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Iupati to get left knee checked UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2015 – 12:11 pm

Bruce Arians said guard Mike Iupati will miss practice today and will get further tests to check out his left knee. Pressed on what was wrong, Arians chuckled. “I’m sending him to a doctor. I don’t know,” Arians said. “He’s got a knee swelling a little bit.” We’ll see what happens, but Arians’ mood was not of a man worried that his starting left guard was going to be out for a long time, so take that for what it’s worth.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter reported Iupati was “likely” to have surgery and would miss 6 to 8 weeks. No official word is expected until Arians talks Thursday. Defensive tackle Corey Peters was also carted off with a left leg/ankle injury Wednesday afternoon.

— The rest of the injury list is much shorter than it once was. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring) remains sidelined. Cornerback Jerraud Powers (oblique) is still limited. Still out are LB Shaq Riddick (hamstring), T Rob Crisp (knee), CB Jonte Green (hamstring) and WR Michael Floyd (hand).

— Arians is also giving all the 10-year vets a day off. So no Leach, Zastudil, Palmer, Redding, Fitzgerald or Rucker today.

— Arians said there were times Chris Johnson looked explosive Tuesday, although the running back has a lot to learn in the Cards’ offense.

Weren’t we just talking about this? Arians said he didn’t see why joint practices couldn’t be held without fighting. It’s on the coaches. “There’s no place in the game for (fighting),” Arians said. “Coaches that believe it that, they need to get new jobs.”

TC13.Iupatitweet


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No reason for Cards to put up a fight

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2015 – 9:06 am

Bruce Arians mentioned early in training camp he would have liked to have a joint practice with another team in training camp, to break up the monotony and to raise the level of practice that inevitably comes with going against another team rather than teammates. Given how averse Arians is to training camp fights, however, maybe it’s good that the Cardinals never did work that out.

The Rams-Cowboys joint practice donnybrook Tuesday was just the latest in joint practice battles. The Redskins and Texans got into it earlier this month and last training camp, it was the Cowboys and Raiders. The two this month were bad enough that the joint practices were called off and the teams went to practice on separate fields.

It would be interesting to see what Arians would do if his players got into a training camp tussle with another team. He’s made no bones about it happening with his own team — last summer’s Darnell Dockett/Bradley Sowell laps and then a separate abrupt end to practice underscored the head coach’s feelings on the subject. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the coaching tree either. Todd Bowles made the Jets run because of a practice fight recently.)

And while there are plenty that feel there is good that can come out of a camp scrap — ask Ron Wolfley — there is tangible evidence the downside is too great. The Cardinals know about injuries. Back in 2003, guard Leonard Davis broke his hand punching defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. (Amazingly, my story at the time is still floating around on the internet.) That’s never good.

Bruce Arians


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The race at running back

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2015 – 9:30 am

So now Chris Johnson joins the Cardinals and the team did not get rid of a running back as he walked in the door. It’s a crowded backfield. For the record, the Cards now have Andre Ellington, two Johnsons — David and Chris — Kerwynn Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Marion Grice, Robert Hughes and Paul Lasike.

Johnson — the new one — only signed a one-year contract. He becomes the latest in a line of vets who were wooed by GM Steve Keim for the chance at getting a shot on a good team to revive their contract worth. Frostee Rucker. Matt Shaughnessy. Karlos Dansby. Eric Winston. Antonio Cromartie. LaMarr Woodley. Jermaine Gresham. Even Lyle Sendlein. Johnson reportedly will only make the minimum salary too, unless he rushes for at least 1,300 yards (which a back has never reached since the team moved to Arizona.)

What does all that mean? Well, for starters, if Johnson doesn’t work out the way the Cardinals want through the rest of the preseason, he can be released without much impact on the salary cap ($400,000 is guaranteed.) More likely he’ll simply be part of the rotation. If I had to guess right now, the Cardinals will keep five running backs. Ellington will be the starter. The two Johnsons will be there. After that? I’d think there would be one between Hughes and Lasike as the “big” back — Hughes has the inside track there — and one among Taylor, Williams and Grice. Taylor is good on special teams, and Williams’ game is similar to Ellington’s and Chris Johnson’s (plus, he could go on the practice squad if necessary.)

