Running back Rashard Mendenhall is sitting out today’s game against the Falcons with his bad toe. That was expected. Andre Ellington will start in his place. That too was expected. And Ryan Williams is inactive again, which, in the end, probably should have been expected too. If Williams isn’t playing special teams — which he isn’t, no matter what the reason — it’s tough to have him up. Newcomer WR Teddy Williams, who will play tandem speed guys on special teams with Justin Bethel, is active.
Besides Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, the rest of the inactive list:
– WR Brittan Golden
– QB Ryan Lindley
– G Earl Watford
– TE Kory Sperry
– DE Ronald Talley
Tags: Andre Ellington, inactives, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Teddy Williams
Posted in Blog | 5 Comments »
First of all, let’s consider the carefully crafted wording of Adam Schefter’s headline grabbing tweet this morning, the one in which he followed up the mention of a possible Larry Fitzgerald trade after the season. “Some believe a divorce is somewhere between possible and inevitable,” Schefter wrote, which is a little less than concrete (and doesn’t necessarily point to who “some” are.) The reality is this: Fitz carries an $18 million cap hit next season with a salary of $13 million. It’s an issue that has been on the radar for a while.
The idea that the Cardinals would talk to Fitz about his contract and a possible restructure not only isn’t a surprise, it’d probably be bad business not to explore that option. So too would be not at least looking at all options, which could include a trade. Ovethecap.com does a nice job breaking down the financial details of a potential trade and these are the things that have to be considered — especially if Fitzgerald ends up with another sub-1,000-yard season. There are many reasons why Fitz’s production is down and a chunk of it is out of his hands. But obviously, GM Steve Keim has to look at this team long-term. He’s already talked about having to make more “tough decisions” again this coming offseason. This isn’t to say Fitzgerald isn’t going to be a Cardinal next year. It’s way too early to know that.
I don’t have any doubt the Cardinals would want to keep Fitzgerald. But circumstances change, and so too do the circumstances (i.e. contract) under which they’d want to keep him. This isn’t about Fitz’s ability being wasted and needing to go somewhere where he can win — Fitzgerald has made more than $100 million, he freely signed his contracts, and he knew what choices he was making — but he is going to look out for himself and the Cardinals are going to look out for the franchise. (I would also be very curious, if a trade were explored, if the new team would accept the current contract or if they too would want a new pact.)
In that context, a divorce between many star NFL players and their respective teams would almost always be between possible and inevitable. The few that it wouldn’t apply to live in that window a relatively short time.
UPDATE: Fitz, when asked after Sunday’s game about the rumors: “I come to work everyday and just focus on how I can help the Arizona Cardinals and help my team win. If they decide to move me, that happens. I have no control over any of that. I just focus on what I can do to improve and help my team.”
Tags: contract, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Keim
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
What is it about Ryan Williams and his story that is so intriguing? The Cardinals go into an important game against the Falcons Sunday, and even if Williams – because of the toe injury of Rashard Mendenhall – is active, he might not even play much. Yet many are waiting to see if Williams is active and what he would do if he played, and I am one of them.
Williams (smartly) hasn’t said much about his situation, but you can tell he’s frustrated. “I’m probably the freshest guy on the team right now,” Williams said. “I’m ready to play. I’m just waiting.” Practices are closed so it’s impossible to know exactly what Williams has done, and since he is so far down the depth chart, he’s likely getting what work he is getting on scout team and not the regular offense. But Bruce Arians has said a couple of times he has been happy with the work Williams has done. Now Sunday, if the Cards, for instance, are going to have newcomer Teddy Williams active to play special teams, who sits instead? Would that be Ryan Williams’ potential spot?
In a lot of ways, Williams might be in a type of limbo. Clearly he isn’t ahead of the others on the depth chart. But Mendenhall’s injury potential is high enough that the Cards might not want to let him go. If Mendenhall goes down with a major injury, do the Cards really want to lean just on two rookies in Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor? (There is still a chance I suppose he could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline, but I don’t expect it.)
I guess I’m looking forward to seeing that inactive list at 11:55 a.m. Sunday.
– Lot of talk about Ellington, and people keep trying to send me comparative measurements between the 5-foot-9, 199-pound Ellington and other backs, like Jamaal Charles, etc. Look, I can’t speak to those guys. And I don’t know if Ellington could absorb more. But I think what Bruce Arians is thinking about limited reps is the idea that a lot of punishment would take away the best thing about Ellington — his explosion and ability to get outside. I’m sure he’ll touch the ball plenty Sunday.
