The injury bug didn’t take long to find the Cardinals in camp. Veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins, signed in part because Justin Bethel was going to miss time with a linger foot injury and who is on the PUP list, broke a bone in his hand Friday and is out indefinitely for now.
Arians also revealed that the ankle sprain of rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is of the high variety, meaning Nkemdiche will be out at least a couple of weeks.
— DT Red Bryant (Achilles soreness) and TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring tightness) also aren’t expected to practice today.
— Arians said cornerback Brandon Williams “had a hell of a day” in his first practice. “He got beat by Smoke (Brown for a TD) but he was there, just turned the wrong way and got off balance. But he broke up some good balls. Nice thing was after the touchdown he came back and competed his ass off. Some guys would go in the tank.”
— Quarterback Matt Barkley has made steady improvement, Arians said, but there are things like seeing hots and sights that aren’t good enough. “As much as he’s grown, he’s still not making the progress I’d like to see him make,” Arians said. (An aside: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cards carry two QBs on the active roster either.)
— At one point in the first practice, QB Carson Palmer got partially rolled from behind by offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Arians admitted he held his breath after that play, and a couple others. “There was a lot of ‘phew’ yesterday,” Arians said.
Tags: Brandon Williams, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Jermaine Gresham, Justin Bethel, Matt Barkley, Mike Jenkins, Red Bryant, Robert Nkemdiche
Posted in Blog | 2 Comments »
We’re only one practice into training camp, nowhere close to being able to know what rookie will walk in and help a team. But already, it feels like things are shifting with a few draftees. Robert Nkemdiche is the first, a guy who is sitting for now with a bum ankle. You figure the defensive lineman will be back sooner rather than later, and frankly, even if he missed a week or two, it probably wouldn’t make a big difference once we got to the regular season.
But you look at the next two picks: CB Brandon Williams and C Evan Boehm. When the picks were made, given the Cardinals’ circumstances at both spots (which both had and have uncertainty), the safe guess would have been that Williams would come along slow and Boehm would have the best chance to start.
Instead, early in camp, the situations have reversed. With Justin Bethel sidelined, Williams is running with the first team, and actually looked pretty good in his first practice, continuing the arc he finished up in the offseason work. Boehm, meanwhile, is behind A.Q. Shipley now, as coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly noted the steep learning curve Boehm must climb before he is ready to play.
There’s a long way to go. The two could switch again before the season. Bethel could come back and fight off the Williams challenge for that starting job. But for now it’s an interesting twist from where we were in May.
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Brandon Williams, Bruce Arians, Evan Boehm, Justin Bethel, Robert Nkemdiche, training camp
Posted in Blog | 6 Comments »
Bruce Arians didn’t have a lot of news speaking today since the Cardinals have yet to hold a practice — “No one got hurt in the walkthrough,” Arians deadpanned — but there were still some tidbits. Among them, A.Q. Shipley’s days as a fullback are probably done, since he’s likely going to end up the starting center. So who would be the battering ram in the backfield instead of Shipley for those few times it’s needed? How about rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche?
“He’s done it before and he’s been damn good at it,” Arians said.
— Speaking of Shipley, Arians said “in all fairness” Shipley didn’t lose the starting center job last year, saying “I gave it to Lyle” Sendlein.
— Andre Ellington will be among the players looked at on kickoff return. It’s another chance to get Ellington, an explosive player, his hands on the ball. Arians said it wasn’t about getting one of the running backs a spot on special teams, but if Ellington doesn’t return kicks, it’d be hard to have three backs on game day and none playing any special teams. Chris Johnson isn’t going to, and starter David Johnson likely wouldn’t either.
— Carson Palmer was asked about the possibility of retiring if the Cardinals won the Super Bowl. Thursday, Arians said if the Cards won, he’d likely want to try and coach the Cards to another one instead of retiring. Palmer said he’d probably feel the same, and noted that when he was younger, watching John Elway win back-to-back Super Bowls left a deep impression on him.
— Along those lines, Arians was asked when he arrived in Arizona how long he thought his coaching window was, given his age. Arians said he never really thought about it. “That’s up to God,” Arians said. “The way I treat myself, not long.”