As for the desire to pick up a veteran and supplanting a recent draft pick, this too is something Keim has already done. The Cardinals drafted inside linebacker Kevin Minter in 2013 in the second round and turned around and signed Dansby just couple weeks later, and Dansby’s play left Minter on the bench all season. Now, David Johnson may have the same thing with Chris Johnson. For Keim, it’s about what the Cardinals can do this year.

RunningBacksShot

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Keim: Johnson update and Chiefs review

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2015 – 8:14 am

Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim, during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf Show” on Arizona Sports 98.7, acknowledged he has had discussions with the agent for running back Chris Johnson. But as of Monday morning, “there is nothing on the horizon,” Keim said. Johnson was expected to work out for the team. As I’ve said a few times, we’ll see what pans out.

As for Keim’s view of the game:

— He praised a handful of young players for their initial performances: Defensive end Rodney Gunter and linebacker Markus Golden (although he wants to see Golden finish more often), and from the non-rookie side, cornerback Justin Bethel and linebacker Kevin Minter. The latter two are in big years in terms of earning regular position spots on defense.

— As for the first units on both sides of the ball, “I don’t think you could have scripted a better start,” Keim said.

— On Logan Thomas, Keim said he liked the quarterback’s pocket presence. “There are times when he makes some really ‘Wow’ throws,” Keim said. “The question is consistency and I think he played a consistent game.” Keim did note that Thomas completed 11-of-12 passes in the preseason opener last year, so again, it’s about consistency going forward.

— Not surprisingly, he thought tight end Ifeanyi Momah competed and looks like a nice option as receiver, but needs to get better as a blocker in terms of technique since he won’t have the bulk or body type to ever maul as a blocker.

— Keim was happy with the “excellent” play of the starting offensive line and also thought the backup offensive line did a good job. It should, really, since it’s populated with three one-time starters (Sowell, Larsen, Sendlein) and a first-round pick (D.J. Humphries). Keim said Humphries had some technical issues in his first game but showed the physical play and the athleticism the Cards liked when he was drafted.

— Going forward, Keim said there are still many questions open, such as fourth and fifth cornerback, the back end of the wide receiver depth chart, core special teamers. The Cards did come out of the game “relatively healthy,” Keim said.

— As for wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald getting munched by pulling guard Mike Iupati on the Cards’ touchdown run — Fitz was blocking a Chiefs’ defensive back when Iupati came in to clean up and looked like he got mostly Fitz — Keim was blunt. “We all know Larry is a tough guy. He’ll stick his face in the fire.”


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Chiefs aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 15, 2015 – 10:52 pm

There will be frustration of missing tackles and poor plays from Saturday night, but there is a reason teams have 90 men on the roster now and when the games count there are 53 — many of those guys who were playing and struggling won’t be play this time next month. That’s why you look at what the Cards did at the start, both with their offense and defense, and if you are Bruce Arians, you have to be generally pleased. That and there were no serious injuries, and in the end, that might be the most important thing to come out of any preseason game.

Before it gets too late, a few thoughts after the opener — understanding there are still two week of training camp left. And three preseason games. We’re still a long way from anything counting.

— Carson Palmer was sharp, smart and altogether untouched. “I could’ve hitched three or four times on any of the passes we threw tonight,” he said. “Very clean pocket.” This gets repeated often yet can’t be understated: If Palmer is healthy and performs like this, the Cards will be in good shape.

— It didn’t take long for Andre Ellington to show what he can do, even after the hamstring issues kept him out of practice. No, he shouldn’t have been caught — “I just need to get my cardio back up” — but again, he’ll be the main guy in the backfield because of what he showed.

— Who will join him back there is still up in the air. Chris Johnson is coming in Sunday for his physical/tryout. Again, he’d have to be signed and he’d have to show well, but he could still be Ellington’s mate back there. The run game still only produced 2.8 yards a carry Saturday.

— The Chiefs went after Justin Bethel, starting for Jerraud Powers, on the very first play. Bethel was there to break it up. The Cards need Bethel to play well at cornerback. They are very thin there beyond Patrick Peterson and Powers. Jimmy Legree, the one who looked like he might have an inside track at a roster spot this summer, struggled.

