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Blogs

Adrian Wilson ROH ceremony comes against Niners

Posted by Darren Urban on July 20, 2015 – 11:15 am

It’s been known for a long time that Adrian Wilson would be going into the team’s Ring of Honor — not just from when he retired earlier this offseason, but from the day the team released him in 2013 — but now we know exactly when. Wilson’s ceremony will come at halftime of this season’s home game against the 49ers on Sept. 27.

Unlike the two previous ROH inductees in Kurt Warner and Aeneas Williams, Wilson is already constantly around the team. No official job has been announced, but Wilson was at every day of the summer OTAs and minicamp helping out with the secondary and learning from General Manager Steve Keim.

Wilson will be the 15th member of the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor. The other 14: Warner, Williams, owner Charles W. Bidwill, Sr., coach Jimmy Conzelman, tackle Dan Dierdorf,  halfback John “Paddy” Driscoll, halfback/defensive back Marshall Goldberg, cornerback Dick “Night Train” Lane, halfback Ollie Matson, halfback Ernie Nevers, safety Pat Tillman, halfback Charley Trippi, cornerback Roger Wehrli, and safety Larry Wilson.

WilsonDateROH


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Gresham visit could change Cards’ TE situation

Posted by Darren Urban on July 19, 2015 – 8:06 am

It wouldn’t be an offseason for the Cardinals and General Manager Steve Keim without a veteran free agent signing or two by the time the team got to training camp. Given the retirement of John Carlson earlier this offseason, making a tight end one of those signings wouldn’t be a surprise. So it’s also not a surprise when Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning former Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham would be visiting the Cardinals this week.

Gresham, a former first-round pick who spent his first five seasons with the Bengals (and once a teammate of Carson Palmer), has started 67 NFL games (of 73 total) and has 280 receptions. He’s a pass catcher on a team that could use a proven one at tight end now that Carlson is gone. He had to have back surgery earlier in the offseason for a herniated disc, which is why he hasn’t signed anywhere yet. He also has been criticized for his inconsistency over the years in Cincinnati.

Gresham has already visited the Saints, who traded away Jimmy Graham, and there is interest there. Gresham also could visit other teams. The Cards have Darren Fells and Troy Niklas as blocker-first-types. Veteran combine signee Ifeanyi Momah — who has been working with Palmer in Palmer’s San Diego workouts — has looked good as a receiver in non-padded OTAs and minicamp. The Cards also have seventh-round pick Gerald Christian, Ted Bolser and Gannon Sinclair at tight end.

Jermaine Gresham, Mike Mitchell, Lawrence Timmons


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Posted in Blog | 31 Comments »

Mathieu video shows danger of a hot car

Posted by Darren Urban on July 17, 2015 – 12:20 pm

Tyrann Mathieu loves his dog, King. He isn’t shy about that. So it’s probably not a surprise Mathieu was willing to do a video in conjunction with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car. Anyone who has live in Arizona knows how crazy hot their car is in the summer when you first get into it after it has been sitting in the sun. Anybody with half a brain knows that leaving anything live — whether it’s a dog or a child — in that situation is simply stupid, not to mention criminal. Yet it happens, as we all know.

So Mathieu did this awareness video. It’s frightening, really, as go-pros mounted in the car show a increasingly sweaty Mathieu — wearing a t-shirt and jeans — try to keep cool as best he can and clearly not being able to help himself much. He lasts eight minutes before opening the door, wearing a look on his face as if he is about to pass out.



Obviously a dog — or a young child — won’t be able to get out of the car like that. It’s good for the Cardinals their key safety made it out himself.

Speaking of Mathieu and King, they will be part of the video series coming soon called “A Bird’s best friend,” chronicling Cardinals and their dogs.

MathieuDog


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Washington and the rules of reinstatement

Posted by Darren Urban on July 16, 2015 – 1:53 pm

No, there is nothing new — with training camp a tad more than two weeks away — when it comes to the status of suspended linebacker Daryl Washington. That nothingness was confirmed when Mike Jurecki was told by league spokesman Greg Aiello there was no change in Washington’s status. That is simply the only news — if that qualifies — as Washington’s suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy stretches toward 14 months. The original term was for at least a year, and he was suspended in late May of 2014.

Jurecki also reported that Washington had indeed applied for reinstatement (and later reported that came on May 8.)  Obviously, he hasn’t been reinstated. Not sure if that means no decision has been made, or if it was denied. Aiello’s public comment does not clear that up. As for the NFL’s official policy on reinstatement, here are the words verbatim from the policy:

(e) Reinstatement Criteria: After the completion of the one-year banishment period, the Commissioner, in his sole discretion, will determine if and when the Player will be allowed to return to the NFL. A Player’s failure to adhere to his Treatment Plan during his banishment will be a significant consideration in the Commissioner’s decision. A Player seeking reinstatement also must meet certain clinical requirements as determined by the Medical Director and other requirements as set forth in Appendix B.

