Is GM a future fit for a King?

Posted by Darren Urban on November 24, 2011 – 12:04 pm

When Jeff King played in Carolina, his tight ends coach was Geep Chryst – who, once upon a time, was Jake Plummer’s quarterbacks coach with the Cardinals. Chryst, a Princeton man, would have football discussions with King all the time. “He joked he had football autism,” King said.

But it was during those discussions where King realized he had a passion for the cerebral part of the NFL – more specifically, the concept of building a team, finding personnel, and constructing such a puzzle. King’s story has been chronicled for this week’s “Maximum Cardinals” TV show by Paul Calvisi and the boys in the broadcast department (airing Saturday following the Grambling football game on NBC/Ch. 12).

King said he has considered the idea of coaching and it intrigues him, but not nearly as much as being in a front office. “I like the architectural feel of building something, more than the hands-on, day-to-day stuff,” King said. “Striving to build something, to put your imprint on a team, would be pretty cool.”

King spends most of his Tuesdays watching not just video of the Cards’ upcoming opponents but also games from around the league. He is self-teaching for now; he’s found that, as a player, personnel judgments aren’t exactly an open topic for discussion.

“It’s such an insider-trader thing to talk about with people that are doing it,” King acknowledged. “Everywhere I have been, it’s a little fickle. They don’t want to talk shop with a player. It’s like a separation of church and state. Hopefully I will have a chance to get into it. I know a few people, they know it’s something that is a passion for me. We will see where it goes.”

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Kolb’s big step coming back from injuries

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2011 – 2:10 pm

I’ll have more later, but quarterback Kevin Kolb was back to taking reps in 11-on-11 Wednesday, estimating that he had taken “35 to 40 percent” and even jumped in with the scout team some just to get more work. He said it was “like Christmas” to be out there, although there is certainly no guarantee he plays Sunday in St. Louis. Coach Ken Whisenhunt stressed it was only Wednesday and a lot can happen the rest of the week. Kolb, as has been said before, is just anxious to play, period. John Skelton, who will start if Kolb can’t, acknowledged it is tougher to prep for a game when the quarterbacks are splitting reps, and it just means both players have to be that much more focused.

But Wednesday was still a big step for Kolb in his comeback from his foot injuries.

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Beanie’s knee and his limits

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2011 – 10:23 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the sore knee of running back Beanie Wells isn’t limiting what the Cardinals can do in the run game, although it is limiting the number of reps Beanie can get in a game. “We’re fortunate we’re able to have Beanie at all after what happened and thinking he might be gone for the year,” Whisenhunt said.

What “limiting” means going forward is debatable. Beanie has only practiced fully one day in the past few weeks, the Friday before the Philadelphia game. Other than that, he’s been mostly limited in practice, with a few DNPs. He actually looked pretty strong in his few carries against the 49ers (although he did lose a crucial fumble) and told the AP the other day that resting the knee is something for the week and practice and “once the game is here I’m full go, ready to play 100 percent of the plays.”

That’s when you get in a grey area. Part of the thinking might be that, if the knee is still enough of an issue that it has to be rested during the week, it’s hard to completely turn Wells loose workload-wise in a game. Said Whisenhunt, “He can’t go more than a certain number of reps at a time during the course of a game, so you have to make sure you watch that. There have been a few times where we’ve called plays we wanted him in there that you’ve had to put another back in there.”

Whisenhunt just wants to have Wells available the final six games, especially with the season-long specter of the absent Ryan Williams looming over the backfield.

One good sign was, despite only eight rushes in San Francisco, Wells averaged 4.1 yards a carry, the first time he has been better than 3.8 in a game since his huge day against the Giants Oct. 2. His showing this weekend against the Rams will be intriguing; the Rams have struggled a lot against the run this season but in the teams’ first meeting, Beanie gained just 20 yards on 10 attempts.

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Dan Williams to IR; Talley returns and PS moves

Posted by Darren Urban on November 22, 2011 – 1:41 pm

After breaking his arm Sunday, nose tackle Dan Williams was officially put on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season. To replace him on the roster, the Cardinals promoted defensive end Ronald Talley from the practice squad.

The Cardinals actually made multiple moves on the practice squad. Filling Talley’s spot, the Cards brought back nose tackle Ricky Lumpkin. The Cardinals also released tight end Steve Skelton from the practice squad and replaced him with linebacker Brandon Williams, who was drafted by Dallas in 2009 before tearing his ACL in preseason of that year.

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Back in San Fran, Bartel gets his first

Posted by Darren Urban on November 22, 2011 – 10:32 am

Rich Bartel had been stewing about it since January, when he got in his first NFL game and had Larry Fitzgerald down the field on a double-move and couldn’t complete the bomb. He thought he was going to have a touchdown on that play.