– The Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite coming into the season. Now, the defense is much more leaky, the offense doesn’t have Julio Jones and Roddy White has been hurt so much he’s a non-factor. Steven Jackson has barely played. Now, it’s not like Atlanta hasn’t been close – their four losses have been by a total of 19 points – but they aren’t as daunting of an opponent as they once might have been.
– Matt Ryan was miserable in last year’s meeting. Ray Horton’s defense made him look terrible. Horton isn’t here anymore, obviously, but Todd Bowles is, and the Cards got after Russell Wilson pretty good. I wouldn’t expect five interceptions again, but the Cards are going to pressure him. “We got in his face early, rattled him up a little bit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “This is a new team. With them not necessarily having their top guys … we can’t fall into that they aren’t 100 percent. They still have guys who can get the ball in the end zone. But I believe if we do the same recipe as last year, we will have good success.”
– Profootballfocus.com noted that there have been two receivers targeted a league-high six times when an interception has been thrown. One was Giants wideout Reuben Randle. The other? Larry Fitzgerald. Something to consider when Carson Palmer talks about being leery when forcing the ball to Fitz.
– Speaking of Fitz, he hammered Walter Thurmond on a blind-side block last week against Seattle and did it again later to Richard Sherman. They were blows – but they could have been much harder and destructive. Fitz downplayed them, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll came out and praised Fitzgerald for playing football the “new” way – those Seahawks still got hit pretty good, but it didn’t go over the top. You can say what you want about what that means for football, but I have to admit I agree with Carroll. You can walk that line.
– Be sure to welcome our new writer at azcardinals.com when he starts next week: Kyle Odegard. I think you’ll find him a quality addition.
– Arians talks about starting fast and you wonder about the coin flip. Arians has said he will always take the ball if he is given the choice, so the Cards end up with the ball first almost every time. That makes getting off to a quick start even more important in my eyes.
– Arians reiterated what offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said yesterday, that the Cardinals are “hoping” to play Bobby Massie some at right tackle. It will depend on how the game plays out, Arians said, but it would be for a series or two.
– Defensive end Calais Campbell took left tackle Bradley Sowell aside earlier this week to try and give him some advice. “I felt like the offensive linemen, the younger ones, they need to learn what we are trying to do to beat them,” Campbell said on the Big Red Rage radio show. “We just went over how I play the game and what I’m looking for. I gave him my advice. I think he has potential and we need him to win.”
– The Cards do need better play from Sowell at left tackle. And from the offense in general.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Falcons, Kyle Odegard, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Pete Carroll, Pro Football Focus, Rashard Mendenhall, Richard Sherman, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Walter Thurmond
Posted in Blog | 32 Comments »
Four touchdowns as a rookie returning punts, and it was impossible for many not to get spoiled by Patrick Peterson’s feats in that realm of the game.
Maybe even Peterson himself, although he realized early it would come to an end.
“Honestly, in a sense, I knew at some point and time teams would start game-planning against me,” Peterson said. “Punting the ball away from me, punting the ball out of bounds, pinning me on the sideline. If you go back and watch all four of my (touchdown) punt returns, they punted the ball in the middle of the field where I had two-way gos. On the sideline, they are wrapping the whole team around me and forcing me down the sideline.
“At the end of the day I have to stay patient. They can’t put the ball on the sideline all the time. There will be one they shank, one they slip up, and that one, we have to make count.”
Peterson figures there have been “three or four” that were returnable this season. There were a couple I remember seeing early on that Peterson wasn’t staying patient, trying to cut up field too early instead of stringing it out wide a little first and then bursting upfield. There have been others that needed better blocking. But Peterson has been in a punt-return production slump for a while now.
It never quite came around last season. This year, Peterson is averaging 5.8 yards a return on 12 returns with a long of 18 yards (as a rookie, Peterson averaged 15.9 yards a return. Last year it was 8.4.) Tyrann Mathieu has been used for a handful of punt returns this season, but he has fielded just one, and that was a fair catch.
“It’s obviously much tougher than it was a couple years ago,” Peterson said.
Regardless, Peterson remains confident in his abilities to return punts and believes he will break out at some point. Certainly, he’s proven that’s possible.
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
Posted in Blog | 13 Comments »
It was the last day of the 2003 season, and the Cardinals shocked the NFL — and certainly, the Vikings — when they rallied from an 11-point deficit with less than two minutes to go by winning on a Hail Mary TD pass from Josh McCown to Nate Poole. I was thinking about it again now that McCown, after his long roller-coaster ride of an NFL career, is starting for the Bears after Jay Cutler’s groin injury.
Back in 2003, though, McCown was getting a shot at what everyone knew was the end of the Dave McGinnis coaching tenure. McCown not only survived, he impressed new coach Denny Green enough to be the quarterback choice the next year over some impressive potential draft picks (and notably allowing the Cards to pick Larry Fitzgerald.) As it was, McCown made sure the Cards didn’t get (cost them?) the No. 1 overall pick and Eli Manning when he crushed the Vikings’ hopes and dreams in 2003 with his Poole pass.
