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Blogs

Peterson will be smart during contract talks

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2014 – 9:48 am

First of all, Patrick Peterson isn’t going to hold out. If that was a question, Peterson stepped on it and killed it when asked about his contract extension situation yesterday.

“There won’t be no holding out for me,” Peterson said. “I want to continue playing football at a high level. … I have two years left so there’s no sense holding out.”

Peterson was holding a presser yesterday to talk about his charity dinner and foundations (all details are at patrickpeterson.org) but inevitably it turned into a discussion about the Pro Bowl cornerback’s contract status. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman just got a big contract extension, Browns cornerback Joe Haden just received one Tuesday morning, and these days, most consider Sherman, Haden and Peterson the top three young cornerbacks in the game. Peterson is going to need an extension, and while the Cardinals have some time after exercising Peterson’s 2015 team option — hence the “two years left” — it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Peterson, though, understands the process. He talked of working on something “bigger” than just a contract, and insisted he’ll be patient.

“I think I’m definitely well-deserving of a new contract, but at the end of the day it’s a business,” Peterson said. “You’ve got (salary) cap numbers, you’ve got other guys you need to take care of, the rookie pool. All that stuff falls into perspective, but at the end of the day I know (GM) Steve Keim, coach (Bruce) Arians and Mr. (Michael) Bidwill, they want me here for the long haul.”

That’s true. Ask Keim and he couldn’t act more confident that Peterson’s situation will eventually get worked out. Will it get messy? I don’t see it. Peterson is a smart man. He works in the big picture, not unlike teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has had a couple of uncomfortable contract situations (always with the leverage over the team, but still) and he has deftly worked around any bad feelings it might have caused not only with the team but the fan base. Peterson knows a holdout wouldn’t go over well with anyone and it probably wouldn’t make a huge impact either given how much time is left on his deal.

Instead, he’ll work within the system. And in the end, like Sherman and Haden, he’s gonna get paid.

“They drafted me for the long haul,” Peterson said. “I want to be that Adrian Wilson of the organization, that Larry Fitzgerald, that Darnell Dockett. I believe I’ve done some great things here early in my career, and I want to be here for a while.”

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Ryan Williams’ rough road ends in Arizona

Posted by Darren Urban on May 12, 2014 – 1:49 pm

When it was over, Ryan Williams played just five games in three seasons for the Cardinals. Injuries torpedoed the running back’s time in Arizona, and in reality, the fact he sat for all 16 games as an inactive last year — including the time when Rashad Mendenhall was hurt — probably showed his days were numbered, especially after a rocky preseason in which he barely practiced. That scenario did not go over well. Exactly how everything played out may not ever be known, but it was probably time for the Cards to move on and for Williams to see where else he might get a chance.

The Cardinals have Andre Ellington as a starter. They have inside bangers like Jonathan Dwyer and Stepfan Taylor, and both of the undrafted running backs that are reportedly coming (the official list is due out this afternoon) were productive in college in UNLV’s Tim Cornett and NAU’s Zach Bauman. Williams, behind Ellington, was going to have a hard time getting on the field.

It’s a rough time to be hitting the market, of course. Running backs aren’t very highly valued. Running backs coming available after the draft are even less so, since teams have filled up their 90-man rosters. Add in Williams’ injury history, and it is going to be a hard road. Maybe Ken Whisenhunt reaches out for him in Tennessee. I’m sure Williams would love to land in the NFC West to go against the Cards, although all three teams have full backfields. I will say I hope Williams finds a spot. On a personal level, he was a good kid with horrible luck. It’s tough not to root for him.


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Washington again makes top 100 list

Posted by Darren Urban on May 11, 2014 – 10:59 am

The draft is over, so it’s time to hit some other subjects. The NFL Network is once again doing their list of the top 100 players in the league. The Cardinals got their first mention with linebacker Daryl Washington, who comes in at No. 96 (down two spots from where he was ranked last year.) Interestingly, the theme of the video is that not many know who D-Wash is. Obviously, that’s not a problem around the Cardinals.

In fact, all this video does is underscore how important Washington is to the Cards even with his off-field issues. It’s been a year since he got into trouble, first with the announcement of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and then an arrest for assault. But the aftermath lingers, after Washington recently (and finally) had his court case play out. He received probation, but everyone now waits to see when and if the NFL decides to give Washington another suspension. Because the suspension wouldn’t take place until the regular-season, there is time before it would be an issue, but I’m sure everyone involved would like to have resolution. That includes the fan base.

