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No East Coast trip for Cards before London

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2017 – 12:58 pm

The Cardinals still are making plans with how they are going to handle their travel to London to play the Rams — the date remains TBD — but Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings, Bruce Arians knocked down one possibility: The Cardinals will likely not take one of their East Coast road games (Washington, Philly) and fly from there to London. Instead, the Cardinals will likely play a home game and then leave from Sky Harbor the next day.

“Our plan is to leave from here,” Arians said. “We don’t know. We haven’t gotten it all finalized. But Michael (Bidwill) has made that trip so many times that we feel right now we would probably leave Monday night. When we went to Berlin (with the Chiefs in 1990) quite a few years back, we got off the plane and went right to practice and broke a sweat.

“We’ll get off and do a glorified walkthrough practice, break-a-sweat deal, and then get acclimated to that time, and then go into a normal week.”

The Cardinals, as do most teams returning from a London game, are expected to have a bye the week following the London game.

“The jet lag is a bitch when you get back,” Arians said. “I can’t imagine, even on the East Coast even though it’s a five-hour flight. It’s probably not as bad as going from Miami to Seattle and playing the next week. It’s kind of like that. That’s really hard on your guys. You have to be aware of how tired they are.”

Alas, there is still no date for the London game, which will be either Oct. 22 or Oct. 29. At this point, it is not expected to be announced until the full NFL schedule is released sometime in mid-April.


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No B.A. regrets for Bethel comment

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2017 – 9:59 am

It’s been a battle for Justin Bethel for the last 18 months, fighting a broken foot at the end of the 2015 season, thinking it was healed, re-injuring it in the offseason before OTAs to sideline him all summer, fighting it all 2016 and then absorbing a paycut recently.

Coach Bruce Arians has been complimentary of Bethel the last few times he has been asked about him, and Bethel did close the season better — returning an interception for a touchdown in the finale — and Arians was asked Wednesday whether he regretted calling Bethel a “failure-in-progress” in early December.

“No … no, because only one line of that was used,” Arians said. “Because I said it was not his fault because of his broken foot. That part never got to the article. It was just I said he was a failure in progress because of not being able to practice.”

Arians said Bethel’s father actually attended the Saturday practice following Arians’ Monday “failure” comment.

“(He) grabbed me and said, ‘You trying to motivate my son?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ ” Arians said. “He said, ‘I think it’s working.’ ”

Arians again reiterated Wednesday that the draft is loaded with cornerbacks, that Brandon Williams will be a lot better in Year Two, and that Bethel too will be “a hell of a lot better if he can finally practice.” (Bethel believes he should be the starter.)

“He hasn’t practiced for two years on that broken foot,” Arians said. “He can now have a chance to really compete as a corner and get better rather than just throwing him out there when we had to have him. That’s not fair to him. But I think he’s going to really, really take off with it this spring.”

 


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Bidwill: Vegas will be “fun” for Cardinals fans

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2017 – 6:32 pm

The Raiders are (eventually) moving to Las Vegas, and will be that much closer to the Cardinals — who have been frequent preseason partners with the AFC team. That convenience isn’t lost on Cardinals president Michael Bidwill.

“I think our fans are going to love it when that stadium is built and there is a preseason game (in Vegas),” Bidwill said from the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. “I think they will be in full force supporting the Cardinals. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Because of multiple trips in recent years, Bidwill and the Cardinals are familiar with the stadium issues in Oakland.

“I’m happy for the Raiders because this really solidifies their future,” Bidwill said. “It had been a struggle. We played them many times, particularly preseason games in Oakland, and that’s a tough place to play. It’s definitely not up to NFL standards. I’m glad they’ve got a bright future.”


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Potential ejections on “egregious” hits

Posted by Darren Urban on March 28, 2017 – 2:44 pm

Among the rules changes/updates made by the NFL owners Tuesday at their spring meetings here at the Arizona Biltmore was the decision to make as a point of emphasis the existing rule that “egregious” hits come with an ejection and/or a suspension even for first-time offenders.