(You can see the end of the game right here. Be sure to notice my radio broadcast partner Damien Anderson, who recovers the onside kick to even give the Cards a chance to make their game-winning drive.)
But I digress. The NFL Network, on its 10th anniversary, has made available to teams a handful of historical clips, and I happened to notice one in the system that I had never seen before. It was McGinnis’ locker room speech after that emotional Vikings win. I had never seen it before. Pretty powerful stuff. It was cool to step back in time, to see all those players I used to cover (Anderson sneaks into the Mac video too, just off to the left of the screen, as does current front office man Josh Scobey.) No one says it, but everyone knows it’s goodbye.
“You’ve got my heart. You’ve got my heart.”
Tags: Damien Anderson, Dave McGinnis, Josh McCown, Josh Scobey, NFL Network, Vikings
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »
Bruce Arians said he has been stressing the need to start faster as a team. It sounds simple and obvious. In truth, it has been anything but. Arians said it was the whole team that needed a reminder, although the defense — save the most recent outing against Seattle — has been just fine early. The offense is a different story.
“We’ve had very good Friday practices, crisp walkthroughs,” Arians said. “It’s that time from 11 Saturday morning to kickoff. Whatever (the players) are doing, change it. Try something new, and see if we can’t come out of the gates a little faster.”
Not that Arians needs empirical evidence, but in the four games since New Orleans — when the Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove down for a touchdown on the first possession — the first quarter offense has been lacking. The Cardinals have had 13 total possessions in those four games and have scored just seven points — the 75-yard catch-and-run by Larry Fitzgerald in San Francisco. In those 13 possessions, the Cards have totaled only 10 first downs.
Quarterback Carson Palmer said the unit needs to do a better job of knowing and understanding the plays coming up at the start, because it’s planned out ahead of time.
“We script pretty well the beginning of games and just not having any mental errors on those 15, 20, 30 plays and just executing those plays (is important),” Palmer said. “Not having one little mental error here or one little blunder there, being efficient on those first plays of the game.”
Trying to find what they had in New Orleans (at least to open the game) is crucial, if for no other reason than to stave off snowballing problems of playing from behind. It leaves the defense with little or no room for error. While giving up touchdowns to the Seahawks on the first two drives of the game isn’t going to work either, it has been rare of late that the defense gets a chance to actually play with a lead early in games.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
Posted in Blog | 29 Comments »
Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t like talking about his injuries. He doesn’t like having them in the first place, he doesn’t want to look like he is making excuses and he certainly doesn’t want to dwell on them. Clearly his hamstrings have been an issue although the hope is he will be healthy going forward at this point.
“Larry probably played that (Seattle) game at 80 percent,” coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday night on his weekly Sirius XM NFL radio appearance. “It has bothered him. He reinjured it a couple Fridays ago and he continues to try to gut it out and play. This rest has really helped him and I’m hoping Thursday — we may give him off again (Wednesday) — I want to see this thing healed up 100 percent.”
I’m sure Fitz feels the same. His season has not played out the way he wanted — again — and whether it’s the injuries or the overall play of the offense or Kurt Warner’s theory about using Fitz inside, the bottom line is that the numbers are down. Last year, when Fitz finished with 71 catches for 798 yards, through seven games he had compiled 40 receptions for 459 yards. This year through seven games Fitzgerald has 32 catches for 422 yards (although it should be noted Fitz has already equaled his 2012 touchdown total of four.)
Now, Fitz’s numbers fell off a cliff last year the final seven games of the season, save for his eight-catch, 111-yard game against Chicago late. In theory, the Cardinals are coming into a part of the schedule that shouldn’t be quite as hard on the passing game, although everyone in that regard, with quarterback Carson Palmer and the pass protection in particular, must up their game.
It’s become fashionable to speculate again on Fitzgerald and his future, given the numbers both in the stat book and from his contract. But seven games into the season, much can still happen in many different ways with this team and with how Fitz’s season turns out. Steve Keim has proven to be a more active GM than Rod Graves, but I still think Fitzgerald is part of the solution here.
– And as a quick aside, in that same Sirius interview, Arians was asked straight out if he considered making a change at quarterback. Arians again said no. “I’m not a jump-off-the-horse-type of guy,” Arians said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, contract, Larry Fitzgerald
Posted in Blog | 67 Comments »
The news leaked out yesterday, that the Cardinals were going to be signing former Colts cornerback Teddy Williams, a player with a ton of speed. The Cardinals had cut linebacker Kenny Demens to make room for Williams on the roster. What hadn’t come out is that Williams was being signed as a wide receiver.
