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Cast comes off for David Johnson

Posted by Darren Urban on November 13, 2017 – 1:49 pm

David Johnson’s cast officially came off Monday, and the running back tweeted about it. That part has been expected. Now the wait is on a couple of other factors as to whether Johnson actually could/will return this season. There is no disputing Johnson wants to get back on the field. But he did acknowledge rehab has to still take place — Carson Palmer was talking Saturday about the loss of strength and muscle in that area for himself and Johnson. That’s a major factor, especially for a guy who needs power and strength in his wrist to both hold the ball and pass protect if needed. No way to really know how long that would take.

The other part is where the team fits into the equation. As with Palmer, one of the factors for a Johnson comeback is the very basic notion of, for what? Whenever Johnson comes back, it needs to be for a reason. Will the Cardinals still be in playoff consideration? Even if they are not, is there reason to want to get him back on the field for another reason, like to see how he’d work with Adrian Peterson? Perhaps.

The cast had to come off first though. And it has.


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Stanton hurts knee, Gabbert could play

Posted by Darren Urban on November 11, 2017 – 10:13 am

Multiple reports Saturday morning (first by Chris Mortensen) say Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton sprained his knee against the Seahawks Thursday night. Everyone could see the play — it came at the tail end of the first quarter, when Seahawks defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson hit Stanton low on an incomplete pass. Richardson was flagged for roughing the passer, one of a handful of penalties the Cards had on their initial touchdown drive. Stanton threw a TD pass on a screen to tight end Jermaine Gresham two plays later. In fact, Stanton played the rest of the game, throwing 47 passes, although he was clearly favoring the leg at times.

The Cardinals will reportedly re-sign Matt Barkley as a third-stringer, which makes sense because Barkley spent a season with the Cards in 2015. (UPDATE: Barkley tweeted Saturday night he was back with the Cardinals.)

Meanwhile, Blaine Gabbert could get a start or two depending on Stanton’s health. The Cardinals don’t play again until a week from Sunday in Houston. That would certainly resonate with the part of the fan base who have been begging for Gabbert to play. It doesn’t sound like Stanton has been ruled out for the Texans game. Players are off until Tuesday, so there will likely be a few days before this is officially addressed and even longer, I would think, before Stanton’s status for the next game is sorted out.


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On a brutal night, Seahawks aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 10, 2017 – 12:16 am

It was hard to disagree with Larry Fitzgerald Thursday night when he said it felt like every time he turned around, trainers were running on to the field. I don’t know if football on a short week had anything to do with some of the injuries – when a large man rolls up on your leg during a play, that’s not day-of-the-week-related – but nonetheless, when you are talking about looking forward, that’s where you start.

A loss is a loss and it took a late touchdown to get a six-point deficit, but mostly, the Cards felt they put themselves in a position where they could have beaten the Seahawks. They didn’t, they are in a bad place in terms of chasing a playoff spot with seven games to go, and part of the reason it’s a bad place is because the injuries are headed to insurmountable.

If D.J. Humphries is done with an ACL injury, it’s a killer. A big reason the Cards’ offensive line had so many problems earlier in the year was because their left tackle was hurt. He had truly taken a step forward, and now his 2017 season sounds like it could be over after just five games. As good as Tyvon Branch has been this season, that is a little different, because Budda Baker is there and he’ll get a chance to have some defensive snaps.

Meanwhile, John Wetzel will go back into the lineup. I don’t expect Jared Veldheer to flip sides, but we’ll see. And the Cardinals will have to make it work.

— Adrian Peterson got his carries. He just couldn’t get any yards. But the Cardinals stuck with it.

— It wasn’t a good game for Peterson with the fumble on the first play and the safety. But the Cardinals’ punt return team can’t put the offense on its own 2 against the Seattle defense, with Kerwynn Williams fielding a ball inside his own 5 and then Justin Bethel getting a second holding call.

— Also, for those complaining about the Peterson run on the safety with the loaded box, I’ll respectfully disagree. If Stanton had thrown on first down and there was a holding call in the end zone or he was sacked, the village folk would’ve come after Arians with the torches and pitchforks. I’m OK with a run. Just has to be executed much better.

