Beanie, Hyphen both out; Washington active

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2011 – 11:48 am

Running back Beanie Wells is indeed inactive today for the game against the Seahawks, leaving Chester Taylor and Alfonso Smith  to handle the backfield duties for the Cards. Fellow back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) is also inactive. That makes the Cards dangerously thin at running back. A hamstring is always a dangerous thing to risk, and I would guess it is smarter to rest for a game than take the chance of making it worse going forward. You figure a lot more pressure will be put on the passing game.

Linebacker Daryl Washington is active today, however, a boost for the defense, although we will have to see if his play time is limited at all with his calf injury.

The other inactives are:

  • WR Chansi Stuckey (hamstring)
  • QB John Skelton
  • T D’Anthony Batiste
  • TE Jim Dray (pectoral)
  • DE Ronald Talley

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Friday before the Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2011 – 5:02 pm

Talking to Patrick Peterson earlier this week about special teams – specifically, blocking field goals – and his other specialty of punt returns came up. I was down on the Cardinals’ sideline when Peterson grabbed the Redskins’ punt on the final play of last weekend’s game, and while there was a slew of bodies, it looked like he might have a seam to create a miracle, and I told him that.

Peterson, sitting on a stool, chuckled. “If someone would have blocked the punter,” he said, “I was gone. I was gone.”

Sure enough, when I went to watch the play on DVR, it was Washington punter Sav Rocca – one of the ex-Aussie Rules Football players, like Ben Graham, a big man – who actually tackled Peterson to end the game. It was too hard to tell if Peterson would have been able to go all the way, but …

Ah, time to live in the now. The Cardinals are 1-1. They need to win this game in Seattle. The Seahawks are reeling after just two weeks, and frankly, just don’t have the talent. They have faced two pretty good defenses – the 49ers are still good on that side of the ball – but the Cards’ defense needs to make this a game where it comes out feeling better about itself.

People will talk about the noise up there, but the bottom line is this – if you are the better team, the crowd won’t make the Seahawks win. The Cards have their silent count and their experience. Kevin Kolb doesn’t seem worried about anything but the Seahawks’ defense. Good sign.

— The Seahawks are coming off a game in which they played Pittsburgh, which figures to help both teams. Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said his team can go through the film and glean quite a bit because the Cardinals are basically playing the same defense as the Steelers.

But defensive coordinator Ray Horton also thinks it will help his players see exactly what each position should be doing in certain situations, all while watching video of the upcoming opponent. Already, Horton said, his players “marveled” at how fast the Steelers played on defense. That’s what happens when everyone already knows what they are doing.

— Tight end Jeff King was fined $7,500 for his nasty-but-touchdown-saving facemask on Washington punt returner Brandon Banks. Safety Kerry Rhodes was not fined for his accidental hit on an official; Rhodes said his hand was actually slapped away by a Redskin and that’s how it ended up touching the official.

— It will be interesting to see how the injuries play out Sunday. The biggest question of course will be Beanie Wells and his hamstring. Someone asked me if he’d be limited in his carries if he plays. My thought is, if Beanie has to be limited to play, he probably shouldn’t play at all. If he doesn’t, I am curious to see what Alfonso Smith can bring to the table, and how Chester Taylor looks.

— Of course, LaRod Stephens-Howling could also carry the ball. He’s also a game-day decision, as is linebacker Daryl Washington. I’m feeling much more confident those guys are ready to give you something Sunday. Getting Washington, even if it is in spot duty, is important for this defense.

— A quick side note. A big-time Cardinals fan from back East who works as an animal cruelty investigator just lost a close friend who was a police officer. Nick mentioned how all police officers need to be appreciated – his friend Joe Szczerba was killed on a routine disturbing the peace call – and, as I was thinking, so too do firefighters. I know there was a lot of that a couple weeks ago for the 9/11 ceremonies – so many police and firefighters had their lives touched by the tragedy – but also on a daily basis simply because it is the job they have chosen. To all of them, thank you.

— Former Card Alan Branch is playing well as a starter in Seattle. Does this offensive line — which is doing better than most think — know enough of him to neutralize Branch? That will make for an interesting subplot.

