Michael Bidwill confirmed today the Cardinals will hold their public training camp practices at University of Phoenix Stadium. Beyond that, the Cardinals are still working on the details.
“Everything in regard to the stadium is set,” Bidwill said. “Everything else in regard to Glendale is not set.”
Bidwill said he is hopeful it will come together. He reiterated camp is closer to the largest part of the fan base in the Valley, and noted 20 of the 32 NFL teams practice at their facility and/or stadium. The plan is that the Cards will have places on the concourse for fan activities, Bidwill said. There is a Real Madrid- L.A. Galaxy soccer game in the stadium in Aug. 1, but Bidwill said the Cards have the ability to practice at ASU’s facility that day. The Cards also think they have a good plan to work with the turf in the stadium, which obviously would take a pounding with daily practices.
As far as moving the entire football operations out to Glendale, Bidwill said that wouldn’t necessarily happen. “Those are some of the things we haven’t decided on,” he said.
“We tried to make the best decision for the team,” Bidwill said. “The facilities NAU had moved us into the last couple of years were completely substandard for a professional football team and we were paying big rent up there. They just didn’t want to cooperate with us anymore. … I was not going to let this team be at a competitive disadvantage.
“I think it will make us a better team and give fans better access.”
There is no timetable on having camp at the stadium either.
“We don’t want to necessarily look at this as a short-term situation, but we’ll see how it goes,” Bidwill said.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, training camp, University of Phoenix stadium
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Cardinals QB coach Freddie Kitchens has been released from the Arizona Heart Hospital following his emergency surgery to repair his aorta last week. He has returned home, although he will have limitations on his activities and visitors. Kitchens is expected to return as QB coach, likely limited in the beginning, at some point during training camp. It’s great news for Kitchens, who, had things not been covered so well by the Cards’ training staff last week, might not even be alive right now. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who was coincidentally out here the day after Kitchens’ surgery reporting for a future story, wrote today that 80 percent of such cases like Kitchens results in death. That we are talking about his return to coaching is a great thing.
Kitchens released a statement through the team:
“There are so many people that I’ll be indebted to for the rest of my life and ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem near enough. First to the Cardinals medical staff, (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and his crew, (team physician) Dr. (Wayne) Kuhl. They recognized immediately that something was wrong, even when I wouldn’t admit it. They knew enough to send me right away to Chandler Regional (Medical Center) where the ER staff and attending physician jumped right in and knew how critical the situation was. They airlifted me to Arizona Heart Hospital and made the arrangements for Dr. (Andrew) Goldstein and the surgery team there to operate on me through the night.
“Looking back, I have no doubt – none whatsoever – that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the those people. I’ve played or coached football my whole life so I can definitely appreciate teamwork and a smooth, efficient operation but the work those doctors, nurses and medical personnel do is just incredible. Again, I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m overwhelmed by the prayers and kindness everyone has sent my way; from the Cardinals, throughout the NFL, in Arizona, Alabama and everywhere else. I realize how truly fortunate I am and the blessing I have been given.”
Tags: Freddie Kitchens, Peter King
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It’s still way early. Bruce Arians won’t even commit to starting positions — which isn’t a surprise — and training camp will sort through players much better than any of this summer stuff. Players can’t even hit right now, and so this isn’t really football, as the coaches will be quick to point out. But this team will be much different than the past few years, when rookies had a climb akin to Mount Everest to jump into the fray from the outset. Arians wants to use young players and this team wants to, philosophically, grow from a younger base.
That said, what exactly can be expected from this draft class sitting here in June (and with minicamp starting tomorrow, with the long anticipated Fan Fest Tuesday night)? We know, barring a shocking development, first-round pick Jonathan Cooper is going to be the starter at left guard. The only other player that seems to be a lock for significant playing time at this juncture is third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu, and part of that has to do with his skill set and the existing roster situation at safety. Mathieu is getting his reps, and last week spent more time on the main field with the veterans (whereas he had been starting out on the second field with the inexperienced players — and yes, I’m trying really hard not to call it the JV field.)