— I understand Antoine Bethea might’ve played the Baldwin 54-yard catch differently, especially when it was second-and-a-mile. I get that. But don’t talk to me about Russell Wilson being lucky. When he’s done it dozens – he’s probably up to the hundreds at this point – of times, it’s not luck anymore. The guy is both amazing and frustrating. Knowing he’ll be a roadblock to the Cards for years makes him feel like Jordan with the Bulls and the Cards are those Cavaliers from back in the day.

— Drew Stanton made some bad throws. But I felt like his pass catchers let him down more than he had errant throws. (*Waits for everyone to say how Blaine Gabbert needs to start*)

— Fitz was solid. Another 100-yard game, and it might’ve been the quietest 100-yard game of Fitz’s career.

— The Seahawks had 12 penalties, and they were already leading the league with more than 10 a game. Six of them gave the Cardinals first downs.

— Chandler Jones gets another sack, his 10th. Of course, I’m sure he wishes he had gotten his 11th on that second-and-21.

— Defensive lineman Olsen Pierre had an excellent game. And cornerback Tramon Williams continues to show he has something left.

— OK, that’s enough for tonight. The mini-bye awaits, and the Deshaun Watson-less Texans, in Houston, are next. Time to regroup. Again.

 


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Health makes for ordinary Cards inactives

Posted by Darren Urban on November 9, 2017 – 5:00 pm

Bruce Arians said Wednesday everyone on the active roster would be available for tonight’s game against the Seahawks, and because of that, the Cardinals have all their crucial pieces in place. The only questionable player who normally plays was wide receiver Brittan Golden, and he is active for the game.

For the Seahawks, safety Earl Thomas (hamstring), who was listed as doubtful, will not play.

The Cardinals’ full inactive list:

— WR Chad Williams

— RB D.J. Foster

— LB Bryson Albright

— OL Will Holden

— C Max Tuerk

— TE Ricky Seals-Jones

— DL Xavier Williams

 


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Of Fitz and fans, Wednesday before the Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on November 8, 2017 – 4:33 pm

Drew Stanton targets Larry Fitzgerald more than any other receiver when he is quarterbacking.

“Wouldn’t you throw it to Larry?” Stanton asked with a raised eyebrow.

OK, it makes sense. Fitz is kinda good. But Stanton said there are other reasons to look for Fitzgerald, and it can help the Cardinals Thursday night against the Seahawks.

“I’m not dumb,” Stanton said. “I know that we get in this stadium Thursday night, and I throw him a pass and he gets up and goes nuts, that crowd is going to respond. That’s a huge asset for us. The offense goes through him. We feed off of that.”

I can imagine Fitz after a 17-yard pickup in a big moment, jumping off the turf and putting his head back in one of those primal screams as the crowd chants “LAR-RY” over and over. The Cardinals will need some of that. They are 4-4 and a win puts them ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West and Seattle is likely down one of their best defenders in Earl Thomas. But this is a Cards team that’s still banged up itself, missing its quarterback, and yet to shut down an offense as capable as Seattle’s. It feels like emotions will matter. (Not as much as a solid defense, but you get the point.)

— Fitzgerald, by the way, shrugged off Stanton’s suggestion. “We’ve got to get the ball to Adrian,” Fitz said. “Let him feed and we’ll get him opportunities. He’s the linchpin right now.”

Adrian is Adrian Peterson, of course, the man who had 37 carries Sunday and could get a whole heaping helping of more Thursday night. It won’t be simple, of course. The Seahawks a) know it’s coming and b) are much better up front than the 49ers.

— Peterson knows what’s up too. As he said Wednesday, it can be “famine, famine, feast” when it comes to carries. Stick with the run, he was saying. So the defense just needs to keep it close.  As Bruce Arians noted, the formula against the Seahawks is often, run, run, run to make sure that defense can’t make big plays. I don’t know if AD gets 30 carries – he’s only had back-to-back 30-carry games once in his eventual Hall of Fame career – but he’ll be used. A lot.

— Speaking of workloads, a side note: While researching my Peterson story from earlier this week I came across this one, only part of which I knew. Buccaneers running back James Wilder had an incredible 407 carries in 1984, which is one I remembered. What I didn’t know is he had 85 pass receptions that season as well. Mind-boggling.