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Robert Nkemdiche
Posted in Blog | 2 Comments »
The Cardinals will have their annual conditioning test this afternoon and the veterans have arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium to take physicals and move into the hotel next door. Most drove over, but all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson came over a little differently — via helicopter. A helicopter complete with “Rise Up” emblazoned on its body.
And to think, last year, it was just about the DBs getting around the hotel on hoverboards.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) July 28, 2016
Tags: Patrick Peterson, training camp
Posted in Blog | 13 Comments »
Training camp officially begins tomorrow when the Cardinals get back together at University of Phoenix Stadium to hold their annual run test. The first practice of camp is Friday (keep in mind, because of the CBA-mandated “acclimation” period, the Cardinals won’t be in pads until Sunday, making these next two days a little bit like glorified OTAs.)
We know the Cardinals’ schedule for 2016, of course, which starts in the regular season with a home “Sunday Night Football” game against the Patriots.
But what about 2017, I’m sure you were about to ask? Fear not. Here are the opponents for 2017, home and away:
— Dallas Cowboys
— New York Giants
— Jacksonville Jaguars
— Tennessee Titans
— NFC South team that finishes in same 2016 divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams
— Philadelphia Eagles
— Washington Redskins
— Houston Texans
— Indianapolis Colts
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams
Tags: 49ers, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, Giants, Jaguars, Rams, Redskins, schedule, Seahawks, Texans, Titans
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
One last thing about Darnell Dockett as his retirement settles in: Dockett talked about walking a thin line, but never really crossing it. “That’s just my personality,” he told Bertrand Berry on Berry’s radio show. “I was determined to create funny and hilarious moments my entire career.”
That’s something to keep in mind when people think back to much of the stirring up he did on social media. Yes, he showed himself taking a shower on UStream to win a wager. But all those other things? The day he tweeted while at jury duty, that didn’t really happen. Much to PETA’s chagrin, those times when he suggested he was going to get/he got a pet alligator or pet tiger? Even his traffic stops he tweeted about? Think very carefully about the source — Dock often just wanted to create a “moment.”
“In my next 20 years it’s going to be the same thing, it’ll just be more exciting because I don’t have rules,” Dockett said. “I won’t let people down, I won’t have to go talk to (VP of media relations) Mark Dalton every Monday morning before practice.
“You’re talking about a guy who walked a thin line but never got in trouble. I never got arrested, I never got suspended for games, besides the Whisenhunt thing, but that don’t count though. I don’t count that as a suspension. That was just somebody getting mad.”
“That’s what people fail to realize,” Dockett said. “People say Darnell la-la-la, but I never got in trouble. Never been on the news for anything bad, always Darnell is living his damn life — through an NFL career where they want you to be caged.”
That’s why, when Adrian Wilson said “There are heroes, there are villains, and there’s Dockett,” everyone who had been around Darnell just nodded in agreement. It was an apt description.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
The passing of former coach Dennis Green came as a surprise last week. It was also a little bit a surprise when Larry Fitzgerald — who had known Green much of his life — didn’t weigh in. Today, it became clear why, as Fitz was apparently working on a longer piece about his feelings for Green on The Players’ Tribune.
Green played a huge role in Fitz’s life. As Fitz notes right off the top, Green got him the only two jobs he’s had — as Vikings ballboy, and then drafting him to be a Cardinal. What struck me in the well-written article was the part where Fitz acknowledged the pressure he felt as the No. 3 overall pick, knowing the Cardinals could have instead drafted a Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers.
“I also remember that after that initial wave of excitement wore off, I felt a lot of stress,” Fitzgerald wrote. “Because I knew that I wasn’t just another player that the Cardinals were taking a chance on. I knew Coach had a big hand in having the team draft me with the No. 3 pick when they could have taken guys like Ben Roethlisberger or Philip Rivers. The Cardinals already had a young Pro Bowl receiver in Anquan Boldin. Wide receiver wasn’t a need position for them. So my emotions went from joy to feeling a lot of pressure. I didn’t want to let Coach Green down. I knew I had to go out there and perform well so people would know that he had done that he did a good job evaluating me. All I wanted was to do right by him.”
I don’t think there’s any question Fitzgerald made Green look good with the pick. It didn’t hurt that the Cardinals and Green eventually signed Kurt Warner, too, so that helped the cause.