— From the there-are-no-sure-things-in-the-draft department: The Seahawks took linebacker Aaron Curry with the fourth pick of the 2009 draft and many at the time believed he was the surest thing in that draft. Here we are, a couple of years later, and Curry has been demoted to second-string.

— The Seahawks have a 6-foot-4 cornerback named Brandon Browner. He was a four-year star in the Canadian Football League. Now they are asking him to do it in the NFL. It isn’t working – not yet, anyway. According to, the Steelers threw 10 passes Browner’s way last week – and completed every single one (for 194 yards). He also had a 39-yard pass interference call against him. And that’s the guy they keep saying is going to cover the 6-foot-3 Larry Fitzgerald? Fitz said all the right things this week about Browner, but I would guess he’s got to be jacked up over the possibility of such a matchup.

I always like the trip to Seattle. I like the city, like hanging out there. It’s always a better visit after a win, though.

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Beanie decision comes game day

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2011 – 1:17 pm

It what is no surprise, coach Ken Whisenhunt said running back Beanie Wells — who had hamstring issues Thursday at practice — will be a game-day decision in Seattle. The official injury report is still to come, but Wells said he did go through some work Friday. Whisenhunt said part of the week of work was getting newcomer and veteran Chester Taylor more reps, so there is a comfort level if Wells cannot go.

“We wanted to be conservative as opposed to injuring it so Chester got a lot of reps,” Whisenhunt said.

“It’s doing well,” Wells said. “It got a little tight yesterday so we decided to let it calm down a little bit,” adding “I don’t think I’ll be limited at all if I play Sunday.”

Linebacker Daryl Washington (calf) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) continue to increase their workload in practice, something Whisenhunt said he is “excited about.” Both will join Wells as game-day decisions. Adding Stephens-Howling would help if Wells is out. The Cardinals also have Alfonso Smith, who is inexperienced (he has never had an NFL carry in the regular season) but has flashed talent during preseason work.

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Beanie added to injury report

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2011 – 2:34 pm

Running back Beanie Wells was added to the injury report today, listed as limited because of a hamstring problem apparently suffered today. The injury report just came out, long after locker room access and coach Ken Whisenhunt’s meeting with the media, so there won’t be any further info. Certainly tomorrow figures to be an important day for Wells, who has been playing so well in the first couple of games.

Any injury issue with Wells, whether it keeps him out of a game or not, has to give the Cards pause. That’s why the season-ending injury to rookie Ryan Williams was such a blow. Veteran Chester Taylor had just one carry last week in his first game as a Card (it went for no gain). I am still curious to see Alfonso Smith get a chance in a game that counts. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand) is still limited.

Wells wasn’t the only player added to the injury list. Linebacker Joey Porter showed up with a knee issue, limiting his work. On the flip side, Daryl Washington did some limited work for the first time since hurting his calf in the season opener.

Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (hamstring) and tight end Jim Dray (pectoral) each had to sit out practice. For the full injury report, click here.

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“Larry se va … hasta su casa!”

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2011 – 10:57 am

It started, as these things often do, with an over-the-top touchdown call. It’s what Gabriel Trujillo does, calling Spanish play-by-play for the Cards (for now a 12th season). And as he usually does, Trujillo provided a memorable call as quarterback Kevin Kolb hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 73-yard touchdown.

Our radio producer/guru Jim Omohundro then made sure the world knew. He not only tweeted it out but gave an e-mail heads up to Darren Rovell, the MSNBC sports business guy who loves stuff just like this. So Rovell picked it up and tweeted it out. And so did before they put it on one of their pages. Fitz retweeted it too, to his 916,000-plus followers. (UPDATE: And now I am hearing Fox is going to use the call on their pregame show. UPDATE 2: And Jim Rome just played it on his radio show, asking his producer to book Gabriel. Now that would be a segment.)

Oms has made sure over the years Cards fans have heard Trujillo’s greatest hits, but this is by far the most run one of his calls has gotten nationally. If you’re ever looking to get a different taste of the Cards’ game — with all due respect to Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfley — you can hear what Trujillo and analyst Rolando Cantu have to say on ESPN Deportes 710 AM here in the Valley.

“Larry se va … hasta su casa!” Larry takes it … to the house!