— The Cardinals battled the Seahawks to a 6-6 tie last season in Arizona and it was a game that belonged to the Cards’ defense. The Seahawks only were able to send it to overtime because of a blocked punt. The defense earned that win against Russell Wilson and company. That’s the kind of performance that side of the ball will need again.

— It came late, but Chandler Jones got another sack Sunday, and with nine in eight games he’s on pace to beat the franchise record. Simeon Rice had 16½ in 1999.

— Fitzgerald is a key, but not just because he can catch the ball. It’s his importance in the run game, and blocking (something Fitz does not get enough credit for, and something that always seems to jump out against the Seahawks.) Fitz calls the Seahawks the toughest matchup of the year because he has to block big strong safety Kam Chancellor so often. He even said he pushes his final bench press of Seattle week to 315 pounds knowing the rugged day he is in for.

“It’s like blocking a refrigerator for 60 minutes,” Fitzgerald said. “Toradol shots and smelling salts, everything else I can muster up to try and deal with this guy.”

— With the returns of David Johnson and Carson Palmer on the back burner at best, Arians did say that the return from IR by running back T.J. Logan has not been ruled out. Logan has been out since dislocating his wrist back in early August in the Hall of Fame game. Arians said Logan, who has already been eligible to return, will finally get on the field next week to see if he can catch punts while wearing a brace.

“To see where he’s at,” Arians said.

— The offensive line finally has some long-term continuity going, and it’s showing up. It goes beyond the tangible 159 yards rushing for Peterson last week.

“They were running some tricky stuff up front and we were passing it off,” center A.Q. Shipley said. “It was cool to watch on film. That helps us moving forward because now Seattle and other teams moving forward they’re like, ‘OK, they can pick things up.’ It’s huge. We all get along very well, communication comes easy in that group. Hopefully we can stay with it.”

— Speaking of the O-line, hope you had a chance to read how D.J. Humphries’ kid kept him in the NFL.

— One of the things that has hurt the Seahawks this season is penalties. Seattle is averaging an astounding 10.2 per game. There is still half a season to go, but only one team in NFL history has averaged 10 penalties a game, the 2011 Oakland Raiders.

— The roof at University of Phoenix Stadium will be open Thursday night. Plan accordingly.

See you there.


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Watching Larry Fitzgerald’s “Football Life”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 8, 2017 – 9:11 am

Larry Fitzgerald’s “A Football Life” episode got its start when the Cardinals did “All or Nothing.” One of the producers who was constantly at the facility in 2015 — Steve Trout — was constantly trying to get Fitzgerald to be a bigger part of the “All or Nothing” series. (If you recall, while Fitz was featured a lot in game action, he did very little off-field talking.)

“I was a bit uncomfortable with it,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s weird talking about yourself in a team setting. If I was Michael Phelps, Tiger Woods, playing an individual sport, predicated on my success to go out and win, that would be different. This a team game.”

Trout stayed with it, however, and the “Football Life” project blossomed. Here’s a look at the trailer.

“Twenty years from now, when you look back, it’ll be nice to have,” Fitzgerald said. “My children are in there and I have some people I really respect were part of it. I got to watch it a couple weeks ago and it was really, really well done.”

The episode will premier this Friday night (Nov. 10) on NFL Network at 7 p.m. Arizona time. (I expect the video to be available for us to post on azcardinals.com sometime this weekend as well.)


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Monkey of a pick gone, Dansby seeks gold jacket

Posted by Darren Urban on November 7, 2017 – 9:28 am

How much did Karlos Dansby want that 20th interception in his career, the one that was going to put him in the exclusive 20-40 (sack) club? I mean, he did mention he was one interception away from being a legend when he re-signed with the Cardinals again back in March. It finally came Sunday, eight games in, when the weird pass from 49ers QB C.J. Beathard ricocheted off the helmet of tackle Trent Brown and floated into the arms of the 36-year-old linebacker.

“When I saw it hit off the guy’s helmet I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s it, that’s the one,’ ” Dansby said. “It was  along time coming, I finally got it, and I got the monkey off my back. ready to move forward now.”

