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Blogs

Dock’s unique (*@!%) perspective on Fitz

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2014 – 4:44 pm

Darnell Dockett was talking Friday about being a veteran and whether the window was closing on players like himself and Larry Fitzgerald, both of whom are going into their 11th season. “The position I play is the most physical position on the field,” Dockett said. “Can’t do it 20, 21 years.”

Then Dockett decided to have a little fun at Fitzgerald’s expense, punctuated with a few words that won’t be able to be played over the air.

“Larry, that’s a different position,” Dockett said. “He plays wide receiver. Play that (expletive) as long as you want. Jerry Rice played, what, 18 years? Larry is always in shape, Larry will probably be 20 (seasons) in the (expletive) league. He never gets hit, he always falls down, he don’t get tackled.”

Dockett was smiling and he got chuckles from those listening. Someone chimed in that Fitz was also everybody’s friend in the league too, which may or may not help him from taking the particularly nasty hits.

“Of course, he gets Pro Bowl votes, (and) with 600 receiving yards he’s the starting wide receiver in the Pro Bowl,” Dockett continued, smile still in place. “He’s the friendliest guy I’ve ever (expletive) met in my life.

“My position, you ain’t gonna have no friends. You shake hands after the game but during the game you’re trying to kill each other. I’m fortunate to be playing the position at the highest level. I don’t look at the years as far as the window closing. I look at it the opportunities to play the snaps. I’m blessed. Unfortunately I’m not 185 and 6-3 and run and catch fade routes all game. I do the dirty work. I’m all good. I’m thankful. Somebody’s got to do it.”

DockForBlog


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No Dobermans here, and other camp-open notes

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2014 – 2:35 pm

Here’s how you know it’s time for football again — Bruce Arians is on top of his game. Asked if the change in strength and conditioning coaches to Buddy Morris meant Arians’ stance had changed in terms of incorporating stretching into practice, the Cardinals’ coach gave a definitive no. Stretching still must be done by players before practice is scheduled to start.

“If a Doberman jumped out of a car with a gun, you wouldn’t be stretching,” Arians said. “When the horn blows, we’re practicing.”

And away we go.

Some other notes and quotes from the first day of camp, which was essentially multiple 60-yard sprints and about 30 minutes out on the field:

– Everyone passed. “I thought (314-pound nose tackle) Dan Williams looked as sexy in a run test as he’s ever looked,” Arians said. That’s Williams below, second from left (with Frostee Rucker, Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell.)

– Everyone was at University of Phoenix Stadium except for veteran linebacker John Abraham. Abraham was excused, Arians said, and would be back as soon as possible.

– Tyrann Mathieu, on the PUP list, isn’t close to returning although Arians said the safety would be ready in “a day” if he needed to be. Mathieu said he figures he’s still more than a month away, noting that oft-discussed bye week after three games but hopefully before that.

– Arians said Andre Ellington’s weight isn’t up that much but the running back’s strength has improved and he is ready to be both a leader and the “bell cow” of the offense.

– Per CBA rules, the Cardinals won’t wear pads this weekend. First padded practice is Monday.

DL1runblog

 


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Cardinals add wide receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2014 – 9:29 am

After cutting undrafted rookie receiver Kelsey Pope earlier this week, the Cardinals had a roster spot open. It’s now been filled. The team signed wide receiver Reggie Dunn Friday. Dunn was undrafted out of Utah last year, and has already spent time with the Patriots, Browns, Packers, Dolphins and Steelers in his short time in the NFL. At 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, he’s another of the small, quick guys the Cards have looked at, and he will likely end up being a camp body. Dunn, however, was one of the most successful kickoff return men in college, returning four for touchdowns in 2012 and five in his collegiate career.

The Cardinals are in good shape at receiver, in all actuality. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn and John Brown are basically locked into the top four spots, and that doesn’t include what they could get from Jaron Brown, rookie Walt Powell and Brittan Golden.


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Now, it’s time for training camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 24, 2014 – 2:09 pm

Optimism reigns every year when a team’s season begins and at no time does that optimism echo more than the day when training camp begins. That day, with all due respect to QB School is Friday. That’s when the Cardinals move into the hotel next to the stadium, when they take their conditioning test and when they get the speech from coach Bruce Arians about the goals for the season. They are the same goals every season — eventually ending with a title, of course — but they must be repeated all the same.

There will be ups and downs. Some players will have a bad stretch. Somebody will get hurt, and you just hope it isn’t a season-ender. Some new players might now work out. It’s how a team deals with these events that determines the course of the final won-loss record.

I think the Cardinals have a chance to be as good or better than last year. I think their defense might need some adjustments with the losses of the inside linebackers, but I think Todd Bowles can make something work. I think, assuming health, the offense will be better. I don’t think Carson Palmer is going to morph into Peyton or even Kurt Warner, but I think he will benefit by an upgraded offensive line. How this all plays out, ultimately, with a won-loss record depends on a lot of moving parts, not all of which are under the Cardinals’ control. But they have a chance to be good, and over the years, that hasn’t always been the case.

Here’s your link for all the training camp info, by the way, and click here for all the stories and videos of our coverage.