— In the first salvo of the punting battle, Dave Zastudil’s night was four punts, 40.5 average, 35.3 net. I’d guess Drew Butler will punt next week against the Chargers.

— I thought Logan Thomas looked better in the game than he has at practice. Which is a good thing.

— The Chiefs’ lineman turned the wrong way to let Rodney Gunter blow past him, but Gunter showed impressive quickness to blaze into the backfield for that safety. Gunter is going to be someone to watch.

— That said, while I’d need to watch the replay of the game, there weren’t any of the non-draftees that really stood out to me as guys that popped, other than maybe Jaxon Shipley on his returns and one catch — and it’s hard to see Shipley as anything more that a practice squad guy given who is in front of him.

— The Cardinals are off until Monday, and like last Monday, do not have a morning walkthrough. The next time Arians will address the media is Monday afternoon. We’ll see if the Cards have a new running back by then.

EllAfterblog


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Sitting out against the Chiefs

Posted by Darren Urban on August 15, 2015 – 5:09 pm

There is no “inactive” list for preseason games — everyone is eligible to play — but there are “not expected to play” lists. For the Chiefs, the most notable player not playing is defensive tackle Dontari Poe. For the Cardinals there is a long and wholly injured-induced list of guys sitting:

— WR Michael Floyd (hand)

— RB Marion Grice (hamstring)

— CB Darren Woodard (groin)

— S Chris Clemons (groin)

— RB David Johnson (hamstring)

— CB Jonte Green (hamstring)

— LB Shaq Riddick (hamstring)

— LB Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring)

— LB Darryl Sharpton (hip flexor)

— T Rob Crisp (knee)

— LB Zack Wagenmann (foot)


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Visit updates Chris Johnson possibility

Posted by Darren Urban on August 14, 2015 – 4:49 pm

The news of the Cardinals and free agent running back Chris Johnson talking came out in the beginning of the week. Now, at the end of the week, comes news that Johnson could still be a Card. Jay Glazer provided the first of multiple reports that Johnson will come to Arizona Sunday — after the Cards’ game against the Chiefs — to take a physical and go through a workout. Both make sense, especially the physical after Johnson was shot in the shoulder in March.

Certainly nothing is set in stone for Johnson to become a Cardinal. But you figure that if the workout and physical go well, there would be a good chance Johnson signs with the Cardinals — because it makes little sense for Johnson to make the trip out to Arizona if the money end of negotations weren’t at least close, and that Johnson believes he could fit. We will see how it plays out.

Johnson had his first sub-1,000-yard season with the Jets last season, his first not playing for the Titans. But he still averaged 4.3 yards a carry. He figures to slide in behind Andre Ellington on the depth chart, especially with rookie David Johnson still sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Chris Johnson

 


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Friday before the Chiefs

Posted by Darren Urban on August 14, 2015 – 11:19 am

The training camp of Palmer, Mathieu and hamstrings takes a brief break so the Cardinals can open the preseason Saturday night against the Chiefs. It figures to be what should always be expected in the first preseason game of the season — some good play, but also some stumbling out of the blocks. Vanilla offense and defense. A big game for those playing especially in the second half, because those are the guys fighting to stay on the roster. And as always, fingers crossed no one gets hurt.

Carson Palmer will get to make an appearance and that’s amazing, given that he tore his ACL last November. But as we’ve said multiple times, Palmer has been excellent in camp and now, it’s about the reality of exposing him to another team. He has to get ready for the regular season, even if Bruce Arians acknowledged he’d rather put him in bubble wrap for now.

Some other things to watch Saturday:

— It’s about time for Logan Thomas. He will get a lot of playing time. This is where he has to make a push to convince the Cardinals he will fit. His performance in the preseason opener last year was what first caught everyone’s eye. We’ll see if he can repeat that, and push aside a lot of the questions that surround him these days.

— Arians said there were a ton of players he wants to see, and it’s hard to disagree. Among what I’ll be watching: Jonathan Cooper as starting right guard. Tackle D.J. Humphries. Outside linebackers Markus Golden and LaMarr Woodley. Summer sensation tight end Ifeanyi Momah. Wide receiver J.J. Nelson. Undrafted rookie cornerback Cariel Brooks. All those undrafted inside linebackers, including Gabe Martin (pictured below).

