Kolb back by Wednesday, to start Sunday

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2012 – 12:22 pm

Quarterback Kevin Kolb indeed has a right thigh contusion, and while he may not practice this afternoon, coach Ken Whisenhunt said Kolb will return by Wednesday and he will start in the Hall of Fame game Sunday against the Saints. Starting Sunday doesn’t mean much; I’d expect that John Skelton will get a start or two in the preseason as well as the two continue to compete for the permanent starting job.

— CB Crezdon Butler has been nursing a hip flexor suffered Saturday. He is day to day.

— The Cards are considering adding a running back because of injuries, Whisenhunt said, but with Beanie Wells’ return apparently imminent (well, next week), the team doesn’t want to have too many backs either.

— Whisenhunt said LB Stewart Bradley “will be involved” this season and is pushing Paris Lenon for the starting spot.

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Hall important to Grimm, but he has priorities

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2012 – 8:49 am

At each year’s induction ceremonies at the Pro Football Hall of Fame includes the chance for each Hall of Famer to return to Canton, don his gold jacket and take part in the festivities. That’s something Cardinals assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm — inducted in 2010 — wants to do as much as he can.

This year, he can’t. The Cardinals won’t even arrive in Canton until Saturday night, and besides, Grimm said, “there are priorities.”

“I’ve got three young kids we drafted and a couple more young kids (on the offensive line), those are priorities,” Grimm said. “I’d rather spend an extra day in meeting time then sitting there in a gold jacket. That’s reality.”

The three draftees are guard Senio Kelemete, tackle Bobby Massie and tackle Nate Potter. Massie and Kelemete are second-string. They can use the time with Grimm.

But that doesn’t mean Grimm isn’t looking forward to the trip back to be around “a very humbling weekend.” Grimm will be part of the private tour the team will take of the Hall of Fame, and he still hasn’t had a chance to see his bronze bust in the Hall.

“I have the replica they give you but I want to see the one in Canton,” Grimm said. “I’m glad it happened. I didn’t play the game to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s a great reward. But it was getting to the point where family and friends were saying, ‘This is the year, this is the year.’ I was more excited just so I could stop hearing from people, ‘Aww, you got screwed.’ ”

As for his gold jacket, that’s staying behind. He’ll wear Cardinal red this weekend. “I’m not even going to take it,” Grimm said. “It’s hanging in the closet.”

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Kolb leaves practice with thigh injury

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2012 – 5:36 pm

Practice was almost over this afternoon when quarterback Kevin Kolb handed the ball off to William Powell in a two-minute drill and then ended up on the ground. Turned out he took a knee to his right thigh. After a couple of minutes with head athletic trainer Tom Reed, he limped off the field on his own to go into the training room. The team called it a thigh bruise for now, but it will be evaluated.

The Cards don’t have a practice until Tuesday afternoon. Coach Ken Whisenhunt talks again at lunch time and I’d assume he’ll have an update then.

P.S. When Kolb came out of the training room he was healthy enough to sign some autographs (the picture is from Cards media relations maven Mark Dalton). After he went to the locker room and got cleaned up, he signed some more, and was still signing when I just left.

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Beanie will play in preseason, may practice next week

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2012 – 12:29 pm

Running back Beanie Wells, still on the PUP list with his knee rehab, will play in the preseason at some point, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. He may also come off the PUP list next week, when the team practices in Kansas City.

“He will probably start doing some work next week,” Whisenhunt said. “We’d like to get him involved in preseason games, probably a little bit later. We’ll see how it goes.”

Running back Ryan Williams isn’t a lock to play against the Saints in the Hall of Fame game Sunday. Whisenhunt said he definitely wants to get Williams preseason work, but he isn’t sure in what games yet. Playing against the Saints will depend on how he does in practice this week. The Cards are already missing running back Javarris James, who is sidelined with an abductor strain, leaving just LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith and William Powell as available running backs.

“We may unleash the Sherminator,” Whisenhunt said, referring to fullback Anthony Sherman (and trying to stifle a chuckle.) “We’re kind of holding that in our back pocket.”

Seriously, though, “what you worry about is one more (injury). Then you’re pretty thin.”

— As a Red-White follow-up, Whisenhunt said Saturday’s work “was a little bit of an eye opener.” A lot was thrown at the team “and they didn’t react very well.” More on this later.

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The first depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2012 – 9:22 am

The Cardinals put out their first official depth chart of the season today. This stuff is fluid given certain competitions, but they have to make someone No. 1 and No. 2 and so on. There are no shocking developments, but:

— Kevin Kolb is listed as the No. 1 QB right now. John Skelton is the No. 2.

— Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.

— With Jeff King still rehabbing his quad, Todd Heap is the No. 1 tight end, Rob Housler No. 2.