With the departure of Karlos Dansby, Washington becomes even more important to this defense. If the Cards keep winning, it seems inevitable Washington will rise higher in the top 100 list over the next couple of years.

– One quick post-draft note: Teams have started to agree to terms with undrafted rookies, but the Cardinals won’t officially put their list out of players until Monday.


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And that’s the 2014 Cards’ draft

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2014 – 3:43 pm

Seven picks, six rounds and a whole lot of hand-wringing over the Cardinals’ picks, but the draft is over. So are three long days, but before I head out to an abbreviated weekend, it’s time to wrap this up.

The Cards went with an eventual starting strong safety, a starting tight end who can block, a pair of future picks for the defensive line, a pair of receivers to fill out the corps and an intriguing (I know some of you have stronger words for it) quarterback prospect. Some of the picks, especially Logan Thomas, feel like a swing for the fence, as in if they work out, they could be very, very good.

But let’s make no mistake, not everyone is going to work out and frankly, that’s how every draft ends up. Steve Keim said he looks for three impact players out of each class. That’s just being realistic.

“What I love about (this class) is I look at all those names and I see guys who are big-time competitors, who love the game and bring an element of toughness to our locker room, which I don’t think you can ever have enough of,” Keim said. “That’s the whole thing. I’ve walked out of this building for many years when we got ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ (as grades), and those players didn’t turn out to be good players. You have to trust what you’re doing and trust your board. I trust the people in our room.

“Again, you have to avoid the noise sometimes and avoid what people are saying. You can’t get caught up in some of the hype. Again, I’ve always trusted what I see on tape and I think we came away with a pretty good class.”

– I don’t know how Thomas will turn out. I know he looked erratic the very limited times I saw him play in college. I’m pretty sure the Cards saw the same. I’m leery about being about change a guy who has long been inaccurate. Is it a risk? Sure. But everyone has a different opinion. I still think that, if you try him at QB for a couple of years and it isn’t working out, you can put him at tight end and still get a good fourth-round choice out of it. Sorry, but I don’t lose any sleep about the draft picks. They are what they are, and I’ll chronicle how their careers play out, good or bad.

– Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade “multiple times” in the draft. “We would’ve moved three or four more times if we would have gotten cooperation in other spots from other teams,” Keim said.

– Finishing the draft in the sixth round meant an early jump on recruiting potential undrafted rookies. The Cards after the draft class have 76 players on the roster, leaving 14 spots (although as long as the draft class is unsigned, they officially don’t count toward the 90-man roster limit.) Keim said he would’ve liked a seventh round pick but it’s a benefit to start on recruiting. “Quite frankly, I think that’s one of the things Bruce and I do best,” Keim said.

– Of those undrafted rookies, Keim said he’d like to add two running backs and three-to-five offensive linemen. I’d guess they will add a couple of defensive backs and receivers too.

– The undrafted names will slowly leak out. I don’t expect an official list until Monday. I may check out Twitter and mention some there (@cardschatter, if you aren’t already following) but otherwise, I’ll catch up to that group later.

 


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Going defensive end in the fifth

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2014 – 12:10 pm

The Cardinals went with a 3-4 defensive end in the fifth round Saturday, taking Alabama’s Ed Stinson. At 6-4 and 287 pounds, Stinson is a prototypical guy to fit up front in the way the Cards play, and scouting reports say he can move inside if necessary. The team went into the draft hoping to get some depth up front. The Cardinals have Campbell, Williams and Dockett, but only Frostee Rucker behind them right now with Alameda Ta’amu coming off ACL surgery. Plus, Dockett will be in to his (pricey) final year of his contract in 2015 and the team must start thinking about the future.

Stinson is really good against the run. He’s been described as the type of underrated player who can be solid for a long time. NFL analyst Mike Mayock said if Stinson can stay healthy — he’s been banged up a couple of times — he is a starter for a 3-4 team in this league. That will definitely help.

Stinson said he grew up with third-round pick WR John Brown in Florida, so the draft class already has a pair of friends.

Mayock, by the way, on the Cards’ entire class so far: “It’s not sexy, but I like this draft.”

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QB Logan Thomas comes to Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2014 – 10:19 am

So Friday night, Bruce Arians asked “Why” when he was asked why the Cardinals hadn’t taken a quarterback. Saturday morning, the Cardinals took Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, the definition of a project. As a QB, can Thomas beat out Ryan Lindley? Probably not. But Thomas, at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, has a giant arm and endless athletic talent. He’s not accurate. He is smart enough to play quarterback but all the analysts wonder about his technique and form. That, you figure is exactly what Arians and QB coach Freddie Kitchens think they have a chance to fix.

It’s a boom-or-bust choice, at least as a QB. Thomas could turn into one heckuva tight end. Arians, before the draft, was asked if Thomas could be a quarterback in the NFL. Arians said “he thinks he is,” and I’d think he will get his shot. Arians personally went to Virginia Tech for a pre-draft workout. He clearly likes his potential and he also thinks coaching changes and the talent around Thomas impacted Thomas’ play. But there is no getting around Thomas’ inconsistencies as a passer. This is incredibly intriguing and will be as this plays out.

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Need, speed, no QB: Day Two wrap

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Four picks and no quarterbacks. People keep wondering if the next draft spot would draw a QB choice and it didn’t. It certainly doesn’t sound like it will happen either, now that the Cardinals have moved into the fourth round. Bruce Arians was asked what he would say to fans who were expecting a quarterback to be picked. Arians was blunt.

“Why?” Arians said.

“We’ve got three pretty good ones and you don’t take quarterbacks if they’re not going to beat out the ones you have,” Arians added. “I know people rate quarterbacks. I’ve been doing this a long time. I like ours better.”

So there’s that. As for some other notes after three more draft picks on the draft’s hump day Saturday:

– As a QB follow, Arians said there was “no doubt” Carson Palmer could play a couple of more years after this one. “Look at Peyton at 38,” Arians said. “The longevity of the athletes today, with the technology in the medical profession, they are going to go a lot longer. As long as you stay injury-free.”

– The Cardinals don’t want to draft for need. Then the first three picks go to a safety, a tight end and a pass rusher and that certainly felt like need.

“That’s the emphasis you put into building that (120) board,” GM Steve Keim said. “We say best player available, but there is an emphasis on who impacts our football team the most. We are never going to leave a good player to the side, but we will take who impacts us the most.”

– Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade back up into the second round, but could not get a deal done (he did not say who the Cardinals wanted to try and get.) But a trade remains possible Sunday when the Cardinals have a pick in the fourth, fifth and sixth round. “The phone has been ringing a lot,” Keim said. “We’ve been active.”

– The Cardinals’ two third-round picks echoed exactly what Keim has been talking about this offseason, which is adding speed. Defensive end/outside linebacker Kareem Martin is 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds and Keim compared his frame to the 6-8, 284-pound Calais Campbell when Campbell came out in 2008. Now, Campbell weighs 305. Martin can rush from the outside in the base 3-4 and be both places in sub-packages. More importantly, he has the size and speed that is difficult to find. Keim also said he wanted to get longer and more athletic on the edges, better to chase down the Colin Kaepernicks and Russell Wilsons of the world.

– The other third-round pick was a stunner. “Got to keep you guys on your toes with a small-school guy,” Keim quipped. That’s exactly what it was when Pittsburg State wideout John Brown was picked. But it didn’t take much research to see Brown, at 5-foot-10 and a 4.34 40, was the Cardinals’ attempt to find Arians another T.Y. Hilton. Arians loved him some T.Y. in Indy in 2012. Keim’s been looking for a clone since. Arians also compared Brown in some ways to another of his former wideouts, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He’s older — 24 — but they love his makeup and his speed.

– It’s not surprising that Arians said he plans to cut back on Patrick Peterson’s punt returns. There are enough other guys on the roster now, with Brown and Ted Ginn, to do it that you wouldn’t risk your Pro Bowl cornerback. Arians acknowledged the Tyrann Mathieu injury had an impact on that thinking. Plus Peterson isn’t going to play wide receiver most likely, but after adding pieces at receiver, it doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway.

– What’s left Sunday Saturday? (It’s been a long day.) Assuming the Cards stick with three picks, I wouldn’t be surprised with an offensive lineman. Beyond that, we’ll see. Obviously I’m not counting on a QB. Maybe another guy for the front seven. Then it’s time to get this roster together for the full offseason.

 


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TE Niklas the second-round choice

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2014 – 5:50 pm

Bruce Arians said at the Scouting combine he wants his tight ends to block first, catch second. And it the second round of the draft, the Cardinals took a tight end who is big enough to fulfill that role. Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas, at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds, had 32 catches for 498 yards and five touchdowns this season, but that probably won’t be his priority in Arizona.

“He should become the best blocking tight end in football, if he decides he wants to,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.

The Cardinals now have newcomer John Carlson, Jake Ballard and Rob Housler as the top tight ends. There is no question Niklas will get his time in the two-tight end sets the Cards use. He’s got room for growth. He was recruited to Notre Dame as a defensive end and moved to linebacker before getting chance at tight end. He played both offensive line and defensive line in high school. He was used almost exclusively as a blocker in 2012, so his receiving skills should only improve.

His nickname is Hercules, so he’s got that going for him.

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Bucannon’s impressive first impression

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2014 – 3:46 pm

Obviously, Deone Bucannon has to be able to play football, and play it well. Otherwise, the other stuff, frankly, doesn’t matter. Not from the NFL perspective. But one of the reasons he is a Cardinal is because of the impression he left with those in the organization he spent time with before the draft, and getting a chance to talk with him for about 45 minutes as he arrived in Tempe, I can see why. He handles himself with maturity and smarts. He is humble. He comes from a military family that definitely has left a positive impact.

In fact, the Cardinals have now drafted safeties in back to back drafts that while they couldn’t have come from more diverse background, seem to work through the same personality: Bucannon and last year’s third-rounder, Tyrann Mathieu.

“You go back to the top of the pyramid, that’s what our owner (Michael Bidwill) wants, that’s what Steve (Keim) wants, that’s what B.A. wants, it’s what Todd (Bowles) wants,” defensive backs coach Nick Rapone said. “We are trying to build a quality team on the field and off the field. Like Deone, Ty doesn’t say a word, he just plays football.”

Both have chips on their shoulders. We all know why Mathieu was hoping to prove people wrong. Bucannon has been undervalued since high school, when he was recruited by just four schools. One was Washington State. One was San Diego State, and interestingly, Bucannon chose Pullman over the beach. (Growing up in a military family, Bucannon said he lived in San Diego for a while when he was growing up and wanted to go someplace different. Pullman is definitely different.)

An example of how Bucannon knows how to handle himself? He was asked today about his big-hitting style and how it might not work all that well in today’s quick-to-fine-on-hits NFL.

“I’m definitely aware, but that’s part of being a professional and becoming a professional,” Bucannon said. “I’m not going to sacrifice any of what got me here, through my aggressiveness and playmaking ability. I don’t want to take away this game I love so much from somebody else by being dumb. That’s not what I want to do. I’m going to be professional about it and be aggressive and I’m going to bring something to this team that the coaching staff and the people in the front office see in me.”


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Notes after a first-round pick

Posted by Darren Urban on May 8, 2014 – 10:52 pm

Before I head home for the night, some notes to clean up with after the Cardinals took safety Deone Bucannon with their first-round pick:

– I can see, on various platforms of communication I have with fans, that some are upset (and some are very, very upset) with the fact the Cardinals didn’t take a quarterback. Folks, I feel I’ve made this pretty plain over the weeks (and I’m not the only one covering the team that did) that the Cards could consider a QB but it was going to have to be the right QB in their eyes. If the right guy wasn’t there, they weren’t gonna take him. Taking a QB you don’t believe in is a reach of the highest proportions. It’s what the Titans did with Jake Locker and the Vikings did with Christian Ponder. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I appreciate some of you believe so much in Manziel/Carr/Bridgewater. But it’s not like Steve Keim and his crew aren’t scouting these guys. I think they have a pretty good handle on what they think they should do.

– Speaking of Derek Carr, Bruce Arians actually addressed him specifically, when talking about how the hype of the draft provided skewed perspective for both fans and prospects.

“Sometimes people forget about the player (and his skills) and they start pairing players with teams and push and push and push and it doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “I felt terrible Derek Carr has been attached to us by some people. There he is sitting there on television when we are coming on the clock. That (pick) wasn’t going to happen.”

– Keim got his extra pick. The Cards have No. 52, 84 and 91 Friday. The Texans are first with No. 33.

– Did the Cards have players ranked higher than Bucannon? Of course. But those guys all came off the board by 20, and that’s when you look to trade back. It made sense.

– Arians and Keim both said Bucannon can cover tight ends. That would help a team that desperately needs to do a better job of that.

– You have to like that Bucannon talks about his “aggressive energy.” “I’m not afraid to go in there and stick my nose in anything or anybody,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, I’m coming downhill regardless.”


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