Jefferson traded to Vikings

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2012 – 11:38 pm

UPDATE: The trade has been officially completed. The Vikings get A.J. Jefferson. The trade involves “an exchange of undisclosed, conditional 2013 draft picks.” I’d think that would mean a swap of picks between the teams, meaning the Cards get one, the Vikings get one. We’ll find out the rounds involved as we get closer to the draft, but I can’t imagine we’re talking about high picks here. Conditional usually means it’s based on the play of the player involved, so Jefferson’s performance — or at least, the number of games he plays, or something like that — will make an impact.

Well, this is one way to relieve the logjam of defensive backs the Cards have — cornerback A.J. Jefferson tonight tweeted out he was being traded, and then tweeted it was to the Vikings. Nothing has been officially announced. Kent Somers reported draft picks are part of the equation. I would assume the trade will be announced sometime over the weekend. If Jefferson is dealt for a pick or two, it would give the Cards an open roster spot, which could be filled, for instance, with another linebacker, since the Cards are a little thin in that category right now with only seven. I’m still curious to see if the look at another offensive lineman.

It was a wild ride for Jefferson in two-plus years, from an undrafted guy that was inactive almost his whole rookie season to suddenly being a starter after the lockout to being benched halfway through last season. It seemed like his spot on the team was tenuous anyway. If the Cards decide to hang on to 10 defensive backs now — five cornerbacks, five safeties — it means, among others, that Michael Adams has once again prevailed to make the roster. There is no better story than Adams creating the kind of NFL career he has.

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Cards cut to 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2012 – 4:52 pm

The key point anytime a team gets to the 53-man roster on final cuts is this: It’s never quite the final roster. That’s something to keep in mind when looking over the Cards’ cuts today, which leaves an unbalanced roster for now.

The team decided not to move tackle Levi Brown off of injured reserve, leaving 22 cuts to be made:

Injured reserve — RB Javarris James (knee), QB Rich Bartel (shoulder)

Waived-injured – LB Brandon Williams (shoulder), WR Stephen Williams (Achilles)

Released – CB Crezdon Butler, LB Antonio Coleman, S Blake Gideon, LB Clark Haggans, G Russ Hochstein, DT Ricky Lumpkin, LB Colin Parker, CB Larry Parker, WR DeMarco Sampson, TE Steve Skelton, RB Alfonso Smith, LB Quan Sturdivant, DE Ronald Talley, DE Everrette Thompson, TE Martell Webb, C Scott Wedige, WR Isaiah Williams, T D.J. Young.

So this is what we get out of this:

— The Cardinals cut Sampson and Stephen Williams, leaving five receivers and undrafted LaRon Byrd (pictured below) as No. 5.

— OLB Quentin Groves makes the cut but both Clark Haggans and Brandon Williams are out – you’d have to think another linebacker is on the way.

— Right now, the Cards have 11 defensive backs and nine offensive linemen, and you figure one or the other, if not both, will be trimmed down. All three OL draft picks are on the squad right now. The defensive backs will have to come down if you are looking for a place to cut to add at another position. In my guess at 53, I had guessed six WRs and eight OL, and the Cards took one from receiver to add to the line. And they took one of eight linebacker slots and added it to the 10 defensive back spots, so I was kind of close. We’ll see how it shakes out.

— Running back William Powell indeed makes the team too.

— This group probably won’t be the exact group that hits the practice field Monday. That’s the cold reality of the NFL.

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Skelton is starting quarterback

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2012 – 2:24 pm

Ken Whisenhunt named John Skelton his starting quarterback just now. I’ll have much more in a bit, but there it is. Kevin Kolb is the backup. Whiz wouldn’t get into details, other than to say Skelton gives the Cards the best chance to win. He also said if Skelton doesn’t get the job done, he’ll be replaced, just like any other position. Finally, when asked about looking to add a quarterback from outside, he quipped, “If Tom Brady or Drew Brees or Peyton Manning or one of those guys come available, sure.” So I wouldn’t be holding my breath on another QB coming in.

Whisenhunt mentioned a couple of times that Kolb will have to stay ready and still could play. And he wouldn’t rule out the idea Kolb could play in a game with Skelton, a la Kurt Warner’s cameos with starter Matt Leinart in early 2007.