Having covered that team, there was never really any question the Cardinals and Green were going to target Fitz. Even now, Fitz jokes that he could have been the No. 1 overall pick if it hadn’t been for Josh McCown-to-Nate Poole. But that was only part of a relationship that started when Fitz was 9, and why last week’s news was such a blow to the future Hall of Famer.
Tags: Dennis Green, Larry Fitzgerald
Posted in Blog | 5 Comments »
On the heels of Mike Jenkins signing, Cardinals GM Steve Keim confirmed Tuesday night that the Cards will also bring in free agent veteran cornerback Chris Culliver in for a visit next week.
“He’s a guy that’s had some success in the NFL and is coming off the ACL, so we’ll see where it goes,” Keim said.
The caveat is that Culliver is coming off an ACL and MCL tear in November, suffering the injury in a practice while playing for Washington. He was released this offseason a year into a four-year contract, although Washington GM Scot McCloughan told the Washington Post Culliver is on schedule in his rehab and should play this season. Culliver, a one-time 49ers, turns 28 in August, although knee injuries have been a constant issue with him over the years. He also tore his ACL in 2012, missing that entire season. Culliver played in only six games last season, but had four interceptions for the 49ers in 2014.
The Cardinals have to figure out (besides how much money he might want) where Culliver’s health is and how it fits into the secondary. Already, Tyrann Mathieu is coming off an ACL and his availability for the opener is still uncertain. Can the Cards afford another player like that? Does he become someone with which Jenkins battles for a spot or could the Cards sign and keep both with younger cornerbacks moved to the side?
One thing Keim made clear: There are expectations for Justin Bethel to start. “The more Justin plays the better he’ll get,” Keim said.
Tags: Chris Culliver, Justin Bethel, Steve Keim, Tyrann Matheiu
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »
So, with training camp starting in a little more than a week, the Cardinals have signed a veteran cornerback. (With Steve Keim, did you expect anything else?) Mike Jenkins, with whom the Cardinals flirted before as a free agent back in 2014, is the one now in the defensive back mix.
You knew they would get a vet. Early in offseason there were talks with Bengals vet Leon Hall (who is still unsigned) and Jerraud Powers (who eventually signed with Baltimore). Jenkins has spent the last two years in Tampa, where he signed after nothing materialized with the Cards two years ago. At the time, the Cardinals instead signed Antonio Cromartie (who made the Pro Bowl.)
Jenkins joins a crowded secondary. There is no set starter across from Patrick Peterson. Justin Bethel has a slight edge, and Jenkins — who has started just five games the past two years in his 15 appearances — has a chance to get in the lineup. But he isn’t a lock to win a spot necessarily, either. Third-round pick Brandon Williams will join Peterson and Bethel on the roster. Draft pick Harlan Miller has a chance. Former undrafted corner Cariel Brooks has a chance. There are also a couple of guys who have been around — Asa Jackson and Shaun Prater — who have had an offseason to show themselves.
However it plays out, Keim has made sure there is that veteran security blanket heading into camp. Maybe the Cardinals already in place will show it was unnecessary. But usually, that vet who signs now not only ends up necessary but an integral part of the upcoming season.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Asa Jackson, Brandon Williams, Cariel Brooks, Chris Culliver, Harlan Miller, Justin Bethel, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, Shaun Prater
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s attempt for a new hearing for his four-game Deflategate suspension was turned down today by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, meaning — again — Brady won’t be playing against the Cardinals in the regular-season opener at University of Phoenix Stadium on “Sunday Night Football.”
Brady still could appeal to the Supreme Court, but that course of action (which would likely be an attempt to at least get a stay for the suspension, pushing it perhaps to 2017) is a longer shot than the Second Circuit move.
UPDATE: Brady announced he will no longer fight the suspension, so he is definitely not playing against the Cardinals.
The Cards have been asked about Brady playing or not playing, and yes, a couple have talked about wanting to play the best — which includes facing Brady. But I thought Larry Fitzgerald was pretty honest when he was asked about whether he’d rather play against Brady in the opener or not.
“Come on, man,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that’s a pretty easy question to answer. I love Tom, that’s my man, but if he doesn’t play, I wouldn’t shed any tears.
“I’d love to see him back the next week, though.”
It wouldn’t be the next week, either.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Brady
Posted in Blog | 30 Comments »