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QB-less, it’s Friday before the Redskins

Posted by Darren Urban on October 10, 2014 – 4:21 pm

One year with Carson Palmer taking every snap, and it’s easy to forget what it can be like with quarterback uncertainty. Then a week like this happens and the memories all come crashing back. No one is saying this is like 2012 all over again, when Ken Whisenhunt, scrambling for a quarterback, kept mixing and matching. In fact, even that team never really had a situation like Bruce Arians is facing now, when injuries have precluded him from naming a starter here on Friday.

Realistically, both Carson Palmer and his funky shoulder and Drew Stanton, coming off a concussion, have injuries that could “go away” and then rear up again on Sunday morning. As of Friday afternoon, both guys are taking tests to see where they are in their recovery. It’s looked good up until this point, but it makes sense caution is the buzzword in this instance.

I will not be surprised if any of the three is behind center for the Cardinals’ first snap Sunday. There is still an eternity until 1:25 p.m. Sunday.

UPDATE: Multiple reports Friday night said Stanton passed his concussion test. That does not necessarily mean Stanton would start.

– If Logan Thomas does have to play? Larry Fitzgerald has one word: “Patience.”

“Got to be patient,” Fitz said. “Just try to make plays for them. Nothing more soothing for a young person than when you make a play and kind of be a security blanket.”

– Speaking of Fitz, he said he’s not thinking of his slow start. Of course he’s going to say that out loud. Of course I think he’s thinking about it. He’s a guy who wants to get to the Hall of Fame. A season playing out like this is not helping that cause.

– With everything going on around the quarterbacks and the injuries and the like, there’s been no room to mention the return of wide receiver Andre Roberts to University of Phoenix Stadium. Roberts signed with the Redskins as a free agent after four seasons in Arizona. “If something happens to Pierre (Garcon) or DeSean (Jackson), we feel just as good as him outside as our first or second guy,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “Really like him. Good kid, too.”

Roberts thought he was going to Washington to be the No. 2 behind Garcon. Then Jackson was acquired, and Roberts was stuck as the No. 3 guy again, exactly the situation he was trying to escape in Arizona.

– Last week’s offensive stats, thanks to needing to play the raw Thomas, were probably an outlier. But the Cardinals went just 3-for-16 on third downs last week. It was awful. That cannot happen. This defense needs time to rest on the sideline.

– Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin wasn’t thrilled with the run game last week. It’ll be more important if Thomas has to start, but even if Palmer or Stanton plays, the Cards need more on the ground.

“I don’t care who is playing quarterback,” Goodwin said. “We didn’t do a very good job last week. You’d get a positive run and then all of sudden you’d get minus-two on the next play.

“It’s going to take some of the pressure off (Logan) if he plays. Have to get positive yards on first and second downs. We had 12 runs of two (yards) or less. Not close to being good enough.”

– The Cardinals haven’t run enough, Arians said. Asked about getting more carries for Stepfan Taylor or even working Marion Grice, Arians said the Cards need to be more effective on the ground in the first place and then see where Andre Ellington is physically. Because at this point, Ellington is the man, Arians said. Ellington had 16 of the Cardinals’ 19 rushing attempts in Denver.

“(Andre) felt very, very fresh out there,” Arians said. “And if he’s fresh, he’s staying in.”

– Stanton and Redskins starting QB Kirk Cousins have a good relationship. Cousins was an incoming freshman at Michigan State at the same time Stanton was just leaving as QB. “Went out to dinner with him a couple of times when he was in school, talked with him on the phone and via text,” Stanton said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys who tries to tell him how to do everything.”

Said Cousins, “I’ve always looked up to him as a guy who had a lot of success at Michigan State and then as a high draft pick as somebody I could follow in the footsteps of,” Cousins said.

– The Redskins have beaten the Cardinals eight times in a row. The last Cardinals’ win? The game that might’ve clinched University of Phoenix Stadium.

– Hard to believe that before the Cardinals interviewed Arians for the head coaching job, they interviewed Gruden. Two things I remember from that day, when Gruden met with the media. If you closed your eyes, there were definitely times he sound like his brother Jon, and he didn’t exactly come across like he was super excited about the job. Now he’s got the Washington job and he’ll be on the opposite sideline.

Now, who he’ll be trying to defend as the Cardinals’ quarterback … well, I guess we’ll see, won’t we.

ThomasFriBeforeUSE


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It’s wait and see on Sunday’s QB

Posted by Darren Urban on October 10, 2014 – 1:17 pm

Friday came and went, and the Cardinals do not know who will start at quarterback Sunday against the Redskins.

“Honest to God, for the first time in 20 years, I really don’t know who’s starting,” coach Bruce Arians said.

Some of that is because there are still things going on Friday that need to happen. All the quarterbacks were at practice and throwing Friday. But Drew Stanton had yet to take/pass his concussion test — he was headed there post-practice — and Carson Palmer was flying to Denver to have a late afternoon session at Muscle Activation Techniques, the place he got worked on last weekend.

Palmer is expected back for the mock game Saturday. Arians said Palmer was throwing at about 80 percent and had some decent velocity. But Arians also said it’s possible all three QBs will be active Sunday and a decision on who will play might not come until closer to game time. It’ll all depend on their health, Arians said, and at this point, that’s nothing concrete. Both Palmer and Stanton have issues that could rear their ugly heads Sunday morning. Officially, both were limited in practice Friday and both are questionable for Sunday,

– Guard Paul Fanaika was also back on a limited basis for Friday’s practice and is questionable. DE Calais Campbell (knee), TE Troy Niklas (ankle) and LB Glenn Carson (ankle) are all out for Sunday.

 


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Cards’ run defense must hold up

Posted by Darren Urban on October 10, 2014 – 10:26 am

Before Calais Campbell got hurt a couple of plays into the second half of last weekend’s game in Denver, the Broncos had exactly four rushing yards. On seven attempts. With Campbell out of the game, the Broncos got 88 yards rushing on 21 tries.

There were, of course, other factors. The defense eventually got tired in the fourth quarter because the Cardinals could not generate any offense and stay on the field. But make no mistake, Campbell is an important part of the run defense. So too is Matt Shaughnessy, who was playing hurt in Denver and now is out a couple months with a knee injury. How the Cardinals deal with the loss of Campbell and Shaughnessy and hold up against the run, in my opinion, is the linchpin of keeping this season together as the Cardinals deal with all their injury-related setbacks.

If the Cardinals can continue to play like a top-five run defense — and they are fifth right now — they will stay in games. Certainly, the next stretch of the schedule will test that. The Redskins have Alfred Morris. The Eagles have Shady McCoy. And the Cowboys have the leading rusher in the NFL in DeMarco Murray. Getting Campbell back sooner rather than later will help, but there no way to know right now exactly when that will be. At this point, the Cards can’t afford to wait for reinforcements anyway. They must perform with who they have.

RunDefenseBLOG


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Stanton better, not cleared; QB situation still muddy

Posted by Darren Urban on October 9, 2014 – 2:23 pm

There was no real update in the Cardinals’ not-sure-who-is-gonna-start quarterback situation. Drew Stanton wasn’t at practice at the outset, when it is open to the media, but showed up later and was officially limited again, as was Carson Palmer. Stanton was in good spirits after practice, talking for the first time since suffering his concussion Sunday in Denver. Stanton said he’s been happy to at least be cleared for non-contact throwing — Stanton said with a smile it helps his position is non-contact in practice anyway — and that he will take the concussion tests again Friday.

Stanton still hopes to be cleared and be available Sunday. He said he is symptom-free. Palmer was throwing some at the outset of practice again, but it’s impossible to tell if he was truly improved. He wasn’t available to talk and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin did not address Palmer’s health directly. It’s a good sign Palmer hasn’t regressed at least.

At this point, it would not be a surprise in the least to not know who is starting at quarterback before Sunday. If Stanton is cleared but the Cardinals don’t deem him quite ready to start, I could see all three guys on the 46-man active roster for the game and not knowing who is going to start until near gametime (although it would probably leak before then.)

I can say this with certainty: All the players talking about it Thursday either don’t know themselves who will start or are doing a great job keeping up with a charade. I think it’s the former. Bruce Arians will talk again tomorrow. We’ll see what Friday brings.

– If starting right guard Paul Fanaika, who sat out again Thursday with ankle and calf problems, can’t play, then he will be replaced in the lineup by Jonathan Cooper. Ted Larsen will stay on the left side.


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Oh, captain, my captain — you OK?

Posted by Darren Urban on October 9, 2014 – 10:32 am

See that photo at the bottom? It’s a picture from the coin toss before the Monday night season opener against the Chargers. It is also the last time the Cardinals’ captains will have all played together in a game in 2014. It feels like the role has been cursed, right?

I mean, punter Dave Zastudil was already hurt in that game — the only reason he was active was to hold on field goals, while Drew Butler did the punting. Zastudil punted in one game (Denver, last weekend) before going on IR with his persistent groin injury, ending his season. Palmer, as we all know, has been hurting since the Chargers game and there is still uncertainty he can come back. Calais Campbell is now down with a knee injury, something that’s been at the forefront of the NFL world for a couple of days.

Wait, am I automatically jinxing Lorenzo Alexander now? (That’s rhetorical, folks. I don’t believe in such things.) Besides, Alexander got his bad luck last year when he got hurt, so …

Still, you have to like how coach Bruce Arians approaches the situation. When Darnell Dockett went on IR, he stayed involved. While hurt, Zastudil and Palmer have still been serving as captains. I can only guess Campbell will continue to do the same, and Zastudil too. “Dave is going to be very, very involved, like Darnell,” Arians said. “He’ll go out for the coin toss and do the things that captains do.”

And at some point, the Cardinals are hoping the other three captains are out there ready to play together on Sundays. Sooner rather than later.

CaptainsBLOG

 

 


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The NFL, L.A., and Raiders in NFC West?

Posted by Darren Urban on October 8, 2014 – 11:40 am

There has been talk about the NFL returning to Los Angeles for, well, ever. At least since the Raiders and Rams bailed so many years ago. Stadium issues remain for a few teams, making them candidates. So here’s one theory, floated by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole. In Cole’s scenario, both the Chargers and the Raiders would move, from down south and up north, respectively, to the Los Angeles area. Both teams haven’t been able to make inroads on new stadiums in their current homes.

Both teams are in the AFC West. Cole makes the (good) point it’s tough to have two teams in the same city in the same conference, much less the same division. Cole said the Raiders would be willing to move to the NFC West in this scenario. A team would have to go from the NFC West to the AFC West, and Cole speculates that Seattle — which was in the AFC West from 1976 to 2002 — would just go back. And then new NFC West would be the 49ers, Raiders, Cardinals and Rams.

That would definitely make for an interesting change (and a personal bummer, since I enjoy visiting the city of Seattle.) Seems like a major longshot to me. Actually, any team in L.A. still seems like a longshot to me until a stadium is actually being built. But it’s something to debate. The L.A. question always is. Remember when the Cardinals were deemed the logical team to move to L.A.? Then this game happened, a stadium was approved, and that talk went away.

RaidesNFCW


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Fitz gets animated

Posted by Darren Urban on October 7, 2014 – 4:33 pm

The Cardinals have been around the NFL Rush Zone cartoon before. Patrick Peterson made an appearance once upon a time. Now it’s Larry Fitzgerald’s turn. Fitz — or at least his cartoon version — will battle whatever the evil is in this show. The excellent plot synopsis:

Episode 318: ANTICORIANS OUTPLAYED

With Sudden Death in possession of multiple Megacores, the Core Accelerator weapon is ready to launch. Total destruction of the Hall of Knowledge seems imminent, until Wild Card takes it upon himself to derail the plot by slipping some secret information to the Guardians, then blaming the betrayal on the Anticorians.  Marty’s non-Guardian life also takes an unexpected turn when he learns he must change schools. He worries about how he’ll fit in, and if he’ll still be able handle his Guardian responsibilities. But thanks to Brent Celek, Tight End for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Arizona Cardinals Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Marty and Ish both get a lesson in facing the unknown.”

If I’ve told Ish once, I’ve told him (her?) a thousand times, gotta trust Fitz against the Anticorians.

The show airs Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 9:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. Arizona time) on Nicktoons and again Saturday, Oct. 11 at 8 a.m. ET (5 a.m. Arizona time).

CartoonFITZ

 

 


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Zastudil goes to IR; QB Dixon to practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on October 7, 2014 – 12:56 pm

And the Cardinals officially lose another one.

Among a handful of roster moves Tuesday was the Cardinals putting punter Dave Zastudil on injured reserve with his bad groin, ending his season. He joins linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, who gets the Cardinals’ lone injured reserve-designated to return tag of the season because of cartilage damage in his knee. Shaughnessy must miss at least eight games.

Filling those roster spots are one-for-one moves. Zastudil will be replaced by practice squad punter Drew Butler, who already had filled in for Zastudil in the first three games of the season. Shaughnessy’s spot goes to Marcus Benard, who was cut at the end of the preseason, briefly signed back befoe being cut again, and now returns for a second time. Benard knows the system – he did play here in 2013 too.

It’s been a rough stretch with injuries. The Cardinals have to hope the worst is past.

To fill Butler’s spot on the practice squad, the Cardinals have signed former Steelers quarterback Dennis Dixon, who worked with Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh and knows the system. He’ll be available for practice Wednesday, so the Cardinals are in better shape to promote him if Carson Palmer and/or Drew Stanton cannot make it back for the game.

Zasty


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NFL: Correct call on Campbell play

Posted by Darren Urban on October 6, 2014 – 10:15 am

There already has been a lot of speculation on how the low block on Calais Campbell, the one injuring him, was a good call. The NFL this morning said that indeed, the Campbell play was a chop block, violating Rule 12, Section 2, Article 3 in items c) and d). From the league: “The officials threw the flag for the ‘reverse chop.’  Julius Thomas blocked Calais Campbell ‘in the area of the thigh or lower,’ as specified by rule, and Ryan Clady engages Campbell high “simultaneously or immediately after the block” by Thomas, resulting in the penalty.”

“The play also violated part c) of the rule, known as a “lure.”  While Thomas chops Campbell, Clady ‘confronts the defensive player in a pass-blocking posture but is not physically engaged with the defensive player’ “

Thomas could be fined. Any fines are issued from the league later in the week. Those are usually announced Friday, unless the player fined says something about it. A look at the hit, courtesy SBNation:

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Former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira, now with Fox, had previously said he thought it was flag-worthy.


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Keim: Campbell prognosis to come, no new QB yet

Posted by Darren Urban on October 6, 2014 – 8:12 am

General Manager Steve Keim addressed the two biggest issues facing the Cardinals following Sunday’s loss/injuryfest in Denver during his Monday morning appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports. Obviously, both were injury-related.

Defensive end Calais Campbell is getting an MRI this morning, but Keim said the belief is Campbell has a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his right knee. Keim said Campbell’s prognosis is tough to predict because it can range quite a bit. But it felt like a little optimism. Keim didn’t even close the door on Campbell playing against Washington Sunday (although that would be amazing) although multiple games sitting is definitely possible.

Also clear: Keim wasn’t happy about the Julius Thomas low block that hurt Campbell, saying he’s never seen a player go low on what was essentially going to be a chip block before Thomas ran a pass route. “Hopefully, we’ll never see that again,” Keim said.

– As for the quarterback situation, Drew Stanton will go through concussion protocol and Carson Palmer will continue with his shoulder treatment. Because in theory both could be ready for the Redskins, Keim said the Cardinals aren’t going to add another quarterback. Not yet. That will be determined in the next 24 to 48 hours. Keim wouldn’t divulge what quarterbacks the team would be looking at if they would sign one, although he said there are a lot of considerations that go into it and what they need plays into any decision. Keim noted any practice squad addition means keeping that player for three games on the 53-man roster, which might not make sense if Palmer and Stanton are on the verge of returning (and why Ryan Lindley, on San Diego’s practice squad, might not make sense.) Keim also said it’ll depend what the Cards might be looking for — a third-string guy?  A backup? I don’t think there is any question Logan Thomas is the starter if Palmer and Stanton aren’t playing.

– Tight end Troy Niklas has a high ankle sprain. He too will get an MRI.

– Cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) will probably be day to day, but Keim didn’t sound concerned.

– Keim’s total of drops he counted for his receivers? Nine. More than I had. Obviously, not a good total. Keim definitely didn’t sound pleased. “You can’t play like that and expect to win,” he said.

– He didn’t sound pleased with the offensive line. Keim said they played “below average,” and didn’t play in unison.

– Keim on Logan Thomas’ play: “He’s got to learn to get the ball out quicker,” Keim said, “but that will come in time.”

– Keim was pleased with the play of draft picks Deone Bucannon and Kareem Martin. Martin improvement would be important if Campbell is sidelined.

– The injuries don’t feel good for a GM either. “It’s tough,” Keim said. “But again, no one else in the league is going to feel sorry for us.”


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