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Bidwill to take part in NFL social justice meeting

Posted by Darren Urban on December 13, 2017 – 4:59 pm

For much of the season, the NFL and its players have been trying to work towards support to players’ concerns about social issues and create a social justice partnership/initiative. Recently, the league agreed to donate $90 million while teaming with players toward those goals. With owners meetings currently underway, ESPN’s Jim Trotter reported the tentative working groups for the initial social justice meeting between the league and the players will have a decidedly Cardinals flavor.

Among the players and former players expected to take part are three ex-Cardinals: Anquan Boldin (who, along with Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, has been at the forefront of this work from the players’ side), Josh McCown and Aeneas Williams (who was tapped by the city of Ferguson to help heal that area after the unrest there in 2014.)

On the owners’ side, one of the representatives is Cardinals president Michael Bidwill. This too is not a surprise. Current Cardinals have been pleased with how engaged Bidwill has been with them this season on this subject. It is obviously a hot-button topic this year with the NFL and many fans, and working toward results — rather than rhetoric — is important.


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Again, Larry Fitzgerald with the tackling

Posted by Darren Urban on December 13, 2017 – 10:14 am

First, the background. Everyone knows Larry Fitzgerald likes to tackle. Not necessarily in games, mind you — no one wants a turnover — but off to the side, when guys aren’t suspecting. I’ve written (and ranked) about it before. After the Cardinals beat the Titans last Sunday, Fitzgerald was in a particularly frisky mood apparently. Maybe it was the victory. Maybe it was the fact Fitz now was third all-time in both receiving yards and catches in NFL history. Maybe it was because he rarely plays against Eric Decker, fellow Minnesota native and University of Minnesota product. Maybe it was his way to celebrate Peters’ recent contract extension.

But there was Fitz, postgame, taking down Decker and Peters. As always, around Fitz, you better have your head on a swivel.


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Does Veldheer injury make Palmer decision?

Posted by Darren Urban on December 12, 2017 – 10:08 am

After Bruce Arians did his Monday press conference he did his weekly interview on the “Bickley and Marotta” show on Arizona Sports 98.7, and mentioned that he was still hopeful Carson Palmer would be able to play again this season. Palmer himself has said he’s working toward that, although it’s been left vague what exactly is the plan. Palmer would have to be healthy first, and he’s not even practicing yet. Slow healing could make all the discussion a moot point.

But you have to wonder, now that Jared Veldheer is done for the season and fellow starter Earl Watford will miss some time, whether that alone could force the Cardinals’ hand. Having a banged-up offensive line isn’t ideal for any quarterback, but it would seem less so for a quarterback who isn’t known for his mobility. It’s one thing to get Palmer healthy, it’s another thing to put him on a line with, for instance, rookie Will Holden at left tackle.

Again, this might all be moot. GM Steve Keim just said Monday that, aside from about-to-play long snapper Aaron Brewer, there is no one else trending healthy enough to come off IR. But when you start factoring in circumstances, maybe that’s for the best anyway.


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Keim: No IR-return candidates and Gabbert desire

Posted by Darren Urban on December 11, 2017 – 8:15 am

Long snapper Aaron Brewer should be ready to return to the active roster this week, coming off of injured reserve. But, as the Cardinals have been saying for a while. GM Steve Keim emphasized Monday: That other available IR-to-return spot very well could go unused.

“You have to have someone healthy enough to return,” Keim said during an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. “At this point, I don’t see any guys coming back for sure.”

But what about David Johnson? Is keeping the star running back, coming back from a bad wrist, more about saving him for 2018? Keim said no.

“He gets paid to play football,” Keim said, adding that if Johnson was healthy and was cleared by the doctors, he should return to the field. “But if there are any gray areas, I don’t know why you’d want to risk it.”

Johnson has been working on conditioning, but hasn’t returned to practice — obviously, since the clock would start in that case.

— There were a couple of free-agents-to-be Keim talked about. One was quarterback Blaine Gabbert. “I don’t think there is any question we would like to have Blaine back,” Keim said, although he did not say in what capacity. Keim said it was up to Gabbert how much the QB can improve, although I don’t think there is any question the Cardinals will continue to search for a long-term answer at the position.