The Cards didn’t announce any of their roster moves yet. Teams don’t have to have a final list in until 6 p.m. Arizona time. We’ll see if that comes later in the day.

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Broncos (and preseason) aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2012 – 12:25 am

The Cardinals avoided overtime Thursday night (thank goodness). And now the fun begins.

Final cuts are in a matter of hours, coach Ken Whisenhunt will have a press conference at 2 p.m. Arizona time. So, in the interest of getting some sleep, some highlights and thoughts from the preseason finale to tide you over until the real news tomorrow (which should be cuts and possibly could include a starting QB choice):

— Injuries probably didn’t make roster picks, but they might have cemented them. Rich Bartel was 4-for-5 before leaving with a right shoulder injury, although the way rookie Ryan Lindley performed, Lindley was probably always going to be the pick. He’s got a lot of upside. If Javarris James was in the mix at all at running back, that ended when he tore his ACL on Omar Bolden’s 103-yard kickoff return. That’s just unfortunate.

— If I had to do my 53-man roster over, I might change a couple of things. Or at least seriously consider it. Now I’m finding it hard to believe outside linebacker Quentin Groves doesn’t stick around. The other backup outside linebacker choice then would come down to Clark Haggans or Brandon Williams. In the secondary, undrafted rookie Blake Gideon got a ton of playing time, and while Rashad Johnson and Adrian Wilson sat out, I start to wonder if Gideon could have a chance to slip on the roster, in place of Johnson, maybe? And there is little question there is a decision coming between A.J. Jefferson, Greg Toler and Michael Adams. There will be some drama tomorrow.

— Ryan Williams did not play as Whiz took a long look at both William Powell and Alfonso Smith as they battle for a roster spot. Powell had 18 yards on nine carries, Smith five on five, and neither really stood out Thursday (although Powell did have a nice kickoff return late.)

— I thought Beanie Wells looked very good in his start. He had 35 yards on seven carries, although he said he needs to get better. “I have to get my leg drive and get my feet under me,” Wells said.

— LaRon Byrd had a couple of nice grabs among his three catches for 47 yards and if he didn’t solidify his spot, it’ll be because the Cards only keep five receivers. But if they keep six, he’s in, I’d think.

— Michael Floyd had an amazing touchdown catch for his first in the NFL. Ball bouncing around, Floyd grabbing it while he was hanging parallel to the ground and holding on as he crashed to the turf. “That was a much more acrobatic circus catch than I ever could have made,” fellow wideout Larry Fitzgerald said. Methinks Fitz is a bit modest, but no matter. It was a great play.

— The Cards have to be thrilled with what Lindley showed, especially for a rookie and a guy they picked in the sixth round. He had a couple of clunkers (although his one interception was a mistake by receiver Isaiah Williams, who didn’t pick up a checked call at the line, and the other pick was called back with a penalty). Bhe threw the TD and threw some darts and maneuvered the Cards to a late tying drive thanks to a 56-yard bomb to Williams (pictured below). The Cards couldn’t get it in the end zone, but again, Lindley looks like he has a potential future.

— Lindley had some decent protection early with the starting offensive line (although rookie right tackle Bobby Massie did have a couple of hiccups on an early drive with a holding penalty and to get beat for sack.) Will I be surprised to see the Cards pick up an offensive lineman via waivers as teams cut? Absolutely not.

— Whisenhunt said the Cardinals haven’t ruled out using the new IR rule – which allows players with major injuries to return later in the season without taking up a roster spot – on tackle Levi Brown. The Cards will talk more about Brown’s prognosis to return. The decision has to be made by Friday afternoon.

In fact, most of the news will come down Friday afternoon. So with that, I’ll say goodnight.

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Snyder to sit out preseason finale

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2012 – 6:54 pm

Starting right guard guard Adam Snyder (elbow) is sitting out tonight’s game, one of six Cardinals listed as out for the game. Also sitting out will be WR Stephen Williams (Achilles), S Adrian Wilson (calf), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin), S Rashad Johnson (abdomen) and TE Rob Housler (hamstring).

