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Freeney an option no longer

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2016 – 1:50 pm

Many times it’s been asked if the Cardinals were going to re-sign Dwight Freeney. It was unlikely unless there was an injury, but until he signed somewhere, there was always a chance. That chance is gone now. Freeney is headed to Atlanta to sign with the Falcons, ending whatever opportunity there was for him to return to Arizona.

In truth, Freeney’s chance to come back dried up when the Cardinals traded for Chandler Jones in March. Jones is a three-down player and a guy who is younger and better than Freeney, even after Freeney’s excellent eight-sacks-in-11-games year for the Cards a year ago. Behind Jones are a bunch of younger outside linebackers and the truth is the Cardinals need to develop linebackers for the future. Freeney won’t be around for the future.

That doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t see Freeney again. The Cardinals visit the Falcons Nov. 27. We’ll see how Jared Veldheer and/or D.J. Humphries deal with the spin move.


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Amid Mathieu contract reports, a lunch update

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2016 – 12:39 pm

A quick lunchtime update from training camp, amid multiple reports that the Cardinals and Tyrann Mathieu have agreed on a contract extension. Nothing official yet, so we’ll see how it plays out. In the meantime:

— On the injury front, WR J.J. Nelson (groin), WR Franky Okafor (ankle) and DT Ed Stinson (calf) got hurt Monday. LB Alani Fua hurt his knee and that’s the one the Cards are most concerned about. Fua is having an MRI to determine the severity.

— QB Carson Palmer will have a vets day off Tuesday. Larry Fitzgerald was supposed to, but with all the receiver injuries, he’s going to do some work.

— Arians on LT Jared Veldheer, who weighed about 310 last year but it up to 330 this year despite cutting body fat. “When he came to us he was a mountain,” Arians said. “Last year he was a pole.” Arians said Veldheer needed the weight after getting bullrushed too much in 2015.

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Smokey’s head check and Jenkins surgery

Posted by Darren Urban on August 1, 2016 – 12:30 pm

Turns out wide receiver John Brown banged his head in his collision with cornerback Patrick Peterson during practice Sunday, which is why Brown left. Brown will now be out as he goes through concussion protocol. We’ll see how long it takes to have him get back on the field. Guard Evan Mathis also left practice early Sunday, and Arians said it was leg fatigue where he had ankle surgery in the offseason and not a big deal.

Still, Mathis will get a veterans’ day off Monday, as will running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Drew Stanton. Arians had already said he would rotate some vets off practice during camp, so others will be sitting out as we go forward.

— Arians also said cornerback Mike Jenkins, who broke a bone in his hand over the weekend, was having surgery Monday. The hope is that Jenkins will be back on the field playing in a cast in two or three weeks, Arians said.

— Arians was happy with the first padded practice, saying there weren’t conclusions really to be drawn from it. “This is the time of year you have all those bad habits playing in shorts, and you’ve got to break them,” Arians said.

It is that shorts-to-pads transition that he watches very closely.

“It shows up real fast,” Arians said. “Guys who look like All-americans in shorts fade away, the guys who look like (expletive) in shorts, they’re football players. they show up.”


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Chandler Jones looks good and D.J.’s day

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2016 – 5:44 pm

A few notes and thoughts after the first padded practice of training camp: NkedmsichepadsBLOGNew

— Everybody knew Chandler Jones was a good player. But until he put the pads on, you couldn’t really tell. Sunday, you could tell. Jones was making plays everywhere, impressing against both the run and pass. He got the better of guard Evan Mathis on one early play and he often found his way into the backfield. Contrasting that with the rough start Jonathan Cooper has had in New England and that trade looks very, very good at this point.

— A good chunk of the Cardinals’ football side, from scouts to personnel people, were zeroing in on one player Sunday: right tackle D.J. Humphries. Makes sense, with the pads going on. Humphries was as you’d expect, a little up and down, but I thought he was fine for his first day. More importantly, he had the backing of his quarterback, Carson Palmer.

“I don’t like to let people into family business as far as what type of conversations I have with teammates, but our quarterback made me feel very confident today,” Humphries said. “It lifted my spirits and made me want to keep working. … It was very important to me. Gave me chills on the field.”

Humphries said it makes a difference being able to play in pads. He’ll get plenty of work in them.

— Wide receiver Smokey Brown and Mathis both left practice early. Not sure what their issues were, although Brown was shaken up after colliding with cornerback Patrick Peterson on a play. Bruce Arians only talks at lunch so we’ll have an update then.

— As you can see by the photo, Robert Nkemdiche may not be able to practice, but he can carry the veterans’ equipment.

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Fitz: Retirement? Figure out dinner first

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2016 – 12:06 pm

Larry Fitzgerald met with the media today, and while there wasn’t much news out of it — OK, really no news — the Pro Bowl wide receiver was asked about retirement in the form of whether this would be his last training camp.

I have no idea,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner. Let’s start with the basics.”

That was the extent of the conversation, which figures to be a season-long topic that can’t be answered, because I think Fitz is exactly right — he doesn’t have any idea how his future is going to play out. Not yet.

Fitz did make clear how he feels about training camp though. He’s never been a fan, and that doesn’t change.

“Training camp stinks when you are bad (as a team), training camp stinks when you’re good,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s training camp.”

A reporter asked him about the grind of camp. That was a non-starter.

“Coach doesn’t allow us to call training camp a grind,” Fitzgerald said. “He says we stay in a five-star hotel, practice indoors. So it’s not a grind.”

— Bruce Arians said there was no new injury news. DT Red Bryant (Achilles) will miss one more day, while TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) is probably out another couple of days.