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It’s that time for Bucannon

Posted by Darren Urban on July 23, 2014 – 4:55 pm

Deone Bucannon wasn’t really thrilled about having a few weeks off. In the end, he’ll probably appreciate getting away from the grind but he was admittedly so bored he ended up working out all the time anyway. “I’d go to the gym constantly,” he said Wednesday after the rookies took part in the Cardinals’ QB School. Now is the time he has been waiting for since the Cards made him a first-round pick in May.

“It’s not really nervousness, it’s more anxious,” Bucannon said. “You want to show everybody you can play and be a part of this team.”

That’s part of the mystery right now with Bucannon. He wasn’t dropped into the starting lineup in the offseason, like 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper had been. He isn’t the rookie that generated the most offseason buzz, because that was wide receiver John Brown. There were reasons for both. Cooper came into an offensive line with holes; Even with Tyrann Mathieu’s injury, the Cardinals have faith in Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson at safety. And in the offseason, it’s always easier for a skill guy — especially a receiver — to flash, rather than a defender. Especially when the defender’s top strength is hitting.

But Bucannon will be in the mix, and I still believe that by the end of camp, he will find his way into the lineup as the starting strong safety. He’s had the right mindset since the day he was drafted and clearly isn’t assuming anything — including an eventual starting job that seems obvious given his draft status. Let’s face it, if the No. 1 pick doesn’t start at some point, it’s a major whiff. But this is where we really get to see what Bucannon will bring in his first season. His under-the-radar time is over.

BucannonBlogPost


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ACLs, rehab, Mathieu and Ta’amu

Posted by Darren Urban on July 22, 2014 – 3:19 pm

As  camp approaches, some of the Cardinals have begun to leak back into the building, getting in a morning workout. Most of the weight room has been cleared out, with the equipment moved to University of Phoenix Stadium for use at camp, but that didn’t stop guys like Lyle Sendlein, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Sam Acho and Marcus Benard (among others) today.

Also here were the two key rehabbers: safety Tyrann Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Both are expected to be on the physically unable to perform list when camp opens. It doesn’t mean their rehab has gone poorly or slow. But the reality is both ripped up their ACLs late in the season and coming back at the beginning of camp not only doesn’t make a lot of sense it’s probably not fair to ask.

The rehab from a torn ACL carries with it a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty of a timeline, uncertainty of what you can do even when you’re out there doing it on the field. Playing in a game is one thing. But will you be Adrian Peterson, or Robert Griffin III? One-time Cardinals tight end Stephen Spach ripped up his ACL in the Carolina playoff game during the Super Bowl run. He was back on the field six months later, although he said “there is a difference between being able to play and compete and getting to where you feel like it never happened.” It took tight end Jake Ballard a couple years to feel right, although in Ballard’s case, he had other damage besides the ACL.

Ta’amu was hurt almost a month after Mathieu but his injury was only the ACL. Mathieu had other injuries, but his rehab has gone well and he has worried less about what he can do when he plays again and more how quickly he can actually play. Both guys are key pieces to the defense. The one guarantee: The Cardinals will be better when they get back on the field.

– In other news, Mathieu has decided to change agents. It’s not altogether a surprise, since Patrick Peterson — who also had Pat Lawlor as an agent when he came into the league — dropped Lawlor in favor of Joel Segal. What will be interesting to see is if Mathieu, who looks up to Peterson, decides he too will use Segal. Unlike Peterson, Mathieu is going into only his second year of a four-year contract and any new contract is much further down the road. Peterson, of course, is already in (early) talks for a contract extension.


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The hard, hard NFC West

Posted by Darren Urban on July 21, 2014 – 10:39 am

Some NFL training camps are underway. The Cardinals get started themselves by the end of the week, with the team’s “Quarterback School” going on in a couple of days. The season is here. Many believe the Cardinals — including those who work at 8701 South Hardy — are going to be competing for a playoff spot again this season. It makes a lot of sense. But the raw reality of the division is also apparent, driven home this morning by Peter King’s initial “Fine Fifteen” ranking in the NFL.

King has the Cardinals 11th in the NFL, not altogether a bad spot (and about where many of these types of things put the Cards). There are 12 playoff teams in the NFL, so conferences aside, there is the thought the Cards belong in the postseason. But it is interesting to note that, if King’s rankings were to hold, the Cardinals would also be the last place team in the NFC West.

He has Seattle No. 1 and San Francisco No. 3, and also as St. Louis as No. 10. In the end, such rankings mean little, because they play the games on the field and not on paper and yada, yada, yada. But it does underscore what everyone talks about when it comes to the “NFC Best.” The division still plays a role in your season, although not as big as it once did — you can in theory go winless in your division and still finish with 10 victories. Last year, the Cardinals lamented their 2-4 division record, especially two close losses to the 49ers they felt were within their grasp.