— Behind Fitz is DeMarco Sampson and then Stephen Williams. At the other receiver spot, it officially goes Andre Roberts, then Early Doucet, then Michael Floyd.

— William Gay is the No. 1 right cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. Greg Toler is listed as Gay’s backup, with Michael Adams listed as Peterson’s backup.

— Brandon Williams is Sam Acho’s backup, with Clark Haggans as O’Brien Schofield’s backup at OLB. Quentin Groves is behind Haggans.

— With the large roster, the only second team rookies (no starters) are LG Senio Kelemete, FB Jared Crank and Massie. (And the Cards are incredibly unlikely to keep two fullbacks.) T Nate Potter is third-string, Floyd is third-string, S Justin Bethel is third-string and, with the large amount of veteran cornerbacks, Jamell Fleming is technically fourth-string behind Gay, Toler and A.J. Jefferson (although he will be on this roster, no doubt.)

Here is the entire depth chart.

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Watching A-Dub, Toler’s body of work

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2012 – 5:54 pm

When Greg Toler arrived in the NFL from tiny Saint Paul’s, he didn’t have a lot of background for building an NFL body. He was a relatively skinny 185 pounds at 6-feet tall. He is still reminded a lot about what he’s had to get used to — just the other day, he and Beanie Wells were getting worked on for their respective rehabbing injuries and Wells told Toler the upscale treatments were something he’s had done since his college days at Ohio State. Toler said all they had at Saint Paul’s was “ice and stim,” as in basic electronic stimulation.

“Heck, where I was, you could have been stabbed on the field and all you would have gotten was ice and stim,” Toler said. “I’m grateful where I came from but at the same time, you want to make sure your body is always ready.”

To that end, Toler’s rehab from a torn ACL has been more than just getting his knee right. The cornerback’s upper body has been transformed enough to make him look like a mini-Adrian Wilson — a good thing for a guy who has shown to be a willing and able tackler. He now weighs 193.

“A lot of guys say, ‘Man, you have no body fat, you’re on the A-Dub workout,’ ” Toler said. “Being compared to A-Dub, that’s always an honor, but I’m not quite there. He comes in 220-plus, two percent body fat. I ever get there, that’d be great.”

Wilson doesn’t work out with Toler in the offseason, but the veteran safety has done what he can to deliver the right message of preparation, which includes being not just in shape but the right shape.

“The NFL is something you can’t take for granted,” Wilson said. “A lot of things go into being a complete player. You have to have your personal life together, your nutrition together, weight room together, your work ethic together, in order to become the player you want to be on the field.

“I didn’t learn that my first two or three years in the league. (Then) I went from 196 pounds to 220 overnight because I finally understood and I wanted to become a force. That’s something guys have to be committed to. If you aren’t committed to that, you’re not committed to being the best you can be.”

Wilson said the coaching staff has raved to him about Toler’s commitment, not just to get rehabbed but his entire workout. “Hopefully,” Wilson said, “it will show up in September.”

P.S. Here are some action shots of Saturday’s Red-White practice, and also of the autograph session.

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Thoughts in the wake of Red-White

Posted by Darren Urban on July 28, 2012 – 9:35 pm

The first week is over, and what stuck with me after today’s Red-White practice (while I thought about it on my drive home to see the family) was John Skelton’s comment that there was a long way to go. Cliche, sure. But it’s truth. Take away walkthroughs, which are limited in their value, and the Cards had exactly three practices before today. Did the offense or the quarterbacks wow today? No. But we’re a week away from the first of five preseason games. There’s a long, long way to go.

— I know everyone wants to make assessments of Skelton and Kevin Kolb after today. Coach Ken Whisenhunt even said Friday he expected that to happen. But Whiz also said today there would be no snap judgements. He talked about dropped passes, about missed assignments. Bottom line, and I’m sure I’m sounding like a broken record, but this will come down to preseason games. Something tells me no one is going to reference Red-White whenever the regular-season starter is named.

— I thought Michael Floyd looked pretty good today. It’s early, but that would be nice to have him emerge. He made a couple of catches and you can see why his big body works in tight coverage, blocking out the defensive back.

— Cornerback A.J. Jefferson got a lot of action today. He gave up some catches but made some other plays. He’s intriguing. He’s kind of been lost in the CB discussion with William Gay signing and Greg Toler coming back and Jamell Fleming getting drafted.

— With the NFL in the middle of using replacement officials while contract negotiations go on with the regular officials, one possible replacement would be a woman, who was working today’s Red-White practice. I didn’t get her name, but Mike Jurecki got a picture.

