wasn’t sure where things will go from here:

“I have learned the last two weeks, you control what you can control. I think I have made the most of my opportunities when I have had the chance. We weren’t in the best situations all the time, and that’s all of us. I am the quarterback and I take the blame but collectively, like I said, preseason is about coming together. That’s my view.”

— On the mental side of dealing with the situation:

“It’s mentally draining. It drains you a little bit and it’s been like that the last three years. Physically I feel fine and I have been efficient this preseason … in the limited, limited opportunities I have had, I think I’ve done my best. Can I get better? Absolutely. I know that. I’m not perfect and I know I have a lot of work to do. If it’s open competition, I think you need equal opportunity. Who’s to say … I don’t know if that is happening.”

— On whether it could be coach Ken Whisenhunt trying to spark Leinart:

“Coach has a way of handling me and my situation the last three years, even when Kurt was here. For me, I’ve always kind of taken it with a grain of salt and continued to work hard. If he is testing me, that’s fine. I am disappointed but it’s not going to stop me from working and being a leader. I know guys are looking to me still. It’s adversity but I will get through it. I know hard work pays off.

“I’m not going to look much into it. I am going to go out, play my game, and take advantage of the opportunity I get. That’s all you can do.”

We will have video of it up later, but I thought his body language was fine. I sensed a guy hoping that chance will come again to start, not defeated. I sensed too he might have been (smartly) holding back. He’s definitely not happy. You know he knows Anderson has had 41 pass attempts this preseason and he only has 13. Maybe that gets flipped a bit tomorrow night. I will have a story up later too about more big picture for this week, but for now, we are getting on a bus soon to go to the airport.

Chicago here we come, quarterbacks and all.

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