The other five players in NFL history in the club: Seth Joyner, Ray Lewis, Wilber Marshall and Brian Urlacher.

How much of a big deal is it for Dansby? He said he was framing everything: the ball, his jersey, his gloves, his shoes. Dansby still has never been to a Pro Bowl in his productive career, but he makes no bones about the fact he is still hoping the Hall of Fame is within his reach.

“I had this goal a long time ago, when I first got in the league, to get a gold jacket,” Dansby said. “I’m one step closer. I don’t know what else I’ve got to do. I’ve got to try and top the guys in this group, so I’ve got to press it.”

Dansby gave credit to everyone he’s been around in the NFL, making sure to mention all his teammates, coaches, training staff and “guys on the scout team” with all four organizations he’s played for. He is, of course, on his third tour of duty with the Cardinals.

“We got it done,” he said. “We finally got it done.”

It no longer has to dominate his thoughts. He was given a game ball in the locker room after the game, and during his speech, he also thanked his teammates. He also said, in only a way Dansby can, “God blessed me with great talent, a great gift.”

“He patted himself on the back a couple of times,” safety Antoine Bethea said with a smile. “But hey, he deserved it.”


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Keim: Kicking problems “cannot happen again”

Posted by Darren Urban on November 6, 2017 – 8:19 am

It turned out not to matter, but it could have, so after Phil Dawson’s missed field goal Sunday — his sixth in eight games — General Manager Steve Keim said the issues with the whole unit have to be fixed. Quickly.

“The hard part is, the preseason and everything we saw out of Phil moving forward, felt like he was going to be a huge addition to this team and bring consistency to that spot,” Keim said Monday on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. “For whatever reason, things aren’t clicking right now. We just have to go back to the basics and really dig in and see what’s going wrong and make sure we fix it, because it cannot happen again.”

Coach Bruce Arians blamed a bad snap from long snapper Justin Drescher, and Keim acknowledged the snap was low. Keim also said holder Andy Lee did manage to salvage it. Keim also said he was disappointed in the field-goal unit not only from the kicking standpoint but also in the blocking and the technical aspects.

“(Phil) has got to be held accountable,” Keim said. “In my opinion, when you’re getting paid, you’ve got to make those kicks. I don’t think that’s any secret.”

It does not sound like the Cardinals would consider looking at any kickers at least this week. A short week and a game Thursday plays into that, Keim said.

— There was praise for quarterback Drew Stanton in the win, but Keim also underscored the reality that the Cardinals benefit from the run game — in this case, Adrian Peterson’s career-high/franchise-record 37 carries for 159 yards.

“There’s no doubt we knew we had to run the ball effectively and I don’t think that’s a secret going forward the rest of the season,” Keim said.

— The offensive line did pretty well, particularly left guard Alex Boone and left tackle D.J. Humphries, Keim said. That’s what happens when the team stays committed to the run and balanced offensively. “Give those guys a chance,” Keim said, before acknowledging that it’ll be a tougher task Thursday against the Seahawks.

— Peterson had a second great game in three appearances for the Cardinals “The guy continues to impress me at his age,” Keim said. “Thirty-seven carries is unheard of. As (offensive coordinator) Harold Goodwin said, the more you feed him, the better he gets.”

— Keim did want to see better consistency from the defense, and is still concerned about the red-zone offense and converting touchdowns.

— Keim agreed with the idea Humphries is developing into a potential cornerstone left tackle, reiterating again that Humphries has matured a lot to match mentally his excellent physical talent. “He’s ultra-competitive and he likes to play the game,” Keim said.

— The short week is hard, but there is excitement over playing at home on national TV, he said, and the Cardinals will benefit from the mini-bye after the game.

— There was congratulations for veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby in joining the exclusive 40-sack/20-interception club. But Keim, who has know Dansby his whole career and has a great relationship with him, couldn’t let the moment pass. Keim noted Dansby was given a chance to make a speech post-game in the locker room. “He may be one of the worst speech-givers I’ve ever heard,” Keim deadpanned.