He thought about that Sunday, when, once again, he came in in relief of John Skelton in San Francisco. This time, the quarterback was able to hook up with Fitzgerald for what was finally his first NFL touchdown pass.

“It was ironic the way it worked out,” Bartel said.

Bartel tried to savor the moment. Fitzgerald gave him the ball (Fitz is good at that; he caught and then delivered after the first NFL TD pass for ex-third-stringer Brian St. Pierre too) and in private moments with his wife, Bartel said, there is celebration. Mostly though, it’s difficult when the team has just lost, and when reality sets in that his chances are few and far between.

“Moments like that help you get through it, honestly,” Bartel said. “It’s hard, week after week, you’re not dressing, or if you are active and you look at the sheet after and you are the only player on the team that didn’t get to participate. It is tough, especially when we are having the season we are having. You want to help.”

Bartel’s story is a good one, having bounced around to a handful of organizations before sticking with Arizona and getting – albeit brief – playing time. He had an idea, as Skelton’s game went sideways Sunday, he might get chance to play for a second time this season (he didn’t do much in an appearance in Minnesota).

“You just know when things are running away a little bit,” Bartel said. “Creeps up on you like a sixth sense.”

But there has to be patience there too. The backup can’t just start warming up when he hasn’t been called upon. He was encouraging to John Skelton, but as the game slipped, he realized he needed to start getting his mind right if he did have to go in.

“I was sitting on the sideline thinking, ‘Good Lord, I wish there was a switch I could flip,’ ” Bartel said. “I was cold, wet, my lower back was stiff. It isn’t easy to just get into the flow of the game.”

Bartel will take what he can get in terms of playing time. He felt he was close to making something happen in San Francisco, and there is more to lament after a third-down pass to Early Doucet in the end zone glanced off Doucet’s hands with a little more than three minutes left, a second TD pass that could have made the end of the game a bit more interesting.

For now, he just has the one, getting the ball he expected to get since Fitz “has enough of his own.” He’ll have the ball painted to commemorate the occasion, and put it up … well, somewhere, since it’s lonesome, with Bartel’s milestone memorabilia sparse.

He plans on getting more, though.

“It won’t,” Bartel said, “be the last one.”

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The prelim to the Doucet-Goldson scuffle

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2011 – 12:51 pm

Receiver Early Doucet and San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson got into it after a play Sunday, with Goldson getting ejected after throwing a couple of punches. There was a lot of talk about the officials only catching the retaliation and not the instigator, and since Goldson didn’t talk afterward, all we were left with was Doucet’s explanation that he had been victim of a cheap shot first. Doucet said he was running his route and suddenly found himself on the ground after a Goldson hit well away from the play.

TV replays only caught Doucet taking a push/swipe at Goldson, which escalated it. The cameras didn’t catch the original play — Doucet was downfield and QB Rich Bartel was sacked on the play, so that’s where camera were concentrated — so that was all there was to go on. Turns out, the whole thing might have started with an accident.

Another video view showed Doucet cutting across the field as he said, and Goldson in deep coverage near him. Doucet was looking into the backfield hoping for a pass — but it looks like Goldson was too. Goldson moved up instinctively on the play, and it looks like Goldson never even saw Doucet at that point. Goldson cuts Doucet off — both sets of eyes still up the field. The two collided, and Doucet went down, just like he said. Certainly, Doucet didn’t see Goldson, and it is easy to understand why Doucet felt like he had received a cheap shot.

It took off from there, and Larry Fitzgerald eventually had to hold Doucet back (pictured below) to avoid getting tossed himself.

You can watch the video — the TV version — right here. (UPDATE: Goldson spoke, backing up the tape — he didn’t mean the original hit, and he lost composure after the scuffle started.)

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Wrapping up with Whiz

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2011 – 11:25 am

A few short notes after coach Ken Whisenhunt’s Monday presser:

–Still an unknown when Kevin Kolb will return. He’ll try again this week but he was “not real close” to suiting up, Whiz said. John Skelton will start in St. Louis if Kolb cannot.

— With Dan Williams done, Whiz said he wasn’t sure if rookie David Carter or vet swingman Nick Eason will start in his place.

— Whiz talked to Williams last night about staying in shape going forward. That’s been a sore subject with the coach and his nose tackle, and this would seem to be a dangerous time, with Williams not around the team as much and rehabbing the arm.

— Beanie Wells’ knee injury isn’t limiting what the Cards can call on offense but it is limiting the number of reps he can take.

