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Cardinals will bring in punter for tryout

Posted by Darren Urban on December 5, 2016 – 1:46 pm

On the heels of General Manager Steve Keim saying the Cardinals would evaluate the punter position after a rough outing from Drew Butler Sunday, coach Bruce Arians said the team will bring in a punter for a tryout. He did not name who.

“You can’t have guys kicking 28-yard kicks when you sit out there at practice, 50 (yards), 50 every day and then you get in a game (and struggle),” Arians said. “Drew brings a lot of other things but he’s still got to kick the damn ball.”

Butler had three punts Sunday. The first was 41 yards but was a line drive and returnable. The second was a good kick of 50 yards, but the third went the aforementioned 28 yards and allowed Washington to start a drive on the Cardinals’ 48-yard line.

“Kicking is a funny game,” Arians said. “And most of it is mental.”

Butler has struggled much of the season. He dealt with a bad ankle injury earlier in the year, was released, and then brought back. In six games, he has averaged 41.3 yards a punt, with a net average of 35.4. Arians emphasized a tryout did not necessarily mean a change. Holding on Chandler Catanzaro is part of the job description.

“He can be a hell of a punter, if he doesn’t hold, he ain’t getting the job,” Arians said.

Drew Butler


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Keim: Palmer praise and Butler answer

Posted by Darren Urban on December 5, 2016 – 8:19 am

Not surprisingly, Steve Keim was much happier today. The Cardinals won and played pretty well. One player the Cardinals General Manager mentioned during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 a couple of times was Carson Palmer. Keim said the quarterback was exceptional. Palmer completed 30 of 46 passes for 300 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“Some of the throws he made were fantastic,” Keim said. “His arm, to me, looked yesterday as live as it’s looked in a long time.”

Keim was asked if that meant Palmer’s arm had been a concern.

“I wouldn’t say it’s as much of a concern, but some of the balls he threw, the velocity and the placement he had on them, and some of the things he did in the pocket where he escaped pressure, was excellent.”

— The question everyone always wants answers for was asked to Keim — what are his feelings on the play of punter Drew Butler Sunday. Butler only had to punt three times and did have a 50-yarder, but averaged less than 40 yards a punt and less than 35 net. His final boot of 28 yards let the Redskins start an eventual field goal drive on the Cardinals’ side of the field.

“Not satisfied at all,” Keim said. “Like any other position there are expectations, and that spot right now, we’re not living up to expectations. It’s a results-based business and if you’re not getting the job done, we’ll look and see if there is somebody who can. That’s the tough part of it. You’re in some critical situations. It’s not like we have a backup punter that you can put in if someone is having a rough day. We’ll certainly talk about that today and see where it goes moving forward.”

— Yes, he was happy with running back David Johnson (more on DJ later today.) “Every time he does things, it’s amazing to me,” Keim said, adding “the sky is the limit for that young man.”

— Like Palmer, left tackle D.J. Humphries was mentioned a couple of times as someone who had an “excellent” game. Keim also thought right tackle Ulrick John flashed at times. He has strength deficiencies, Keim said, but “what he does athletically, he jumped out with some of the things he did.”

— On Bruce Arians’ play-calling late: “Give a lot of credit to our head coach. One thing about him, he’s willing to take risks. He showed confidence in our team and they rewarded him.”

— Keim also said he liked the fact the players held a meeting among themselves last week. “Because it shows me they care. We’re all disappointed with the way the season has gone so far. Expectations were high. That’s the way they should be, that’s the way we want them here. So, to show it means something to these players, the fact we haven’t played well as a team for the most part this season, and to come out, when you face adversity, to fight and to not give up, the way we played (Sunday) … our playmakers stepped up and made plays.”


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Nelson, Johnson and Redskins aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 4, 2016 – 8:41 pm

It’s possible J.J. Nelson wouldn’t have even been on the field with 2:03 left Sunday, but as fate — and perhaps some virus, or bad food, would have it — Michael Floyd “was throwing up at that time,” Nelson said. So the Cardinals went with a play that could get Nelson open deep. Carson Palmer took a shot, and Nelson held on — something he hasn’t been able to do a lot of late.

“Them dropped passes I’ve had, I was like, ‘I’ve got to catch this,’ ” the wide receiver said.

He did, of course, and then the defense finished it off, and voila! The Cardinals had their win. There was so much talk about accountability and team meetings coming into this game, and maybe there was more attention to detail, but mostly, as Tony Jefferson said, it was Five Stars (as in five-star players) being Five Stars. Guys made plays. Nelson. Palmer. Patrick Peterson — who said he really didn’t think the players-only meeting impacted much tonight — with the pick. Heavy pressure on Kirk Cousins. Guys were making plays. David Johnson, at the forefront (more on him in a minute.)

They’ll see if they can keep it going in Miami.

— We knew it was coming, but props to Larry Fitzgerald for becoming No. 3 in the NFL all-time in receptions. The only two ahead of him? Jerry Rice and long-time tight end Tony Gonzalez.

— Going 10-of-16 on third downs and not turning the ball over usually is a recipe for a win.

— Calais Campbell played an excellent game. It was highlighted by his strip-sack when he collapsed the pocket, but he played so well all around.

— Lost on the last TD drive was a third-down holding call on Josh Norman on Fitz. From my vantage point on the sideline, it looked like he held. Norman said he felt he was within five yards of the line of scrimmage and thought he was in good position, but he also said he wasn’t going to blame the loss on a call.

— Why, exactly, the Redskins called a fade route to DeSean Jackson, with Patrick Peterson covering him, on the 1-yard line on third down I will never understand.

— Hey, remember when I was saying the Cardinals didn’t yet have a Victory Monday? They’ve got one now.

“There is nothing better than coming into this locker room and Coach giving us a Victory Monday in December,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s is the first Victory Monday. That is pretty bad, man.”

— Finally, there is David Johnson. What else can you say? Fitz is calling him the NFL’s MVP, Palmer is calling him the best player in the game. He’s got 15 touchdowns now, two shy of the franchise record set by John David Crow in 1962 (That’s the last time someone had at least 15.) He’s had more than 100 yards from scrimmage every game this season.

He’s got 1,005 yards rushing this season. He’s up to 704 yards receiving on 64 catches, and it does not seem far-fetched any longer to see him get another 296 yards receiving in the last four games. That’s an average of 74 a game. Definitely do-able, and it would bring him with Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only ones to do it in NFL history.

When you have Johnson, why wouldn’t you try fourth-and-1 (although Arians was right; big props to the left side of the line and those two tight ends because we have seen Johnson stuffed before.)

On a night when Fitzgerald made more NFL history, it sure feels like Johnson is rapidly becoming a player that — with health and good teammates — could end up having a chance to be a historical player himself.

afterskinsblog


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Mathieu inactive against Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on December 4, 2016 – 12:57 pm

In what is no surprise, safety Tyrann Mathieu is inactive today because of his bad shoulder. Mathieu missed practice on both Thursday and Friday. The Cardinals do have safety Tyvon Branch back from injured reserve to help make up for the absence. The rest of the inactive list is fairly status quo as of late:

The full inactive list:

— WR Marquis Bundy

— S Tyrann Mathieu (shoulder)

— LB Sio Moore

— G Cole Toner

— DT Olsen Pierre

— DT Robert Nkemdiche

— DT Ed Stinson


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Roof expected to be open Sunday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 3, 2016 – 3:36 pm

For the first time this season, the University of Phoenix roof is expected to be open for a game when the Cardinals host Washington Sunday. The temperature is supposed to be about 65 degrees outside at kickoff.

The roof has been open 24 times previous since the stadium has opened; the Cardinals have won 14 of those games. It has been open five times previous since Bruce Arians became coach. A list of those outcomes:

— 12/10/15 Minnesota W 23-20
— 11/22/15 Cincinnati W 34-31
— 12/29/13 San Francisco L 23-20
— 12/8/13 St. Louis W 30-10
— 10/17/13 Seattle L 34-22

roofopenblog


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Work ethic and Friday before Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on December 2, 2016 – 4:41 pm

It’s been a week of criticism and accountability, of players meeting and talk of needing just one win. And as Bruce Arians talked for the final time before the last-gasp-for-now Washington game Sunday about such things, he veered to a message that wasn’t really asked about but something he clearly wanted to say.

“I love this team’s work ethic,” the coach said. “I never have to bitch about work ethic. They come to work Wednesday through Saturday. It’s a shame it hasn’t all shown up on Sundays, but I couldn’t ask any more on the field and in the classroom than what they are giving.”

Ultimately, the talk during the week is just talk. Something else that keeps popping up when Arians – and players – speak about everything that’s happened this week: No one knows what it all means until Sunday.

It doesn’t mean all is right with the win, or that it was a disaster of a week with a loss. But the on-life-support playoff hopes need a win to make sure they don’t head to the morgue, and it doesn’t get much more desperate than that. The Cards are working for that. Arians is sure of it. But that’s not really been a complaint all season. Just the results.

— There’s been speculation that the pounding Carson Palmer has taken this season could influence him to retire after the year. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, since he’s talked often about playing as long as he possibly could, and just said last week how much he still enjoys the prep during the week and game days.

But I asked him if indeed, the added hits could play a role in him deciding to retire.

“I don’t know,” Palmer said. “I’ll have to let you know, if I get there. If I get there.”

— I’m glad Fitz acknowledged he always knows where he is when it comes to stats because if he had said he didn’t, those who have been around him would’ve known otherwise. Look, Fitz desperately wants to get a Super Bowl title – the one thing he doesn’t have. But yes, the numbers have always been very important to him. He’s not catching Jerry Rice. He might not even catch Tony Gonzalez. But he’s had an amazing career.

(Yes, you can only imagine what it could have been with a good QB situation from 2010-2012, or a more steady situation in 2014, but we play the Cards we are dealt. He did have a huge 2011 season, though, when John Skelton just started throwing it to him down the field over and over.)

— How much does Josh Norman cover Fitz Sunday? And exactly what will be Patrick Peterson’s duties when he is on the field?

— Arians was asked about the lack of production from the draft class. The coach said they were all picks made for the future, with a deep and veteran roster. He noted that only injuries forced Brandon Williams into the lineup early this season.

“(The class) was more guys we felt we could develop and not need right away,” Arians said. “Hopefully that’s every draft from here on in.”

— Don’t forget there is a toy drive at Sunday’s game. Bring an unwrapped toy or donations to any stadium entrance.

— In case there was uncertainty about bringing Tyvon Branch back from IR, the uncertainty of Tyrann Mathieu as we go along probably should clear that up. Plus – and importantly – Branch plays special teams.

— David Johnson needs one touchdown to reach 14 this season. No Cardinal has done that since Roy Green did it in 1983.

— Washington is feeling good about itself. Their offense, even if Jordan Reed isn’t going to play, has moved the ball. This is not a simple game. Seeing how the Cardinals react to the events of their week – and the spot they are in at 4-6-1 – is intriguing. We haven’t been here in the Arians era. Everything is new.

beforeredskins


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Peterson: Vets get point across in players meeting

Posted by Darren Urban on December 1, 2016 – 2:09 pm

As the Cardinals look to break a two-game losing streak — they have not lost three straight since Bruce Arians became coach — the players called a meeting Wednesday.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson said the veterans who had been around a while — guys like himself and Larry Fitzgerald — just wanted to make sure the message was sent that this was no time to have anyone “tanking it in.”

“Not saying anyone is doing it (now), but we just wanted to make aware to guys we have seen this before,” Peterson said. “We don’t want guys to fall by the wayside, make offseason plans, things like that. We just wanted to call a players meeting, make sure we got that off our chest and make sure that guys who are new to this team understands that. We still have a shot. We still have a shot in this, we just have to take care of business and stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Peterson said he thought the message was well-received although he acknowledged everyone will see Sunday if it had an impact.


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Without Smoke, Cardinals have no fire

Posted by Darren Urban on December 1, 2016 – 12:19 pm

John Brown caught a 19-yard pass on the second play of the game Sunday. But his seemingly big day never developed, Smoke later went to the sideline with hamstring issues, and the Cardinals sit here, with five games left in this season, wondering about the long-term abilities of a wide receiver who has already shown he was an important part of the offense.

To see Bruce Arians basically at a loss when asked about where Brown — dealing with a sickle-cell issue — goes from here has to be a concern. The Cardinals and Brown continue to seek a remedy that will get Brown back to where he should be — this is a genetic issue, after all, so you’d think after two solid NFL seasons and one 1,000-yard effort, there is a way to have this work out.

But as quarterback Carson Palmer said, Brown’s 2016 problems — which include the concussion that knocked him out of the preseason and set him back — have been a “big, big loss.” You can see it when Brown does play. He so easily got open much of the season last year. That separation is absent this year, either down the field or on the deeper crossing routes at which he’s been so good. Many pointed out Brown’s inability to chase down Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes on Rhodes’ 100-yard interception return as a red flag. That’s hard to argue.

The inexplicable season of Michael Floyd has hurt, but I would argue that Brown’s absence has been the most painful. It was Brown’s routes that most impactfully opened up spots for Larry Fitzgerald. Whether or not Brown can find his way back to full Smoke status this season, this coming offseason could be crucial in finding out what this problem could mean long-term.

“It’s been a tough year, away from football,” Palmer said of Brown. “Trying to figure out what his workload is in the week and what his workload is on Sundays, how to stop what happened last Sunday from happening again. He’s in the learning process trying to figure it out. You can just pray for him and be there for him and do whatever you can for him.”

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Kerwynn Williams finds his wildcat

Posted by Darren Urban on November 30, 2016 – 9:50 am

Sometimes, the mother of invention is simply right place, right time. Running back Kerwynn Williams has taken snaps before in his football career. He played quarterback in high school (surprisingly, Williams said) and at Utah State he was used in some wildcat formations. But with the Cardinals, it really hadn’t come up until the week of practice heading into the game against the Vikings.

The Vikings use the wildcat. So the Cardinals were practicing against it with their scout team. Normally, practice squad running back Elijhaa Penny would have served in that role. But Penny wasn’t at practice that day, his child being born. So Williams jumped in, and apparently, coaches liked what they saw.

“I guess the rest is history,” Williams said.

The next week, Williams had a part in the offensive package. Williams was in the wildcat twice in Atlanta. He handed off to David Johnson for a 16-yard gain on the first play. The second time, Williams broke for a nice 11-yard gain, although it was wiped out on an A.Q. Shipley holding penalty. It “adds a different wrinkle to the offense,” Williams said, and there is little question that Williams has proven over his years in Arizona — even though he has been on and off the roster — that he can run the ball. That’s never really been in doubt, and it flashed again against the Falcons.

As for playing wildcat quarterback, there is also the chance to pass the ball too, right?

“I did have a little bit of the laser back in the day,” Williams deadpanned. “It’s still there. I’ve still got the fundamentals.”

Williams smiled. “But that’s what Carson is for,” he added. “He’s a great quarterback, he makes a lot of great passes. I don’t think they need me to throw the ball.”

kerwynnwildcat


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Humphries, Veldheer and left tackle

Posted by Darren Urban on November 29, 2016 – 10:31 am

D.J. Humphries was praised by both Steve Keim and Bruce Arians after his initial foray at left tackle Sunday. Looking at all of Humphries’ 71 snaps against the Falcons, the video seems to bear that out. Without knowing exactly what the play was designed to do or what the protection called for, there were only a few plays in which Humphries looked like he was beat and it caused a problem for Carson Palmer.

The first time, Dwight Freeney used a speed rush around the edge and pressured Palmer, although the ball was completed for a nine-yard pass on third-and-20. There were a couple two drives later, when the Falcons used a stunt from an inside rusher coming around the outside to get pressure, although Palmer still managed an eight-yard completion. Later that drive, Freeney’s spin move worked but Palmer had already thrown the pass.

Humphries did whiff on Freeney on a play right before halftime, but it was the pass to J.J. Nelson to set up the late field goal. There was one more play late in the game in which it looked like there was an offensive line miscommunication, and a blitzer was allowed to come off the edge free.

Generally, though, Humphries did his job. He did not allow a sack.

Arians was asked if Humphries could end up as the long-term left tackle. Certainly he figures to be there the rest of this season. Beyond, when Jared Veldheer comes back? That is an excellent question. It’s not like the idea of Veldheer at right tackle is far-fetched. He is making “left-tackle money,” but as long as Humphries is on his rookie deal, the Cardinals will be paying the same regardless of what side each is on. Humphries is a natural left tackle too.

But Veldheer has played left tackle virtually his whole career, and Humphries did prep all offseason through Veldheer’s trip to IR playing the right side. There are pros and cons to both situations. Arians’ response was that it was a wait-and-see approach. It’ll definitely be something to watch as the offseason workouts unfold.

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