“Tooooouucccchdown, AriZONa!”

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One-hitter quitters aren’t bad

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2011 – 3:15 pm

The Cardinals have not won time of possession in their two games yet, for a multitude of reasons. The defense has allowed some lengthy drives, and the offense has sputtered more often than they would have liked. But there is another factor, and it’s the quick-strike score. Of the Cards’ six offensive touchdowns thus far (a seventh TD came via Patrick Peterson punt return), five have come on six plays of possession or fewer.

Against Carolina, it only took six plays on the opening drive before Beanie Wells’ rushing touchdown, and later, Early Doucet’s 70-yard catch-and-run made a 90-yard drive simple in just five plays. But it’s been the true lightning strikes that have impacted the stats. A short field in Washington allowed Jeff King to score a 21-yard touchdown on only the second play of a 37-yard drive. King’s 48-yard TD against Carolina was the first play of a possession.

And of course, so too was the 73-yard TD bomb from quarterback Kevin Kolb to Larry Fitzgerald in Washington.

“If we were 2-0 (possession time) wouldn’t be a problem and we were one point away,” Kolb said. “I think striking quick is a good thing. But I’ve said before, when we go on those seven, eight, 10-play drives, that’s when you know you own somebody. We get in the end zone however it takes. If it is a one-hitter quitter, or 10 plays and executing in the red zone, that’s what we’ll do.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged the quick possessions wear down a defense, which was a problem last season. Of course, last season, the quick possessions were almost always about punts and not touchdowns, and that changes the dynamic too.

“I’m not ever going to complain about having a two-play, 60-yard scoring drive, like we’ve had, or a one-play, 73-yard scoring drive,” Whisenhunt said. “Would we like to have more plays? Obviously we would. … That’s what we are trying to do. But I don’t want to get so panicky because, like I said, out yards-per-play is pretty high.”

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Practice squad pick, Dockett’s life, Wright’s work

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2011 – 9:28 am

To follow up on the Cardinals’ roster moves from yesterday, the team filled its empty practice squad spot this morning by signing safety Mark LeGree to the practice squad. LeGree was a fifth-round pick of the Seahawks — coincidentally, the Cards’ opponent this week — before being cut at the end of training camp. LeGree played at Appalachian State (a friend who is also an alum likes to needle me by calling it the “real ASU”) and had 22 interceptions over four seasons and 53 games.

— In the meantime, while the Cards get back to the practice field later, here are a couple of Cards-related links. One comes from ESPN, after the network did a very nice video piece on their NFL Sunday Countdown show about the upbringing of defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, which explains a lot about his personality. (Once, I wrote a similar story, when Darnell was a rookie. I forgot he originally wore the No. 61. Here is the story — sorry I couldn’t get it in one pdf — part one, part two, and part three).

— Dockett’s story is one of a kind, but so too is the tale of recently retired running back Jason Wright, who I already knew was kind of an amazing person but I didn’t know how much until I read this Sean Jensen Yahoo story. I wish Wright was still on the team — I am sure the Cards do too — but it’s hard to argue against seeing the bigger picture. It will never get the same kind of publicity as Pat Tillman — and certainly, Wright is not putting his life on the line like Pat did — but in some ways, Wright walking away is similar to the choice Tillman once made.

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Butler done for season, Talley brought up

Posted by Darren Urban on September 20, 2011 – 12:56 pm

As expected, the season for cornerback Crezdon Butler is over. Butler dislocated his ankle last week at practice, and the Cardinals put him on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. To fill Butler’s roster spot, the Cardinals are bringing back defensive lineman Ronald Talley from the practice squad. Talley’s practice squad is expected to be filled by Wednesday.

The Cardinals did make a practice squad move Tuesday, however, signing former Viking receiver (and close friend of Larry Fitzgerald) Jaymar Johnson, while releasing wide receiver Brandyn Harvey.

Butler did play on special teams in the opener but the health of veteran Michael Adams likely meant it would have been tougher for him to find the field. The Cardinals probably were overstaffed at defensive back as well, given the presence of fellow waiver-wire acquisition Korey Lindsey.