— Arians is looking forward to the players finally having pads in practice, which starts today. “A lot of the mental work is done, now it’s time to get the physical part of it started,” Arians said. “Making sure we get our pad level down and start playing football.”


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Broken hand for Jenkins and B.A. update

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2016 – 12:49 pm

The injury bug didn’t take long to find the Cardinals in camp. Veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins, signed in part because Justin Bethel was going to miss time with a linger foot injury and who is on the PUP list, broke a bone in his hand Friday and is out indefinitely for now.

Arians also revealed that the ankle sprain of rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is of the high variety, meaning Nkemdiche will be out at least a couple of weeks.

— DT Red Bryant (Achilles soreness) and TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring tightness) also aren’t expected to practice today.

— Arians said cornerback Brandon Williams “had a hell of a day” in his first practice. “He got beat by Smoke (Brown for a TD) but he was there, just turned the wrong way and got off balance. But he broke up some good balls. Nice thing was after the touchdown he came back and competed his ass off. Some guys would go in the tank.”

— Quarterback Matt Barkley has made steady improvement, Arians said, but there are things like seeing hots and sights that aren’t good enough. “As much as he’s grown, he’s still not making the progress I’d like to see him make,” Arians said. (An aside: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cards carry two QBs on the active roster either.)

— At one point in the first practice, QB Carson Palmer got partially rolled from behind by offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Arians admitted he held his breath after that play, and a couple others. “There was a lot of ‘phew’ yesterday,” Arians said.

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Williams, Boehm and rookie impact

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2016 – 9:23 am

We’re only one practice into training camp, nowhere close to being able to know what rookie will walk in and help a team. But already, it feels like things are shifting with a few draftees. Robert Nkemdiche is the first, a guy who is sitting for now with a bum ankle. You figure the defensive lineman will be back sooner rather than later, and frankly, even if he missed a week or two, it probably wouldn’t make a big difference once we got to the regular season.

But you look at the next two picks: CB Brandon Williams and C Evan Boehm. When the picks were made, given the Cardinals’ circumstances at both spots (which both had and have uncertainty), the safe guess would have been that Williams would come along slow and Boehm would have the best chance to start.

Instead, early in camp, the situations have reversed. With Justin Bethel sidelined, Williams is running with the first team, and actually looked pretty good in his first practice, continuing the arc he finished up in the offseason work. Boehm, meanwhile, is behind A.Q. Shipley now, as coach Bruce Arians has repeatedly noted the steep learning curve Boehm must climb before he is ready to play.

There’s a long way to go. The two could switch again before the season. Bethel could come back and fight off the Williams challenge for that starting job. But for now it’s an interesting twist from where we were in May.



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Nkemdiche to play fullback and other Arians

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2016 – 12:42 pm

Bruce Arians didn’t have a lot of news speaking today since the Cardinals have yet to hold a practice — “No one got hurt in the walkthrough,” Arians deadpanned — but there were still some tidbits. Among them, A.Q. Shipley’s days as a fullback are probably done, since he’s likely going to end up the starting center. So who would be the battering ram in the backfield instead of Shipley for those few times it’s needed? How about rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche?

“He’s done it before and he’s been damn good at it,” Arians said.

This is true.

— Speaking of Shipley, Arians said “in all fairness” Shipley didn’t lose the starting center job last year, saying “I gave it to Lyle” Sendlein.

— Andre Ellington will be among the players looked at on kickoff return. It’s another chance to get Ellington, an explosive player, his hands on the ball. Arians said it wasn’t about getting one of the running backs a spot on special teams, but if Ellington doesn’t return kicks, it’d be hard to have three backs on game day and none playing any special teams. Chris Johnson isn’t going to, and starter David Johnson likely wouldn’t either.

— Carson Palmer was asked about the possibility of retiring if the Cardinals won the Super Bowl. Thursday, Arians said if the Cards won, he’d likely want to try and coach the Cards to another one instead of retiring. Palmer said he’d probably feel the same, and noted that when he was younger, watching John Elway win back-to-back Super Bowls left a deep impression on him.

— Along those lines, Arians was asked when he arrived in Arizona how long he thought his coaching window was, given his age. Arians said he never really thought about it. “That’s up to God,” Arians said. “The way I treat myself, not long.”

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Peterson gets to #CardsCamp via helicopter

Posted by Darren Urban on July 28, 2016 – 11:59 am

The Cardinals will have their annual conditioning test this afternoon and the veterans have arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium to take physicals and move into the hotel next door. Most drove over, but all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson came over a little differently — via helicopter. A helicopter complete with “Rise Up” emblazoned on its body.

And to think, last year, it was just about the DBs getting around the hotel on hoverboards.

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With 2016 here, a look at the 2017 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2016 – 10:51 am

Training camp officially begins tomorrow when the Cardinals get back together at University of Phoenix Stadium to hold their annual run test. The first practice of camp is Friday (keep in mind, because of the CBA-mandated “acclimation” period, the Cardinals won’t be in pads until Sunday, making these next two days a little bit like glorified OTAs.)

We know the Cardinals’ schedule for 2016, of course, which starts in the regular season with a home “Sunday Night Football” game against the Patriots.

But what about 2017, I’m sure you were about to ask? Fear not. Here are the opponents for 2017, home and away:


— Dallas Cowboys
— New York Giants
— Jacksonville Jaguars
— Tennessee Titans
— NFC South team that finishes in same 2016 divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams


— Philadelphia Eagles
— Washington Redskins
— Houston Texans
— Indianapolis Colts
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams

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