Multiple reports point out that the Cardinals brought in veteran inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton for a visit. Sharpton, 6-feet and 230 pounds, played with the Bears last season in five games, and in five NFL seasons (drafted by the Texans) he’s only played double-digit games twice. But if he were to sign he’d give the Cardinals another body as they try to fortify a position that needs a boost.
The Cards just signed four inside linebackers in their undrafted rookie class. And they are still awaiting word on the status of the suspended Daryl Washington, whose status even if he is reinstated by the NFL remains very much up in the air. If Washington indeed applied for reinstatement when he said he would, you’d expect to hear by the end of the month or so whether the NFL has cleared him — at least in this circumstance. As always, there has to be the reminder Washington faces further punishment from the league because of his assault conviction.
Tags: Darryl Sharpton, Daryl Washington
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The veterans have been back to work. Now it’s time to fold into the rookies. That started Thursday, as all the draft picks, undrafted signees and tryout players showed up to the team’s Tempe complex to get pictures taken, physicals done and equipment distributed. There is a dinner for the rookies Thursday night, and rookie minicamp begins Friday.
There were also a trio of press conferences for the top three picks who hadn’t yet had a press conference: Outside linebacker Markus Golden (second round), running back David Johnson (third round, pictured below) and defensive end Rodney Gunter (fourth round). All will be chronicled on azcardinals.com in the next few days, starting with Golden in a bit. In the meantime, a couple of quick takeaways from each.
— Golden just became a father. He was in Colorado the day he was drafted waiting for his son to be born — Markus Golden, Jr. — and said he had family all around him for both baby and football reasons. He admitted he had been watching the draft at first and then got anxious, wanting to just have his draft status be determined quickly. “As soon as I went to the back to let some steam off, I got the phone call,” Golden said.
— Gunter admitted he was just as surprised as anyone he ended up as a fourth-round pick, coming from Delaware State. “I didn’t know (anything),” Gunter said. “They gave me a call, fourth round before they called my name, and were like, ‘Rodney, hey, watch the TV.’ I hit my knees, man. I hit my knees and started praying. It was so unreal. I pass out for, like, three minutes.”
— Johnson worked in the summers while in college, and while he did dorm maintenance the last couple of years,the first was working for an asbestos-removal firm. “We didn’t do the real potent stuff, we did the one-to-three-percent asbestos, which was a glue that they used for tiles at old schools,” Johnson said. “We’d go and we had to wear suits with a mask, and it’s about 100 degrees out. we had to go scrape tiles off and remove all the glue.
“It’s definitely not a fun job. It was hot, I was sweating. It was hard for me to keep my weight on.”
Tags: David Johnson, draft, Markus Golden, Rodney Gunter, rookies
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The NFL Network’s annual top 100 players list began to be revealed tonight, and the first 10 players included a Cardinal: Defensive end Calais Campbell.
It’s the first time Campbell has made the list (last year, Daryl Washington was named, as was Larry Fitzgerald and finally, Patrick Peterson.) There is little question the last year or two Campbell had a serious argument that he should have been in when he wasn’t. As for this year, Campbell clearly has mixed feelings.
“It’s a cool list to be on but I don’t feel they really get enough people to vote on it so I don’t know how accutrate it is,” Campbell said. “But it is cool interacting with the fans and putting it on NFL Network and everyone likes to watch it. I just wish they did a better job getting more votes. Still it’s cool to be on the list and even if you are not it’s cool to watch it and see the other guys and see what people think of other players.”
It’s hard to argue the point about accuracy — as good as Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is, can he really be considered better than Campbell? (Campbell was 99th on the list, Vinatieri is 98th.)
Tags: Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL Network, Patrick Peterson
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Special teams work is usually all-encompassing. This time of year, there are few on the roster who aren’t taking part in the early stages of coverage work because you never know when you might be needed as part of the 53-man roster. There are exceptions, of course. Most of the defensive linemen aren’t involved, or offensive linemen. The quarterbacks. And, given their stature and status, wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd aren’t in there either.
