Keith to IR; Green up as Peterson insurance

Posted by Darren Urban on December 31, 2011 – 11:01 am

With the status of cornerback Patrick Peterson uncertain — Peterson will be a game day decision — the Cardinals covered their bases Saturday by promoting cornerback Marshay Green from the practice squad. To make room for Green, the Cards officially put tackle Brandon Keith on injured reserve. Keith had already been declared out of Sunday’s game.

Green was on the roster for the final six games of 2010 as a rookie, but was inactive every week.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »

Friday before the Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2011 – 4:02 pm

The last week of the season – in a playoff-less year – is always so strange. The grind is the same all week, just like every other week. Then the game happens Sunday, and you can almost hear the squeal of the brakes as everything comes to an abrupt halt.

There’s always some cleanup involved. I’ll be down in the locker room Monday talking to some of the players who are scheduled to be free agents and getting a sense of the offseason to come. It’ll be different. This is the first time in three offseasons quarterback won’t be the major story. After the ’08 season, the team had to re-sign Kurt Warner, which took a little time (and a visit to San Francisco for Warner). After ’09, it was the Warner retirement speculation (which ultimately happened). Last year, everyone knew the starting quarterback wasn’t in the locker room (plus the lockout was going to mess with things).

I’m not 100 percent sure who the starting QB will be in 2012 – if you ask me on Dec. 30, 2011, I’m saying Kevin Kolb – but I feel pretty good in saying he is already on the roster.

But there is a game left, one more weekend to barrel into full speed.

— Skelton will start one last time against the Seahawks with a chance to put the slow start thing in the rear view. One thing I do like about Skelton – he hasn’t sugar-coated his issues. Of the five sacks suffered in Cincy last weekend, “either three or four of them were probably on me, whether it’s not throwing a hot throw or not throwing a safety sight or just holding it too long.”

“Like anything, with experience and time, (quicker starts) will come,” Skelton said. “At the same time, there are mistakes that even a rookie shouldn’t be making that I’m making out there sometimes.”

Why, he is asked. “That’s the million-dollar question,” Skelton said. “I don’t know.”

The Seattle defense is pretty good. It hasn’t allowed more than 19 points in a game in more than a month. It gave up just 10 to the Cards in the first meeting (although kicker Jay Feely missed a couple of field goals that day). Skelton will be tested.

— Honestly, I was a little surprised that Patrick Peterson could do as much as he did today. After the Cincinnati game, I was sure there was no way he’d play against Seattle. Now it seems like a legit game0-day decision.

— Linebacker Sam Acho has six sacks, which is the most for a Cardinals’ rookie since … wait for it … Mark Smith had six in 1997.

— Fitz needs 38 yards to reach 1,300. He needs 138 to reach 1,400. I expect the former, not the latter, but if he ends up with 1,400 yards, I may say, given circumstances, it’s his best season.

— If the Cards beat the Seahawks, that’ll be five straight home wins. The franchise hasn’t done that since 1976.

— If you are looking for some of Ron Wolfley’s annual Cards awards – including some highlights of the team’s coolest plays of the year – watch this piece.

— I have not heard about the roof status for Sunday. It’s supposed to be 75 degrees, which is right at the general cutoff they have for the roof (an outside temp of 75 gets it hotter in certain parts of the stadium). I am expecting a game-day decision.

— Linebacker Joey Porter told Kent Somers he wants to play in 2012. I guess that doesn’t surprise me. I think I might be surprised if he can find a team. He really struggled this year when he did play.

— It’s telling that DC Ray Horton called Richard Marshall “my MVP” because what he allowed Horton to do with the defense. Of course, Calais Campbell and Adrian Wilson and Daryl Washington had very good years. But the guys who are versatile and become key components, those catch the coaches’ eyes and Marshall has done just that.

Marshall is a free agent and is open to returning. He’s also one of those players that, not mincing words, got screwed in free agency because of the lockout and the CBA rules on restricted FA the last couple of years. Word is it bothered him in Carolina. But he’s been a model locker room man. He’s up studying video with DB coach Louie Cioffi all the time (I’ve seen him in there) and he didn’t blink when asked to play safety. You want an under-the-radar guy on this defense, Marshall is it.

— I have had a lot of people ask me if I think 8-8 is a successful season. I answer like this, in context – because you always need context.