It makes for an interesting question: Is it better to have your division be the best in football? Or would it be better to harken back to the days of 2008-2010, when the Cards not only were able to see lesser teams around them but in the case of 2010, remain in the hunt for the division title late in the year even though it was a bad year? Carson Palmer votes for the way it is now. “It’s a great challenge the competition within the division,” Palmer told NFL Network. “I think it really kind of hardens you as the season goes on. … It’s a grind getting through this division, but I think with Seattle and San Francisco getting to the championship game, a lot of that has to do with playing within this division. It gives you an edge.”

 


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Considering intriguing camp battles

Posted by Darren Urban on July 18, 2014 – 4:17 pm

This isn’t necessarily about starters, since I have already addressed that directly. But the battles of training camp aren’t always about who plays first or the most. Sometimes it’s about roster battles and depth and who plays more than who. Some competition will come seemingly from nowhere — going into camp last season, no one would have guess Paul Fanaika would have gotten into the mix, but the Daryn Colledge injury helped that come into focus — so there will be other players to watch.

But for now, here is some of the competition I will be watching:

Guards Earl Watford, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Anthony Steen. Larsen has been backing up Lyle Sendlein at center while Steen, who can also back up both spots, didn’t do anything in the offseason recovering from injuries. Someone will be the starting right guard. The Cardinals would like for Watford to step up. It very well could be Fanaika for a second straight season. Watford should be on the roster regardless, so if he’s not starting, that will be a spot that must be won. The Cards likely will only dress seven on game days, making those swing interior guys valuable.

Tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. OK, everyone knows this one. It doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Like Watford, Massie is the guy the Cardinals would like to win the job. But he’s got to win it. Sowell isn’t going away without a fight. Sowell, however, can be a valuable game-day backup since he played left tackle all last season and can play the right. That’s a one-for-two guy on your bench.

Cornerbacks Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers. With Tyrann Mathieu still hurt, Powers is an important piece in nickle coverage to start the season. But when Mathieu gets back, can Bethel — who got so much love for his potential this offseason — find a way past Powers on the depth chart? Bethel still has much to prove. Powers has his limitations, but his smarts make him a favorite of Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians.

Inside linebackers Ernie Sims and Kenny Demens. Sims has the experience, but he also has the reputation of struggling the past couple of seasons, which is why he finds himself bouncing around the league. The Cardinals have been intrigued with Demens since his (undrafted) rookie year last year, when he spent most of his time on the practice squad. Sims came in late and is trying to catch up. Losing Daryl Washington sent a lot of things into flux at inside linebacker. One of these guys are vying for a depth role probably behind Kevin Minter, Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander.

Kickers Jay Feely, Chandler Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann. This is another obvious one. Still it’s one to watch. It’s definitely a subject that seems to get the fans riled up — and looking around the league, it’s a position that tends to do that with the fan base, for whatever reason.

Running backs Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman. Arians came out praising Hughes. He figures to be the top choice as the fourth running back behind Ellington, Dwyer and Taylor. But Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league and could sneak his way into the spot instead. What will be interesting is if the Cardinals want less of a bruiser as a fourth, like a Bauman, considering Dwyer is a big back and Taylor is more of a between-the-tackles guy too.

Wide receivers Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden. The top four receiving spots are taken. Fitz is Fitz and Floyd is Floyd. Ted Ginn will have a role, as will third-round pick John Brown. Brown flashed last year but again, he’s got competition. He’s bigger than Powell and definitely Golden — Golden would seem to be in trouble given the arrival of Brown and Ginn — but Powell is a draft pick and that usually ends up playing a role if it’s close.

Quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley. It’s hard to believe that, barring a meltdown, Thomas doesn’t find a way on to the roster. But you never know, and both players figure to get plenty of playing time in the preseason to let any battle play out in front of us.

battlesuse

 


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Camp is close — the media guide is here

Posted by Darren Urban on July 18, 2014 – 9:52 am

If you are looking for a football fix or just want to chew on hundreds of pages of Cardinals information, well, here is a solution. The hardworking media relations department (Mark Dalton, Chris Melvin, Mike Helm, Matt Storey and Allison LeClair) along with design guru Mike Chavez, have produced the 2014 media guide, which is now posted to the website. You can find it right here with the chance to digest all you want about the Cardinals.

In one week, the Cardinals will be reporting to University of Phoenix Stadium. The season is just about here.

MediaGuideForBlog


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Cardinals among top 50 valued sports teams

Posted by Darren Urban on July 16, 2014 – 9:54 am

Forbes came out with another list ranking the (estimated) value of sports teams, in this case, the world’s 50 most valuable franchises. The Cardinals make the list at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $961 million. Only the Raiders and Jaguars don’t make the top 50 list among NFL teams, meaning that even though it is top-heavy with soccer clubs (the top three are soccer, a major nod to the global fan base the sport produces) the list still provides context of how powerful the NFL — which dominates the United States — remains.

The top team is the soccer club Real Madrid, valued at $3.44 billion. The top non-soccer franchise is the New York Yankees, worth $2.5 billion, at No. 4. The top NFL team is at No. 5, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in at $2.3 billion. The Patriots, Redskins and Giants are also in the top 10.

Among NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers ($1.224 billion) are 20th, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.081 billion) are 28th, and the St. Louis Rams ($875 million and hoping for a new stadium, which would boost their value) are 45th.

Forbesuse


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