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Beanie and the five-minute mark

Posted by Darren Urban on September 19, 2011 – 4:50 pm

The sequence in question — really only one play, when you break it down — is innocently buried in the play-by-play of Sunday’s 22-21 loss in Washington:

Arizona Cardinals at 5:17
1-10-ARZ 20 (5:17) C.Wells right guard to ARZ 23 for 3 yards (R.McIntosh).
2-7-ARZ 23 (4:35) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet.
Penalty on ARZ-T.Heap, Illegal Motion, declined.
3-7-ARZ 23 (4:32) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass incomplete short right to E.Doucet (R.Kerrigan).
4-7-ARZ 23 (4:28) D.Zastudil punts 41 yards to WAS 36, Center-M.Leach, downed by ARZ. WAS-D.Gomes was injured during the play.


Many (as in people commenting on my Twitter feed and on the blog) seem to wonder why, on that second down play, Beanie Wells was not given the ball. The clock would have kept moving, some said. Beanie was running well, said others. In the end, the sport of second-guessing play calls may rank up there with reasons people like to watch the games. Here are my thoughts on that sequence — the choices make sense to me.

If the Cardinals had still been ahead, 21-13, and had been able to prevent that painful fourth-down touchdown pass moments before, I get running Beanie a few times. But even after the Cards knocked down the two-point conversion, they were only up by two points. With five minutes left, the playbook still has to be wide-open — you can’t just grind the clock and punt. Not when a field goal beats you. Could a Beanie second-down run made it third-and-2? Sure. It could have also been stoned (and the Redskins were looking run-first at that point) and you’d be faced with third-and-7 anyway.

One thing I will say: It seemed like the second-down shotgun look would have been helpful to a Beanie quick draw; Wells gained 45 of his yards on three rushing attempts when quarterback Kevin Kolb started in shotgun on the play.

Milking the clock makes no sense to me. If you don’t get the first down and drain the clock, all it would have meant was that the Redskins kick the game-winning field goal as time expires rather than the Cards getting a final drive chance with 1:46 left — and that pass to Chansi Stuckey made things look at first so promising, until he was stripped.

As for Wells’ only having three carries in the first half before getting 11 in the second half, Whisenhunt said “we didn’t have a lot of opportunities in the first half.” (The Cards did only have 18 20 first-half plays). “In the second half, we got into a package where we were having success. It was giving them problems and Beanie ran the ball very well.”

“You’d like to start out a little better than we did but we didn’t,” Whisenhunt added. “That’s something we are going to continue to work on.”

Wells looked frustrated after the game, but that could have been more about the gut-punch loss. The Cards only had three fourth-quarter possessions, and one lasted one play, the 73-yard bomb to Fitz. Then came the above possession, and then the final Stuckey fumble possession.

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Morning after with Whiz

Posted by Darren Urban on September 19, 2011 – 11:40 am

Calling chances to win on the road “precious,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said today about what you’d expect after the Cardinals blew that chance Sunday. The team, especially the defense, is a work-in-progress. Believe it or not, he said, there were some good plays made by the defense. But there is still too much yardage surrendered and too many mistakes made.

“When we make bad plays,” Whisenhunt said, “they are really bad.”

Whisenhunt knows the team needs to cut down on penalties, especially the “dumb” ones by the defense yesterday. He said Kerry Rhodes’ 15-yarder was because he inadvertently bumped an official, and the official knew it was an accident — otherwise, Rhodes would have been thrown out of the game. He also said the punt team missed the injured LaRod Stephens-Howling as the gunner, which impacted the Cards’ coverage.

He added he thought the young cornerbacks showed improvement from week one, but that they can’t afford to turn receivers loose downfield. They avoided the big plays yesterday (which helped in stopping the Redskins from scoring too much).

Injury-wise, the Cards came out pretty healthy. Other than linebacker Paris Lenon (ankle), who came back in the game, Whisenhunt didn’t name any names for injuries because nobody suffered anything that would cause them to miss any time, he said. It’ll be wait and see on someone like linebacker Daryl Washington, whom the Cards hope can return to practice at some point this week.

— Tomorrow, I will host  a live chat right here at 11:30 a.m. Az time (2:30 p.m. Eastern). Gear up for all questions Cardinals.

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