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Housler signs with Browns

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2015 – 2:19 pm

Rob Housler wasn’t coming back to the Cardinals. The team had decided to move on from the tight end and 2011 third-round pick, so he was always going to have a new address in 2015. It turned out to be Cleveland, where Thursday Housler worked out a one-year contract. He joins former Cardinals teammates Karlos Dansby and Jim Dray. Once the Cardinals drafted Troy Niklas last year, Housler’s days were probably numbered, and with Darren Fells emerging as a future possibility at tight end, the Cards had — along with John Carlson — the tight ends they needed.

Coach Bruce Arians has said he is hoping to add an H-back-type tight end. Right now, the Cards have five tight ends on the roster: Niklas, Fells, Carlson, Ted Bolser and Ifeanyi Momah.

HouseGoneUSE


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Seeking the bargain “name”

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2015 – 9:40 am

At some point, it figures, Steve Keim will find a “name” veteran who figures out he isn’t going to get the money he had planned on making in free agency and is willing to come to Arizona on a (likely) one-year deal. In 2013, that was Karlos Dansby and then, right before training camp, Eric Winston and John Abraham (although Abraham ended up signing a two-year contract.) Last year, the guy was Antonio Cromartie and, to a lesser extent, Larry Foote.

This year? We’ll see. If it doesn’t come before the draft — Dansby was post-draft, for instance — so be it.

“The second and third wave comes when guys come to their senses and realize they aren’t going to get the dollars or the type of long-term or guaranteed deals they expected,” Keim said. “We’ll pounce if the numbers are right. Right now if we went into the draft and didn’t address another position, I feel good with where we are at.”

Who could such a player be? The list of available players at this point don’t have any names that significantly stand out. Here’s a look at some potential pickups based merely on who is still out there and possible fit (although this is strictly speculation — at this point, I will be surprised if anything happens before the draft, and then the Cardinals will sort it out from there):

— TE Jermaine Gresham. Coming off a back injury and right now, I don’t see them chasing a guy like this. Troy Niklas is the one they have high hopes about, they like what Darren Fells could be as a blocker and I’ll be surprised at this point if John Carlson doesn’t remain part of the 2015 plan. Bruce Arians said he was looking for an H-back type if anyone. Gresham isn’t that guy.

— TE James Casey. OK, he’s not really a “name” but he is an H-back-type who still hasn’t signed anywhere since talking to the Cards a month ago. Could he be a late add?

— LB Brandon Spikes. The Cardinals already added LaMarr Woodley on the one-year, prove-it deal, so maybe that’s their Dansby/Foote linebacker choice for 2015. Besides, Spikes is the two-down run-stopper, and that’s why you have Kevin Minter.

— C Stefen Wisniewski. Still unsigned, he is reportedly coming off shoulder surgery after the Cards were linked to him pre-free agency. Now, with the addition of A.Q. Shipley, it’s hard to believe the Cardinals would bring Wisniewski in, unless it turned into a real bargain sign.

— Pass rusher Dwight Freeney. Perhaps Freeney makes the most sense, given his status in the league. In some ways, he is like Abraham. His sack totals haven’t been the same (3.5 last season) although he had a team-best 40 quarterback hurries playing for the Chargers. Plus, the 35-year-old was with the Colts when Arians was there.

Again, much of this is wait-and-see, a door open for the Cards to move “if the numbers are right.” Always, if the numbers are right.

Bruce Arians, Dwight Freeney


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Larry Fitzgerald hosts youth camp

Posted by Darren Urban on April 8, 2015 – 1:57 pm

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be holding his fourth annual ProCamp in about a month — May 9-10, to be exact — for boys and girls in grades 1-8. Both days will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Tempe’s McClintock High School. Led by prep and college coaches from the area, Fitz — who recently stopped by the Cardinals’ facility to get a workout in in between jumping off ridiculously high places — will help teach fundamental football skills while interacting with the kids.

Each camper gets a Fitz autograph and a team photo with Larry. Cost is $199, although when you sign up if you use the code “askdarren” you’ll get 15 percent off. Just go to www.procamps.com/larryfitzgerald.

