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.
Tags: Calais Campbell, captains, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Lorenzo Alexander
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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.
Tags: Los Angeles, NFC West, Raiders, Seahawks
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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).
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald
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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.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Dave Zastudil, Dennis Dixon, Drew Butler, Drew Stanton, Marcus Benard, Matt Shaughnessy
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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:
Former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira, now with Fox, had previously said he thought it was flag-worthy.
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 5, 2014
Tags: Calais Campbell, Julius Thomas, Mike Pereira
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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.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Deone Bucannon, Drew Stanton, Kareem Martin, Logan Thomas, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, Troy Niklas
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In his last meeting with the media Friday before playing the Broncos, Bruce Arians talked about weathering the storm early. If his team could do that, they’d have a chance to win Sunday. The funny thing is, I think the Cardinals did weather the storm, and until Drew Stanton went out with a concussion, I think they would’ve been in the game.
But Arians apparently didn’t see the tornado coming that turned out to be Peyton Manning’s day, which hit the same time as the hurricane of injuries blowing through. (Yes, I’m mixing my weather metaphors. Work with me.)
There was a reason the Broncos’ game wasn’t an end-all, be-all to the Cards. With a struggling Washington team visiting Arizona next week and then a trip to Oakland, the Cardinals had the opportunity to take on some lesser teams. But now, the equation has changed, hasn’t it? It was bad enough to have lost Darnell Dockett for the season, but to have Calais Campbell sidelined with an MCL sprain/tear/TBD for maybe a month? That is a painful, painful loss to absorb.
And that doesn’t even touch on the quarterback situation, which as of right now could include all three QBs available next weekend or could be just one, and the one is the inexperienced Logan Thomas – who looked appropriately overwhelmed Sunday in his NFL debut.
The Cards were saying all the right things after the game, but this is going to be another major suck-it-up type of the season. Having a QB would help, but as I write this on the flight home, it’s impossible to know where Palmer and Stanton might be Wednesday, much less for kickoff against the Redskins.
– Manning was fantastic. Again. He did throw two interceptions – and the duck Jerraud Powers picked off was a bad, bad pass – but to have a career-best in passing yards after a career like he has had, is just special. Peyton was Peyton. It doesn’t hurt to have all those crossing patterns that border on pick plays, but really, that wasn’t the story. Manning knew where he could exploit the Cardinals, and he commenced exploitation.
– Always impressed when a guy comes out and meets the media no problem after a bad game. Antonio Cromartie stood there and answered the questions. He played poorly and said so. But that’s also the reality of leaving those guys on an island, and Demaryious Thomas – despite a slow start – is one of the league’s better receivers. Painful to note – he would have given up an extra 77-yard TD pass to Thomas, except that was the play tight end Julius Thomas chopped blocked Campbell out of the game.
– Calais, how could you possibly let Peyton cost you a pick-6? “Don’t give me a full tackle for that,” Manning said. “Give me like a half. Barely grazed his leg.”
– I haven’t really looked closely at the Campbell hit. But I’m not sure how you legislate that short of suspending a guy. And I don’t know if that is the answer either.
– USA Today got Julius Thomas to talk about the Cards’ contention of it being a dirty play. “I guarantee you being dirty is not part of my game, and to intentionally hurt somebody is something I would never do,” Thomas said. Thomas said he had a miscommunication with tackle Ryan Clady on who was supposed to block Campbell on the play.
– The protection wasn’t quite as consistent as previous games, but I didn’t think the line played poorly. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller are going to get to the quarterback. They are among the best in the league. There was more pressure after Logan Thomas came in, but that’s expected when the QB is inexperienced. The first sack, when Ware beat Jared Veldheer, it looked to me Thomas dropped a little too far back and never moved up into the pocket until it was too late.
– That was a pretty pass Thomas drilled in there to Andre Ellington for the 81-yard TD. You take whatever highlights you can if you are Thomas. Something to remember. Got to do better than 1-for-8, obviously.
– The craziness of the NFL’s passing rating though: Thomas, because of his long TD, had a passer rating of 108.9 despite going 1-for-8. Manning, 31-of-47 for 479 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs, had a passing rating of 110.2.
– Can’t kick field goals against the Broncos. Can miss wide-open TD passes like Stanton-to-Housler or Stanton-to-Smokey Brown. Can’t drop the ball, repeatedly, when a catch gives you a first down. And it was equal opportunity drops.
We’ll see how easily the Cards can put this in the rear view. And who, exactly, they have to use against the Redskins.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Antonio Cromartie, Broncos, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, DeMarcus Ware, Demaryious Thomas, Drew Stanton, Jared Veldheer, Jerraud Powers, Julius Thomas, Logan Thomas, Peyton Manning, Von Miller
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The newer Cardinals aren’t going to be playing today in an inactive list that doesn’t surprise. Coach Bruce Arians just said Friday running back Marion Grice wasn’t ready to play yet so he is down. So too is outside linebacker Thomas Keiser, who had played every game but now sits because Alex Okafor is finally healthy. Linebacker Desmond Bishop, who just signed, also isn’t playing.