And there is this as well:

Set forth below are the procedures to be used when an application is received by the Commissioner.

1. Within 45 days of receipt of the application, the Player will be interviewed by the Medical Director and the Medical Advisor, after which a recommendation will be made to the Commissioner with regard to the Player’s request for reinstatement.

2. The Player will execute appropriate medical release forms that will enable the Commissioner’s staff and NFLPA Executive Director’s staff to review the Player’s substance abuse history, including but not limited to attendance at counseling sessions (individual, group and family); attendance at 12-step and other self-help group meetings; periodic progress reports; and all diagnostic findings and treatment recommendations.

3. The Player will submit to urine testing by an NFL representative at a frequency determined by the Medical Advisor.

4. The Player will agree in a meeting with the Commissioner or his representative(s) to comply with the conditions imposed by the Commissioner for his reinstatement to the status of an active Player.

5. All individuals involved in the process will take steps to enable the Commissioner to render a decision within 60 days of the receipt of the application.

While it says steps will be taken to “enable” the Commissioner to render a decision within 60 days, nowhere does it say a decision must be made in 60 days. In the meantime, no news means no news.

DWashAgainuse

 


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Peterson does celebrity golf tourney again

Posted by Darren Urban on July 15, 2015 – 8:08 am

The American Century Celebrity golf tournament has been a place where the Cardinals have been well-represented over the past few years. Ken Whisenhunt was a regular there when he was head coach, and quarterback Carson Palmer has also played there (not this week though, not with ACL rehab and his time in San Diego this week working out with John Brown, Drew Stanton, Troy Niklas and Ifeanyi Momah.) Patrick Peterson has also played before, and this year, he’s officially landed in Lake Tahoe.

Clearly, Peterson has been working on his game:

Peterson was a minus-28 last year — which sounds like a good score, except that the tournament is scored with the modified Stableford system, meaning you get points for good holes. Former NFL QB Mark Rypien won the tourney last year at Plus-76.

PPgolfblog


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No INTs targeting Fitz shows growth

Posted by Darren Urban on July 13, 2015 – 9:49 am

The tweet — once again from the data divers at profootballfocus.com — made it simple: In the 100 targets they counted for Larry Fitzgerald in 2014, the Cardinals did not throw one interception. Not from Carson Palmer, or Drew Stanton, or Ryan Lindley or Logan Thomas. That, PFF said, meant Fitz was the safest receiver to throw to in the NFL last season.

(Yes, I know Lindley’s backbreaking playoff red-zone interception in Carolina was supposed to go to Fitz, but all stats usually are regular season only unless noted.)

In itself, an interesting stat. But it got me thinking. In 2013, the Cardinals definitely threw an interception or two throwing to Fitzgerald — or Palmer did, since he took every 2013 snap. It was a big deal at the time, with Bruce Arians trying to teach a) his offense to a new QB and new wide receivers and b) a new position to Fitzgerald. More than once it was mentioned that Palmer was trying too hard to force the ball to Fitzgerald, something Palmer acknowledged he learned from once 2014 came around.

So I asked PFF what the Fitzgerald INT number was for 2013. It turns out Palmer had a whopping seven interceptions when targeting Fitzgerald in 2013. Now, there is no breakdown with that. It’s impossible to know who might have been at fault, whether the defender made a great play or if the pass rush caused a problem. But it does show the evolution of Arians’ offense and how much more comfortable Palmer and Fitz were within it. We have touched on the subject of the improvement of Palmer working with Fitz before. The numbers seem to back it up.

FitzINTsuse


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Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »

Wilson helps coach the coaches

Posted by Darren Urban on July 9, 2015 – 10:49 am

High school coaches play a huge role in the lives of football players — and former Cardinal Adrian Wilson is going to be the keynote speaker in a first-time summit at University of Phoenix Stadium working to teach those coaches how to best guide those kids.

The event, which will be held Friday, was put together by the Arizona Foundation for Women and the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. The pilot program, called “Coaching UP,” puts in place a framework to teach healthy relationships, how to confront peer pressures, the detrimental impacts of underage drinking and substance abuse, and the trauma of head injuries sustained on the field. Coaches, athletic directors, principals and counselors from various high schools around the state will participate.

Wilson, who had his own tough times growing up before eventually making it to the NFL, makes sense as someone who can speak on the subject of making the right decisions. Not only did Wilson have a Ring-of-Honor-type career with the Cardinals, he has also become a successful businessman outside of football.

“Whenever I get the chance to speak with high school coaches, I always stress to them the importance of being a positive role model in their student-athlete’s lives, both on and off the field, as well as the importance of education,” Wilson said in a statement. “What their players will learn in the classroom can take them a lot further in life than playing sports.”

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Ex-Cards Mendenhall, Rhodes work Hollywood

Posted by Darren Urban on July 6, 2015 – 8:22 am

The Cardinals remain off (as do I) while waiting for the start of training camp at the end of the month, so now is as good a time as any to note a pair of ex-Cards who have transitioned from the NFL to a place both seemed headed for when they were still playing. Both running back Rashard Mendenhall and safety Kerry Rhodes have turned their creative sides into work in TV and film.

Mendenhall, who retired after playing one season in Arizona in 2013, arrived with a reputation of being a thinker. He had a blog on the Huffington Post, he made no secret of his love of reading, books and poetry (including writing it), and he was the kind of person whose early retirement wasn’t a big surprise. Football wasn’t going to be his defining role in life. Although it’s funny that his current work in the TV industry is for the new HBO series “Ballers,” which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and chronicles NFL life, warts and all. Mendenhall would know, and he’s the kind of guy who feels strongly about acknowledging both the good and bad about playing in the league.

Rhodes too always seemed headed down this path. Heck, when he arrived in Arizona as part of the cluster of moves in 2010 when the Cards had to cut safety Antrel Rolle and traded Anquan Boldin, Rhodes came in with the nickname “Hollywood.” It had been given to him by Jets’ teammates, and it wasn’t necessarily meant as a compliment. Rhodes played pretty well during some down seasons — coming off a 2011 injury to be one of the bright spots of a bad 2012 — but when the Cards decided to get younger at safety after that season with a new coaching staff, both he and Adrian Wilson were let go. Rhodes never did play again, moving into the entertainment business and now set to release a documentary called “Gone in an Instant,” which goes over the pro life of former NBA star Antoine Walker and his decent into bankruptcy after a career in which he made $110 million. I’m sure there will be more. This is a guy who knows Channing Tatum of “Magic Mike” and “21 Jump Street” fame well enough that Tatum actually visited a Cardinals’ training camp practice in Flagstaff in 2012 (and appearing on Rhodes’ version of the Big Red Rage.)

TatumCoachforupdate

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Peterson makes top 20 in NFL 100

Posted by Darren Urban on July 1, 2015 – 6:11 pm

There has been — and probably will continue to be — much debate about Patrick Peterson and where he stands among NFL cornerbacks after his 2014 season. As has been well-documented, he learned he had diabetes and he had much more of an up-and-down season than anyone would have liked. Bruce Arians talked about how Peterson’s weight is in a better place, and Peterson looked sharp during offseason work.

“I didn’t like the way I played last year so I wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Peterson said at the end of minicamp. “I feel like 2011 Patrick. I feel rejuvenated.”

Even with uneven play in 2014, he was still voted to the Pro Bowl, in part because of the respect he has from his peers. Along those lines, Peterson again was voted — through a player tally — into the NFL Network’s Top 1oo players list this year. Peterson was unveiled as the No. 19 player Wednesday night, which was actually a jump of three places from his spot at 22 last season. It puts him ahead of both Seattle safety Earl Thomas (who was No. 21) and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden (No. 23), which I’m sure in both cases will lead to debate. Darrelle Revis was No. 17. As for Richard Sherman, he was voted at No. 11.

Peterson is the third Cardinal on this year’s list. Calais Campbell was No. 99, while Larry Fitzgerald was 68th.


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The future of the Cardinals’ blitz

Posted by Darren Urban on July 1, 2015 – 11:58 am

Anyone who has watched much of the Cardinals the past two seasons knows the defense liked to blitz. So this recent tweet carries with it little surprise in the context of the NFL:

It was the hallmark of then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Bring the heat, let it all sort itself out in the end. It’s why the Cardinals went for Antonio Cromartie last offseason — they wanted those press man-to-man corners to be able to survive on an island. It’s a byproduct too of not having that dynamic edge pass rusher to cause problems with a “normal” four-man rush. Now you can argue in this day and age that even bringing five rushers isn’t exactly a blitz, but there were plenty of times the Cards brought at least six guys too.

What happens now? The feeling is that the defense, even under James Bettcher, won’t change a lot. That would include the blitzing. I mean, the Cardinals still don’t have that 14-sack guy coming from the outside (although maybe Alex Okafor can raise his production from his somewhat surprising eight-sack total last season.) The pressure will still have to be manufactured through scheme, it would seem. How Bettcher calls a game won’t be known for real until the Cards open against the Saints Sept. 13 (and what a passing offense to open against.)

Certainly, I’d think Bowles will take his blitzing to New York. But it’s hard to imagine that aggressiveness — which has served the Cardinals well — is going away under Bettcher.


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Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »
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