Blogs

Josh Rosen draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2018 – 8:59 pm

Whatever concerns others might have had about Josh Rosen’s personality or leadership skills, the Cardinals don’t have them. They wouldn’t have traded up Thursday night to get the quarterback, otherwise. GM Steve Keim was feeling good about it, having his own mic-drop moment to close out his Rosen press conference after he was asked about the fact Rosen had a hot tub (inflatable) in his dorm room at UCLA.

“Wish I had one,” Keim deadpanned.

Keim used to say that about a (potential) long-term answer at quarterback. He doesn’t have to wish anymore.

For all the slings and arrows the GM has absorbed — and many are fair criticisms — the biggest was that he didn’t find a successor for Carson Palmer. And while there was a certain amount of good fortune that played into it Thursday, Keim indeed found that guy only a few months after Palmer retired, and he has a bridge guy in Sam Bradford to help the Cardinals in the short term. That the Cards didn’t have to spend their second-round pick or next year’s first rounder was simply the best-case scenario. The Cards still have two picks Friday thanks to that third-round compensatory selection earned from losing Calais Campbell as a free agent.

As for Rosen, nothing has changed from all the speculation prior to the draft. No one knows for sure who the best QB will be from the five selected in the first round. Maybe Rosen will be it. He certainly made no bones about the fact he thought he should’ve been the first picked. He’ll have a chance to show everyone why. (Really, to “drop” to 10 isn’t horrible. It wasn’t like Aaron Rodgers dropping to 24 when he thought he should go first. Rodgers turned out to be right.)

He’s known for being outspoken, but Steve Wilks said he loves Rosen’s personality. Rosen isn’t stupid. He knows what he’s walking into, and his place as a rookie. He’s not going to sit in a corner in silence, but he’s smart enough to get it.

“I want to be me and the Arizona Cardinals know what they are getting,” Rosen said. “They are not getting a kid that is going to say stupid things and piss people off unnecessarily.”

They are getting a kid who might just be that quarterback everyone has been waiting for.


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 64 Comments »

The draft from Winslow, Az (and a draft show)

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2018 – 1:09 pm

All NFL teams will have a “hook” for Day Three of the draft — Saturday — and the Cardinals are going to Winslow, Arizona, for theirs. Three of their Day Three picks will be announced from Standin’ on the Corner Park in downtown Winslow. The park, which opened in 1999, was opened to commemorate the famous song by the Eagles, “Take It Easy,” which features the line, “Standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” Fans are welcome, with the draft starting at 9 a.m. that day.

Last year, the Cardinals did a similar announcing of picks at the Grand Canyon.

A pair of former Cardinals, wide receiver Frank Sanders and kicker Neil Rackers, will be there to announce the team’s fourth-round pick. The fifth-round pick will be announced by Winslow mayor Robin Boyd and the sixth-round pick will be announced by the Winslow High School football team. Barring any trades, of course. (The seventh-round pick will be announced in Dallas by season ticket members Robert and Marcia Fischer.

Then, Saturday night, Channel 12 will host a draft special at 8 p.m. (following the NHL playoff game.) that will feature Ron Wolfley along with Paul Gerke and Kristen Keogh. The joint production between the team and 12 News will have, among other things, a review and analysis of the Cards’ picks, a look inside the Cardinals’ draft room, and segments on Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Wilks and David Johnson. The show will be 90 minutes.

 


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 76 Comments »

The picks at 15, and Steve Little

Posted by Darren Urban on April 23, 2018 – 4:51 pm

Every draft is different, but with the Cardinals selecting at 15 overall, it’s a good time to see what players have been chosen in the NFL’s 15th slot over the recent past. The last time the Cardinals picked 15th — and it’s been 40 years — it didn’t go all that well. The then-St. Louis Cardinals actually selected a kicker/punter when they took Steve Little. Little missed 14 of his 27 NFL field-goal attempts and 10 extra-points — the shorter ones — in less than three seasons. (Little was released six games into the 1980 season and was paralyzed in an accident soon after.)

That’s the only time in the modern draft (since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger) that the Cards have picked 15th.

As with most draft spots, the selections have been hit or miss in terms of success, although it does seem to be weighted toward the “hit” side overall. A sampling of the last 15 years:

2017   S Malik Hooker (Colts)
2016   WR Corey Coleman (Browns)
2015   RB Melvin Gordon (Chargers)
2014   LB Ryan Shazier (Steelers)
2013   S Kenny Vaccaro (Saints)
2012   LB Bruce Irvin (Seahawks)
2011   G Mike Pouncey (Dolphins)
2010   DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants)
2009   LB Brian Cushing (Texans)
2008   T Branden Albert (Chiefs)
2007   LB Lawrence Timmons (Steelers)
2006   CB Tye Hill (Rams)
2005   LB Derrick Johnson (Chiefs)
2004   WR Michael Clayton (Bucs)
2003   DE Jerome McDougal (Eagles)

The last time the Cardinals picked 47th — their second-round slot this year — it was an unquestioned hit, with an asterisk: LB Daryl Washington.

