Bobby Massie finished his 2012 rookie season playing pretty well at right tackle after a horrendous start to his career. He seemed like a natural piece of the 2013 offensive line, until the Cards signed veteran Eric Winston as training camp began. Over the season, Massie eventually got a few snaps at right tackle, but he never displaced Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent. If Winston comes back, Massie will be his competition. Massie isn’t playing guard or on the left side, as the Cardinals try to improve the offensive line.
“(Bobby) is a right tackle,” Arians said. “He’s not a left tackle. We experimented with that and he struggled with it. He’s a right tackle and he’s talented. The biggest thing right now is to be more consistent every day in his work habits.”
Does Massie fit in to the 2014 starting line? He very well could. But so much is up in the air, and it goes well beyond Massie and Winston. It’s assumed, and probably not incorrectly, that the Cardinals will seek an offensive lineman or two in free agency. It’s likely they will look into Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert if he reaches free agency (Kansas City GM John Dorsey said Friday the Chiefs have talked to Albert’s agent at the combine about an extension) and reports surfaced Friday that the Cards might also look into Rams tackle.guard Rodger Saffold (Rams GM Les Snead said Friday re-signing Saffold was a priority.)
It is realistic to think the Cards could have new starters at four of five positions on the line by the time games count in 2014 (center Lyle Sendlein is likely safe.). It’s also possible the line doesn’t change. Friday, Arians wouldn’t commit to the Cards having a new player in the lineup (other than the return of injured guard Jonathan Cooper), saying only the line needed to get bigger and stronger.
“Whether it is adding pieces to the puzzle or improving the players we have, we have Coop back, Earl (Watford) to the development, you add those two young guards will make us more athletic and create good competition with the veterans,” Arians said. “We are looking at adding pieces, one tackle, two, whatever we find is best to fit our locker room.”
The Cardinals also probably want to get cheaper at parts of the line, especially if they pay a premium for a free agent. That too can impact the equation — and make a guy like Massie more attractive.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Branden Albert, Bruce Arians, Eric Winston, offensive line, Rodger Saffold, Scouting combine
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The best tight end in the NFL? Bruce Arians doesn’t name Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. He picks Heath Miller. “Not because he catches 90 passes,” the Cardinals’ coach said at the Scouting combine Friday. “But because he blocks big defensive ends.”
Herein lies the Arians philosophy on tight ends, and why those guys piling up catch totals in spread college offenses might not be the guy the Cardinals will want going forward: “Tight ends for me block first, catch second,” Arians said.
Those guys are pretty rare these days. Rob Housler was a catch-first guy when he was drafted, and while he isn’t great blocker, Arians said he has leaned to block “adequately.” The Cardinals need tight ends, depending on the free agents they might bring back. Arians does believe a pass-catcher can be taught to block, but they have to have the right body type and they have to be willing to do it. “A lot of guys are not willing to stick their face in the fan,” Arians said with a chuckle.
Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro is considered a catch-first tight end and probable high draft pick who flourished in Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo offense. But Amaro said when Tommy Tuberville was coaching Tech, Amaro had to block first.
“I think it’s just a want-to thing,” Amaro said. “I’ve always had the technique; I’ve always had the drive. When I’m asked to block, I know I can block. I feel like it’s something that’s very overlooked of what I can do and then it’s something I’m going to have to show at the next level. But I know I’m willing to.”
It’s something that’s going to come up with any of the highly rated college tight ends. And it’s something Arians and the Cardinals are going to have to believe before they draft one, especially with a high pick.
“It’s such a unique position,” Arians said. “The best tight ends never go to the Pro Bowl because the best tight ends don’t catch 80 passes or 90 passes. Those are wide receivers.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Heath Miller, Rob Housler, Scouting combine
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In much different ways, the immediate football future of both running back Ryan Williams and linebacker Daryl Washington remains in a bit of limbo. Williams, the 2011 second-round pick whose first two seasons were all but a wash because of injuries, barely made the roster this season but ended up inactive for all 16 games. Washington, who was suspended for the first four games of the season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy, came back to play well and help anchor the league’s sixth-ranked defense. But Washington was arrested for assault of an ex-girlfriend last offseason, and the case is still winding its way through the court system. Washington’s next court date is scheduled for April and he could face a league suspension again depending on the result — but he also has a big bonus due him next month.
With each of those situations in context, General Manager Steve Keim talked about each with azcardinals.com:
– On Ryan Williams: “Ryan is a tremendous talent,” Keim said. “He’s a guy who still, on the practice field, shows us the movement skills, the run ability, the change of direction is fantastic. Obviously he has had to battle injuries, which has probably been his biggest issue. And last year, bringing in Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington and the impact both of those players made instantly put Ryan on the backburner.
“He’s a guy we still have hopes for. He’s still got the ability and I think Bruce (Arians) just wants him to put it all together.”
Williams is due a salary just north of $1 million this season, with a cap hit of $1.5M. Releasing him would save $1 million. Keim talked up Taylor Thursday, and it seems at this point an Ellington/Taylor duo is more probable than Ellington/Williams, but Keim made it sound like Williams isn’t going anywhere for now.