Before the season, I thought this team was going to go 9-7 and win the division. I obviously didn’t see the 49ers coming. In the end, 8-8 is pretty close (assuming the Cards win Sunday) to where I thought they would be. A successful season is making the postseason when you think you can, and the Cards rightfully felt they could have before the season. Hard to claim success when you don’t make there.

They lost in Baltimore when they shouldn’t have. I remember being down on the field for the end of the Rams’ game, thinking that it would hurt this team so much if they fell to a bad Rams team, even if the Cards too were bad. Peterson took care of that, and off they went.

Being around here when the Cards ran off the road, walking the halls when the team had lost six straight, to think they’d even sniff .500, I mean, it was hard to think that. On the doorstep now, success might not be the word I’d use. But I’d echo coach Ken Whisenhunt: I do think it’d be significant.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

Peterson works, Wilson cleared, and some awards

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2011 – 12:43 pm

Cornerback Patrick Peterson did do some work in practice Friday and will be worked out before Sunday’s game to determine if he can play coming off the Achilles injury. He’s said all week he wants to be smart; I think this will truly come down to how Peterson feels Sunday. Quarterback Kevin Kolb is apparently in the same boat, technically, but he remains stuck with concussion symptoms and, other than coach Ken Whisenhunt declining to declare Kolb out officially, conventional wisdom says Kolb won’t be in there.

Safety Kerry Rhodes (ankle) is still sore. His status figures to be a game-day decision too.

— Safety Adrian Wilson was not fined for the play in Cincinnati when officials flagged him for hitting Bengals QB Andy Dalton helmet-to-helmet. No fine generally means there was no foul. That hurts, since Peterson intercepted the pass on the play. It’s really no surprise, though, since from the moment the flag was dropped it seemed like Wilson was the recipient of a bad call.

— Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was fined for a pair of $15,000 no-nos: Hitting Dalton below the knees and a horsecollar tackle.

— Finally, Defensive end Calais Campbell received the Lloyd Herberg Award for team MVP and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald took home the Steve Schoenfeld “Good Guy” Award for the player deemed best for the media in annual honors handed out by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers Association.

Campbell’s accomplishments have been well-documented. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, has come a long, long way in his dealings with the Fourth Estate. If you would have asked me in 2006 if he would ever win this award, I’d have laughed. But Fitz has been great – he was considered for the award last year – in terms of access and he’s really good when you are able to get him one-on-one. He’s always talking about improving year to year, so maybe this is just him getting better.

Herberg was the original Arizona Republic beat writer covering the Cards before he lost his life to cancer. Schoenfeld was the long-time Republic Cards and NFL writer who was working for when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Tempe. (Pictured below, from left, Republic beat writer Kent Somers, Fitzgerald, Campbell, and XTRA 910’s Mike Jurecki).

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 15 Comments »

What Ryan Williams could mean

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2011 – 8:59 am

Ken Whisenhunt was talking about his running game this season — when he considered if that part of the game made progress or was just frustrating, Whisenhunt said “Would it be fair to say you can have both?” — when I decided to ask him if he ever thought about what rookie Ryan Williams would have meant had he not blown out his patella tendon in the preseason.

“I don’t think any of us are under the illusion that having Ryan Williams wouldn’t have helped us,” Whisenhunt said. “It was pretty evident he is a talented young player. But it’s like anything, you don’t look back and say ‘You wish …’ or ‘You could’ve …’ because that’s the NFL.”

There will never be any way to know exactly how much Williams would have affected Beanie Wells. Beanie finally became the workhorse back this season with the Tim Hightower trade and Williams’ injury. After Beanie’s 245 rushing attempts, the Cards’ running backs have totaled 30 (Alfonso Smith), 22 (LaRod Stephens-Howling) and 17 (Chester Taylor). Taylor wouldn’t be on the team had Williams been around, and I’d be willing to be he’d have more than 69 rushing attempts (the total of the other three). As much as Beanie probably likes it, he’s not usually going to get 78 percent of the rushing attempts by the running backs.

Wells has had an outstanding season — 1,047 yards, 4.3 average, 10 touchdowns — especially considering he is playing on a bad knee. Whisenhunt talked about how the numbers were “significant” milestones. “I believe we have made progress but not the progress we want,” Whiz added. There have been missed opportunities and chances lost that are seen on video, but “that doesn’t mean anything to fans,” Whisenhunt said.

“Why are we not getting more out of it?” Whisenhunt said. “When we go back through our season, that will be one of the things we have to talk about. Why did this not happen? Some of the runs Beanie made earlier this year, he can’t make right now with the injury). You understand that.”