 


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

The day Pat Tillman died

Posted by Darren Urban on April 22, 2018 – 9:22 am

My kids were 4 and 2 so I was up early to help feed them breakfast with my wife when my cell phone rang. It was the producer at a local TV station I knew. She wanted to know if I had heard anything about Pat Tillman being killed in combat. I hadn’t, but my mind flashed back to Pat’s surprise visit to the Cardinals in their final 2003 road trip — to Seattle, near where Tillman was based after his initial Middle East tour — and the knowledge he had re-upped for another tour, even though he had finished out his mandatory service.

It was true, of course. Tillman was killed on April 22, and the news had trickled back as April 23 began in Arizona. It was Friday, the day before the draft. I had been planning only on writing a story that day about the Cardinals picking third (and, even with the top quarterbacks available, it seemed pretty clear the Cards would select Larry Fitzgerald with their first-round pick.) Instead, it was about helping produce a special section for the East Valley Tribune about Tillman’s life and his time at ASU and with the Cardinals, and a Sports Illustrated cover story that should’ve just been about something else, I don’t know, maybe the Eli Manning-Chargers dust-up. Certainly not the passing of such a promising man.

The Cardinals had then-VP Michael Bidwill and offensive lineman Pete Kendall (pictured) come out and speak, and also Anthony Edwards, the team’s director of player programs and one-time receiver. It was such an odd day, with the overwhelming sadness contrasted with the fact the draft — the NFL’s annual rebirth for teams — coming the next two days. The coaches that knew him the best were not around, with Denny Green having taken over just a few months before. But because Tillman had been a part of the Arizona landscape for so long, everyone in the Valley knew him. These are the things I think about — as well as 9/11 — when I take part in Pat’s Run every year, as thousands did so yesterday.

It’s been 14 years. On this day, though, it feels like it just happened.


Tags:
Posted in Blog | 8 Comments »

Nkemdiche optimism returns

Posted by Darren Urban on April 20, 2018 – 9:51 am

In the brief time Steve Wilks has been head coach of the Cardinals, he does not come across as someone prone to hyperbole. So when he praises 2016 first-round draft pick Robert Nkemdiche after Nkemdiche’s first two underwhelming NFL seasons, it’s easy to take note.

“Robert is a very intriguing guy,” Wilks said of the defensive tackle. “I constantly talk to Robert all week about tempo … (because) I really have to slow Robert down. We don’t have on pads. And that’s a great thing. That’s a real good thing. You want to be able to slow guys down, not tell them to pick it up. Robert is going to be tremendous for us this year. He’s locked in, he’s focused, he came back in shape, he’s ready to go.”

Nkemdiche needs to do more on the field. He has acknowledged that. But all last season, his work ethic and practice habits earned him praise from coaches. Now he’s getting more from a new staff. He just needs to translate it to the football field. At this point, his draft status doesn’t mean much — one-time undrafted DT Olsen Pierre, who had a very nice breakout season last year, was more effective than Nkemdiche — but he still has a ton of tools.

He’s also now playing for a coach who is known for getting different personalities to play well (right, Josh Norman?) and for honing in on developing players. A big step forward by Nkemdiche would be an awesome way for Wilks to immediately put that player-development stamp on his new team.

“He said, ‘Coach, I’m committed to excellence this year,’ ” Wilks said. “So far, he’s been a plus on the football field. I’m excited about him.”

N


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 43 Comments »

Bradford gets started, limited as expected

Posted by Darren Urban on April 17, 2018 – 5:16 pm

Steve Wilks said last week that there was “no rush” to get quarterback Sam Bradford on the field full-time, and that he would be limited in the first minicamp. And Tuesday, as the Cardinals got on the field for the first time, Bradford was indeed limited, and Wilks said afterward that wasn’t going to change.

“We will continue to do the same with Sam,” Wilks said, noting that Bradford did do “some things” with the first unit.

“He’s limited right now, so when we get a chance to work together, from what I’ve seen, which is on tape or standing across the field watching when he was playing for the Rams, he’s a pinpoint passer,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He’s extremely accurate, he can make all the throws than anybody would ever ask.

“Moreso me, I just need to learn (about) him, gain his trust by showing him every day I’m capable of making the plays he needs me to make.”

Wilks wasn’t going to get more expansive about Bradford, but it wasn’t limited to the quarterback’s status either. When asked about rehabbing players like tackle D.J. Humphries and defensive end Markus Golden, Wilks declined to talk much about what point they are at with their injuries.

“I don’t really try to put timetables on things,” Wilks said. “I don’t try to create promises. We just want to have results.”


Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 50 Comments »

A much different running backs room

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2018 – 1:38 pm

Injuries certainly took a toll on Cardinals running backs last season, especially when you are talking about the bellcow going down in the first game of the season. But David Johnson has returned, and beyond that, there will be some significant change. Of the top five running backs in rushing yards for the team last year, only one remains — Elijhaa Penny. Kerwynn Williams was the latest to depart, heading to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. Already long gone are Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington (the latter two, of course, didn’t even make it to the end of 2017.)

