It’s not “Hard Knocks,” and that’s something Bruce Arians insisted upon from the start. That’s why the coach always said he didn’t want to do the HBO training camp series, because of how it showed things like players being cut — a cold way to have someone’s professional life laid bare for the world to see. Michael Bidwill agreed, although both liked some of the things “Hard Knocks” did show, like the human side of players and coaches.
In a very general way, that’s how “All or Nothing,” the story of the 2015 Cardinals, came to be.
There are still a few weeks before the series is available on Amazon. July 1 is that date (if you didn’t already know), when all eight episodes will be there on demand for everyone to see. Want to binge? Go ahead. Want to space them out? Your call. Do you prefer to watch with your kids and have the sometimes harsh words of the NFL bleeped out? There will be both unrated and edited versions.
I have only seen one episode, the seventh that chronicled the win over the Packers in the playoffs. It was, as you can imagine in something put together by NFL Films, pretty epic. The original score — which has a main theme that can be heard during the Brentson Buckner portion of the trailer — is excellent. And even though you know what will happen, to see how the emotions flowed not just for the players but others (like Arians’ wife Chris) is simply riveting television.
A couple other thoughts I had about the series, based on what we saw:
— Buckner, who is a great quote and a colorful figure, sure seems like he is going to be one of the stars.
— It reminds you of who isn’t here anymore. Jerraud Powers and Rashad Johnson were so important to last year’s team and this will rightfully reflect that and it’s a little weird since they are no longer on the roster.
— Carson Palmer had said that even with the mics and cameras Arians “was still B.A.” all last season and, yes, that was apparent.
— Crazy to think defensive coordinator James Bettcher specifically talked to the team about defending an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary before the game, and yet Rodgers still pulled one off.
I’m looking forward to seeing the whole series. I’m guessing it will live up to the hype.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, All or Nothing, Brentson Buckner, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, James Bettcher, Jerraud Powers, Rashad Johnson
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The Cardinals are done for the offseason. The football side of the building is on vacation until late July, getting a chance to recharge before the season starts in earnest. So roster moves are unlikely for a while.
But then comes training camp, and a time when General Manager Steve Keim likes to shop in the bargain bin for veterans who can help.
“I’m going to continue to stay active,” Keim said during an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7. “If there is a player out there — and we have monitored a few different players this time of year — we’ll bring them in and we will be aggressive about it. Now, it takes two sides. It takes one side to give an opportunity and the other side has to be on board from a financial perspective. But I really do think we will be able to add a player or two that can help and contribute this year.”
Keim acknowledged it would probably be a position of need in that regard. He didn’t get specific, but it’s not hard to think that right tackle and cornerback could be areas where he’d look. D.J. Humphries has to prove himself at right tackle, and the Cardinals have already had a similar situation when they signed Eric Winston in 2013 to compete with still-yet-to-prove-himself Bobby Massie. Winston won the job that season. At cornerback, the Cards are young and Justin Bethel has to show he can start, so throwing a vet into the mix could push all involved.
But again, the vets “have to have the mental makeup” to fit, Keim said. In part, that vet has to be coming because of the situation, and not because of the paycheck — because the Cardinals aren’t going to be paying big at that time of year.
Tags: D.J. Humphries, free agency, Justin Bethel, Steve Keim
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The NFL Network’s top 100 countdown continued tonight, and another Cardinal made the list, even though his body of work isn’t with the Cardinals. Linebacker Chandler Jones, who had 12.5 sacks last season for the Patriots, was named No. 48 on the list. He’s the second Cardinal thus far; defensive tackle Calais Campbell was No. 71.
Jones figures to have a huge impact on the Cards this season and at least repeat his sack total from a year ago. He was a needed piece to the defense, and here’s one validation in case anyone wasn’t sure.
Meanwhile, the countdown is down to 40 players. Will there be a rash of Cardinals still coming? You figure Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu will all be on the list. Will quarterback Carson Palmer?
Tags: Chandler Jones, NFL Network
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And we enter the home stretch.
The Cardinals held their “media day” Monday — that’s Chandler Jones modeling his new team’s uniform for the first time — where players get into uniform for the various video/photo shoots that will be needed by the team, the stadium and broadcasters like NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Players also got their summer physicals.
Then Tuesday the Cardinals begin mandatory minicamp, although other than a day here and there for a couple of guys, the Cards have had all their players for the voluntary OTAs the last few weeks anyway. Minicamp isn’t really any different than OTAs in terms of how it’s done — helmets, no pads, still what Bruce Arians likes to call “soccer practice” — but they can be out on the field a little more.
Once Thursday arrives, the players (other than rookies) are done until training camp time. They’ll get a lot of recharging time, with report day for camp coming July 28. A few of the stars will have one more commitment before they scatter, as they take part in the Los Angeles red carpet event Thursday night for the “All or Nothing” Amazon series set to be available July 1.
At least with “All or Nothing,” there will be some football to watch until the Cards come back.
Tags: All or Nothing, Chandler Jones, minicamp, training camp
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The full training camp schedule isn’t out yet — that’s usually later this month — but the Cardinals have announced that the team will report to camp out at University of Phoenix Stadium on July 28 (a Thursday) with the first practice coming July 29. Hard to believe we’re already talking training camp, but here we are. The Cards have wrapped up the OTA portion of their offseason, with the mandatory minicamp running Tuesday through Thursday next week. After that, the veterans are done until camp.