FitzProCamp


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Peterson addresses his “abnormal sugar levels”

Posted by Darren Urban on April 7, 2015 – 1:38 pm

During the season Bruce Arians had referred to a vague medical problem Patrick Peterson had dealt with, and then during the Scouting combine said it had to do with Peterson’s “blood issues.” Kent Somers, talking to Peterson over the weekend, had Peterson acknowledge “I am a diabetic.” Today, Peterson tweeted out a statement of his own.

The important part of the statement is that Peterson said through diet and a doctor’s care, “I’m grateful that this has been reversible for me and my health is back to normal.”

Arians didn’t talk about the health issues at all at the recent NFL spring meetings when talking about the Pro Bowl cornerback. Asked if he felt Peterson was criticized too much last season, Arians said “it was probably warranted in September.” But he quickly added that Peterson bounced back strong (and perhaps not coincidentally, about the time Peterson would have figured out his health plan.)

“He’s on the number one guy from the other team every week, all over the field,” Arians said. “You’re going to lose a few battles. I don’t care who you are. Deion used to lose some battles.

“(Peterson) gets overly criticized because of his stature. There was not much to criticize from October to the rest of the way.”

PetersonissueUSE

 


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The battle coming at center

Posted by Darren Urban on April 6, 2015 – 11:30 am

Since 2008, every single position on the offensive line has had some kind of competition at one point for the Cardinals — except at center. That’s where Lyle Sendlein manned the job, and there was never really anyone around to truly push the status quo. That’s changed, now, with Sendlein getting released (after being asked to take a paycut and being informed that indeed, there would be a competition this year.) A.Q. Shipley was signed as a free agent and more importantly, the Cardinals have Ted Larsen — who started at guard all last season but did a solid job in for an injured Sendlein during the preseason in 2014.

The door remains open for Sendlein to return if he wanted, but he’ll explore all his other options for now. If he were to return, it’s probably safe to say one of those vets won’t be with the team by the time final roster cutdowns happen. There is a chance a center/guard could find his way on to the team through the draft or as an undrafted rookie, although the team still has last year’s UDFA Anthony Steen who would be in that role. (There were times when Jonathan Cooper took some pre-game snaps as the third center last year, but I highly doubt he will be in the mix. For Coop, it’s about winning that right guard spot.)

That the Cardinals decided to shift things around at center isn’t a huge surprise, especially when it comes to the money. The team now has significantly more invested at guard after signing Mike Iupati (plus a seventh-overall draft pick contract with Cooper) and while Bobby Massie is playing out a fourth-round rookie deal at right tackle, Jared Veldheer is making big bucks at left tackle. You can’t pay them all, and center was a spot they were looking to address. If I had to guess at a starter right now, I’d guess Larsen. (Bruce Arians declined to say who it would be as of right now.) We are a long way from seeing what direction that storyline goes come September.

CenterBlogUSE


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With workouts, volunteering to be paid

Posted by Darren Urban on April 2, 2015 – 4:31 pm

When the strength and conditioning program begins for the Cardinals (and around most of the league) April 20, the tendency is to wonder, “Who isn’t there?” Then becomes the rash of “Remember, it’s only voluntary” answers.

(The teams with new head coaches can begin sooner.)

As the years have gone on and teams have hoped that their players would show up to such voluntary work, many contracts have been drawn up with workout bonuses attached. For a pretty good chunk of change, the players just have to come to a high percentage of the voluntary workout dates. The Cardinals are no different.

A list of the players on the active roster that have workout bonuses. (NT Alameda Ta’amu has a workout-like bonus, but that money is tied to making weight, not just showing up to work):

P Dave Zastudil $270,000
DE Calais Campbell $250,000
QB Drew Stanton $250,000
LB Sean Weatherspoon $250,000
S Rashad Johnson $150,000
DT Corey Peters $150,000
LB Matt Shaughnessy $125,000
CB Patrick Peterson $100,000
LB Lorenzo Alexander $100,000
S Tyrann Mathieu $50,000
C/G A.Q. Shipley $25,000
C/G Ted Larsen $25,000

ShaughnWOuse


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Sam Acho heads to Bears

Posted by Darren Urban on April 1, 2015 – 11:20 am

It was becoming pretty clear the Cardinals were going to move on from linebacker Sam Acho once he hit free agency, but that became official Wednesday when Acho signed a one-year contract with the Bears. Acho flashed as a rookie in 2011 with seven sacks, although never quite found that pass-rush level again. His 2013 was cut way short after he broke his leg. Last season he had 46 tackles and one sack — in the finale — in a reserve role.