I’ll admit, the move raised eyebrows somewhat when I thought Williams was a cornerback. The Cardinals have a lot of them and I didn’t think any were doing that poorly — and to cut a linebacker to make room for another one didn’t make a lot of sense. But the idea of making Williams a wide receiver does make sense, because the Cardinals are continually looking for that burner who can take the top off the defense at deep routes. This will be another attempt in that area. Brittan Golden caught a 53-yard pass in his debut in San Francisco, but he’s battling a bad hamstring.
Now the Cards try Williams, who has the speed credentials (his Twitter handle is @Fast_Teddy.) He is a former track guy who did not play college football and originally tried to make it as a receiver with the Cowboys. That didn’t stick, nor did his attempt to play cornerback for Dallas. He did play in seven games last season for Indianapolis as a cornerback. He can return kickoffs as well.
Tags: Kenny Demens, Roster, Teddy Williams
Posted in Blog | 44 Comments »
Veteran pass rusher John Abraham held court today, talking a lot about playing his former team the Falcons this week and finally getting his first sacks as a Cardinal (although teammate Calais Campbell said Abraham should have about eight by now if he could’ve converted his near-misses). Clearly he is happier about playing more. It wasn’t easy for him just to be situational, because it was difficult to get in the flow of the game.
“My old coach Ray Hamilton, he always said, ‘John, you gonna be a third down rusher?’ I was like, ‘Hell no,’ ” Abraham said. “I said, ‘You understand, I’ve got to come in one play and be ready, and this guy (blocking) is lathered up and ready to go.’ It’s tough.”
Abraham doesn’t have any love lost for those guys trying to block him. But he holds no ill will toward the quarterbacks he takes down — 124 total sacks now in his career — and when he was asked about the chance to get to former teammate Matt Ryan this weekend, Abraham smiled.
“I promise you it’s not that serious,” he said. “I worry about the person in front of me. I worry about the tackles and I know the (Atlanta) tackles really good. Everyone says, ‘John, you hate quarterbacks?’ No. I love them. They are why I got paid. If I meet them, I’m having a good day, right? I just don’t like the guys in front of me: tight ends, tackles. They aggravate the hell out of me. Quarterbacks, they are fine.”
Tags: John Abraham
Posted in Blog | 7 Comments »
There will be no changes to the lineup this week, Bruce Arians said. Yes, he mentioned Bobby Massie possibly playing and looking at young players, but Arians clarified that looking at those players was all he was doing. He wants to make sure they are making progress and “really are the depth we’re looking for,” Arians said.
“It’s just a matter of opportunities in case one arises,” Arians added.
Opportunities, Arians said, come in the form of injuries, mostly. Those included under the microscope, according to the coach: The entire practice squad, along with guard Earl Watford, linebacker Dontay Moch, and tight end D.C. Jefferson. It’s clear the Cards continue to look at tight ends — Arians mentioned practice squad tight end Daniel Fells by name. But unless, for instance, Colledge is down this week because of his back problem (and Watford is currently running as Colledge’s backup), don’t expect an overhaul.
– Colledge (back), WR Brittan Golden (hamstring) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (looked like his leg was wrapped) were sidelined during the open part of Monday’s practice. There is no injury report before Wednesday, but Arians said there were no injury surprises today. He also said the Cards eased off on certain veterans who were hurting.
– The Falcons are expected to get running back Steven Jackson back from practice this week too, although he has missed so much time there is no guarantee he’ll be ready to play Sunday.
– LB Marcus Benard missed practice because he was out of town for the birth of his child. “I congratulate him on that,” Arians said. Arians added Benard played well. Benard started Thursday, although he only played 11 of 67 defensive snaps.
– Wide receiver Michael Floyd reiterated that the entire offense needs to shoulder the blame for its problems, and Arians repeated the same thing when asked about the issues of quarterback Carson Palmer. “I think Carson’s problem is, some are hit and some are the 10 guys around him,” Arians said. “It’s not just the line. It’s the receivers being in the wrong spots and running the wrong routes and not being in their reception areas, and then again the protection.”
– The three biggest injuries announced in the NFL today all impact the Cardinals and their home schedule. The Texans (visit Nov. 10) lost linebacker Brian Cushing for the season, the Colts (visit Nov. 24) lost wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the season, and the Rams (visit Dec. 8) lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the season.
Tags: Brittan Golden, Bruce Arians, D.C. Jefferson, Daniel Fells, Daryn Colledge, Dontay Moch, Earl Watford, Falcons, Marcus Benard, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, Steven Jackson
Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »