High school coaches play a huge role in the lives of football players — and former Cardinal Adrian Wilson is going to be the keynote speaker in a first-time summit at University of Phoenix Stadium working to teach those coaches how to best guide those kids.
The event, which will be held Friday, was put together by the Arizona Foundation for Women and the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. The pilot program, called “Coaching UP,” puts in place a framework to teach healthy relationships, how to confront peer pressures, the detrimental impacts of underage drinking and substance abuse, and the trauma of head injuries sustained on the field. Coaches, athletic directors, principals and counselors from various high schools around the state will participate.
Wilson, who had his own tough times growing up before eventually making it to the NFL, makes sense as someone who can speak on the subject of making the right decisions. Not only did Wilson have a Ring-of-Honor-type career with the Cardinals, he has also become a successful businessman outside of football.
“Whenever I get the chance to speak with high school coaches, I always stress to them the importance of being a positive role model in their student-athlete’s lives, both on and off the field, as well as the importance of education,” Wilson said in a statement. “What their players will learn in the classroom can take them a lot further in life than playing sports.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson
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The Cardinals are going through rookie minicamp this weekend. They started Friday, it goes through Sunday, and it’s a chance for the draft class and the undrafted rookies to get some work on their own before being thrown in with the veterans. That’s a good thing — it was hard to go through two consecutive plays Friday without having a coach at some position verbally blister a player for a mistake. The Cards will come together as an entire team next week. There is one more week of Phase 2 work, and then OTAs start May 18.
— There are a lot of questions about Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly. Kelly is here as one of the quarterbacks (as is Phillip Sims of Winston-Salem State) because to have a practice you have to have quarterbacks. But both are only here on a tryout basis and I do not expect Kelly to be with the Cards beyond this rookie weekend.
— Click here for the entire rookie minicamp roster. You can see who is here on a tryout basis.
— It was interesting to hear Bruce Arians say first-round draft pick D.J. Humphries would be a backup as a rookie “in a perfect world.” It’s certainly a possibility with veteran Bobby Massie around at right tackle. We’ll see how this plays out.
— Arians praised cornerback Jimmy Legree on the first day. For those who don’t know Legree, he actually spent last season on the practice squad after making the roster through just this process — he was a tryout player at the 2014 rookie minicamp. So it can happen. Arians even thinks Legree has a chance to be in the mix at cornerback, although we’ll see what opportunity is there once the Cards figure out where, how and if Alfonzo Dennard fits.
— He may not have made any official decisions on his future, but Adrian Wilson was at practice Friday helping coach the safeties.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, D.J. Humphries, Jimmy Legree, rookie minicamp, Taylor Kelly
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Day Two is in the books. Some quick notes and thoughts before I call it a night:
— After the trade Friday with the Ravens, the Cardinals have six picks on Saturday. There is a chance they won’t still have six by the time they draft Mr. Irrelevant to end the whole thing. GM Steve Keim said the trades might not be done. He mentioned a trade up possibility twice, so it’s on his mind.
“There are still a lot of guys (left) that Coach and I like,” Keim said. “We’ve had some conversations about going up (in a trade.) We will be active and aggressive. If there is someone we think that can help us, we will certainly make a jump at them.”
— As I noted in my story, Keim had Markus Golden on the brain Friday morning, long before the Cards were on the clock. That doesn’t mean they would’ve taken him no matter what, but they definitely feel good about the pick. Can he turn into James Harrison, as Bruce Arians suggested in who Golden reminded him of, well, we will see.
— The addition of RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa will help, but he’s got a long way to go to battle for the title of best Cardinal to come from Northern Iowa. That happens to be a quarterback who directed the team to the Super Bowl.
— Johnson will be in the mix for kickoff returns. “Yes indeed,” Arians said. “He and anybody else who can catch it,”
— Keim acknowledged the Cards were headed toward taking another offensive lineman Friday because of how their board fell. He made the point that another pass rusher or offensive lineman could end up another pick on Saturday.
— Nice job by Adrian Wilson making the announcement of the Golden pick. “Go Birdgang.” He’s a natural.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bruce Arians, David Johnson, draft, Markus Golden, Ravens, trade
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Former safety Adrian Wilson, who retired earlier this week, will indeed have a job for the Cardinals on draft weekend. No, he hasn’t accepted a role in the front office. (Not yet, anyway.) But he will be among an impressive group of former NFL stars on hand at the draft in Chicago to announce their former team’s second-round picks on Friday night.
Friday’s second and third round of the draft begins at 4 p.m. Arizona time.
This continues a theme of the last couple of years, having former players announce selections. This is the fifth year of the program. The Cardinals currently hold the the 55th overall selection (23rd in the second round), although you never know what can happen with GM Steve Keim’s potential wheeling and dealing.
Wilson, meanwhile, is expected at some point to join the organization in some capacity. He is close with Keim, with a relationship that dates back to Wilson’s freshman year at North Carolina State. While I don’t see him as a full-time coach, I could see Wilson helping with the defensive backs, and/or helping the front office in scouting or personnel. Wilson wasn’t committing to anything yet.
“I kind of want to take my time on that,” Wilson said. Monday. “There’s really no set timeframe in answering that question.”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, draft
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This is when you feel the legacy, on the day in which Adrian Wilson officially retires and when he talks about the guys who helped him when he got into the league, Pat Tillman comes up. It’s fitting this time of year, when the anniversary of Tillman’s death draws near. It’s easy to forget how important Tillman was to Wilson that one season they played together, in 2001.
“I didn’t know the first thing about the playbook,” Wilson said of his rookie season. “(Defensive coordinator) Larry Marmie’s playbook was so complicated, I couldn’t understand it. Pat sat me down for hours upon hours just going through the playbook just to go to practice the next day. It was that complicated for me. I owe big dividend to Pat.”
To think, Wilson was there to essentially replace Tillman.
(Wilson thanked other “old-time” Cardinals Corey Chavous, Kwamie Lassiter, Rob Fredrickson and Ron McKinnon for their help when he was starting out too.)
— When Wilson was released back in 2013, I covered a lot of the instant emotions and thoughts I had of his career in this post. But his retirement Monday brought some closure and, perhaps sooner rather than later, maybe bring Wilson back into the building on a consistent basis. He shrugged off his future right now, saying he wanted to “take my time on that.” He’s got four young kids. That’s his focus now, although there is little question GM Steve Keim likes having him in the mix. Team president Michael Bidwill noted that before the press conference, Wilson had his mock draft around, drawing a grin from Wilson.
“He’s made some improvements from his first mock that he showed me,” Keim said. “I think I sent him back to the film room.”
— Not only was Wilson’s family there, but his two buddies from North Carolina from when he was 10 years old, Adrian Mack and Anthony Johnson, were there Monday and it took me back to 2010 when Wilson invited me back to High Point to cover his high school retiring his jersey number and I was able to meet Mack and Johnson and do a big story on who Wilson really was as a person. Looking back on that article, through the prism of today, this quote stands out, about Wilson desperately wanting to leave a legacy.
“Nobody in my family has one and I’ll be the first,” Wilson said. “That’s something I think is more important to me than anything – leaving that right mark. I want to lay a foundation down where it doesn’t matter what generation you come from, you’ve got to respect what I did.”
— Bidwill will have Wilson go in the Ring of Honor, but that date is TBD. The schedule comes out tomorrow, and then the team must figure out what home games have which events, like Breast Cancer Awareness or Salute to Service, for example.
— Wilson admits he thinks about the Hall of Fame. I’ll have a separate post on that tomorrow, but it’s been tough sledding for safeties in Canton.