The Broncos’ list is something like 25 players. Peyton Manning will not play. Yep, it’s the preseason finale.

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New rule could open door for Levi return

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2012 – 11:38 am

When tackle Levi Brown was first hurt with his torn triceps, coach Ken Whisenhunt — who is on the rules committee — talked about the possibility of a new rule that would allow one player on each team with a major injury to go on injured reserve for at least six weeks but still have the option to come back that season. The current version of injured reserve meant that a player on that list was done for the season.

The Cards, with the rule still not approved, put Brown on IR last week. So when it came out today that the league and the NFL Players Association decided in fact to approve the measure, it seemed at first the Cards were out of luck. Normally, a player has to remain on a team’s 53-man roster for Week 1 of the regular season — taking up a valuable roster spot — before being allowed to be put on this new IR-type designation.

But both sides agreed that, for this year only because the rule was passed so late, teams could take one of the players they had already placed on IR and bring him back to the roster if they wanted to use the new designation. That means Brown is back in play. If the Cardinals want, they can bring back Brown to the roster (it has to be by tomorrow, when the other cuts to 53 are made), hold him on the roster for the first game, and then transfer him to the new list.

There are some decisions to be made, though. Whisenhunt said originally Brown’s initial timetable to be out was three months or so, but there was no way to get a better handle on it until after Brown’s surgery (which he had recently.) The Cards have to decide if Brown’s potential recovery is worth it or if they want to “save” this spot for someone else who might be hurt early in the season (for example, they might have been able to use it for safety Kerry Rhodes and his broken foot last year.)

Even if they determine Brown can come back and they want to try it, it would then mean trimming not 22 but 23 players off the final roster, when it was already going to be tough to cut guys in a couple of areas. They would go into Week 1 with just 52 available players, and then, after the Seattle opener, move Brown over and then sign someone else to the roster with the open spot.

And, of course, that doesn’t include any other roster moves the Cards might make over the next week or 10 days with waiver claims and free agents.

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Fitz’s list of passers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2012 – 10:40 am

Earlier this week, Larry Fitzgerald — not in some kind of conspiratorial kind of way, but actually very matter of factly — insisted he didn’t have a preference who won the quarterback job between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. “I’ve played with a million quarterbacks, it seems like,” Fitz said, and two of them are Kolb and Skelton, so he knows exactly what he’s getting into.

UPDATE: Fitzgerald saw this post and clarified his comment via Twitter: “I was referring to all of my years of play starting at 7 years old not just in the NFL to clarify. #birdgang

In fact, Fitz has caught passes from 12 quarterbacks during his first eight seasons in the league. For those wondering, and it seems like there are always some wondering, here is the list.

Name Receptions Yards TDs
Kurt Warner 345 4,583 39
Josh McCown 84 1,207 12
Matt Leinart 70 967 5
John Skelton 63 1,029 6
Derek Anderson 49 629 4
Kevin Kolb 38 658 2
Max Hall 13 141 1
Shaun King 10 129 1
John Navarre 8 97 1
Rich Bartel 7 91 1
Tim Rattay 5 81 0
Brian St. Pierre 1 3 1

It is a far cry from a guy like, say, Reggie Wayne, who has caught 67 of his 73 touchdowns from Peyton Manning and now smoothly will transition into the Andrew Luck era. There is a lot to be said about the guy throwing the ball to help make the great receiver even better. Does Jerry Rice pile up his numbers without Joe Montana and Steve Young? How chicken-or-the-egg does it get?

I’ll say this, Fitzgerald will still be a great player. Someone in the blog comments suggested that the Cards should trade Fitz, in order to let him get the statistics he deserves. Well, Fitz had more than 1,400 yards last season with Kolb and Skelton. It’s not like he’s not being used. And if anything can help either Skelton or Kolb get over the hump at quarterback, wouldn’t it be a great pass catcher to save them once in a while?

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A guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2012 – 4:59 pm

Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.

Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.

But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.

QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)

RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.

FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”

WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.

TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.

OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.

DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.

LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.

DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.

ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.

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Wednesday before the Broncos

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2012 – 10:25 am

It’s an early entry for the “Before” version of the Broncos game, because later today I’ll put out my best guess at what the 53-man roster will look like on Friday. I know — I’m sure you are all waiting with bated breath. There isn’t much to say before the final preseason game. We can talk about the final 53 and fighting for spots, but there are only a couple of roster holes you figure are still being determined (and really, it might not even be that many.)

— I wouldn’t want to have a post without mentioning the quarterback decision. I had one of those crazy thoughts as I was drifting off to sleep last night, a “What if” – as in, “What if coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to announce his QB in the postgame presser after the Denver game?” It won’t happen, I know, but that’d be one heck of a way to do it. Instead, I expect a press conference Friday since final cuts have to be made that day. That makes sense as a time he could do it. (Maybe I’m just wishing and hoping so I get a weekend off.) Either way, the decision is coming, which is good. I’m sure everyone is tired of talking about it. I know I’m ready for it to be over.

— There are three areas where you really wonder if this game will determine some spots. One is reserve offensive line – specifically, whether draft picks Senio Kelemete and/or Nate Potter have shown enough to nudge out a veteran. Another is defensive back, where you have a lot of choices and not a ton of spots. The other is running back, where William Powell gets his shot to play early, and we see if that is enough to unseat Alfonso Smith for a place on the roster.

— Peyton Manning is not expected to play against the Cardinals Thursday night. But the Broncos do have another quarterback that will generate interest, with rookie Brock Osweiler slated to come in after starter Caleb Hanie.

— With Dave Pasch off to be ESPN’s voice for the first game of the rest of Penn State’s life, Paul Calvisi will team with Ron Wolfley for the TV broadcast tomorrow night on ABC 15. It’s like Cardinals Underground, without me.

— The Cards are taking part in a backpack drive again this year, collecting new or gently used backpacks for needy kids. The program benefits the “Hope Endures” organization. Backpacks can be dropped off at UoP Stadium gates before the Broncos game.

OK. I’m off to the annual Kickoff Luncheon with the team. I’ll opine on the roster later. The preseason is almost over.

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Batiste in LT driver’s seat

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2012 – 4:42 pm

The preseason finale sounds like it will be very, very important for left tackle D’Anthony Batiste and, on a slightly lesser level, right tackle Bobby Massie.

They will get the start, as coach Ken Whisenhunt said yesterday. Today, Whiz said he expected them to play “a little bit.” Most importantly when it comes to Batiste and left tackle, when asked if this game the Cards are looking to affirm their belief that Batiste can be the left tackle, Whisenhunt said “I would say that was fair.”

“We felt very strongly about D’Anthony because of his work in the offseason and what he did last year,” Whisenhunt said. “Our hopes were he was going to take the right tackle position … and be a backup for left tackle. We just want to see him do it again this week.”

We’ll see what that means going forward. If Batiste plays well, the Cards may hold off on looking for veteran help, toward the Alex Barrons or Chad Cliftons of the world. No way to know how the Cards’ scouts, at this point, rate such guys. It’s safe to say Batiste will be around one way or the other. The key, actually, is Jeremy Bridges. The veteran can swing between tackle and guard, but it’s possible he could lose a spot if the Cards choose to bring someone in off the market.

Whisenhunt reiterated Bridges was a “known quantity” at tackle, so the Cards don’t need to test drive him out there in the preseason. But asked if Bridges was best suited to be the swing backup rather than potential Levi Brown replacement, Whisenhunt was blunt. “Make no mistake, I’m not uncomfortable with Jeremy at tackle.”

Massie has been improving, Whiz said, but that was expected. He clearly is better now than he was in the Hall of Fame game. “At times has looked very good as a right tackle,” Whisenhunt said. “At times he has looked very bad. It’s up to him if he wants to grab that (job) and hold on to it.”

The next 10 days will be interesting, especially for the line. The Cards could end up signing someone or grabbing someone off waivers this weekend (and I expect them to look at the waiver wire very carefully, not just on the offensive line but everywhere). Or they could wait until after the first regular-season game — veteran salaries aren’t guaranteed if they sign after Week 1, so a handful of vets will likely come to terms before Week 2 — to pick someone up.


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