So while the bulk of the team was specializing for the first part of today’s Phase 2 work, Carson Palmer was down on one end of a field with Fitz and Floyd, discussing in-tight red zone routes and then practicing them — how Palmer wanted the receivers to run the routes, discussing the timing and what the defensive back might do, and those sorts of things.
It was a little thing. But it’s one of those things where, when you see it, you understand why it was so important for Palmer to get back on the field this time of year after his knee injury. These are the little things that add up.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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The surprising decision of tight end John Carlson to retire Tuesday — after taking part in Monday’s Phase 2 on-field workout — has left the position in an interesting situation. Yes, the Cards drafted a tight end (Gerald Christian, the last pick in the draft) but you have to think the Cards might have seriously considered taking a tight end earlier had they known Carlson was about to leave the game.
(It should be noted this draft class was considered relatively weak at tight end.)
The Cardinals have high hopes for Troy Niklas, 2014’s second-round pick, and they like Darren Fells too as he makes his transition from former professional basketball player overseas. But is that enough? Is Christian enough? Can they find something they like in deep roster fodder like Ifeanyi Momah — signed after the NFL veterans combine — or Ted Bolser? You figure they’d have to consider a veteran, someone like Zach Miller or Jermaine Gresham, although the injuries for guys like that are the reason they’re still out there in the first place. Fells is a smart guy, someone I could see being a leader at some point now that Carlson is gone. But he knows where he has come from, that he had to work just to stick on the practice squad two years ago. He might not have made the roster last year if Jake Ballard hadn’t retired. Now, he’s the vet. He’s been around the longest, he’s played the most NFL games. Stunning.
Tight end has never been a crucial part of the receiving offense for the Cards, so if Niklas and Fells can provide the blocking needed, that’s what Bruce Arians seeks. Fells actually showed some hands the few times the ball was thrown his way. Still, after talking to Niklas and Fells today, it’s Carlson’s leadership that will be missed the most.
Tags: Darren Fells, Ifeanyi Momah, John Carlson, Ted Bolser, Troy Niklas
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Patrick Peterson is one of four finalists for the cover of Madden ’16, and the window for voting is a small one. It’s also not a straight vote; it includes signing on to Madden NFL Mobile (all the details can be found here.) Peterson joins Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown as the four candidates.
The Cardinals have had one Madden cover boy previously — Larry Fitzgerald shared the honor with Steelers safety Troy Polamalu on Madden ’10.
Tags: Antonio Brown, Madden, Odell Beckham, Patrick Peterson, Rob Gronkowski
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The caveats: In Phase 2 of the offseason program, there is no defense and there are no helmets. The work is only one hour. Offensive and defensive players are working on separate fields. But in terms of good signs, Carson Palmer taking snaps as the first-unit quarterback — after tearing his ACL in November — has to be considered as one. Palmer was out there and, aside from the knee brace, didn’t look any different than last offseason as he threw passes. (We’ll have more in a homepage story later today.) This doesn’t mean Palmer is ready to play in a game, or even that he’ll be able to do a lot during OTAs or minicamp. We’ll see on all that. But it definitely underscores the optimism Palmer has for training camp.
A couple of other notes from this still-voluntary phase:
— The rookies are not here yet. They arrive Thursday afternoon with rookie minicamp starting Friday.
— The first-unit offensive line looks as expected right now: From left tackle to right tackle, it was Jared Veldheer, Mike Iupati, Ted Larsen, Jonathan Cooper, Bobby Massie.
— Not only is Kareem Martin getting work at outside linebacker, but it looks like Matt Shaughnessy working as a 3-4 defensive end after playing linebacker in 3-4 alignments previously.
— First-unit safeties on this first day were Deone Bucannon and Rashad Johnson.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Carson Palmer, Deone Bucannon, Jared Veldheer, Jonathan Cooper, Kareem Martin, Matt Shaughnessy, Mike Iupati, Rashad Johnson, Ted Larsen
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The NFL draft, in reality, was the shortest time-wise as it has ever been. It didn’t seem that way when we were sitting around waiting after the second of the Cardinals’ two fifth-round picks all the way until the Cards’ next pick, which was the last of the whole thing. Now that it’s over, and there is little question Steve Keim had a plan that wasn’t chalk. But I’ll say this as I do after every draft — I have no idea how this will turn out. No one does.