The full inactive list:
– QB Carson Palmer (shoulder, but getting healthier)
– RB Marion Grice
– LB Desmond Bishop
– LB Thomas Keiser
– LB Glenn Carson (ankle)
– DT Bruce Gaston
– TE Darren Fells
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It’s game day in Denver, but the Cardinals might have gotten some future good news already. Fox’s Jay Glazer reported that Palmer actually flew to Denver ahead of the team Friday to visit with nerve specialists and came out of the meeting optimistic that the nerve is better and could even possibly play next week against Washington. That was underscored about an hour later, when Palmer — who will be inactive today — was throwing passes on the field for the first time since his shoulder injury regressed during bye weekend.
Palmer was only tossing lightly and the ball was only traveling nine or 10 yards, but it is a start. I’m sure we’ll get some update from Bruce Arians after the game, and as always, it’ll be the practice days of Wednesday and Thursday next week that are the ultimate barometer of where Palmer stands in terms of playing.
Tags: Carson Palmer
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Peyton Manning has been playing quarterback in the NFL since 1998, but the Cardinals have only truly played against him once — at least, until the Cards visit Denver Sunday. Sure, Manning started against the Cardinals in Indianapolis in 2005 in the regular-season finale, but he played only three plays before Tony Dungy yanked him in a game mostly remembered (?) as Cardinal Rolando Cantu becoming the first Mexican non-kicker to play in a game and for Neil Rackers breaking the NFL record for field goals in a season (and the Cards still losing).
Manning’s full game came at University of Phoenix Stadium under the lights of “Sunday Night Football” as Peyton dismantled the reigning NFC champions in a 31-10 rout as Manning had 379 yards passing and four touchdown passes.
What happens this time? The Cardinals have a better defense than at that point. Whether that means they can slow Manning down, well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it? Bruce Arians said he expects the Broncos to go no-huddle early, like the 49ers did, and attack quickly. “If we can weather that storm,” Arians said, “I like where we’re at.”
Also in the Cardinals’ back pocket: The run defense. Even Manning can have a tough time if his team can’t run. “If we get in a one-dimensional game,” Arians said, “I like our chances.”
If the Cardinals can get to 4-0, with a win in Denver …
– Drew Stanton starts again. It’s old hat by now, really, and given the improvement game over game, the hope is Stanton can make another step forward. It’s possible, because the Broncos are only OK against the pass. As long as the protection holds up. And Stanton doesn’t turn the ball over, which is what doomed the Cards the last time they played Peyton.
– The Cardinals have yet to throw an interception. “Man, why are you trying to jinx us?” Arians said, feigning disgust. “It’s like bringing up Cat Man.” Cat Man, or kicker Chandler Catanzaro, was a subject of a similar question earlier in the year when he hadn’t missed a field goal. Except Catanzaro still hasn’t missed (9 for 9). Maybe Stanton keeps it going too, although Arians correctly mentioned the Cardinals have “thrown some (interceptions) they’ve dropped. Luckily, we got those back.”
– Catanzaro could get a field goal try of 60 yards or more Sunday in the Mile High air, Arians said.
– Manning needs one touchdown pass to reach 500 in his career, and nine to tie Brett Favre for the most in NFL history. Arians was confused at first, thinking Manning needed nine to get to 500, when he was asked about possibly surrendering 500 this weekend.
“If he gets nine, I’m not getting on the plane,” Arians said. “I think he needs nine of them, doesn’t he?”
Arians was told it was just one. “ One? I thought it was nine. I’ll give him one.”
– Manning, not surprisingly, was downplaying the 500 angle. “If (running back) Montee (Ball) wants to run for five touchdowns and we don’t throw any and we win the game I can assure you I’m fine with that,” Manning said.
– I feel confident in saying Ball will not rush for five TDs. Not against this defense.
– Lot of talk about people on the Cardinals that “know” Manning. Arians and Tom Moore know his offense. Antonio Cromartie once had three interceptions in a game against Manning, in 2007. Jerraud Powers battled Manning every day in practice for a couple of years in Indy. I agree with Arians. It doesn’t really matter.
– That said, I like the idea that Todd Bowles has had two weeks to prepare a defense for this game.
– So much has been made about the stats of Larry Fitzgerald, who only has 10 catches for 107 yards in three games. Michael Floyd has a lot more yards (252) but he only has 11 catches himself to lead the team. And Smokey Brown nine. The receptions are spread out quite a bit thus far.
– Arians was asked about this being a big game Sunday, and he referenced having Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew on hand as a perk. “You want Joe Buck and Troy Aikman doing your games,” Arians said. “Nothing against David Diehl, he’s a hell of a kid, but you know?”
Diehl, the former player and new analyst, did the Cardinals’ game against San Francisco two weeks ago.
– The Cardinals-versus-Broncos, although a frequent preseason occurrence, is very rare in the regular season. The two teams have only met nine times ever, and the Cardinals have only won once – the most recent meeting in Arizona in 2010. (There was also a tie). The Cardinals are 0-4 in Denver, although they haven’t played there since 2002.
It’s going to be interesting to see how this turns out. As Arians said Friday, the season isn’t over with a loss. But a win certainly would help the cause.
Tags: Broncos, Bruce Arians, Chandler Catanzaro, Drew Stanton, Jerraud Powers, Peyton Manning, Todd Bowles
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