— There was a good group of former teammates on hand for Wilson today: Fitz, Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, Calais Campbell, Bertrand Berry, Quentin Harris, Damien Anderson, Rolando Cantu. Peterson even took the mic during the press conference to deliver a statement in front of everyone. Wilson was an important part of this franchise. He still should be.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bertrand Berry, Calais Campbell, Damien Anderson, Hall of Fame, Justin Bethel, Michael Bidwill, Pat Tillman, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Harris, Rashad Johnson, Rolando Cantu
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One of the things that frustrates Bruce Arians is the inability to talk football with players during certain parts of the offseason. It’s reality, though, under the current collective bargaining agreement. Today, those shackles come off.
The players have returned to begin Phase I of the offseason work. (It’s voluntary, don’t forget, although one player here was Patrick Peterson, as you can see below.) The big part of that is the strength and conditioning program, but it also includes meetings. Players can be around for four hours total (90 minutes on the field) so Arians and his coaches can finally start discussing the playbook. The new free agents can start getting the information about their duties. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher can start explaining his system and its tweaks from what Todd Bowles did.
The 2015 is here.
— The full NFL schedule will be released at 5 p.m. Arizona time on Tuesday.
— Meanwhile, the return of the players isn’t the biggest news of the day here at the team facility. There is a 1 p.m. press conference with Adrian Wilson, team president Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim. No official word on what it’s about.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bruce Arians, James Bettcher, NFL schedule, offseason
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Back in 2008, Bertrand Berry was asked to take a pay cut to remain with the Cardinals. He decided to do so. In 2012, Adrian Wilson was asked to take a pay cut to remain with the Cardinals. He did so (and that didn’t save him from being released after the season.) The only leverage either player had was to say, “I’ll leave” if they didn’t like the offer. It’s not ideal, but it was reality.
That’s where we are with Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals. This is not a surprise, not with a $23.6 million salary cap number, an actual payout of a scheduled $8M salary and another $8M roster bonus due in about a month. Not with the Cardinals, even with a carryover of $4.2M from last year’s cap to tag on to a projected $140M salary cap for 2015, around $11M over the cap at this point (according to ESPN) and needing to get to at least even by March 10. Regardless of specific numbers, the Cards need to slice some cap money.
Again, none of this is new.
I’ll be honest – I listened to Michael Bidwill’s interview Wednesday morning on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 and nothing stood out. When he talked about bringing Fitzgerald back and working out a contract, it was the things you’d expect to hear.
At one point, Bidwill did say “it takes two” to reach a deal. That raised eyebrows. But should it? At some point, the Cardinals and General Manager Steve Keim were going to want to harness the salary cap, and that was going to start with Fitz’s current deal. I thought for a while that might come last offseason, but instead, the Cards — and Fitz — kicked the can down the road a season with a simple restructure to buy cap space. We have come to the rip-the-band-aid-clean-off stage of this thing.
There are 10 wide receivers right now averaging at least $9M on their contracts. Only three — Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson and maybe Vincent Jackson, given all the Buccaneers’ cap space — aren’t serious candidates to renegotiate/restructure/get released this offseason (and Johnson, as good as he is, is headed that way in the next year or two himself, given his cap numbers.) Fitzgerald’s situation, especially at his position, is not unique.
Like Berry, like Wilson, the ball will be in Fitz’s court, basically. Yes, there are salary numbers to figure out — as always — but the Cards aren’t going to change their thought process. Carson Palmer was asked to do something similar in Oakland; he declined and was traded to Arizona. Maybe that’s what Fitz will want to do. Maybe a new deal will work for him, and maybe the other benefits of being in Arizona on a personal level make it worth an agreement. Maybe a different opportunity is more intriguing, or maybe the numbers just won’t be good enough, and Fitz uses what leverage he has. But there are really no new angles that can come out on this thing. It’s not hard to analyze.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bertrand Berry, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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Running back Andre Ellington is active tonight against the Chargers, which is a big deal for the Cardinals. Andre, as you see in the tweet below, forecasted the good news. We’ll see if he is limited or if he’s able to be a full part of the offense. Also active is punter Dave Zastudil, which means the Cardinals will have two active punters tonight. Zastudil could end up just holding on place kicks.
Of the inactives, one surprise is rookie defensive end Kareem Martin. The arrival of new defensive linemen Tommy Kelly and the waiver pickup of former Charger pass rusher Thomas Keiser, both of whom are playing, has impacted Martin’s situation.
One guy that is not a surprise to be sitting is safety Tyrann Mathieu, whose debut remains up in the air as he comes back from knee surgery. Aside from Martin and Mathieu, the inactive list:
— QB Logan Thomas
— LB Glenn Carson
— LB Alex Okafor (thigh)
— G Earl Watford
— TE Darren Fells
That leaves the Cardinals with three active tight ends too.
As a quick aside, not only is Kurt Warner going into the Ring of Honor at halftime, but the Cardinals have another former player cranking the “Big Red Siren” as kickoff approaches: Adrian Wilson, who was a practice visitor earlier this week.
I thank God for these blessings!
— Andre Ellington (@AEllington38) September 9, 2014
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Andre Ellington, Chargers, inactives, Tyrann Mathieu
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Before anyone takes this out of context, when veteran safety and ex-Cardinal Adrian Wilson came to visit practice today, it was just that — a visit. It wasn’t a tryout. Wilson wasn’t working out for General Manager Steve Keim but conversing with him, wearing — as A-Dub often does — a trendy outfit and carrying what looked to be a notebook and pen. He and Keim go way back, with both North Carolina State products and Keim the one who scouted Wilson and pushed for his selection in the 2001 draft.
I only got to talk to Wilson briefly, and he said he was doing well. There was no talk of football per se, or his recent release by the Bears. He, as you can see in the picture below, still very much looks the part. (One young Cardinal saw him from afar and noted, “I thought he’d look older than he does.” Take it as a compliment, Adrian.)
I’m not sure of the drop-by, but it isn’t surprising. Someday, Wilson will be going into the team’s Ring of Honor. That’s been known since it was put in the official press release the day Wilson was released. I am one of many who thinks that, whenever Wilson decides to retire, he could very well sign a one-day contract with the Cardinals to end it with this franchise. And I would not be surprised to see Wilson end up with some kind of role within the organization at some point. I think the organization thinks that much of Wilson, and I think Wilson thinks that much of this organization.
— The Cardinals had a another mini-practice Wednesday. With a Monday game, the real “week” of practice starts Thursday, with pads and hitting. That’s the day safety Tyrann Mathieu will give hitting a try.
— Arians said new defensive lineman Tommy Kelly is picking up the defense just fine — “Defensive line, the playbook isn’t real deep,” Arians quipped — and it looks like Kelly should slide in just fine into the defensive rotation.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Steve Keim, Tommy Kelly, Tyrann Mathieu
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It’s been a quick start to the news of the day, with the Cardinals releasing veteran linebacker Ernie Sims — whose last act as a Cardinal was intercepting a Drew Stanton pass during a drive drill at the end of practice Tuesday that deflected high in the air (picture below). It isn’t that surprising. If you have a veteran who doesn’t really have a chance of making the team — and Sims clearly wasn’t going to surpass Kevin Minter, Lorenzo Alexander, Larry Foote or Kenny Demens at inside linebacker at this point — you’d rather move on and not expose him to injury in a game that could cause an IR trip and/or a drain on the salary cap.
The Cardinals now have two open roster spots, after dropping Sims and the retirement of tight end Jake Ballard. We’ll see how those get filled. I assume they will be filled.
— Came across this article about Adrian Wilson in Chicago last night. Made me chuckle. A interview that lasted less than two minutes? An icy glare? Dismissing a question? Been there, done that with Dub. Plus, there’s a picture of him sporting jersey No. 44. My favorite part of the transcript:
“On whether he feels any differently at this point in training camp than he has in Pro Bowl seasons, health-wise:
(Wilson appeared annoyed. He ignored this question and turned to another reporter.)”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Ernie Sims
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