– As for Washington, “Nothing new,” Keim said. “We monitor everything when it comes to his off-field stuff. Rick Knight, our (vice president) of security, handles a lot of that. Daryl was a guy who made mistakes in the past and he’s (owned) up to those. He’s done a fantastic job in terms of his work ethic and being accountable. We hope to get everything resolved shortly and look forward to a huge year out of Daryl in 2014.”
That the Cardinals would have no doubt of keeping around one of their best players is not a surprise. Washington said after the season he was hoping it would get cleared up soon, but he always talked like he planned on being a long-term Cardinal and that shouldn’t change.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim
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Around the draft, it’s not unusual for a team or its decision makers to put out smokescreens ahead of time. No reason not to try and throw people off, right?
But General Manager Steve Keim said Thursday, when asked about if he had a certain plan to dole out misinformation, said he wasn’t that guy.
“I may be the wrong one to ask because clarity may be one of my issues,” Keim said. “I have a tendency to say what’s on my mind. My philosophy moving forward with players is that as well, I try to be honest with them. It’s not always what they want to hear but I think it’s necessary to build that kind of trust. Trust with your media, trust with your coaching staff and trust with your players is try to be as clear as you can.”
So, that being the case, will I be surprised if the Cardinals go ahead at take an offensive or defensive linemen — the positions Keim has tended to mention first when asked about what the Cards need — with the first-round pick? No.
Then again, maybe Keim’s claim of clarity is a smokescreen. Hey, you never know.
Tags: draft, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
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It was inevitable, probably, that Steve Keim was asked about the future of running back Andre Ellington and whether he would be the “featured” running back. This has been covered many times, and Keim answered it no different today.
“When you say featured back, I don’t know that there are many featured backs in the NFL,” Keim said. “Adrian Peterson, those types of guys. Most teams use a platoon of backs and that would probably be no different than us. Andre, the way he’s built, is body type, is more in line with Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles. His speed and acceleration, his movement skills, that’s his strength.
“To say you’re going to play him 25 to 35 snaps, pounding the ball between the tackles, you’re probably leaving yourself open to injuries. So any time, we can take a young man like him, add some weight without losing his speed and movement skills, I think you’re doing yourself a favor.”
I do think Keim (below talking to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio) misspoke. I would think Ellington will definitely get 25-to-35 snaps. He will probably get the majority of the offensive snaps at running back. He won’t get 25 to 35 carries, however. He’s going to split time with someone, though. It’ll probably be Stepfan Taylor. It still in theory could be Ryan Williams (more on that later.) Maybe Rashad Mendenhall comes back. But Ellington, even if he as expected builds on his 199-pound frame and gets stronger, is going to share time. That’s Keim’s philosophy and it’s Bruce Arians’ philosophy.
– Keim, who long ago dismissed the Larry Fitzgerald-to-the-Patriots trade rumors, seemed to have a one-liner ready when asked about it today:
“I was trying to find someone to fire,” Keim said. “Because they never called me.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Steve Keim
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For 42 seasons and 838 games, John Omohundro worked as an athletic trainer for the Cardinals. In 36 of those seasons as the head athletic trainer. His final game, with his last season spent as a consultant to the team, was the Super Bowl. Part of the reason Omohundro retired when he did was to take care of his wife, Martha, who suffered from Alzheimer’s before passing away last year.
Wednesday here in Indianapolis at the Scouting combine, the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS) — of which Omohundro was a charter member when it was created in 1982 — gave Omohundro their annual alumni award. It’s given every year to a former member who has contributed to the profession and in life after the NFL. Not only did Omohundro remain loyal to the Cardinals all those years, he did the same with his wife through her difficult time.
PFATS has also decided to create a new honor in his name to go toward those who show such compassion, and will call it the “John Omohundro Big Heart Award.”
That only makes sense for a guy who spent his entire professional life taking care of others — like he did with Kurt Warner in 2007, fitting the quarterback with a special elbow brace so Warner wouldn’t miss a start despite an ugly Julius Peppers-induced injury.
Tags: John Ohmohundro
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Now posted is the second installment of the “Tenacious” video series (click here), which follows the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu. This episode is titled “No Room For Pity,” which is essentially Mathieu’s attitude toward many things in his life. A couple of interesting quotes:
– Mathieu said that, even at age 14, he “always believed” he’d be a star. “Even if it was (as) a garbageman or a teacher, I was going to be one hell of a garbageman.”
– Mathieu, on mentally dealing with the injury: “I don’t feel the need to cry. I haven’t reached that moment where I am depressed and bummed out. Hopefully I can stay intact mentally.”
Tags: Tyrann Mathieu
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It’s that time of year again — the Scouting combine begins this week, the unofficial beginning of the 2014 season. I and a few of my azcardinals.com cohorts leave for Indianapolis tomorrow, with media access beginning Thursday. Cardinals GM Steve Keim will be at the podium Thursday morning (11:30 Indy time) and coach Bruce Arians will go Friday morning (10:15 Indy time.)
As we did last year, I will host a pair of short video chats with each man while in Indy, asking questions from the fans. If you’d like to submit a question, you can do so in the comments below, you can submit it via Twitter using the hashtag #CardsCombine or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you specify for whom the question is intended.
Speaking of questions, I will host a pre-combine chat today at 1 p.m. The link is available by clicking here. Feel free to stop by and ask whatever as we are about to head hip-deep into free agency in early March.
As for Indy, it’ll be 57 degrees (allegedly) on Thursday, a somewhat surprising turn of events considering how it usually is this time of year. The interview portion starts Thursday while the on-field (and on NFL Network stuff) starts full bore on Saturday. The draft becomes the focus for a week or so, before backing off for the free agency portion of the offseason. Remember, the draft is later this year — May 8-10 — so there will be plenty of time to think about and dissect the draft. For those wondering, the players officially can return to the voluntary offseason program April 21. It’ll be interesting to see what the roster looks like by then.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, Scouting combine, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »
The twitter question was straightforward, not unlike many I get: What are the chances Karlos Dansby re-signs with the Cardinals? The answer is, right now, you can’t answer. (It’s kind of like the question about what position the Cardinals will draft with their first pick. You can’t say. Not even the Cards can.)
Free agency comes down to, really, two things: Leverage and money. The money a player can get is directly proportional to the amount of leverage he has. Sometimes, that’s easy to figure out. Usually, it’s a little more complicated than that, because both the team and player like to play a little poker so they can get the best deal they can. (Agent Jack Bechta wrote a fascinating piece on how free agency works.)
Sometimes, teams really don’t want a player to reach unrestricted free agency because you never know who is going to swoop in and wow a player with a unreal deal. And the reality is, if a player does reach unrestricted status it usually means one of three things (or some combination of the three): Either the team doesn’t want the player anymore, the team’s cap situation won’t allow the team to make a competitive offer, or the player has overestimated his worth in the market/team has underestimated it.
Cardinals GM Steve Keim has said the team has already made offers to some of the team’s pending free-agents-to-be. At this point, only punter Dave Zastudil has re-upped. What does that mean for a guy like Dansby? No way to know for sure. I think Dansby wants to return and the Cardinals definitely want him back. But it really isn’t that surprising that Dansby could hit the open market. He was admittedly disappointed at being cut by Miami last year and then the interest he got from other teams. He is hoping his big season translates into a bigger offer but it’s not like he was coming off a poor season in Miami in 2012.
So he will try and figure out if he can get a substantially better deal elsewhere. All things being equal, I think Dansby sticks around. But with him and all these free agents, if you think you can improve on your contract offer by getting to March 11 and the start of free agency, you’d do it, right? I mean, you can’t get injured anymore, so there is really nothing stopping you. Then again, there is an element of a game of chicken here. If a team has a backup plan in place and you drag your feet too long, whatever interest there might be could dry up.
The Cardinals and Keim worked this dance expertly last offseason. That’s how they got Dansby and Eric Winston and John Abraham and others. And it will make for a fascinating journey as the Scouting combine comes this week and free agency arrives around the corner.
Tags: free agency, Karlos Dansby, Steve Keim
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If you are an NFL or even a sports follower, you have had to be living under a rock not to know that Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, came out Sunday publicly as a gay man. It spawned countless articles/talk show conversations/tweets on the subject, what it meant, and how the NFL might accept Sam as he enters the NFL draft.
Sam, at 6-1 1/2 and 260 pounds, would project to an outside linebacker in the Cards’ system. Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, during an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf Show” Friday morning on Arizona Sports 98.7, was asked how the Cardinals would interpret the Sam news when it came to evaluating him.
“Let me say this, and I want to make this clear,” Keim said. “Every player we evaluate for the upcoming draft, we judge them on their physical skill-set, we judge them on their football character, we judge them on their ability to learn the (playbook), and we judge them on their medical history. Race, religion, sexual orientation, those aspects are never even brought into the process. What I am concerned about is, ‘How talented is Michael Sam?’ That’s number one. Is he a good teammate? Is he good in the locker room? Is he smart? Is he competitive? And what does his medical history look like?
“If he is a good teammate, and he’s a good person, he’s going to be fine in your locker room. You teammates are going to accept him because of the person and player he is. Not those other things. We will look at Michael Sam no differently than any other player in this draft.”
Whether the Cardinals go after Sam is to be determined. I don’t know much about Sam the football player, but MMQB.com did a very good and extensive video breakdown of his season and made it sound like, as a player, he would be a project. The Cardinals, don’t forget, already have one of those at outside linebacker, after drafting Alex Okafor last season and then having Okafor lose most of his rookie season after an injury. They also are on the constant lookout for depth at that position. Forget Sam’s big announcement. The Cards need draft picks that can contribute — which goes to the point Keim was making.
Personally, I don’t see why Sam’s orientation would be an issue. It obviously hasn’t held him back up until this point. Why would that change now?
Tags: draft, Michael Sam, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 93 Comments »