— The abductor injury to running back Javarris James could cause some roster movement. It’s not that I thought James necessarily was going to make the roster, but James now won’t play against the Saints in all probability, and Beanie Wells was already going to miss that game. I’m not sure they’d want to use Ryan Williams either, given their desire to be conservative. So that leaves just LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith and William Powell. Not that Powell can’t do it — remember, when the Cards lost Williams and wanted to protect Wells last year, Powell had an astounding 29 carries in the final preseason game (and then was cut the next day.)

— A crowd of 14,500. Simply amazing. I ran into former Cardinals wide receiver and kickoff returner MarTay Jenkins (1999-2002) who looked over the throng for autographs and said, “Damn, it was never like this for us!” Which I can say since I was covering the team back then, it wasn’t.

— Finally, there seemed to be a difference of opinion between Williams and Patrick Peterson about whether Peterson would have made the tackle on Williams during his 44-yard run. I managed to get a shot of the moment of contact. You make the call.

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The work at the end of the week

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2012 – 6:41 pm

I’m not a big fan of doing any play-by-play or recaps of practice, because in the end, it just doesn’t matter. Each play is a snapshot, with little or no context. But, with the Red-White practice tomorrow — which will basically be a series of drives, offense versus defense, with play calls like it’s a game — the Cards worked on red zone and two-minute drills today. It provided some highlights.

— Tight end Rob Housler made a couple of nice catches at the back of the end zone, one time banging into the pad on the lower upright. Michael Floyd couldn’t haul in a high jump ball in the end zone, but later in the two-minute drill caught a pass while tippy-toeing toward the sideline. DeMarco Sampson beat Greg Toler in the end zone for a touchdown.

— But on the defensive side, Patrick Peterson broke up one pass over the middle, while Kerry Rhodes managed to control a bouncing, tipped pass to finally nab it for an interception.

— Interesting that, in the two-minute drill in the defense’s dime package, the defensive backs were Rhodes and Adrian Wilson at safety, and then four cornerbacks: William Gay, Peterson, Michael Adams and A.J. Jefferson. Toler worked with the second dime unit. It’s early, but these are the things you notice.

— The second unit of the offensive line during the two-minute drill were, from left tackle to right tackle, D.J. Young, Senio Kelemete, Ryan Bartholomew, Chris Stewart and D’Anthony Batiste. Eventually, Bobby Massie was put in at right tackle, Batiste slide to right guard, and Scott Wedige at center. I’ve said it a few times, but I think the wait for Massie to start will be awhile.

— Running back Alfonso Smith blew up linebacker Sam Acho on a block during the two-minute work. Smith has worked hard to earn a spot on the team, which I think is pretty assured at this point.

— If you are coming to the Red-White, don’t forget to come early. All the details are here, but last year, there were about 13,000 fans on hand.

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Ryan Williams to rest, and some other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2012 – 12:43 pm

Running back Ryan Williams will “probably” be held out of this afternoon’s practice, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, as a precaution in his rehab. The coach said he’d be conservative with Williams as he comes back and Williams has looked good over the first two days, but this way, Williams will be fresh heading into the Red-White practice tomorrow. Generally, Whisenhunt said, Williams’ status will be treated as day-to-day.

“It’s more of a feel thing,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s part of the plan. He’s done very well.”

— Whisenhunt said he has no set idea how the quarterbacks will be used in the Red-White, which will include a series of offense-versus-defense drives in “more of a game-type situation.”

“I haven’t even thought about it, really,” Whisenhunt said. “We have a rotation based on different days, so (Saturday) may purely be whose day it is. Today is Kevin’s day, so (first-team) may be John’s tomorrow or we may just split it up based on what we’re doing. We haven’t discussed it yet. People are probably going to try to read into it but it really doesn’t mean anything at this point.”

— The Cards usually have a long longer lead-in time before the Red-White work. That wasn’t possible this year because of the Hall of Fame game so soon.

“It’s a little bit of a concern,” Whisenhunt said, noting the Cards have worked hard to install different parts of the playbook. “We’ll find out. But I think this is important to the fans and this was the only time we could work it into the weekend.”

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Cards sign veteran guard Hochstein

Posted by Darren Urban on July 26, 2012 – 6:15 pm

With a roster spot open after waiving the injured undrafted rookie Blake DeChristopher, the Cardinals signed veteran guard Russ Hochstein. Terms were not disclosed, but Adam Caplan reported it is for one-year and that makes sense. Hochstein is going into his 12th season, having played with the Broncos, Patriots and Buccaneers. He had been with the Denver the past three seasons.

Hochstein, who can also play center, will be a veteran to throw into the mix that includes a ton of youth after the Cards drafted linemen Bobby Massie, Nate Potter and Senio Kelemete. His versatility could give him a shot to stick around, although again, the Cards want to get younger. Right now, though, the backup guard choices are Kelemete, Chris Stewart and undrafted rookie Braeden Clayson, all of whom are unproven.

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