Blogs

Holt sees some Faulk in David Johnson

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2017 – 10:22 pm

Torry Holt is helping coach the Cardinals receivers this week, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t appreciate the running game. In his years as a Pro Bowl wideout with the Greatest Show On Turf, he played with one of the greatest running backs in NFL history: Marshall Faulk. Tuesday, Holt said he could see comparisons to the Cardinals’ excellent running back, David Johnson.

“Marshall did everything, and I see (David) the same way,” said Holt (pictured below with wide receivers John Brown, left, and Marquis Bundy). “He can do a little bit of everything.”

Last year, during a brief visit to the Cardinals’ facility, former Cardinals (and Cowboys) running back Emmitt Smith compared Johnson to Bills great Thurman Thomas in terms of their all-around games. And that was before Johnson had his marvelous second season.

Johnson earns the Faulk comparison from Holt.

“He’s smooth,” Holt said. “He’s bigger than Marshall. But he can run, run between the tackles, run on the outside and he can catch. Those are where the similarities are. Again, size is different. I haven’t been in the meeting room with (Johnson) yet so I don’t know where his football IQ is. Marshall was extremely smart with the game.

“But there are some similarities in their games, particularly with catching the ball out of the backfield. (Johnson) is very smooth.”

Holt mentioned one other running back who he thought was as natural catching the ball as Faulk and Johnson — Bengals rookie Joe Mixon.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 6 Comments »

Arians: London events “not going to scare us off”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2017 – 12:16 pm

The Cardinals play the Rams in London at Twickenham Stadium on Oct. 22, and they will be spending the week beforehand in the country practicing for the game. Obviously, London and the U.K. have been in the news with recent terrorist events, both with the concert bombing in Manchester and then the attack on London Bridge.

Coach Bruce Arians was asked if those attacks caused him any concern with taking the Cardinals on their trip.

“No,” Arians said. “With concern … Anytime you are apprehensive, and let ISIS or whoever it is change the way you think or what you do, they are winning. We’ll go and we’ll do everything we can to put on a great show. If something happens, it happens. But they’re not going to scare us off.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

And then there were four (QBs)

Posted by Darren Urban on June 5, 2017 – 3:35 pm

Zac Dysert wasn’t out of work long. He was cut by the Cardinals Friday and then claimed off waivers by the Cowboys, it was announced by the league today. Dysert didn’t last as long as the previous third QB, Matt Barkley, in terms of seeing what he had. Barkley at least made it through training camp.

But circumstances change. One, it means that Trevor Knight, the undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M, has shown enough in this short time to impress — at least impress enough to keep him over Dysert. It also means the Cards — not surprisingly, given the praise coach Bruce Arians has delivered anytime he is asked — are happy with Blaine Gabbert thus far. Third, it means that they are good with Carson Palmer having his normal workload in training camp, even with an extra week of camp and extra preseason game.

There is context needed everywhere. I don’t expect Palmer to get a lot more preseason work, so with an extra game, there should be more preseason game reps for Gabbert, Knight and Drew Stanton. As for Stanton — and Gabbert — last week Arians said clearly that Stanton remains the No. 2 QB. I don’t expect that to change this season, but camp can always make an impact. (It won’t, IMO.) Still, QB is always a sexy position, and there will be plenty of stories of all four guys once camp starts in mid-July.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »

Peterson as punt returner — again

Posted by Darren Urban on June 2, 2017 – 8:54 am

An NFL lifetime ago, when Bruce Arians was simply a good offensive coordinator with the Steelers and the Cardinals were trying to turn Kevin Kolb into their long-awaited replacement for Kurt Warner, Patrick Peterson electrified the league with his punt returns. He scored four times that season and would’ve had five, were it not for a shoe-tip trip tackle in the season finale.

Peterson’s effectiveness at punt returning hasn’t been the same since. There are plenty of arguments why, whether it’s a safety issue — no one wants Peterson to become Jason Sehorn the sequel — or a blocking issue — Peterson intimated as much during an appearance on the “Bickley and Marotta” show earlier this week — or something else. But there is one thing Peterson still has that can’t necessarily be said for anyone else on the roster when it comes to punt returns. He has Arians’ trust.

Since Arians arrived the Cardinals have tried to find a legitimate replacement for Peterson on punt returns. Yet, as we stand here on the final day of OTAs, it looks like Peterson is headed for another season on the job. In a perfect world, the Cards would have a guy who could return kicks and punts, but rookie T.J. Logan should end up with the kick return spot and he’s never returned punts, and frankly, he probably shouldn’t start now. As excellent kick return man LaRod Stephens-Howling once emphasized, they are certainly not the same thing.