That’s where you figure Williams would have fit in so nicely. With a second explosive back to help while Beanie deals with the knee, what could that have meant? What could it mean next year?

Earlier this week, Williams tweeted a simple message: “I AM next year…and the years to come…” He is happy with his rehab and ready to play again in 2012. Assuming Williams does come back as he was, he’ll mean a lot to this running game, and to this team.


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »

Finishing the year with a sellout

Posted by Darren Urban on December 29, 2011 – 2:00 pm

The Cardinals officially have sold out Sunday’s finale against Seattle, meaning it will be televised locally (Fox) and making it 63 straight at University of Phoenix Stadium. There were many wondering about the sellout streak this season, especially with the early-season losses, but the Cards completed a sixth season of sellouts as they head into 2012.

A limited supply of tickets remains available for purchase, including in the lower level south end zone where additional seats have been installed for Monday’s Fiesta Bowl. The extra seats aren’t included when determining a sellout because they are there for a special circumstance.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

Finishing kick by the defense

Posted by Darren Urban on December 29, 2011 – 10:29 am

Much has been made about the Cardinals’ strong fourth-quarters on offense — particularly by the quarterback — but of late, the defense has arguably been even better.

In the fourth quarter and overtime of the last three games, which included two come-from-behind wins and the no-margin-for-error game in Cincinnati, the Cards’ defensive unit has been 2000 Ravens good. In those three total quarters (plus a Browns’ overtime possession), the Cards haven’t allowed a point. They have allowed just three first downs and the Niners, Browns and Bengals didn’t convert a single third down. Over 41 total plays, opponents gained just 106 yards.

The Cards also forced three fumbles which they recovered, forced 13 punts in 19 possessions, and allowed their offense to win or at least have a chance.

Combine that with how the offense comes alive late, and it’s little wonder the Cards have been able to win so many in dramatic fashion.

Overall, the Cards have the stats to back up how they turned the corner defensively since their second-half meltdown in Baltimore. Starting with the next week (the overtime win against St. Louis at UoP), the Cards are 12th overall in the NFL in yards allowed per game, first in red-zone defense, third in third-down completion percentage, third in touchdowns allowed and seventh in passing yards allowed per game.

Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

Kolb still having concussion symptoms

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2011 – 2:36 pm

Quarterback Kevin Kolb said he is still having symptoms from his concussion, ones he obviously cannot play with, and while he will continue to work this week to see if they subside, his chances of returning for the season finale are shrinking quickly. He had a full psych exam Tuesday, which showed him a “little slow” in reaction times and processing information compared to his baseline tests earlier in the year.

“It basically just validates what we have been saying as far as symptoms,” Kolb said.

“There is a reason for some of the symptoms I have had,” he added. “Nothing serious, but something I can’t play with.”

Kolb shrugged off the idea he’d just shut it down this week, even though his chances to play are diminishing by the day. “You never know when you can help out,” Kolb said.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasized the Cards continue to follow league protocols for concussions, but part of it is getting Kolb on the practice field and seeing how he reacts, which Kolb did again Wednesday in very limited work. All signs point to another John Skelton start (including Skelton doing a conference call with Seattle reporters). Kolb said the doctors have told him another two or three weeks of rest he should be fine.

Kolb noted that after talking with many players and ex-players who have gone through it, every concussion is different. That includes his own concussion in 2010, when he said he felt fine by the end of the following week. That hasn’t been the case this time.

— Cornerback Patrick Peterson didn’t practice with his bad Achilles. He too seems like a longshot to play, although Whisenhunt isn’t ruling him out. T Brandon Keith (ankle) and S Kerry Rhodes (ankle) were the other two to sit out. Rhodes could be back tomorrow, Whiz said.

Posted in Blog | 50 Comments »

Vets see Peterson’s potential around corner

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2011 – 9:38 am

So rookie Patrick Peterson is a Pro Bowler in his first year. It’s as a return man, however, and has dynamic as he has been in that facet of the game, the Cardinals need him to be dynamic as a cornerback. He seems headed there, and, at least according to the Pro Bowler who plays beside him every day and the the Pro Bowler who must battle him in practice daily, they think he’ll be a Pro Bowler on defense at some point too.

“I’m very proud of Patrick,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “He’s a professional at a very young age. He’s eager to listen, he’s eager to learn. For a veteran like me, to have a young guy like that, it’s not only a testament to what the organization saw in him by drafting him that high, but also with him wanting to get better every day and not accept anything other than that. He practices hard, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. He’s out there like it’s game day. To see a young guy do that, I’m proud of him.