Keim also praised 34-year-old CB Tramon Williams, also a potential FA. He was asked if Williams was someone the Cards wanted to bring back. Keim went big-picture with his answer, not talking necessarily about Williams directly but saying that’s part of the daily process right now, talking with players about potential extensions and is something the Cards will be involved in this week. (I think it makes sense to consider bringing back Williams, although the age will be a factor in talks.)

Keim called Williams a “true pro,” noting that while he might have lost a step over the years, his anticipation and instincts are “phenomenal.”

— As for Gabbert, Keim praised the QB’s ability to bounce back after something has gone wrong. He did note Gabbert’s throws tend to get a little high when he has to go through his progressions or if he is throwing outside the numbers.

— Keim also said there was plenty of blame for the eight sacks, naming not only the offensive line but blitz pick-up by the running backs, Gabbert’s failure to get rid of the ball a time or two and even the receivers’ inability to get open sometimes.

— A general note on accuracy: Keim said it is something that can be improved a little bit, but mostly it’s innate — “You have it or you don’t” he said. (P.S. I agree with this. Accuracy can’t be learned, IMO.)

— There was praise for linebacker Josh Bynes “He’s very very consistent, savvy and physical,” Keim said. “To come in late in process like that, I’m extremely proud of the way he’s played.” There was also praise for defensive linemen Olsen Pierre, Frostee Rucker and of course Chandler Jones. “He’s been a dominant force all year,” Keim said

— Finally, there was a word on Larry Fitzgerald becoming third all-time in receiving yards in the NFL. “For me, it’s just been an honor to work with him,” Keim said. “Knowing he will retire as a Cardinal gives me a special feeling.” (P.S. II We don’t know when Fitz is retiring yet.)


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A defensive night, and Titans aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 10, 2017 – 7:41 pm

Chandler Jones got his 14th sack of the season. He almost had his 15th – it went later in the play to Haason Reddick – and he probably already should have toppled Simone Rice’s franchise record of 16½.

“How many sacks do I think I should have? I don’t want to talk about it,” Jones said. “How many times I have slipped off the quarterback. Fourth quarter I slipped off the quarterback. I think I get too excited. My eyes get big and he just ducks off of me. I think I have to work on that.”

A more effective Jones is a frightening concept. But there was a chance to talk about near-sacks and records falling – like Larry Fitzgerald’s toppling of Randy Moss in receiving yards – and other good things, because the Cards pulled out a win. The playoffs aren’t going to happen, but suddenly, you play reeling Washington next week and the reeling Giants the week after and is there a way for the Cardinals to go to Seattle with a chance at a nine-win season?

— Speaking of Fitz, no one asked him directly if he’ll play in 2018. He was asked, however, if he plans on catching Terrell Owens, who is some 600-plus yards ahead of Fitz now for second place in all-time NFL receiving yards after Fitz passed Moss Sunday. Fitz, ever coy, wasn’t biting.

“That would require me to play another year I think,” Fitzgerald said. “I hope to catch him this year.”

— Marcus Mariota had a 39.6 passer rating today – the worst of his career.

— The Titans did have 12 sacks their previous two games but the Cards allowed eight Sunday and that just doesn’t work. Maybe Jared Veldheer wasn’t in the best place dealing with a bad elbow. I thought there was a couple of times Blaine Gabbert could’ve helped things. But the Cards did seem to go with quicker passes in the second half to avoid too much pressure.

— Oh, Fitz should’ve had a touchdown catch. He was wide-open in the fourth quarter. Gabbert simply missed him.

— Patrick Peterson had a 29-yard pass play go to Eric Decker in which Peterson basically stopped right as Decker was catching the ball, helping allow Decker to get loose for more yards. Peterson was clearly upset at the time, looking back at the official because he felt Decker pushed off. (Even aside from this play, it wasn’t one of Peterson’s best games.)

“The field judge can’t see that because he’s playing through me,” Peterson said. “We have to ask someone else to the field, so we can have an even playing field for the receiver and the DB. I said, ‘Why didn’t you call it?’ He said, ‘I didn’t see it.’ I’m tired of hearing the same response. Why are you on the field if you didn’t see it? I’m not criticizing the ref at all. I’m just saying that if he didn’t see it, we have to have somebody else out there watching both sides.”