The pick with which I’m most intrigued? Markus Golden. The Cards weren’t the only ones who talked about how he kept showing up on video when watching Missouri play. Is that enough to break through on the NFL level? And will he be the first second-rounder since Daryl Washington to make an immediate impact? But there are plenty of intriguing guys here. I thought it was telling when Keim said today that the tough part is projecting guys who can make the team in the Cards’ current state.
How these guys fit it this season, well, that’s what the offseason and training camp is all about.
A few more wrap-up thoughts:
— There were plenty scratching their heads after the Cards picked Delaware State DE Rodney Gunter in the fourth round, and that was more vigorous when adding in the trade up to do so. But Keim and Bruce Arians both said they had reliable intel that multiple teams were on the Gunter in the fourth round. When that happens, and when it’s a guy you want and you have draft pick ammo to do so, you trade up. Keim knows it was a surprise to most. He plans on it being a pleasant surprise.
— The personality of first-round pick D.J. Humphries is real. He drew laughs when he called himself an “awesome person” during his conference call, but during his press conference, he simply wins the room with his smile and demeanor. Easy guy to root for, especially when you read the story about him and his father, who was 15 when D.J. was born.
“My dad always told me when I was a kid, if you be yourself then people are going to love you,” Humphries said.
— Humphries has never been to an NFL game, interestingly.
— Gunter is cousins with the Cardinals’ seventh-round selection, TE D.C. Jefferson. Jefferson had a quick and bumpy tenure with the team, getting a tattoo during the preseason of a birdhead on his torso even though his place on the team was no sure thing. He made it, but was released a few weeks later after a DUI. Gunter said he and Jefferson are “very close but we lost contact for over a year because he has some personal issues going on. I wish him the best.”
— Fifth-round wide receiver J.J. Nelson is one of the last players to be drafted from the University of Alabama-Birmingham now that UAB has shuttered its football program. The school provided an in for Nelson during his visit to the Cardinals; the son of coach Bruce Arians, Jake Arians, played football at UAB.
“When I came to visit, I ran into Coach Arians,” Nelson said. “He said, ‘J.J., I already know you. You’re a Blazer. We love UAB.’ … I just felt like everything fell in my hands in the right direction.”
— It wasn’t all draft at the Tempe facility Saturday. Yes, it was the weekend, but there was quarterback Carson Palmer, working out in his quest to come back from a torn ACL. Significant nose to the grindstone.
— Time for football. The Cardinals are on the field Monday for the first time as Phase 2 of the offseason work begins. Rookie minicamp starts Friday.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, D.C. Jefferson, D.J. Humphries, draft, J.J. Nelson, Markus Golden, Rodney Gunter, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals closed out the 2015 NFL draft with the pick of “Mr. Irrelevant,” choosing Louisville TE Gerald Christian. At 6-3 and 244, Christian is a little undersized as a true tight end but he could fit that H-back role that Bruce Arians likes to use at times. He had 32 catches for 384 yards and five touchdowns last season, and also has his degree. The Cards, with top tight ends John Carlson, Troy Niklas and Darren Fells, have an opening available on the roster.
And so the Cards go through the draft without taking an inside linebacker or cornerback.
Tags: Gerald Christian
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The Cardinals had two fifth-round picks — back-to-back — and went with a couple of needs. The first was West Virginia defensive end Shaq Riddick, who at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds will be an outside linebacker with the Cards. The second went to super-fast wide receiver J.J. Nelson of Alabama-Birmingham, who ran a blazing 4.28 40 at the Scouting combine but at 5-10 and 156 pounds is going to have to weigh a little more to make an impact at receiver.
Riddick had seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss last season, his lone year at West Virginia after transferring from Gardner-Webb. He
needs to put on weight but could be an effective project for down the line. UPDATE: Riddick said he’s up to 260, which still leaves him in good shape at 6-6.
Nelson averaged 38.3 yards a kick return last season with four touchdowns and averaged 10.7 yards per punt return. He’ll be the early candidate to be the return man in both areas, I’d think. He was Conference USA’s special teams player of the year.
Tags: draft, J.J. Nelson, Shaq Riddick
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