That’s always a fine line. It makes sense, with the league trying to find ways to get safer, like banning leaps over the line to block kicks. In this case, the league hopes to have players more wary of going in for an “egregious” hit knowing an ejection may be forthcoming. (USA Today quoted Giants president John Mara as saying there were only about four such plays last year.) The problem, of course, is that for the player it isn’t always easy to make that call in the moment — like when Deone Bucannon, money linebacker, hit Bengals receiver A.J. Green in 2015, wasn’t penalized but was later fined for the hit. Bucannon had a similar bang-bang play against the Chargers in the 2016 preseason, but that was deemed clean.

“If you’re over there tip-toeing and trying to do everything perfect, that’s going to make you a worse player,” Bucannon said during 2016 training camp. “I’m not thinking about, ‘Oh, man, what the consequences are.’ I’ve got so many things I need to think about. I need to think about what I’m doing within the defense to help my team win the game. And then on top of that, you expect me in point-one second to (decide where to deliver a hit)? I can’t think about all that at the same time, but I’m going to train my body through practice so I can understand.”

D.J. Swearinger, now in Washington, had a couple of big hits this past season, but they were clean. It is still possible to do such things. The first time a player is actually booted for a hit, however, will make for a huge story.

UPDATE: Competition committee chairman Rich McKay emphasized that the consideration today was meant as a deterrent. “Don’t take that there could be a suspension for first-time offenders as ‘We’ve got a problem,’ ” McKay said. “We had three or four plays we showed the union, showed our coaches, and we recommended, that if a player isn’t ejected on the field — and that’s a difficult thing, we don’t get a lot of ejections for football plays — we recommend a suspension even for a first-time offense. … We don’t expect it to happen a lot, but it was a point of emphasis.”

 


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Palmer, Brady and continuing to play

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2017 – 4:19 pm

Once, I asked Carson Palmer about Tom Brady’s claim in 2015 that he wanted to play 10 more years. It was in the context of Palmer’s desire to play longer. “I would love to play 10 more years,” Palmer said at the time, with the caveat that he was taking things in a lot shorter bites than that. Year to year was the best-case scenario, and frankly, the fact Palmer mulled retiring this offseason likely means that possibility is much closer than not.

But there was Patriots owner Robert Kraft at the owners’ meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Monday, saying that his quarterback Tom Brady said he plans to play another six or seven years. Brady, mind you, is older than Palmer — Brady turns 40 in August, Palmer 37 in December — but Brady also has been playing at an incredible level. We’ll see if his body can hold up. Peyton Manning had no desire to retire when he did, but his body just gave out. Brady has shown zero signs of that, but things change quickly in your 40s (I can personally attest to that.)

With Palmer, it’s not just holding up physically. It’s holding up mentally, which in a lot of ways is what took Kurt Warner down when he retired — not that he couldn’t play anymore, but he lost the will to grind day-to-day mentally. That hill can get more and more steep as the years go by.

Everyone will wait to see if Brady playing another six or seven seasons, assuming Bill Belichick is still around. Palmer, I think it’s safe to say, is going to fall far short of his love-of-another decade. It just doesn’t work out that way. Unless you’re the Patriots.

 

 


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Bidwill aids St. Louis high school athletes

Posted by Darren Urban on March 25, 2017 – 10:38 am

The Cardinals haven’t been in St. Louis since 1988, but the team continues to have ties there. So many of the organization’s great players still live in the area, and when the Rams were in St. Louis, the Cardinals would have alumni functions every year when the Cards went to St. Louis for their annual road trip.

Still, it’s good to hear that team president Michael Bidwill and the Cardinals decided to help the St. Louis chapter of the National Football Foundation. (Bidwill had been inducted into the NFF’s Leadership Hall of Fame in January of 2016.)

It would have gone unnoticed if the executive director of the St. Louis group hadn’t talked about it with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bidwill donated $10,000, helping underwrite an annual banquet that honors the 25 best high school players in St. Louis and gives out scholarships to 11 student-athletes. The Rams had been doing it, but that ended when the Rams moved to Los Angeles.


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David Johnson? Yeah, he’s looking good

Posted by Darren Urban on March 22, 2017 – 2:31 pm

Rehab seems to be going quite nicely.