— Safety Kerry Rhodes continues to work to get back, but it will not be this week and Whisenhunt still didn’t put a timeframe on it.

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Niners aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2011 – 11:41 pm

The locker room was emptying quickly, but Darnell Dockett was still smudged with eye black and in his football pants, talking to wave after wave of media questions. No one – at least publicly – has more bile for the 49ers. But after the way the Niners controlled Sunday’s game, even Dockett relented.

“It’s hard for me to sit here and not admit they are a good team,” Dockett said. “There is a reason they are 9-1.  I usually don’t give credit to no one, especially in the division.”

When you cover a singular team, you always evaluate through the prism of that team. Sometimes, what the other team is doing gets lost a little bit, and as Dockett said, there is a reason the Niners have won so many games and are going to win the NFC West.

Of course, my prism – the prism of this blog – is about the Cardinals. So, in the wake of the 23-7 loss:

— There isn’t a good reason to go on too long about the play of quarterback John Skelton. Obviously, he didn’t play well. He said that plainly on Twitter just a little while ago – “I cost my team a win with my poor play today. We’ll bounce back and so will the #birdgang” – and the part that hurt Sunday wasn’t that he had an off game, because that happens. But it can’t be that off. It can’t be two first downs in the first half, or 23 total yards on the first six possessions of the game.

I don’t know right now if Kevin Kolb is going to be ready this week. Coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasized he didn’t want to evaluate Skelton just on what happen at Candlestick. But if there was any doubt that Kolb will be going back into the lineup, those should have been put to rest Sunday.

— Defensively, while the Cards’ numbers aren’t going to be great, the unit showed. Defensive end Calais Campbell said he thought the defense could have played better, and he’s right. For instance, with the score 9-0, the Cards can’t allow a seven-plus-minute drive to start the third quarter. But the 49ers had the ball for more than 44 minutes (simply mind-boggling) because the Cards’ offense couldn’t hold on to the ball.

“They were on the field forever,” Whisenhunt said. “That they were able to stay out there against a power team like they are and they try to wear you down … The effort they gave, it’s pretty important.”

— I thought Dan Williams was having a pretty good game Sunday. He was in on a handful of plays, including some he had to chase down. Terrible that he broke his arm. David Carter, you’re up.

— Beanie Wells was running hard on the few chances he did get. He had 33 yards on eight carries. Whiz was asked about running more to protect Skelton. He acknowledged he could have, but also said there were plays to be made that weren’t. I’ve said this before, but – while some plays might have been called better – I still don’t think playcalling is one of the major issues.

— Here was one piece of good news: running back Chester Taylor made a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter, the longest run against the stingy 49ers defense all season.

— On the play where Patrick Peterson fumbled the punt, what I couldn’t figure out is how Hamza Abdullah didn’t block the punt. Abdullah broke clean in on Andy Lee yet missed it. Abdullah admitted he can’t believe he missed it either – he said he actually got in too fast, basically passing the ball.

— Peterson had some issues at cornerback. He got a pass interference and he gave up a few early catches. But he didn’t lose confidence. “I felt like I was in good position,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t take a step back but there is room for improvement.”

I guess the story this week will be the quarterback. If Kolb can’t go, Skelton will start against the Rams. And we’ll see if the position – no matter who is in there – can find a way to have a consistent performance.

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Dan Williams breaks arm, out for season

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2011 – 7:42 pm

Nose tackle Dan Williams broke his left arm Sunday in the game against the 49ers. No official word on how long he is out, but with six games left, you figure it’s going to be tough — and probably not worth it — to come back. That means rookie David Carter will move into the starting lineup, and probably means Nick Eason will get more work at the position.

UPDATE: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said on his post game radio show Williams was indeed done for the season.

Right tackle Brandon Keith also suffered a concussion during the game and his status will be evaluated this week.

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Heap inactive again, as is Kolb, Housler

Posted by Darren Urban on November 20, 2011 – 12:47 pm

Tight end Todd Heap is inactive again, as is fellow tight end Rob Housler. Given hamstring and groin injuries, respectively, I wonder how much the slippery turf from all the rain played a factor. Not sure either would have played anyway, but one bad move could make those problems much worse with the wet grass. The Cards will work with just two tight ends Jim Dray and Jeff King, and also have two healthy fullbacks in Anthony Sherman and Reagan Maui’a.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb (turf toe) is inactive again too, so as expected, John Skelton will start.

Running back Beanie Wells is playing, and running back Frank Gore is playing for the 49ers.

The other inactives:

  • WR Stephen Williams
  • S Kerry Rhodes (foot)
  • LB Joey Porter (knee)
  • T D’Anthony Batiste

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