— Bruce Arians didn’t have the best special teams challenge last week when he tried to get a fumble called on the opening kickoff. But he came out ahead on what I think it’s the toughest challenge there is – the spot of the ball, on the Titans’ fake punt. Surprisingly (and yes, I know many thought it was a bad spot, but it was still a spot) it was overturned, and the Cards got a short field, leading to a field goal. Titans coach Mike Mularkey was not happy afterward it was overturned, but Arians said the official right in front of him blew the play dead, and that’s what he thought should happen.

— The go-ahead field goal drive began when wide receiver Chad Williams came on the jet sweep (or end around, as I like to call it) and raced 33 yards. It was a good way to get the rookie involved.

“We needed a spark,” Arians said. “I had another play called. I said, ‘What the hell, it’s time for one.’ It’s either going to be a five-yard loss or a big gain, and we needed a spark.”

— Tramon Williams will be an intriguing free agent going into the offseason. He has been solid since stepping into the starting lineup, and Pro Football Focus graded him with his best game of the year Sunday – allowing only three catches for 23 yards on eight targets, with a pass breakup and an interception. He is also 34. He might be a one-and-done CB like Antonio Cromartie or Marcus Cooper.

— Same goes for linebacker Josh Bynes, who also had a pick and who is also playing very well and is also going to be a free agent. He’s younger, and I don’t see how the Cardinals wouldn’t want Bynes back – unless he decides he can make a lot of cash on the open market.


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Still no Peters, as AD down again

Posted by Darren Urban on December 10, 2017 – 12:38 pm

It was already know that Adrian Peterson was going to miss today’s game with a neck injury, but the Cardinals must feel better about Kerwynn Williams and his sore ribs too because a second running back — Bronson Hill — is also inactive today. Corey Peters will miss another game this week because of his bad ankle. Otherwise the inactive list is fairly straight-forward.

The full list of inactives:

— QB Matt Barkley

— WR John Brown (toe)

— WR Carlton Agudosi

— RB Adrian Peterson (neck)

— RB Bronson Hill

— C Max Tuerk

— DL Corey Peters (ankle)

 


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Adrian Peterson writes about neck injury

Posted by Darren Urban on December 9, 2017 – 1:21 pm

Adrian Peterson hasn’t spoken to the media since being hurt, but today he did post on Instagram about the injury, which indeed happened when he was dumped head-first into the ground against Jacksonville. Peterson gives no news about a timeline other than what Bruce Arians has been saying — he needs rest. But he does note “I could’ve easily broken my neck.”

Peterson will miss his second straight game Sunday. Kerwynn Williams will start in his place.


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Friday before the Titans

Posted by Darren Urban on December 8, 2017 – 3:49 pm

Patrick Peterson is the Cardinals’ Man of the Year for a second time, but his time as a punt returner, well, “that stage of my career is over,” he said. Not necessarily because he thinks he can’t do it anymore, but it’s not like the Cardinals are going to put him back there that much. He’s too valuable as a cornerback.

Now, if you asked to go play offense? “That chapter is not over,” Peterson said with a grin. “I’m going to leave that open, and I have a couple of blank pages for coach.”

Peterson said he wishes he could play offense. “I’m an offensive guy at heart,” he said. He wouldn’t even mind quarterback, although that’s not going to happen.

Catching a pass or two would be interesting. The Cardinals will be down John Brown Sunday against the Titans, and J.J. Nelson is nursing a sore knee. Chad Williams should get a little more work.

“(Patrick) used to be in the book, when we didn’t have any speed,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He may be back in there soon.”

*Editor’s Note: Peterson isn’t playing offense this weekend. Or this year, I’m guessing.*

— The other Peterson isn’t playing Sunday, but that isn’t a surprise any longer. Adrian Peterson still hasn’t practiced since suffering the neck injury and his road to return is vague, to say the least. Arians has no answers and Peterson has not yet spoken to the media since getting hurt. More chances for Kerwynn Williams.

— On the good side, having left tackle Jared Veldheer is crucial, especially when weighed against the fact the Titans are without pass rusher Derrick Morgan.

— Quietly, money linebacker Deone Bucannon returned to full practice this week from his ankle injury. Arians already said Josh Bynes – who is playing very well – will get snaps. It’ll be interesting to see how playing time is parceled out to Bucannon, Bynes and Karlos Dansby.

— Don’t forget that the Aeneas Williams episode of “A Football Life” is tonight.

— Also, there is a toy drive Sunday at the stadium, if you would like to contribute. Monetary donations or new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the gates.

— Marcus Mariota is not Russell Wilson, not even close. Maybe someday, but not today. Still, there are some similarities in terms of mobility in the pocket. The one thing Mariota has (surprisingly) not done well this season (that Wilson absolutely does) is throw on the run. The Cardinals don’t want Mariota escaping for long runs, but if they can get him to move and still try to throw, maybe that is something they can exploit.

— Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis is spending this season as the color analyst for the Titans’ radio network. Mac was a great personality to cover back in the day, and that final locker room speech he made after the famous McCown-to-Poole touchdown – knowing he’d be fired as coach – is as emotional as they get.

— The Titans visit University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday and that will complete the league – Tennessee is the only team not yet to have played in the Cardinals’ “new” stadium, which is in its 12th season. The Cardinals would prefer to be lousy houseguests – Arians is 6-1 against the AFC South since coming to Arizona.

— Larry Fitzgerald needs 26 yards to pass Randy Moss. I’m gonna guess he has that in the first quarter. No, I’m not putting any money on it.

See you Sunday.

 


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Five Cards hold steady in Pro Bowl voting

Posted by Darren Urban on December 7, 2017 – 9:40 am

With a week left in the Pro Bowl voting, the Cardinals still have five players among the top 10 at their positions, and are still led by rookie Budda Baker’s second-place overall among special teams players (and Baker is also second among NFC vote-getters, with Philly’s Kamu Grugier-Hill atop the standings.) What is a little surprising is that Patrick Peterson is eighth among cornerbacks and only fifth among NFC cornerbacks. Peterson certainly is deserving of Pro Bowl recognition this season.

Besides Peterson and Baker, the other Cardinals in the hunt are:

— WR Larry Fitzgerald (fifth overall, third in NFC)
— FS Tyrann Mathieu (eighth overall, fourth in NFC)
— OLB Chandler Jones (fourth overall, first in NFC)

The fan vote is only part of the equation for Pro Bowl selections, of course. The vote of both the players and the coaches is heavily weighted, but it sure seems like the Cards will be in line for a handful of selections. Voting goes through Dec. 14 and you can vote by clicking here.

 


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Dansby, chasing history, and his drops

Posted by Darren Urban on December 6, 2017 – 12:38 pm

Karlos Dansby is still chasing help for his legacy, even if he felt he became a “legend” when he made his 20th career interception in San Francisco in early November. He is hyper-aware of all the sack and interception totals of the other fellows who comprise the 40-20 club in NFL history (40 sacks, 20 picks), and the linebacker would love to top all of them in both categories. It’s become harder as he gets older of course, and his place in 2018 is murky — Dansby will be a free agent after the season, and the Cardinals, with Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick and a surging Josh Bynes (also an UFA-to-be), could very well look to build their ILB corps differently next season.

But this is the here and now. Dansby has 20 picks, but the argument can be made Dansby should have 23, because there were three other near-misses this season. The most recent was the most painful, a tipped pass against the Rams last weekend that looked tailor-made to be grabbed –until Los couldn’t hold on.

Dansby also could’ve had one against the Jaguars the week before (which would’ve been tough, but in this context, possible), and in the home game against the 49ers on Oct. 1 (In his hands, down the middle, in the fourth quarter). Those obviously would have buoyed his total.

What gets lost too is during his magnificent 2013 season with the Cardinals — a year Dansby should have earned that Pro Bowl berth he so desperately wants  —  there were missed picks then too. Dansby reminded everyone of that a couple of weeks ago on the Big Red Rage, which he co-hosts. Rookie safety Budda Baker was lamenting a dropped interception of his own, against Seattle in the Thursday night game.

“Budda, I’m going to make you feel a little bit better,” Dansby said. “In ’13, I dropped six. That’s why I said I can catch these guys (ahead of him). I know I can. I have confidence in what I am doing and how I am doing it. … Eventually, they are going to have to come to me, and they are going to have to come right to me.”

I’ll admit, I can’t remember six dropped picks from 2013. That’s a long time ago (Dansby, in 2013, had four interceptions, so 10 for a linebacker would’ve been … well, along with his 6 1/2 sacks, he would’ve been Defensive Player of the Year.) But let’s say he did have six and got them all, that’s nine more picks Dansby could have on his total.


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