The only other draft pick who has been working mostly on the main field has been second-round linebacker Kevin Minter. Minter is an interesting guy to keep an eye on. Second-round picks are supposed to step in right away and do something. But the Cards, who signed Jasper Brinkley and Karlos Dansby and still have Daryl Washington, all of a sudden have a ton of options at inside linebacker (and that doesn’t even include veteran Reggie Walker, who has found himself on the second field this summer looking very much out of place.) Inside linebacker will be one of those places where the spotlight will shine in camp, because they all can’t play.
The rest of the draft class is working on the second field and have a steeper hill to climb. That said, I can totally see a scenario where outside linebacker Alex Okafor, guard Earl Watford and running back Stepfan Taylor find their way into the mix. Arians made it clear he wanted his depth to be such that the Cards didn’t have to rely on a rookie, and that gives those three some room to breath (and since Taylor has basically been absent so far because of school, he has some ground to make up.) It’s easy to see Watford’s time being a year away. Okafor could step in, but with Matt Shaughnessy pretty clearly playing OLB and not DE, along with Sam Acho, O’Brien Schofield and Lorenzo Alexander at OLB, Okafor has to get through some guys on the depth chart.
The last three draft picks have a harder row to hoe. Wide receiver Ryan Swope needs to get back on the field first. Running back Andre Ellington has a lot of competition. Tight end D.C. Jefferson could make inroads given the lineup at his position, but he remains fairly raw. The biggest thing in all their favor? Arians seems willing to live with growing live with inexperience, which wasn’t there before.
– Apropos of nothing, the Jets hired former Cardinals GM Rod Graves as their senior director of football administration under their GM John Idzik. The move was long anticipated. Graves and Idzik have known each other from their youth when they both worked as Eagles ballboys as their fathers worked for Philly. Idzik worked under Graves with the Cardinals in the Denny Green era as the Cards’ cap guy.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Andre Ellington, D.C. Jefferson, Daryl Washington, Earl Watford, Jasper Brinkley, Jets, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, O'Brien Schofield, Reggie Walker, Rod Graves, rookies, Ryan Swope, Sam Acho, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals finally had another entry into the NFL Network’s Top 100 players list. Last time we checked in on the list, linebacker Daryl Washington was entered at No. 94. Now Patrick Peterson has made the list at No. 33 (as you can see in the video below). Knowing Patrick, he’d rather be in the top 20. Or top 10. He’s certainly headed in that direction (He looked good in OTAs before missing the last couple of weeks because of a family matter — I expect him at mandatory minicamp next week.) These lists are arbitrary, of course, and while it is compiled from voting by NFL players, every summer there are more stories about players saying they’ve never voted for such a list than guys who have acknowledged they have.
The question now is this: With 30 spots remaining to be unveiled, do the Cardinals have anyone else? I’d think Peterson would rank higher than Calais Campbell, so while I think Campbell probably is among the top 100 players in the league right now, it doesn’t look like it will be reflected on this list. That’s unfortunate. Then that takes us to Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz was No. 14 in 2011 and No. 7 last summer. Of course, in 2012, Fitz struggled with his numbers — 71 catches, 798 yards, four touchdowns. Those aren’t stats that carry you into the top 30 players in the league. Then again, those aren’t stats that carry you into the Pro Bowl, yet that’s where Fitz ended up in January.
If I had to bet right now, I think Fitz will be on this list. He’s that well respected. We will see. I do know this — I expect Fitz to have a much better year this season than last.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson
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Bruce Arians was planning on seeing recuperating QBs coach Freddie Kitchens in the hospital Thursday afternoon, as the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013 OTAs earlier in the day. Kitchens, of course, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday night to fix his aorta. Arians said he received a text from Kitchens’ wife Ginger that Freddie “took a lap down to X-ray and walked back and was breathing fine” Thursday morning. Doctors took the tube out of Kitchens last night, and while it was a rough night, Kitchens was doing much better today.
“Something just didn’t seem right,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, echoing the thoughts of fellow QB Drew Stanton. “Freddie is about a tough of a guy as you are going to meet. We had the trainers come and look at him. Freddie is lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.
“We’ve just been praying and thanking God that he’s doing better … The first thing I thought of was his wife Ginger. She had to fly across the continent and I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
– As for the team in the meantime, assistant head coach Tom Moore (talking to the quarterbacks, below, Wednesday) is taking Kitchens’ spot for now. Moore has been a integral part of the quarterbacks’ learning curve up until this point anyway. “He’ll keep the seat warm until Freddie gets back,” Arians said.
– OTAs are over. The Cardinals have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week (with Fan Fest at the outset on Tuesday) before the vets scatter for the summer. The rookies will stick around a little longer.
– Arians said next week’s goal is just to “continue” and “watching the little mistakes disappear.” The offense is “97, 98 percent done.” The defense “might add a blitz or two.” Arians joked that the Cards worked on taking a safety during today’s workout and “usually that’s the end of training camp.”
– Arians was asked if he had any concerns about the struggles of Levi Brown in the past. Once again, Arians backed up his left tackle.
“I don’t really care (of Brown’s past),” Arians said. “I don’t care about anybody. You start with a new slate. It’s what you do now.”
Arians reiterated he sees Brown as “elite” when he is playing well. And there is little question Arians doesn’t use the term lightly when you consider how important he sees the position.
“If you have to protect your left tackle all the time you’re really game planning with one hand behind your back,” Arians said. “You can find guys who can run and catch, you can find guys who can play in the middle. But left tackle and quarterback, God makes them.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Fan Fest, Freddie Kitchens, Levi Brown, Tom Moore
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Levi Brown was talking about getting back on the field and what he might be able to learn about himself in shorts in the heat of summer. No pads helps, he said, because he can ease his injured arm back into work. But there are other challenges.
“Our defense is giving us tons of blitzes right now,” Brown said, shaking his head. “Things I don’t think I’ve seen.”
There has been so much talk about the Ray-Horton-To-Todd-Bowles transition and what that could mean for the defense. While the arrival of Bruce Arians — and new quarterback Carson Palmer — has shifted focus to what the offense will be able to do, the defense remains a unit burgeoning with potential and proven players. In a division where the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams all have created believers on that side of the ball, the Cardinals have done the same, like with ESPN analyst/former scout Matt Williamson:
— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) June 5, 2013
(Williams is bullish on a lot of things the Cards have done, actually. This is an ESPN Insider link, but in a nutshell, Williamson gave them an A. “I love what Arizona has done this offseason.”)
Even with the Daryl Washington suspension and whatever else might be hanging over the linebackers head, you have enthusiasm over what could be from the defensive ends, a linebacker corps that (with Washington) will be stronger overall with the additions of Karlos Dansby, Jasper Brinkley and Kevin Minter, and a cornerbacks group that is better than last season and that’s even before any anticipated improvement of Patrick Peterson. Finding out what defensive end-turned-linebacker Matt Shaughnessy and Lorenzo Alexander can produce will be crucial, but they should help incumbents Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield at outside linebacker. Are there some unknowns at safety? Sure, but if Tyrann Mathieu can make some plays back there behind vets Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell, I think the Cards can survive — especially in an NFL world where safety play has become more about coverage than big hitting.
The Cardinals need to make strides on offense. That’s obvious. But their base in 2013 will need to come from the defensive production.
Tags: Daryl Washington, defense, Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Todd Bowles, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell
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Quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens had to leave Tuesday’s OTA when he wasn’t feeling well. Turned out he had a defect in his aorta that needed surgery. Kitchens is doing well this morning. Here is the team’s official statement:
“During Tuesday’s practice Freddie Kitchens began to feel ill – dizzy, light-headed – and was sent to the training room. After being evaluated by the team’s medical staff it was determined that he should be taken to the hospital for more evaluation and testing. During that process, a CT scan revealed a defect to his aorta that required surgery, which he had Tuesday night at the Arizona Heart Institute. According to the doctors who performed the surgery, it went very well and the early prognosis is positive. The Kitchens family is grateful to everyone who has and continues to extend their support, well wishes and prayers.”
UPDATE: Head Coach Bruce Arians credited the quarterbacks for making sure Kitchens was looked at by head athletic trainer Tom Reed. Quarterback Drew Stanton said the group was just having their normal warm-up conversations before Tuesday’s workout.
“Anyone who knows Freddie’s personality, he’s jovial and easy-going,” Stanton said. “He was joking around asking if a heart attack is on the left or right side, going for the chuckle, and then said ‘Actually, it’s kind of in the middle here.’ I told him, ‘Freddie, that sounds kind of serious,’ and Carson (Palmer) said ‘Yeah Freddie, you don’t look so good, you’re kind of flush.’ He tried to say he was OK, but we called Tom over and he was monitoring him.
“Luckily and thank God it worked out and he was taken care of in time. It puts things in perspective real quick. You count your blessings, things that we might just take for granted.”
The team held a pre-practice prayer for Kitchens Wednesday.
Kitchens has been on staff since 2007 and was the tight ends coach before moving to coach quarterbacks when Bruce Arians arrived. The one-time quarterback at Alabama was coached by Arians for a season with the Crimson Tide. While Kitchens recovers, the Cardinals have assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore who can work with the quarterbacks.
Tags: Drew Stanton, Freddie Kitchens, Tom Moore
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At some point, as I watched Earl Watford and Alex Okafor sign their first contracts Tuesday, it was tough not to picture them — at some point — getting their chance to play. That would have been true anyway, and even moreso under a regime that clearly values the idea of playing young players.
That also is underscored by the decision by Bruce Arians to hold virtually two separate practices this summer. It makes a ton of sense given that Arians walked in preaching that his staff would be teaching and then hiring a ton of coaches to do just that (Arians talked about smaller class sizes, something every school teacher wishes for every day.) Undrafted rookie safety Tony Jefferson also said that to me the other day, that Arians gives everyone a chance to show what they can do — which is a great thing for the young guys.
Arians noted Monday that in the last period of Monday’s OTA, the final period was done on one field with everyone together. That meant about two reps for the young players who are usually on the second field.
“This last period, all they did was stand and watch,” Arians said. “That’s how it is most places.”
There’s a lot more to see on the tape each day when Arians and the staff who spend their time with the first two units on the main field break down field two. Players doing well can catch the eye. But what if a player struggles? Certainly, the staff is going to see that a lot sooner than they would have most years. You wonder if it could cost a guy a chance at getting to training camp.
“On the other field, you get 30 to 40 (reps),” Arians said. “They are weeding themselves out quickly. It’s easy for us as coaches to evaluate, to see if there are things worth salvaging.”
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, Earl Watford, OTAs, Tony Jefferson
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With the Cardinals returning to the field today, a few quick notes after coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media:
– He was asked about the health of rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope, who was not out there practicing. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald had said in a Sirius NFL radio interview that Swope had been out because of concussion-related issues. Arians did not get specific. “There’s nothing really to report,” Arians said. “We don’t have injury reports this time of year.” Asked if he was concerned about Swope, Arians said “He’ll be fine.”
– Arians was happy with the work after the team had a week off. “I expected it to be sloppier,” Arians said.
– Cornerback Patrick Peterson has missed the last nine days because of family issues, Arians said. Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Antoine Cason were also working on the side. Tight end Jeff King was limited as he rehabs his knee.
– Tackle Levi Brown was taking part in the work for the first time as he returns from his triceps injury. Arians said he was limited but he looked good in his reps.
– Rookie guard Jonathan Cooper is working with the first unit, which isn’t a surprise. As for his progress, “he’s getting so many reps he can’t help but but improve,” Arians said.
– Special teams coach Amos Jones was absent because his father passed away.
– Rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu made an interception that Arians was willing to call a Pick-6. (Since no one can tackle, you never really know.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Antoine Cason, Jeff King, Jerraud Powers, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Swope, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals are out to start their final week of organized team activities today. Unlike the previous two weeks of OTAs, this week features four workouts — today through Thursday — instead of three, bringing the team to their maximum 10 OTAs total. After the weekend, the Cards will then wrap up their 2013 offseason work — with the veterans at least — with their mandatory three-day minicamp next week beginning Tuesday.
(Tuesday’s second workout will be the night practice at University of Phoenix Stadium for Fan Fest. Details are coming — I expect the full info page on the event to be posted on azcardinals.com on Wednesday.)
The rookies will remain around after the veterans leave to get in a little more work on their own. That’s always valuable time, as that group can catch their breath a little bit. But with the simultaneous practices going on for OTAs, this rookie group is ostensibly the most prepared at this point than any Cards’ group before them.
This will clearly be the warmest week of OTAs yet. The bubble construction continues, but that was never going to be available this offseason. That will change next offseason.
I’ll have more this afternoon after the workout is over.
Tags: minicamp, OTAs
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