Smokey Brown is an option, although having your No. 2 receiver in harm’s way isn’t that much different than your No. 1 cornerback. J.J. Nelson has done it, but his double-whammy fumble/injury when he was doing it as a rookie in 2015 sticks in the mind. Nelson too is important to the offense and exposing his slight frame to more punishment would likely give pause.

Maybe it is as simple as getting Peterson better lanes within which to run. Maybe, as the Cardinals showed in 2015, as long as Peterson isn’t turning it over, that’s all they need in that part of the game. But getting a breakout return or 10 during the season wouldn’t be bad either.


Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »

The “pressure” of OTAs

Posted by Darren Urban on June 1, 2017 – 4:32 pm

Bruce Arians was talking about a play near the end of Thursday’s OTA, a two-minute drill in which the “young guys panicked.”

“When the clock’s running, we have a certain play we go to and (expletive), they lined up all over the place,” Arians said. “Those are the type of things that get you beat.”

Arians has talked about the team being more intelligent on the field. Asked if the staff didn’t emphasize that enough last year, Arians said no, simply that the Cardinals didn’t make important plays at the end of games  — in all three phases — last season as they had in 2015.

“We made mental errors in critical situations that we hadn’t made in the past,” Arians said. “That’s been a big point of emphasis.”

Hence Arians’ issues with the mistake in the two-minute drill. This is why Arians and the Cardinals like to work on specific situations here in the heat of June — so many seconds left, the team trailing by “x” amount  of points. The Cards do it in training camp and the regular season as well, but now is when the rookies and the newbies get a taste of how Arians wants things done. Obviously, as Arians noted Thursday, the pressure can still build without pads and in shorts months from football that counts.

“I’ve seen some really bright young players that don’t make those mistakes and are calm under pressure,” Arians said. “Pressure is usually something (where) you don’t know what the hell you’re doing. That’s why you feel it. If you know what you’re doing, you never feel it.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 3 Comments »

With Chad Williams, Fitz invokes the A-word

Posted by Darren Urban on May 31, 2017 – 9:12 am

As Larry Fitzgerald spoke on a variety of topics Tuesday, rookie third-round wide receiver Chad Williams came up. And Fitz delivered the eyebrow-raising comparison — kind of.

“He reminds me of Anquan Boldin, in terms of the strength of his hands,” Fitzgerald said. “Once it touches his hands, it just doesn’t move. He’s got unbelievably strong hands.”

Now, invoking the name of Anquan is pretty high praise around these parts. It’s never taken lightly, even if Fitz narrowed it to Williams’ hands. Boldin and Williams aren’t built the same, Boldin being thicker than Williams, but certainly, this franchise would take Williams being anywhere close to Boldin. After all, Boldin has carved out a marvelous NFL career, and it’s impossible to forget his best seasons came in an Arizona uniform.

(Before we go any further, Boldin has said he wants to play in 2017. But it won’t be with the Cardinals, even though many fans would love a reunion. As I have mentioned before. Boldin and Fitzgerald play essentially the same position at this point in their careers. Having them both on the roster makes little sense.)

It’s not the first time Fitzgerald has brought up a Boldin comparison with a young Cardinals wideout. A couple of times Fitzgerald made the Anquan-Michael Floyd comparison, in terms of those players playing “angry” — in a good way. Chad Williams has a long, long way to go to prove himself anywhere Anquan-worthy, especially since his opportunities are going to be much more limited as a rookie that Boldin had in 2003. (No one is forgetting 10-217-2 to start his career.)

Q hands or not, though, Fitzgerald says he’s bullish on the rookie Williams.

“(Chad) has got deceptive speed, when he’s running with guys, you see him and you’re like, ‘He’s really moving,’ ” Fitzgerald said. “He’s making his plays. … He’s going  to be a great help to us. He’s a very outgoing young man, has a high football IQ, which always helps.”


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »

Fitzgerald again lands in NFLN 100

Posted by Darren Urban on May 29, 2017 – 6:53 pm

As the NFL Network’s Top 100 rolls along, a second Cardinal has found a spot: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was revealed as 45th on the list, Fitz’s seventh straight year to make it. After an NFL-leading 107 catches (1,023 yards and six touchdowns) Fitz becomes the second player thus far (Chandler Jones was No. 85.)

Over the years, Fitz has gone from 14th to seventh to 22nd to 38th to 68th to 27th before this year’s ranking. Regardless of whether 2017 becomes his final season, I’d expect him on next year’s list as well.

(It’s great to hear cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross telling Fitz “That’s gold jacket right there” after Fitz’s great TD catch against the Patriots last year. Gold jacket indeed. The Hall of Fame is when, not if.)

As for any other Cardinals on this year’s list, I’m still expecting two: cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back David Johnson. Johnson may actually make a run at a top 10 spot. That’ll be interesting to see (as well as where Le’Veon Bell and Zeke Elliott end up, comparatively.)