As for camp, the Cardinals’ first preseason game is home against the Raiders on Aug. 12. While details are still being finalized, the Cardinals are also expected to practice in San Diego the following week heading into the second preseason game there against the Chargers on Aug. 19.
Tags: Chargers, Raiders, training camp
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The Cardinals trimmed the roster a bit Wednesday, releasing a trio of players: Tackle Edawn Coughman, safety Brandon Person and wide receiver Chris King. Person has been with the team since last offseason, missing the entire year on injured reserve with a knee injury. Coughman was signed Jan. 7 to a “futures” contract, and King was an undrafted rookie signed in May. According to the NFL transactions, both Person and King received injury settlements.
The moves leave the Cardinals with 87 on the roster, giving them three spots to fill. The team is in its final week of OTAs, with the mandatory three-day minicamp coming next week before the team breaks for the summer. Training camp will start in late July.
Tags: Brandon Person, Chris King, Edawn Coughman, Roster
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Sure, there are questions about the future for the Cardinals at wide receiver. Could Larry Fitzgerald retire after this season? Will Michael Floyd, also in the last year of his contract, be back? But those questions aren’t about the 2016 season. After the 2015 season — in which the Cardinals’ wide receivers were the highest graded among all the corps in the NFL last season according to profootballfocus.com — this season should be impressive for the Cards from that standpoint.
Even Fitzgerald noted last week that this is the first time he can remember being on a team where all the skill guys came back intact. That goes beyond just the receivers of course. But the upset of getting back both veteran running back Chris Johnson and veteran tight end Jermaine Gresham despite potentially more lucrative offers out there helped that along. At wideout, there was only one question, and Jaron Brown was tendered an offer. Once he signed that, the Cardinals had their top seven wide receivers returning from a year ago — when again, some considered them the best in the league as a group.
Health helped. Yes, Floyd was banged up in training camp and yes, Smokey Brown fought through an irritating hamstring injury in the middle part of the season (oh, you do remember that, fantasy football players), but for the most part, they were available. Fitzgerald in particular was healthy all the way through the season for the first time since Bruce Arians arrived. The depth also helped tremendously when guys did miss time. Floyd was huge in Cleveland when Smokey was held out. Fitz was huge early in the season when Floyd started slow. J.J. Nelson was a deep threat that could help when Brown couldn’t go full bore.
And the Cardinals will have them all again in 2016.
Tags: Brittan Golden, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, Jaxon Shipley, John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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A few months ago, the excellent NFL Films “A Football Life” episode on Bruce Arians was released. Now it’s available on azcardinals.com by clicking here or by watching below. It covers Arians’ story from young, sometimes-troubled kid to where he is now leading the Cardinals. It’s well worth the time to check it out.
NFL Films is also working on “A Football Life” episode of Pat Tillman and so that’s something else to look forward to seeing. And we’re still waiting on the official announcement of the availability for “All or Nothing” as well.
Tags: All or Nothing, Bruce Arians, Pat Tillman
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Would Dwight Freeney be brought back? Until he signs elsewhere, I suppose that’s possible. But he just visited the Bengals and news came today he’s going to visit the Falcons, and at some point, if he makes sense somewhere else, he may just come off the market. In the meantime, it’s understandable that the Cardinals don’t see a need to have him right now.
The trade for Chandler Jones obviously impacted the situation. If Freeney — who was originally signed because Alex Okafor got hurt, if you recall — was the lead pass rusher, well, that’s Jones’ job now. Markus Golden likely is the other starter, and a healthy Okafor is back and apparently past whatever was left from his playoff disappearance. Plus, the Cards want to see what they have in Tristan Okapalaugo, Shaq Riddick and Zack Wagenmann.
If we get to training camp and Freeney remains unsigned and the depth isn’t looking quite like what the Cardinals wanted, Freeney would be a natural option. This deep into the offseason, though, it feels like a long-term waiting game, if it were to happen at all.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Chandler Jones, Dwight Freeney, Markus Golden, Shaq Riddick, Tristan Okpalaugo, Zack Wagenmann
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Last week, Bruce Arians said the Cardinals were talking to the Chargers about spending time in San Diego during training camp so the teams could practice against each other. Monday, Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed it would happen even if details haven’t quite been worked out.
“I can’t tell you it’s going to be this day, it’s going to be that day,” McCoy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But we’re going to practice against Arizona.”
The details are still being worked out, McCoy said, but the Cardinals play the Chargers on a Friday night (August 19) in San Diego. University of Phoenix Stadium is also unavailable to the Cardinals earlier in the week — Monday, Aug. 15 — because Guns N’ Roses is scheduled to play a concert that night. McCoy was one of the Cardinals’ options for coach before Arians was hired; the man who was let go by the Cardinals to create that vacancy — Ken Whisenhunt — is back with the Chargers as offensive coordinator after his stint as Titans’ head coach.
Another thing to watch, regardless of whether the teams practice against each other one, two or three times. The last few times teams in the NFL have practiced against each other in training camp, it’s resulted in some scuffles. And as we all know, Arians doesn’t tolerate scuffles in camp. He won’t tolerate it against another team either.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chargers, Mike McCoy, training camp
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