So as of now, there is Johnson at the top of the depth chart (where he would have been regardless of anyone else on the roster.) T.J. Logan, who showed tremendous promise as a rookie before suffering nearly the same wrist injury as Johnson (and like Johnson, has some fresh, healthy legs) and Penny, who has some size and who knows, could play a little fullback if needed. The Cards also have D.J. Foster along with Darius Victor and Bronson Hill, both of whom spent time with the team at the end of 2017.

This is a position the Cards could look at in the draft. Then again, there might be more positions they wouldn’t mind addressing in the draft than their eight picks, so decisions will have to be made.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 50 Comments »

The plan to work outside in camp — maybe

Posted by Darren Urban on April 10, 2018 – 3:16 pm

Steve Wilks won’t be holding any joint practices in training camp in his first season — “I wanted to concentrate on us,” he said Tuesday — but what will be interesting is the amount of practices held inside University of Phoenix Stadium as opposed to not. In the heat of August, getting in the air-conditioning building holds heavy sway, but as the new Cardinals’ coach said, “we will try and get out as much as possible.”

“I know the weather is an issue out here,” Wilks said. “I’ve talked to the trainers about that on several occasions. (Head athletic trainer) Tom (Reed) has looked at me (like), ‘OK.’ We’ll definitely see how it goes. I think it’s all about building that callus up. But I’m going to be smart.”

Wilks isn’t unaware. He told a story about when he was an assistant with the then-San Diego Chargers, and when the team got off the plane, it was 118 degrees. The Chargers were staying in the Biltmore area, and Wilks, it being a night game, was looking to walk around and maybe get a bite to eat earlier on game day.

“I’m just going to get out and walk around,” he said. “I got out to the tunnel and I turned right around and said ‘room service.’ It was hot.”

So Wilks knows what it can be like, obviously.

“I’m listening to the stories,” Wilks added. “I’m saying we’re going to be outside, but we’ll see.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 53 Comments »

Barwin and where things are in free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2018 – 1:50 pm

There was a report Monday morning that the Cardinals would be getting a free-agent visit from veteran pass rusher Connor Barwin, who played for the Rams last season. Whether or not something comes of that, it’s a good reminder of where things are in the NFL when it comes to free agency, especially this close to the draft.

The bigger contracts for free agents have dried up. Players still out there usually have to consider playing for a little bit less than they originally planned in order to get a spot now, or they can wait until after the draft, see what teams fill up the holes at that player’s particular position, and then try and get a little leverage that way. Jordan Matthews, a receiver who visited the Cardinals among others early in free agency, didn’t sign until he got  a one-year, minimum deal with the Patriots recently.

The Cardinals, in the Steve Keim era, rarely sign a free agent in April prior to the draft, in fact. The last time they did it was 2015 — and that was just to allow Adrian Wilson to retire as a Cardinal. The last time they signed players who actually took the field in the offseason was when they signed cornerbacks LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley in 2014, and neither lasted into the regular season.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 37 Comments »

When Patrick Peterson “met” Sam Bradford

Posted by Darren Urban on April 6, 2018 – 9:10 am

Patrick Peterson chuckled. He hasn’t had a chance to catch up with new teammate Sam Bradford about the last time the two met on a football field, but it was memorable. Perhaps you remember — in a Cardinals’ 30-24 loss in Minnesota in November of 2016, the Vikings ran a play with a direct snap to running back Matt Asiata. Bradford, the Vikings’ quarterback, slid out wide as a receiver on the play. And when the ball was snapped, Peterson ran up and shoved him to the ground.

Peterson still doesn’t know why it was a 15-yard roughing penalty when Bradford was split wide. But it caused an uproar. Bradford shrugged it off after the game — “If we get 15 yards, I’ll take it every time,” he said — but all the Vikings linemen were ticked off. “I’m not happy about that,” then-Vikings guard Alex Boone said at the time. “We’ll talk about it later. He knows what he did, and he knows what he’s got coming to him.”

Yes, that’s the Alex Boone that was Peterson’s teammate last season. And while Peterson hasn’t talked to Bradford about it, he has talked to Boone.

“He was like, ‘I almost decked you because you laid out my freaking quarterback,’ ” Peterson recalled. “I was like, ‘He was a receiver. I didn’t know he was a quarterback at the time.’ I remember on that play, because they ran that play previously, and I did nothing to him. Coach (Bruce Arians) was like, ‘Next time they run that play, take him out.’ So I did. I was just following the instruction of my head coach.”

Peterson laughed at the memory. “Next thing you know, I got a flag. I am happy I did not get a fine. It hurt us because I think they scored that same drive (they did, aided by another personal foul on Tony Jefferson), but I think B.A. took that penalty for me.”

To be fair, the Cardinals — and Arians — had a point. The previous time the Vikings ran the play, Bradford curled back a bit, took a backward throw from the running back and threw deep downfield, earning a pass interference call inside the 5-yard line and a big reason for Peterson to want to take Bradford out of the play the next time.

We’ll see if Peterson and Bradford have a discussion about personal fouls past. And who knows? Boone, a free agent, could ostensibly still return to the Cardinals, and all three would have the chance to reminisce.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 50 Comments »