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Kurt Warner’s brush with jersey thief

Posted by Darren Urban on March 21, 2017 – 4:39 pm

This story about the Mexican newspaper director — former director, at this point — who allegedly stole Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey  is fascinating. It’s fascinating to watch the video, and even more insane to read the AP story about this guy and his apparent history of doing such a thing. There are so many layers to this (including how easy it is to get a media credential at the Super Bowl when you aren’t even doing anything), but it was interesting to see how Brady apparently wasn’t even the only Super Bowl quarterback to have his jersey lifted. Kurt Warner apparently did too.

From the Associated Press story:

Velazquez and Palafox both said Ortega was carrying a bag containing a past Super Bowl jersey worn by Warner and an Emmitt Smith book. Warner was named MVP at the 2000 Super Bowl.

“He showed me Warner’s jersey with his signature and told me a story about how Warner was surprised that he was in possession of the item,” Palafox said. “He said he planned to gather interest from Warner to sell him the jersey for $8,000.”

The story doesn’t necessarily specify which Warner jersey was taken (it mentions he was the 2000 SB MVP — the 1999 season — but doesn’t clarify that was the year it was taken). Warner was in two other Super Bowls, after the 2001 season and, of course, for the Cardinals after the 2008 season. I don’t ever remember hearing about Warner losing his Cardinals jersey, and I’d guess it probably was the 1999 jersey since that was one Warner won. Regardless, it’s a crazy story about a brazen guy. Here’s hoping Kurt gets his jersey back.


(“Kurt, do you know where your jersey is?”)

 


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Estimating the Cardinals’ comp picks

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2017 – 11:41 am

A team can have up to four compensatory draft picks — extra picks a team gets when it loses more free agents than it signs — in a year. While the comp picks, maxed out at 32 across the league, are a moving target for now with free agency ongoing, the Cardinals seem to be in line for four extra choices. The actual formula remains a secret, but enough people have been working on it enough that a general idea of where the picks land can be estimated. Overthecap.com credits the Cardinals (as of now) with an extra third-rounder, an extra fourth-rounder, an extra fifth-rounder and an extra sixth-rounder in the 2018 draft.

Calais Campbell nets the third-round pick. Tony Jefferson the fourth-rounder. Marcus Cooper gets a fifth-rounder, and although the loss of D.J. Swearinger is canceled out by the signing of kicker Phil Dawson, Kevin Minter’s departure gets a sixth-rounder. The losses of Earl Watford and Alex Okafor are offset by the signings of Karlos Dansby and Jarvis Jones.

Again, this is an estimation. The league doesn’t release the formula, and other things eventually can be involved, including playing time and postseason honors. But if the Cards end up with four extra picks, that wouldn’t be too bad. There doesn’t seem to be much percolating with any new signings right now, which would mean more extra picks at this time next year.


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Minter replaces Dansby who replaced Minter

Posted by Darren Urban on March 18, 2017 – 3:18 pm

Once Karlos Dansby came back to the Cardinals (“Three-down linebacker? Man, I’m one interception away from being a legend, man”), it was clear Kevin Minter would be moving on. Minter did Saturday, reportedly agreeing to a deal with the Bengals. While Minter got better over his four years, the Cardinals were still looking to upgrade. We will see if Dansby — who turns 36 during the season and is 10 years older than Minter — is that answer, although I will not be surprised to see the Cardinals address the position in the draft.

It’s interesting that Minter is going to Cincinnati, where he will ostensibly replace Dansby, who is obviously replacing him. And then, to think back to 2013, when Minter was a second-round pick (and basically ignored that night, because the third-round pick was Tyrann Mathieu) and then lost out on a chance to start next to Daryl Washington when Dansby was signed for tenure No. 2 in Arizona.

So the Cardinals saw Dansby in Cincy and believed him better than Minter. And the Bengals didn’t worry about losing Dansby and see Minter as a replacement. I’ll miss Minter, who became a go-to guy in the locker room and was willing to avoid sugarcoating stuff, especially when things didn’t go well last season.

Out of nine 2013 draft picks, the Cardinals have two left — Mathieu and Andre Ellington, with Stepfan Taylor still a free agent.


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