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A Stanton win and Niners aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 5, 2017 – 7:42 pm

It was hard to imagine Sunday happening with Bruce Arians as playcaller. Not so much that the Cardinals ran it so many times compared to passing it, but that they did it with only one running back. The Cards are, after all, on a short week, facing the physical Seahawks Thursday night.

But Adrian Peterson got the rock Sunday. A lot. The most he’s had in his career, a crazy notion given the fact he is both 32 and needed Thursday against those Seahawks. The Cardinals needed a win. As offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said last week, feeding Peterson is like throwing wood into the old stove, getting it hotter as the night goes on. Peterson really is a marvel, and he was crucial Sunday.

Now comes the Seahawks, who lost themselves at home. The Cards would pull even in the standings by beating Seattle. This is the formula, like the Cards had been saying (and interestingly, even with Palmer, is often the formula against the Seahawks anyway.) Run a lot, lean on the defense. Ask Drew Stanton to do some things but not a lot of things.

— Even with all the running, one guy who wasn’t about to declare the Cardinals now a running team was Larry Fitzgerald, who quietly had a solid game (five catches, 70 yards, a couple of key first downs).

“To say we have a whole new identity, I don’t know about that,” Fitzgerald said.

— The 37 Peterson carries set a franchise record. I hate to do this, but he broke the record of — wait for it – Edgerrin James, who had 36 in the Monday Night Meltdown game against the Bears. Edge was slightly less productive, gaining just 55 yards that game.

On the all-time lists, Fitzgerald surpassed Tim Brown for sixth place in NFL history for receiving yards. Peterson, who went past the 12,000-rushing yard mark, passed Thurman Thomas and Franco Harris and is now 14th all-time.

— Budda Baker was great in punt coverage, making an impact especially in the first half.

— It was a chippy day across the NFL – google Mike Evans and A.J. Green – so it kind of fit into things when it got heated late in the Cards’ game. Safety Antoine Bethea hit 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard as Beathard slid and the 49ers deemed it late. They had something to say. When it was over, Haason Reddick and Frostee Rucker were ejected, as was 49ers running back Carlos Hyde. We’ll see what the punishments and/or fines might be later this week. The sliding thing has been in the forefront ever since last week’s Kiko Alonso hit on Joe Flacco.

— Congrats to Karlos Dansby for getting his 20th career interception, as he became the fifth player in NFL history with 20 picks and at least 40 sacks. Dansby also had a sack in the game, so it will be a memorable one for him. So will the fact the ball bounced off the helmet of an offensive lineman, but they can’t all be gorgeous.

Dansby said Adrian Wilson had been giving him grief the other day in the team cafeteria about getting the pick. “Stop floating in the zone,” Dansby said Wilson told him. “It’ll come right to you.”

— It came late, but Chandler Jones got sack No. 9 in his eighth game, one of five sacks in the game. It was necessary to pressure Beathard all game given his beat-up offensive line, and for the most part, the Cards did.

— It was a nice day for the offensive line. Peterson ran for 159, and Pro Football Focus said the line allowed just two hurries, and Stanton wasn’t sacked.

— Finally, a few words about Stanton. He was solid Sunday. I understand there will still be those calling for Blaine Gabbert. I don’t expect that to change. But I don’t expect Stanton to go anywhere anytime soon. He took the blame for his interception in the end zone, although Arians interestingly took the blame for the same play. Stanton made a nice play to scramble around and find Jaron Brown on the first TD. He made a nice run on a planned play on third-and-1 to get a big first down.

He did enough to get a win. Yes, the Seahawks’ defense is another animal altogether, but Stanton did his job. The Cardinals are back at practice tomorrow. It’s just a walkthrough, but the week has already started. Not much time to enjoy a win.


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Ellington, Dansby, Golden OK to play

Posted by Darren Urban on November 5, 2017 – 12:36 pm

The Cardinals will have running back Andre Ellington back in the lineup today after he missed a game with a quad injury, as well as linebacker Karlos Dansby (finger/hamstring) and wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin). The latter helps make sure the receiving corps won’t be thin — and also helps on special teams. The full inactive list:

— WR Chad Williams (back)

— RB D.J. Foster

— LB Scooby Wright

— C Daniel Munyer (toe)

— T Will Holden

— TE Ricky Seals-Jones

— DT Xavier Williams


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