“During the course of the year, with everything that came with that draft status, I know he does well in special teams but he’s a pretty good corner too.”

Larry Fitzgerald said Peterson was “right there” as pushing for Pro Bowl talent. Fitz said he talked to Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green after last weekend’s game and Green told him that Peterson was “by far” the best cornerback he had faced.

“I feel the same way when I compete against him,” Fitzgerald said. “There aren’t many guys around the league on Sundays that can match up with his physical tools. And his ball skills, his tackling, the only thing he needs is experience.”

Like Wilson, Fitzgerald is impressed with Peterson’s maturity. Don’t forget, Peterson doesn’t turn 22 until next July.

“The one thing about Patrick, since the day I met him, is the guy has the disposition of a 10-year vet,” Fitzgerald said. “He has a quiet confidence about him and a maturity that you’d expect from a guy in the league a lot longer. I am pretty sure he will go (to the Pro Bowl) and go above and beyond.

“I remember at that draft, and everyone was talking Von Miller-this and Von Miller-that, and he’s a fantastic player and Pro Bowler. But for Patrick this year, I think he’s been the best in the league (as a rookie) except for Cam Newton.”

Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »

Cards promote offensive lineman

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2011 – 1:47 pm

With tackle Brandon Keith gimpy with a bad ankle — he sat out last week — the Cardinals made a roster move, releasing wide receiver Jaymar Johnson (re-signing him to the practice squad) and promoting tackle D.J. Young to the active roster. I don’t necessarily expect Young to play Sunday. This might have been one of those “Here’s a pat on the back and a full NFL week’s paycheck for working so hard this season” moves.

While cornerback Patrick Peterson is hurting with his left Achilles tendon injury, the Cards could have but didn’t replace him. Maybe that’s a hope he will still play. He said Tuesday he was “50-50” to go against the Seahawks.

The Cardinals have had some games where three receivers have been inactive, so Johnson wasn’t going to have a good chance to play anyway.

If there is any chance Peterson can play, maybe this will be a reason he should — Fox is sending play-by-play man Sam Rosen to call the Cards-Seahawks game. Rosen has called four Cardinals games already this season, and in each of them, Peterson has a punt return for a touchdown.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | No Comments »

The curious case of John Skelton

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2011 – 12:07 pm

If John Skelton only knew how to start faster. “If I could,” the quarterback said last week, “I’d fix it.”

He doesn’t know, however. Neither do the coaches right now. (They tried some no-huddle early in Cincy. Didn’t work.) It’s so odd, not that Skelton plays better at the end of games but that there is such a discrepancy on how much better he plays. Is it inexperience, or a lack of a full offseason of reps (since he got little as a rookie in his non-lockout offseason), as coach Ken Whisenhunt suggests? Maybe. But it’s hard to tell why Skelton suddenly gets all Brady in the final 15 minutes (yes, he is compared to Tebow, but Skelton usually is passing the ball better than Tebow late) when he can be very John Navarre before then.

I asked Whiz if he had ever seen a quarterback with such a wide difference between first and fourth quarters. “I live it,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m going through it right now.

“You’ve seen it with other young quarterbacks. When we’re all involved with it as much as we are, when it’s the team and we see it happen all the time, it’s obviously more in our forefront. There are young quarterbacks that you’ll see who have a good game and then they’ll have a really poor game.”

That’s true. But all in one afternoon? Against the Bengals, Skelton had a passing rating of 18.0 over the first three quarters. The final quarter it was 112.8, a stunning difference. Over the season, there just is no comparison: Skelton in the fourth quarter and overtime, compared to everything else:

Quarter Att Comp Comp pct Yds TD Int Sacks Passing Rating
First 44 19 43.2 193 0 3 6 27.9
Second 54 28 51.9 317 3 3 3 65.1
Third 50 29 58.0 418 1 5 7 52.3
Fourth/OT 87 53 60.9 714 6 2 5 100.5


Make no mistake, Whisenhunt would rather have a closer than a fast starter. But you’d rather have someone a bit more consistent. Can an offseason help? Perhaps. It’s not like the Cards have been getting smoked in these games and Skelton has no fourth-quarter pressure on him. They’ve been in all these games and you could argue the pressure was even greater in Cincy late because he knew the glare had been on him for playing so poorly. But in the end, that’s when Skelton stands out.

Posted in Blog | 87 Comments »