— Defensive coordinator James Bettcher moves from the press box to the sideline. He’s been calling plays in practice, but now we get a chance to see what it’s like in a game.

— It’s a great story from the Chiefs side that safety Eric Berry — who was battling cancer last year — will be back on the field and playing.

— Watch the defensive linemen. With all those guys, someone is going to be out by the end of the preseason, either through trade or being cut. That’ll make for an intense competition.

OK. Football is back.

FridayChiefs


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Ellington extended in final K.C. tuneup

Posted by Darren Urban on August 13, 2015 – 4:37 pm

Andre Ellington isn’t limited anymore. That was clear at Thursday’s practice, the last full one the Cards have before Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chiefs (there is a “mock game” walkthrough Friday which is closed to both fans and media.) Ellington made catches and ran with ease and quickness. On one run he broke into the secondary and slowed, normal for a practice where there was just shells and shorts. But cornerback Patrick Peterson came running up behind, getting Ellington to sprint away from him, both of them smiling. Ellington’s explosion looked evident and there was no sign of his hamstring woes. A good sign.

— Coach Bruce Arians didn’t mention it at his presser earlier but defensive end Matt Shaughnessy wasn’t practicing. The day before Shaughnessy had come out and had ice on his left knee. He never left the field, but my guess is that they will be cautious with whatever it is.

— Quarterback Carson Palmer had one of his rest days, which makes sense because he’ll play the least against the Chiefs out of the four QBs on the roster.

— It was a day for interceptions. Once again, safety Tyrann Mathieu got a pick, although this time it came on a batted pass. Honey Badger is always around the ball. Safety Tony Jefferson and UDFA cornerback Cariel Brooks also had picks. Brooks is a name to remember — he’s making a push to find a way on to this roster.

— Shorty wide receiver Smokey Brown made a nice leaping TD catch over cornerback Jerraud Powers on a Drew Stanton pass, and Phillip Sims hooked up with WR Jaxon Shipley on a deep TD bomb later on.

— Injured wide receiver Michael Floyd got in some light conditioning with assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom after practice.

EllblogUSE

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Edwin Jackson and the story of Pound Cake

Posted by Darren Urban on August 13, 2015 – 8:34 am

Up until this point Edwin Jackson has been most recognizable because of a) his hair or b) the fact he now wears the No. 58 that belonged to Daryl Washington. But inside the team, Jackson is the exuberant inside linebacker with the nickname “Pound Cake.” Coach Bruce Arians certainly has no issue putting nicknames out for the world to know, and he mentioned the other day that Jackson — one of the undrafted rookies trying to make the team at a thin position — is nicknamed Pound Cake. He deferred on saying why. Jackson was more than willing to offer the answer.

Seems that before the draft, the Cardinals brought the 6-foot, 230-pound Jackson in for an official visit. It isn’t unusual that the Cards bring in guys who might be very late-or-not-at-all draft picks to visit, perhaps setting up for an undrafted rookie deal down the road. The problem? Jackson, citing how crowded and crazy it can get at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, missed his flight. For a guy just trying to find a job in the NFL, it wasn’t an ideal first impression.

“I just knew I messed up somebody’s schedule,” Jackson said.

But he had a plan. “My Mom, she cooks the best pound cakes in the world,” Jackson said. When Jackson got to Arizona, coaches got on his case, asking how he could possibly miss his flight. Jackson was ready. “I apologize,” he told them, “but I didn’t come empty-handed.” The skeptical coaches asked “What do you got?” They told him, jokingly, he’d owe them $50 if it wasn’t good enough.

“I pulled out these pound cakes, best pound cakes from Georgia, homemade from scratch,” Jackson said. “I didn’t hear about missing that flight, not one bit.”

Jackson said he thinks special teams coach Amos Jones was the first to start calling him Pound Cake — “He knows about that Southern cooking,” Jackson said — and the nickname rolled through the coaches, his teammates and the training staff. Now it’s not going away.

“It just stuck,” Jackson said. “As a rookie, they don’t really know your name. But they did not forget those pound cakes.”

EdwinBLOG


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