There is little question about Acho the human being, however. A better person you won’t find. Any interaction with a fan — and he made sure to do that plenty — led to that fan being his fan. It was nearly impossible to do otherwise. I happened to talk with him a bit at a Suns’ game last month and at the time — right after the initial binge of free agency — Acho said he was probably going to lay low for a bit. At that point, it seemed like his time as a Cardinal had passed, unless he might return post-draft had the team not found a replacement. Now, the Cardinals need to work on building their outside linebacking corps, with the only ones under contract right now Lorenzo Alexander, Alex Okafor, Matt Shaughnessy and LaMarr Woodley. Kareem Martin will also get work there this offseason, but taking one with in the first round of the draft remains a strong possibility.

You can read the farewell statement Acho wrote right here.

Acho, meanwhile, will leave a lot of happy memories with fans in Arizona, like this little girl after a Flagstaff training camp practice in 2012.


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Arians “won’t shy away” from big goals

Posted by Darren Urban on March 31, 2015 – 4:29 pm

Bruce Arians has never been shy about bold proclamations about his team, like after winning the Coach of the Year award before the Super Bowl saying that he planned on his players dressing in the locker rooms of the 49ers’ stadium at the same time the following year — when Super Bowl 50 is played.

Last week at the NFL spring meetings, someone pointed out that Rex Ryan often had the same kind of talk when leading the Jets, until Ryan apparently got to the point where he felt like he was putting an unnecessary target on his team. Arians was asked if he had considered those ramifications.

“No, because we talk about it in the first meeting and then we don’t talk about it anymore,” Arians said. “That’s the goal every year. Last year (the Super Bowl) just happened to be in our stadium. It was easy to look a guy in the eye and say, ‘Who’s dressing in your locker?’ We don’t have that so I have to come up with a new line this year.

“The goal is to win the Super Bowl. We won’t shy away. We talk about it the first day and then we talk about the process, every day the process.”

BAgoalsuse

 


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Bucannon as safety, not (as much) linebacker

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2015 – 9:31 am

Deone Bucannon was drafted as a safety, and then basically played linebacker all season. It was necessary because the Cardinals lost Daryl Washington and never quite found a linebacker replacement — so then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles dropped the rookie into the mix in the nickel package as the new Washington.

Bucannon did pretty well in the role. But he sees himself as a safety and so do the Cardinals, and Bucannon will be a safety in 2015 — unless he isn’t.

“He’s going to play safety,” coach Bruce Arians said. “We know he can play dime linebacker. He’ll play safety until we find out we don’t have the other guy.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well, newcomer Sean Weatherspoon, if healthy, is a three-down linebacker. And there is still a chance the Cardinals will bring back Washington. If Washington does not return — or even if he does — the Cardinals could still draft another (speedy) inside linebacker. I don’t know if there is anyone out there left on the free agent market the Cardinals could sign for that role but it wouldn’t be unheard of for the position later in the offseason (Karlos Dansby, Larry Foote). Another factor: The Cards are flush at safety, with Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson along with Bucannon.

“We know we have the flexibility because we have so many good, quality safeties,” Arians said. “He’ll still play (some linebacker) because we will still have that package. We like to have that much speed on the field.”

BucAsSafetyuse


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Arians: Suspended players need structure

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2015 – 9:48 am

When Bruce Arians was asked about suspended linebacker Daryl Washington earlier this week, he declined again. Arians has been pretty straightforward with handling questions about Washington that way. “He’s not even a part of our team so there’s no sense in talking about him,” Arians said.

Washington recently spoke about his excitement about returning to the NFL. It’s still no guarantee. The NFL still has to reinstate him, and in terms of the Cardinals, he’s still going to have to rebuild the trust he shredded on his way to his year-long punishment. (And that doesn’t include any other possible NFL punishment for his assault conviction.)

In general terms, though, Arians was willing to talk about how suspended players are treated. Washington, like other players with long-term suspensions, has not been allowed to be around the facility.

“I would definitely not isolate them from the only structure in their life,” Arians said. “You have to make sure they have structure on their life. Hopefully, that structure will help them overcome the problem — not turn them loose on themselves because obviously when they’re by themselves they can’t handle it. … Not just the team, but structured rehab with the team.”

WashBAbloguse


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