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Cards add RB Grice, cut Butler

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2014 – 9:37 am

The Cardinals have added a local favorite, signing running back Marion Grice from Arizona State off the Chargers’ practice squad on a two-year contract. To make room, they released punter Drew Butler, in the assumption Dave Zastudil will be able to get healthy over the bye week and finally be rid of his groin issues. Grice looked good against the Cardinals in the preseason finale running for the Chargers (17 carries for 79 yards), and given San Diego’s running back injuries — Danny Woodhead was lost for the season this Sunday in the latest blow — it was thought Grice would be promoted. Instead, Grice comes back to Arizona, where he scored 20 touchdowns in just 11 games for the Sun Devils last season.

Grice was a sixth-round pick of San Diego.

The move gives the Cardinals five running backs on the roster: Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes and Jalen Parmele join the 6-0, 207-pound Grice.

Marion Grice


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“Apprehensive” Mathieu not there yet

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2014 – 3:27 pm

Tyrann Mathieu was in on a season-high 15 plays Sunday against the 49ers, yet the safety still recorded six tackles, including one for loss. It wasn’t a bad performance, but it wasn’t a Honey Badger performance either.

“He was way too apprehensive and afraid he was going to cost us,” coach Bruce Arians said. “You could tell the look in his eye. We had a little talk right before the kickoff of the second half about letting it go and don’t be out there thinking you’re going to cost us. We wouldn’t put you out there if we think you’re going to cost us.”

This is all natural for a guy coming off major knee surgery to repair an ACL and LCL. Mathieu couldn’t argue with Arians’ assessment. On third downs (and one fourth down), Mathieu said, he was playing “a little lackadaisical” in his technique.

“Things I wouldn’t normally do,” Mathieu said. “Like I said, I’m still a few weeks away from being the guy I want to be. That confidence will come with more time, more playing time.”

A “few” weeks is nebulous. Moments later, Mathieu said he thought he could be playing like he wants as soon as the Cardinals’ next game, when they travel to Denver a week from Sunday’s bye date. In the two practices this week, it is the backups who will get the majority of the work, and right now, Mathieu remains a backup to Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson.

“Hopefully I’ll be who I want to be when we really want me to be,” Mathieu said, smiling at his own tongue-twister.

“I think it’s all mental,” Mathieu said. “My knee is fine. It’s that mental hurdle. But I am encouraged. I think I did decent (Sunday). It wasn’t my best game, but I did fine.”

Mathieu said he was happy Arians gave him the pep talk Sunday — admitting there might have been a curse word or two mixed in — and tried to take it to heart.

But, “you telling me that and me actually doing it is two different things,” Mathieu said. “Hopefully he keeps encouraging me.”

TyrannAnquanBLOG

 


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Cromartie OK as Cards head into bye

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2014 – 1:08 pm

With the bye weekend coming up, the big news after Sunday was the knee injury of cornerback Antonio Cromartie. But Cromartie is OK, suffering only a bone bruise and making him day-to-day this week. Coach Bruce Arians said Cromartie should be fine next week as the Cardinals prepare for a trip to Denver. The other notable injury from Sunday was a foot sprain for safety Deone Bucannon, but Arians expressed confidence Bucannon too will be OK for next week.

Arians is also hopeful quarterback Carson Palmer will start throwing soon, possibly this week.

“Biggest thing is to get us fresh, get the minor injuries resolved so we can go full-speed (a week from today),” Arians siad.

– Arians wants to use the bye to get some backup players some work, QB Logan Thomas in particular. But he also included offensive linemen Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford. That said, Arians emphasized Cooper would not have a chance to get back into the starting lineup this week. Arians would like to practice in pads if he could for the two days of practice Tuesday and Wednesday, but with banged-up players, “it’s not possible.”

– On having only nine guys on the field yet still blocking the San Francisco field goal, Arians said “we’ll try it with 11 guys next time.”

“We had the right guys in the right spots, we just didn’t have anyone outside of it,” Arians added, saying the outside linebackers mistakenly came off the field.

– Arians said both personal foul calls after hits on QB Drew Stanton were “really, really good calls.” He said the Patrick Willis roughing the passer was right because it was showed “on the tape sent out by the referees, you can’t lead with the crown of your helmet on the quarterback so that was a very good call.”

As for the hit by linebacker Dan Skuta on the sliding Stanton, “the first one I thought was a cheap shot,” Arians said. “There’s no doubt he was sliding. It could have ended his career, that hit. But he is extremely tough. Some players won’t wear a mouthpiece and it should be mandatory. That probably saved his concussion.”

FrosteeHappyblog

 

 


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Keim: Happy, but still searching for an edge rusher

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2014 – 8:12 am

General Manager Steve Keim is happy the Cardinals knocked off the 49ers, but he is a GM and it is only three games into the season, so he said Monday on his weekly appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports that he is continuing to try and upgrade the outside linebacker position and a guy who can pressure the passer from the edge,

“We will look at trade options but why would teams want to trade guys who can rush the passer?” Keim asked rhetorically.

The answer is they would not, not when every team in the league is looking for the same thing. It’s not like basketball where you might have a glut of point guards and dealing one doesn’t matter. You can’t have too many pass rushers, and let’s face it, those that can make a difference are few and far between anyway.

That said, being 3-0 is a good thing for Keim. Some of his other thoughts:

– He noticed that all 23 points yesterday were scored by a pair of rookies (kicker Chandler Catanzaro, now 9-for-9 on field goals, and wide receiver John Brown.)

– On Brown, “he is everything as advertised, that’s for sure,” Keim said. The speed shows up again and again.

– Keim praised left tackle Jared Veldheer as being exceptional and then said the offensive line as a whole was very good. They only allowed pressure on blitzes and held up fine against four- and five-man rushes. As an aside, I’ve had people ask if Jonathan Cooper moves back to starting left guard now that there is a bye week to make a transition. Ted Larsen did have a couple of penalties Sunday, but no, I don’t see a change coming. You are 3-0 and the line played well. Why change?

– Right tackle Bobby Massie was “excellent,” Keim said.

– Keim said the whole reason the Cardinals signed Drew Stanton was to potentially be the starting QB (he arrived weeks before Carson Palmer did) so the Cards have a level of expectation for him to play well in this role. Half-jokingly, Keim was asked about a potential QB controversy. Keim answered seriously. “It’s great to have two that can play,” he said. “I don’t think about those things. I just want to get these guys healthy on the bye week.”


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Niners aftermath, after a headbutt

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2014 – 7:37 pm

Tony Jefferson had himself a game Sunday. The safety lead the Cardinals with 10 tackles, he had the huge second-down sack of Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers’ last true chance to score and, of course, he absorbed the headbutt that changed the game.

Former Cardinal Anquan Boldin, who has been known to let his emotions get away from him on the field, got angry at Jefferson after catching a pass for a first down on the Cardinals’ 6-yard line with the Cards nursing a 20-14 lead. Boldin headbutted Jefferson, and the 15 yards eventually derailed the drive into a field goal attempt that was blocked by Cardinals’ defensive end Tommy Kelly. The 49ers never did score again.

“People give him (Boldin) so much respect out on the field, and I respect him as a player, but anybody who is going to jaw at me, I’m going to jaw back,” Jefferson said. “I’m all about the action. I’ll jaw. But I won’t retaliate like he did.”

But the play was more than that for the Cardinals. Boldin ranted after the game Jefferson had been delivering cheap blows and he was simply fed up. After the game, however, the Cardinals were talking about finally standing up to bully in the 49ers that had knocked them around in recent years.

“I think they are kind of used to us backing down once the game gets started,” Jefferson said. “But we were in their face. We were going after it. We let them know, this is a different team.”

It seems like a different team. It’s definitely an undefeated team, and one that has earned that distinction.

It was a big deal winning Sunday, not the least of which was with Drew Stanton behind center. Bruce Arians kept saying Stanton could get the job done, but he (rightfully) said Stanton had to show everyone else. He has. Stanton managed the game in New York. He won the game against the 49ers. B.A. clearly didn’t pull back the reins.

Stanton had a great press conference. He was happy, as he should be, and knows how to be funny. Someone asked him why he clicks with Arians. Stanton said he wasn’t sure. “To be honest with you, in Indianapolis, I didn’t even know if he liked me,” Stanton said.

I don’t think Drew needs to worry about that anymore.

- -That said, please don’t ask about a quarterback controversy. There isn’t one. When Palmer is ready, he’ll be back in there.

– As good as John “Smokey” Brown –and that’s what the Cards call him, Smoke or Smokey – was on his TD catches, the pass interference he drew on the game-clinching field goal drive was just as big a play. Without that, the Cardinals are punting with more than three minutes left.

“Once I got past five yards, (I knew) if he got hands on me, it was an automatic pass interference,” Brown said. “Drew made a great throw and (cornerback Chris Cook) did what I wanted him to do.”

– Brown said the gameplan all week was to feature him, thinking the 49ers would focus on Fitz and Floyd. Brown was asked, was that because the 49ers don’t really know who you are? Brown smiled. “No one knows me.”

– Stanton became the first Cardinals’ QB to not throw an interception and not be sacked since 2010. So once again, Stanton has a link back to 2010.

– You can’t go sackless, especially with as many deep throws as the Cardinals tried, without very good pass protection. Yes, the Niners are without guys like Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman, but this upgraded line is doing very well (including that parting of the Red Sea to spring Andre Ellington for that last 20-yard gain.)

– The Palmer/Stanton quarterbacked-Cards have yet to throw an interception this season.

– Amazing. On Tommy Kelly’s blocked field goal for the Cards, the Cardinals only had nine men on the field.

– It was with a lot less in-game attention as the Cardinals rallied, but Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get his first catch Sunday until the fourth quarter again. Then it looked like he’d be the key factor in the game-clinching drive – and then he fumbled the ball at the San Francisco 5. It was shades of last year’s lost fumble in San Francisco that short-circuited a possible go-ahead drive. This time, the Cardinals weathered the turnover. I’m not sure Fitz talked to anyone after – I know I didn’t get a chance to see him – but I’m sure he breathed a sigh of relief the turnover turned out not to matter.

– Michael Floyd, two long (39 and 45 yards) catches among his 5-for-114 day. That’s two 100-yard games in three weeks.

– Is there a better defensive coordinator in the league at making halftime adjustments than Todd Bowles?

– I’m not sure how the defense went from being unsure how to handle Colin Kaepernick to shutting him down. This defense just keeps making it work. Losing Antonio Cromartie with a knee injury could have been a blow, but Bowles was already going to use Justin Bethel in this game. That’s foresight. I thought Patrick Peterson played pretty well too. The Cards started getting to Kaepernick with pressure, but the coverage was a big part of that.

So the Cards head into the bye. A short week of practice, needed time off and a 3-0 record. Can’t complain.

TJeffBlog


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Palmer inactive; Rucker to play

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2014 – 11:28 am

Carson Palmer will not be the backup quarterback today. Not surprisingly, he is inactive for a second straight game. Defensive end Frostee Rucker, coming back from a calf injury, is active so that will help on the defensive line. Actually, there are no surprises on the inactive list today really, taking away some of the 90-minute-before-drama that has been there the last first two games. Tight end Rob Housler (hip) will sit today, so Darren Fells gets into his first NFL game. DT Alameda Ta’amu is sitting but since the Cards are trying to hard to generate a pass rush, I’d guess an extra body is favored there over another run stuffer.

The full inactive list:

– Palmer (shoulder)

– P Dave Zastudil (groin)

–LB Victor Butler

– LB Glenn Carson

– LB Alex Okafor (thigh)

– Ta’amu

– Housler (hip)

TE Vernon Davis (ankle) is inactive for the 49ers, as is starting tackle Anthony Davis (hamstring) and No. 2 tight end Vance McDonald (knee). Given the Cards’ issues with tight ends, avoiding both is a big deal.


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Friday before the Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on September 19, 2014 – 4:19 pm

What a week.

What a month, really, or six weeks, whatever the timeframe upon which you want to make the prism to look through. The Cardinals have encountered turbulence for sure, and it just doesn’t seem like that seat belt light is ever gonna go off so they can walk about the cabin. That bye week after this 49ers game looks so inviting, and maybe the football gods do know what’s what when that schedule comes out.

Bruce Arians thought back Friday to his 2010 season with the Steelers, when QB Ben Roethlisberger was suspended to start the season and Byron Leftwich broke his leg in preseason and third-stringer Dennis Dixon got hurt and Charlie Batch still got Pittsburgh off to a 3-1 start. The Steelers made the Super Bowl that year (although they lost to Green Bay.) The Cardinals can take that to heart.

The bumps aren’t over yet, either. “It’s only Week 3,” Arians said. “Something’s coming.”

Goodness, after Washington and Minter and Cooper and Dockett and Abraham and Palmer and Dwyer and now Abraham again, let’s hope not.

There just happens to be a pretty important football game Sunday.

– Drew Stanton gets the start (and no, I don’t think Carson Palmer will be healthy enough to be his backup.) It’s a big deal for Stanton. The Giants are, well, the Giants. The 49ers are a different beast, which Arians’ tone hinted toward Friday when he was asked if Stanton should be better this week. Stanton can’t turn the ball over, like he was able to do in New York.

– The fact tight end Vernon Davis, if he plays, will be gimpy at best is huge news for the Cardinals. Davis has done very well against this team. It’s a plus in the Cards’ corner if he’s not 100 percent.

– It’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals cover the 49ers, and how much Patrick Peterson is on Michael Crabtree. Crabtree has had the upper hand thus far in the matchup, but I just have a gut feeling Peterson is going to have a good game.

– Peterson was not fined for his contact with an official in New York. Giants linebacker Jameel McClain was fined $8,268 for his hit on Stanton after the whistle had been blown for a Cardinals’ delay of game penalty.

– Many have complained about punter Drew Butler on his two blocked punts, even though Arians has reiterated they were on blockers Deone Bucannon and Robert Hughes. Now that Butler is back again with Dave Zastudil hurting, Arians said today Butler has a “real quick two-step release.” Again, noted it was the protection failures that went into the punt blocks.

– Logan Thomas did his best Colin Kaepernick impression this week for the scout team. “He’s not Kap, but he’s close with athletic ability and arm strength,” Arians said. The Cards hope so. Containing Kaepernick will go a long way in determining if the Cards can win.

– With Andre Ellington set to see cousin Bruce Ellington – a Niners receiver – Sunday, here’s a link to Kyle Odegard’s story on the two, from around the combine.

– Newcomer Jalen Parmele “probably” will slide into Jonathan Dwyer’s role as the short-yardage and goal-line back, Arians said. Stepfan Taylor isn’t that guy. Parmele is bigger than Taylor, but with Ellington’s talent, you have to wonder how much more Taylor will ever do here, or if he just will stay in the packages that they use him in now.

– Ellington is probable. The foot has definitely gotten better. And they will need him to play well. You figure the passing game will likely have a ceiling with the backup QB in the game.

– The Cardinals have been spectacular in a pair of rallies, outscoring opponents 27-0 in the fourth quarter. The 49ers have gotten out to fast starts and fizzled down the stretch, and last week’s second half cost them a win. The Cards need to start a little faster, or at least slow San Francisco. Last year’s game at University of Phoenix Stadium was a game in which the Cards had to rally, before losing late.

– Here’s hoping the Cardinals’ fans show up in force and, as Arians has said, kept their tickets. The Cards will need that home-field advantage Sunday and it’d be a shame if too many tickets were in the hands of Niner fans.

– If you are going to the stadium, don’t forget the Cardinals will be wearing black.

On to the game.

PPCrabblogUSE


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Stanton to start against 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on September 19, 2014 – 1:01 pm

Bruce Arians made it simple Friday, announcing that Drew Stanton will start at quarterback for the Cardinals Sunday. Carson Palmer still is not throwing passes, and even if he for some reason were ready to play Sunday at this point, he would be active as the backup quarterback with Logan Thomas inactive. Regardless, Stanton will start.

“We’ll put that to bed right now,” Arians said.

It’s not a surprise. Palmer’s right shoulder is getting better, Arians said, but if he can’t even throw — never mind if he has any power behind it — he can’t do the job. Arians said Stanton should be better than last week, but also acknowledged the 49ers have one of the best defenses. This isn’t an ideal situation for the Cardinals, but it is where they are at the moment.

– Arians said doctors told John Abraham after he failed another concussion test Thursday that he needed to sit out at least a year, which led to the IR move. It certainly looks like Abraham’s career is over, and that’s probably a good thing.

– Newcomer Jalen Parmele, not Stepfan Taylor, will take over Jonathan Dwyer’s short-yardage/goal-line back responsibilities.

– Dave Zastudil (groin) is indeed out, so Drew Butler will be punter Sunday. LB Alex Okafor (thigh) won’t play again either.

– Defensive end Frostee Rucker (calf) did do some things in practice and Arians said he could play Sunday. Rucker will be a game-day decision.

Stantonstartbloguse


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Dwyer moved to reserve list, re-sign Parmele

Posted by Darren Urban on September 18, 2014 – 11:36 am

The Cardinals have moved running back Jonathan Dwyer, arrested Wednesday in a domestic violence case, to the reserve/non-football illness list, and brought back running back Jalen Parmele to the active roster to get the team back to four backs going into the San Francisco game. The reserve list Dwyer is on means the Cardinals have the option not to pay him but the Cardinals will still do so.

In addition, the Cardinals have cut running back Chris Rainey from the practice squad and signed former Colts running back Kerwynn Williams to fill that spot.

Parmele (pictured below) looked OK in the preseason and received praise from coach Bruce Arians, and he is a bigger back that plays in the mold of Dwyer. What will be interesting now is whether Stepfan Taylor can take up Dwyer’s role on the field or if the Cards decide to try and use Parmele in some short-yardage situations.

ParmBlog

 


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Jonathan Dwyer deactivated after arrest

Posted by Darren Urban on September 17, 2014 – 4:58 pm

Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of aggravated assault for incidents that took place in July and the Cardinals have deactivated him from all team activities.

The full statement from the team:

“We became aware of these allegations this afternoon when notified by Phoenix police and are cooperating fully.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities.

“We will continue to closely monitor this as it develops and evaluate additional information as it becomes available.”

Given the climate in the NFL right now, the arrest — stemming from an incident with Dwyer, a woman and an 18-month child — didn’t take long to make national news. Dwyer was in the locker room prior to practice, so the arrest happened after that. According to azcentral.com, police took an incident report last week and have been gathering information. Police said Dwyer was accused of aggravated assault “over a fracture” as well as an allegation of assault involving a minor and preventing the use of a phone during an emergency in two separate incidents on back to back days this summer.

Dwyerarrestblog


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