Optimism reigns every year when a team’s season begins and at no time does that optimism echo more than the day when training camp begins. That day, with all due respect to QB School is Friday. That’s when the Cardinals move into the hotel next to the stadium, when they take their conditioning test and when they get the speech from coach Bruce Arians about the goals for the season. They are the same goals every season — eventually ending with a title, of course — but they must be repeated all the same.
There will be ups and downs. Some players will have a bad stretch. Somebody will get hurt, and you just hope it isn’t a season-ender. Some new players might now work out. It’s how a team deals with these events that determines the course of the final won-loss record.
I think the Cardinals have a chance to be as good or better than last year. I think their defense might need some adjustments with the losses of the inside linebackers, but I think Todd Bowles can make something work. I think, assuming health, the offense will be better. I don’t think Carson Palmer is going to morph into Peyton or even Kurt Warner, but I think he will benefit by an upgraded offensive line. How this all plays out, ultimately, with a won-loss record depends on a lot of moving parts, not all of which are under the Cardinals’ control. But they have a chance to be good, and over the years, that hasn’t always been the case.
— Calais Campbell (@Campbell93) July 24, 2014
Tags: Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Todd Bowles, training camp
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Deone Bucannon wasn’t really thrilled about having a few weeks off. In the end, he’ll probably appreciate getting away from the grind but he was admittedly so bored he ended up working out all the time anyway. “I’d go to the gym constantly,” he said Wednesday after the rookies took part in the Cardinals’ QB School. Now is the time he has been waiting for since the Cards made him a first-round pick in May.
“It’s not really nervousness, it’s more anxious,” Bucannon said. “You want to show everybody you can play and be a part of this team.”
That’s part of the mystery right now with Bucannon. He wasn’t dropped into the starting lineup in the offseason, like 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper had been. He isn’t the rookie that generated the most offseason buzz, because that was wide receiver John Brown. There were reasons for both. Cooper came into an offensive line with holes; Even with Tyrann Mathieu’s injury, the Cardinals have faith in Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson at safety. And in the offseason, it’s always easier for a skill guy — especially a receiver — to flash, rather than a defender. Especially when the defender’s top strength is hitting.
But Bucannon will be in the mix, and I still believe that by the end of camp, he will find his way into the lineup as the starting strong safety. He’s had the right mindset since the day he was drafted and clearly isn’t assuming anything — including an eventual starting job that seems obvious given his draft status. Let’s face it, if the No. 1 pick doesn’t start at some point, it’s a major whiff. But this is where we really get to see what Bucannon will bring in his first season. His under-the-radar time is over.
Tags: Deone Bucannon, John Brown, Jonathan Cooper, training camp
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As camp approaches, some of the Cardinals have begun to leak back into the building, getting in a morning workout. Most of the weight room has been cleared out, with the equipment moved to University of Phoenix Stadium for use at camp, but that didn’t stop guys like Lyle Sendlein, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Sam Acho and Marcus Benard (among others) today.
Also here were the two key rehabbers: safety Tyrann Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Both are expected to be on the physically unable to perform list when camp opens. It doesn’t mean their rehab has gone poorly or slow. But the reality is both ripped up their ACLs late in the season and coming back at the beginning of camp not only doesn’t make a lot of sense it’s probably not fair to ask.
The rehab from a torn ACL carries with it a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty of a timeline, uncertainty of what you can do even when you’re out there doing it on the field. Playing in a game is one thing. But will you be Adrian Peterson, or Robert Griffin III? One-time Cardinals tight end Stephen Spach ripped up his ACL in the Carolina playoff game during the Super Bowl run. He was back on the field six months later, although he said “there is a difference between being able to play and compete and getting to where you feel like it never happened.” It took tight end Jake Ballard a couple years to feel right, although in Ballard’s case, he had other damage besides the ACL.
Ta’amu was hurt almost a month after Mathieu but his injury was only the ACL. Mathieu had other injuries, but his rehab has gone well and he has worried less about what he can do when he plays again and more how quickly he can actually play. Both guys are key pieces to the defense. The one guarantee: The Cardinals will be better when they get back on the field.
– In other news, Mathieu has decided to change agents. It’s not altogether a surprise, since Patrick Peterson — who also had Pat Lawlor as an agent when he came into the league — dropped Lawlor in favor of Joel Segal. What will be interesting to see is if Mathieu, who looks up to Peterson, decides he too will use Segal. Unlike Peterson, Mathieu is going into only his second year of a four-year contract and any new contract is much further down the road. Peterson, of course, is already in (early) talks for a contract extension.
Tags: agents, Alameda Ta'amu, Jake Ballard, Patrick Peterson, PUP, Stephen Spach, training camp, Tyrann Mathieu
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Some NFL training camps are underway. The Cardinals get started themselves by the end of the week, with the team’s “Quarterback School” going on in a couple of days. The season is here. Many believe the Cardinals — including those who work at 8701 South Hardy — are going to be competing for a playoff spot again this season. It makes a lot of sense. But the raw reality of the division is also apparent, driven home this morning by Peter King’s initial “Fine Fifteen” ranking in the NFL.
King has the Cardinals 11th in the NFL, not altogether a bad spot (and about where many of these types of things put the Cards). There are 12 playoff teams in the NFL, so conferences aside, there is the thought the Cards belong in the postseason. But it is interesting to note that, if King’s rankings were to hold, the Cardinals would also be the last place team in the NFC West.
He has Seattle No. 1 and San Francisco No. 3, and also as St. Louis as No. 10. In the end, such rankings mean little, because they play the games on the field and not on paper and yada, yada, yada. But it does underscore what everyone talks about when it comes to the “NFC Best.” The division still plays a role in your season, although not as big as it once did — you can in theory go winless in your division and still finish with 10 victories. Last year, the Cardinals lamented their 2-4 division record, especially two close losses to the 49ers they felt were within their grasp.
It makes for an interesting question: Is it better to have your division be the best in football? Or would it be better to harken back to the days of 2008-2010, when the Cards not only were able to see lesser teams around them but in the case of 2010, remain in the hunt for the division title late in the year even though it was a bad year? Carson Palmer votes for the way it is now. “It’s a great challenge the competition within the division,” Palmer told NFL Network. “I think it really kind of hardens you as the season goes on. … It’s a grind getting through this division, but I think with Seattle and San Francisco getting to the championship game, a lot of that has to do with playing within this division. It gives you an edge.”
Tags: 49ers, Carson Palmer, NFC West, Peter King, Rams, Seahawks
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This isn’t necessarily about starters, since I have already addressed that directly. But the battles of training camp aren’t always about who plays first or the most. Sometimes it’s about roster battles and depth and who plays more than who. Some competition will come seemingly from nowhere — going into camp last season, no one would have guess Paul Fanaika would have gotten into the mix, but the Daryn Colledge injury helped that come into focus — so there will be other players to watch.
But for now, here is some of the competition I will be watching:
Guards Earl Watford, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Anthony Steen. Larsen has been backing up Lyle Sendlein at center while Steen, who can also back up both spots, didn’t do anything in the offseason recovering from injuries. Someone will be the starting right guard. The Cardinals would like for Watford to step up. It very well could be Fanaika for a second straight season. Watford should be on the roster regardless, so if he’s not starting, that will be a spot that must be won. The Cards likely will only dress seven on game days, making those swing interior guys valuable.
Tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. OK, everyone knows this one. It doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Like Watford, Massie is the guy the Cardinals would like to win the job. But he’s got to win it. Sowell isn’t going away without a fight. Sowell, however, can be a valuable game-day backup since he played left tackle all last season and can play the right. That’s a one-for-two guy on your bench.
Cornerbacks Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers. With Tyrann Mathieu still hurt, Powers is an important piece in nickle coverage to start the season. But when Mathieu gets back, can Bethel — who got so much love for his potential this offseason — find a way past Powers on the depth chart? Bethel still has much to prove. Powers has his limitations, but his smarts make him a favorite of Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians.
Inside linebackers Ernie Sims and Kenny Demens. Sims has the experience, but he also has the reputation of struggling the past couple of seasons, which is why he finds himself bouncing around the league. The Cardinals have been intrigued with Demens since his (undrafted) rookie year last year, when he spent most of his time on the practice squad. Sims came in late and is trying to catch up. Losing Daryl Washington sent a lot of things into flux at inside linebacker. One of these guys are vying for a depth role probably behind Kevin Minter, Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander.
Kickers Jay Feely, Chandler Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann. This is another obvious one. Still it’s one to watch. It’s definitely a subject that seems to get the fans riled up — and looking around the league, it’s a position that tends to do that with the fan base, for whatever reason.
Running backs Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman. Arians came out praising Hughes. He figures to be the top choice as the fourth running back behind Ellington, Dwyer and Taylor. But Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league and could sneak his way into the spot instead. What will be interesting is if the Cardinals want less of a bruiser as a fourth, like a Bauman, considering Dwyer is a big back and Taylor is more of a between-the-tackles guy too.
Wide receivers Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden. The top four receiving spots are taken. Fitz is Fitz and Floyd is Floyd. Ted Ginn will have a role, as will third-round pick John Brown. Brown flashed last year but again, he’s got competition. He’s bigger than Powell and definitely Golden — Golden would seem to be in trouble given the arrival of Brown and Ginn — but Powell is a draft pick and that usually ends up playing a role if it’s close.
Quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley. It’s hard to believe that, barring a meltdown, Thomas doesn’t find a way on to the roster. But you never know, and both players figure to get plenty of playing time in the preseason to let any battle play out in front of us.
Tags: Anthony Steen, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Brittan Golden, Chandler Catanzaro, Danny Hrapmann, Earl Watford, Ernie Sims, Jalen Parmele, Jaron Brown, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Kenny Demens, Logan Thomas, Paul Fanaika, Robert Hughes, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ted Larsen, training camp, Walt Powell, Zach Bauman
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If you are looking for a football fix or just want to chew on hundreds of pages of Cardinals information, well, here is a solution. The hardworking media relations department (Mark Dalton, Chris Melvin, Mike Helm, Matt Storey and Allison LeClair) along with design guru Mike Chavez, have produced the 2014 media guide, which is now posted to the website. You can find it right here with the chance to digest all you want about the Cardinals.
In one week, the Cardinals will be reporting to University of Phoenix Stadium. The season is just about here.
Tags: media guide
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Forbes came out with another list ranking the (estimated) value of sports teams, in this case, the world’s 50 most valuable franchises. The Cardinals make the list at No. 40, with an estimated worth of $961 million. Only the Raiders and Jaguars don’t make the top 50 list among NFL teams, meaning that even though it is top-heavy with soccer clubs (the top three are soccer, a major nod to the global fan base the sport produces) the list still provides context of how powerful the NFL — which dominates the United States — remains.
The top team is the soccer club Real Madrid, valued at $3.44 billion. The top non-soccer franchise is the New York Yankees, worth $2.5 billion, at No. 4. The top NFL team is at No. 5, with the Dallas Cowboys coming in at $2.3 billion. The Patriots, Redskins and Giants are also in the top 10.
Among NFC West teams, the San Francisco 49ers ($1.224 billion) are 20th, the Seattle Seahawks ($1.081 billion) are 28th, and the St. Louis Rams ($875 million and hoping for a new stadium, which would boost their value) are 45th.
Tags: 49ers, Bill Bidwill, Cowboys, Forbes, Giants, Michael Bidwill, Patriots, Rams, Redskins, Seahawks
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Next week is the week.
With the Cardinals’ decision-makers trickling back into the building, the end of minicamp has been a moratorium of sorts. Time off is the important thing, and with no football-related things going on, there was no reason to make any roster changes over the last month-plus. But that potentially changes Monday when everyone is back in Tempe and the Cards gear up for the camp that starts at the end of the week.
That’s no guarantee anything will happen. Last season, the Cardinals didn’t do anything to the roster (save for signing a couple of draftees) after May 21 until right as camp was starting. The biggest reasons? It was time to put Ryan Swope on the retired list (bringing in Robby Toma) and the Cardinals needed to clear room for linebacker John Abraham and tackle Eric Winston. That made just a bit of a splash as camp opened.
The Cards last transaction was June 9. Could they have another veteran or two that make sense to sign? If it’s going to happen without someone getting injured, this is the time. Vets on the market know they probably aren’t going to make the kind of money they once thought they might (Tyson Clabo, anyone?). This time around, I’m thinking the Cards have some faith in Bobby Massie, enough of which to see how he develops these next few weeks. I don’t know of any decent pass rushers hanging out either. Don’t forget, last year, Bruce Arians was still trying to get a handle on his players. Now, he knows better what they can do.
This isn’t to say the Cardinals aren’t going to stand pat with the roster. Things can change quickly, with players taking physicals next week and everything. You want to maximize the roster as practices begin. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how it all evolves, heading toward that 53-man lineup the Cards must pare down to prior to the season opener against the Chargers.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Eric Winston, John Abraham, Roster, training camp, Tyson Clabo
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Larry Fitzgerald is at home in Minnesota for a few more days, leading the way in his annual summer workouts at the University of Minnesota. So, given the fact Fitz puts on his own celebrity softball game every spring, why wouldn’t Major League Baseball invite Fitz to play a little left-centerfield for the National League in Monday’s celebrity and legends softball game paired with the Home Run Derby.
Not sure about Fitz’s actual line, but his N.L. team won, 14-4, and I saw Fitz ground a single up the middle when ESPN replayed the game late Monday night and my sons for some reason had the game on TV. I’ll give Fitz this, he’s come a long way from when he took BP with the Diamondbacks a couple of years ago.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald
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You know that it’s the dead of the offseason — real dead — when it comes to mind to point out who will be on the Cardinals’ schedule for 2015.
But here we are, inside of two weeks before training camp begins and a week away from the quarterbacks and a handful of other players reporting for a couple of days of “quarterback school” prior to the opening of camp. It’s the last hurrah for time off for both coaches and players. It doesn’t leave a lot to discuss right now. That’s all coming. But as I flipped through the new edition of the NFL Record and Fact Book, I came across the 2015 opponents for the Cardinals. So I thought I’d point them out.
As always, there are the home-and-away games against the NFC West opponents. The teams visiting University of Phoenix Stadium include the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals and then an NFC South team that ends up inhabiting the same position in their division that the Cardinals do in the NFC West by the time the 2014 season is over.
Road trips in 2015 for the Cardinals include the Chicago Bears, the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the corresponding NFC East team.
Tags: 2015 schedule, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Lions, NFC West, Packers, Ravens, Steelers, Vikings
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