Tags:
Posted in Blog | 28 Comments »

D-Line wants to earn the shake and the apple pie

Posted by Darren Urban on May 25, 2017 – 3:49 pm

Brentson Buckner is a guru of the defensive line, and the way he phrases things to get across his point is gold for a writer. Buckner was known as a great quote as a player, and it hasn’t changed. Talking to him about Robert Nkemdiche, the Cardinals’ defensive line coach provided his philosophy about teaching young players. Fortunately, it was after lunch, because otherwise, it would have left me hungry.

“I’m not going to chew their food up and then give it to them,” Buckner said. “I’m going to teach you how to chew it yourself, because when you chew it yourself, you’ll be more satisfied.

“Now, I’m not going to give you a whole bunch to eat. I might start you with the little person’s plate. The older guys, they get the big daddy plate. But the little guys, they start with the Happy Meal. Then I’ll move you up to the quarter pounder with cheese, and before you know it, you can get the nuggets, the Big Mac, the shake and the apple pie. Because guess what, you can chew it and swallow it yourself and it won’t overwhelm you. Know what I’m saying?”


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 46 Comments »

Cardinals celebrations? “Chandler likes to dance”

Posted by Darren Urban on May 24, 2017 – 1:54 pm

Here’s the thing about the new relaxed celebration rules in the NFL — I’m not sure exactly how much they’ll impact the Cardinals. They don’t exactly have a group of guys pining to make a scene post-play. On our latest podcast, we were talking about a power poll of Cardinals who were most likely to take advantage. I mean, it’s not going to be Larry Fitzgerald (“That’ll never happen,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Larry’s dance is dancing over to give the ball to the referee, which is what he’s supposed to do.”) We know Smokey Brown can dance, but his dance was already allowed in the rules and frankly, I don’t see him going much further than that. J.J. Nelson is pretty low key. David Johnson is definitely low key — it’s tough to embrace the nickname “Humble Rumble” and you know, not be humble.

Arians, in contrast to Marvin Lewis, is cool with the change. “I danced all the time when I scored touchdowns,” Arians said. “I didn’t get many. Danced my ass off when it happened.”

Arians, however, doesn’t figure to score at all these days. In terms of the current players? “I’m not really a dancing type of guy,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said, when asked about his potential plans. “I do love the fact the league is allowing players to show their personality, not putting us in handcuffs. I think it’s a great win for the players.”

Peterson’s first choice in the locker room “probably would’ve been Tony,” but alas, Tony Jefferson has moved to Baltimore.

“Chandler,” Peterson said. “Chandler likes to dance.”

Indeed, Chandler Jones came to my mind first. He’s further removed from the more buttoned-up culture of New England. He has the security of the long-term contract. And he definitely likes to have fun. Jones was asked about the new overtime rule but he said the celebration rule move was the “one that matters” to the defensive players.

Jones did say there wouldn’t be any choreography or dance practice. “That’s when it gets out of hand” and away from football, he said. But, he added, “I’ll have something cooking for sure.”

 


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 13 Comments »

Answer on Fitz future won’t be soon

Posted by Darren Urban on May 23, 2017 – 7:44 am

Larry Fitzgerald said last night at Bruce Arians’ charity event that he will only address his NFL future after 2017 one time, in training camp. That’s so he won’t have to keep answering questions. (Although, if he’s hoping no questions will be asked all season, well, good luck with that.) Here’s the thing: It would be a massive upset if, at that point in camp, Fitz says anything besides something along the lines that he’ll make a decision after the season. Just like 2016.

He’s not going to ever proclaim his last season — even if he were to know — as his last season. Fitz doesn’t want that. If you want tangible proof, look at the foreword Fitz wrote for the Kent Somers’ book “100 Things Cardinals Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die.” In Fitz’s own words: “Kent Somers covered my first press conference and he’ll probably be there for my last, unless I just quietly slip into retirement (That’s more my style).” I definitely believe that. I have long thought there is a better chance Fitz just says goodbye in a tweet, with no goodbye presser. We’ll see when that happens. But if that’s his style, then having a goodbye lap around the league by announcing his retirement early doesn’t make sense.

Carson Palmer recently said the same. He talked last week and was asked about 2017 being possibly his last year. Palmer’s response? How would he know in May? He won’t even know in November or December. That’s an after-season thing. He’s another guy I don’t think wants to make a big deal about whether he’s going to be done or not.

Bottom line, I think 2017 will be another vague season for Fitz (and Palmer) in terms of the end. I appreciate Fitzgerald wanting to try and contain such talk. I’m not sure it’s in his hands. That’s what happens when you are the face of the franchise. People want to know.


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »