Hurting your calf on the first step of the conditioning test of training camp is never a good thing. So it’s probably not a shock the Cardinals waived-injured defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi Tuesday, the man known as the “Iron Sheik” to his teammates and the happiest man in the NFL to me. The Cardinals also cut inside linebacker Ali Highsmith, who had been running second team, and brought back yet again linebacker Pago Togafau, who has been with the Cards a few times. Finally, the team released wide receiver Deryn Bowser to sign safety Aaron Rouse, a veteran who played with the Packers and Giants last season.
The Highsmith move is a bit surprising, given the Cards’ questions at the position. But he struggled last season and apparently isn’t working out. Interesting on the signing of Rouse — who struggled a lot for the Giants, which is why they chased Antrel Rolle — but there are injuries in the secondary. Safety Hamza Abdullah was sitting out with a bad hamstring, and cornerback Rashad Barksdale has some sort of leg injury too.
Tags: Aaron Rouse, Ali Highsmith, Antrel Rolle, Dean Muhtadi, Deryn Bowser, Hamza Abdullah, Pago Togafau, Rashad Barksdale
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The first practice came and went in relative sunshine! Stunning, I know. But the rain stayed away and the Cards’ first practice — in shells, looking much like a minicamp or OTA workout — was good. But as Ken Whisenhunt said a couple of times, “It’s only the first day.”
The first day did cost the Cards defensive tackle Dean Muhtadi, who hurt his right calf on basically his first step of the conditioning test. For a guy working so hard to stay in shape all offseason, a killer result. Whisenhunt said Muhtadi will be out for a while, although he added, “it’s a long camp.” Whether it is long enough for Muhtadi to make enough of his impression, we will see.
Many of the depth chart choices this early were not unexpected. Trumaine McBride was running across from DRC as first-team cornerbacks, not Greg Toler. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis stressed to me that job opposite DRC is “wide open.” The inside linebackers, with Gerald Hayes hurting, are Monty Beisel and Paris Lenon. Daryl Washington knows what it is to be a rookie; he is third-string behind Lenon and Ali Highsmith.
On offense, Matt Leinart looked pretty good although Derek Anderson got a good chunk of reps too. The offensive line is the same that ended OTAs, with Levi Brown (LT), Alan Faneca (LG), Lyle Sendlein (C), Reggie Wells (RG) and Brandon Keith (RT). Deuce Lutui is second-team RG, next to tackle Herman Johnson. Ben Claxton is second-team center, with Jeremy Bridges at left tackle and Rex Hadnot at left guard.
I’ll have more tonight on the homepage, with notes about Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and their weights, DRC’s injury feelings and a story about the spotlight on the quarterback position.
Tags: Alan Branch, Alan Faneca, Ali Highsmith, Ben Claxton, Bill Davis, Brandon Keith, Daryl Washington, Dean Muhtadi, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, DRC, Gabe Watson, Gerald Hayes, Greg Toler, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Leinart, Monty Beisel, Paris Lenon, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot
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It feels like we were just here, prepping for minicamp, waiting for Beanie Wells to arrive from the airport for his introductory press conference, wondering what Fan Fest would be like coming off a Super Bowl appearance. The years certainly zoom by.
But this minicamp, for so many reasons, seems more intriguing that most. Many years there is a storyline or two that excites; in 2006, Matt Leinart’s first time on the field, last year it was about Beanie. But for sheer number of important and interesting topics to follow, this one may reign. A few of the key things to pay attention to starting tomorrow (minicamp is two practices Friday, two Saturday, one Sunday morning):
— Lining up on offense: Adding Alan Faneca to the offensive line mix has really made that unit tops to watch. Faneca will be in there, that much seems obvious. How will Levi Brown do moving to left tackle from the right side? Who is the right tackle — Reggie Wells? Brandon Keith? Jeremy Bridges? Can Herman Johnson make a play? Does Deuce Lutui sign his tender and force the Cards to keep him on the field? Where does Rex Hadnot fit? Offensive line coach Russ Grimm told me “we will play the best five.” Who will that be?
— Small-school corners: DRC is already a lock, hailing from Tennessee State. Now the other starting corner is probably going to be Greg Toler, from Saint Paul’s in Virginia. Toler did well in short stints as a rookie, but he has to prove he can hold up. And with Bryant McFadden gone, who steps up as a nickel guy?
— Those inside ‘backers: Can Daryl Washington show something early? Will the pressure of replacing Karlos Dansby fall to Paris Lenon? And what about a guy like Ali Highsmith — can he make a run at playing time while Washington grows up in the NFL?
— Oh yeah, there’s the quarterback: It’s Leinart’s time to take control of the QB position. But Derek Anderson has a little something to prove too, and he’s probably anxious to show that outside of what had become a toxic situation in Cleveland. Anderson should push Leinart. The Cards really need Leinart to respond in a good way.
There are other things to watch too, like how Dan Williams looks at nose tackle, or if Andre Roberts can outperform unknowns like Ed Gant, or even what the outside linebackers look like with Joey Porter and possibles such as Stevie Baggs and Mark Washington.
(And fans obviously can take a look at the public Saturday practice at Fan Fest; click here for all the details).
Football is here again.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Ali Highsmith, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Brandon Keith, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, DRC, Ed Gant, Greg Toler, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Joey Porter, Levi Brown, Matt Leinart, minicamp, Paris Lenon, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot, Russ Grimm, Stevie Baggs
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The Cardinals re-signed all eight of their practice squad players to “future” contracts, meaning all eight will be under contract heading into the offseason:
- WR Onrea Jones
- CB Rashard Barksdale
- LB Ali Highsmith
- WR Ed Gant
- DE Ryan Kees
- G Jonathan Palmer
- T Tom Pestock
- LB Mark Washington
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Ed Gant, Jonathan Palmer, Mark Washington, Onrea Jones, practice squad, Rashard Barksdale, Ryan Kees, Tom Pestock
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The Cardinals officially put tackle Mike Gandy on injured reserve today after he had surgery to repair a sports hernia Friday, and with the open roster spot, the team promoted linebacker Pago Togafau to the active roster. That open spot on the practice squad allowed the Cards to bring linebacker Ali Highsmith back to the practice squad.
The move with Gandy isn’t a surprise. It was going to be difficult to carry him and then, should he actually make it back to the field, play in a game that, by then would likely be a divisional round or NFC championship game after being off a month or so.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Mike Gandy, Pago Togafau
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Every week, the NFL goes over the official scoring of each game and makes corrections. Rarely do they make much of an impact, other than changing whether a player gets a full sack or half-sack. But it did Wednesday, when Kurt Warner’s five-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to win the game in Detroit was changed to a five-yard touchdown run by Boldin. It was ruled that Warner threw a backward pass, meaning it was a lateral and a rush attempt. It changes Warner’s TD passes for the season from 25 to 24, becomes Q’s first career rushing touchdown, and costs the Cards five passing/receiving yards while adding five rushing yards.
Not a huge deal — unless, of course, Warner was your fantasy QB and you needed those points.
As for practice, the Cards have brought back linebacker Ali Highsmith to the practice squad. Linebacker Will Davis returned to work and said he actually did more than he originally was going to do. And WR Sean Morey and TE Ben Patrick seem to have suffered concussions Sunday, making their availability Sunday in doubt.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Anquan Boldin, Ben Patrick, Kurt Warner, Sean Morey, Will Davis
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The Cardinals made couple of roster moves Tuesday, the most noteworthy being the cutting linebacker Ali Highsmith (pictured below in happier times). I’m not sure of what the reasoning will be for the Highsmith move. We will have to see what coach Ken Whisenhunt says tomorrow.
The Cards used that spot to sign safety Hamza Abdullah, a 6-foot-2, 216-pounder who has spent time with Denver and Cleveland since coming into the NFL in 2005. Abdullah gives the Cards a veteran presence at backup safety lost when Matt Ware went on IR. He was cut by the Browns in preseason this year. The Cards also added a body on the offensive line by bringing in tackle Cliff Louis to the practice squad, releasing fullback Brandon Renkart.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Brandon Renkart, Cliff Louis, Hamza Abdullah, Matt Ware
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Searching for depth at linebacker – especially after Gerald Hayes and Chike Okeafor missing games with back problems and having the inexperienced Reggie Walker and Ali Highsmith on the roster – the Cardinals brought back veteran Monty Beisel today. The Cards wanted Beisel when his contract expired after last season , but Beisel instead followed Todd Haley to Kansas City. Then Beisel was cut after just three games and has been searching for a job since. He had been in contact with the Cardinals in an attempt to come back since then.
To make room on the roster, the Cards decided they couldn’t hang on to four tight ends any longer. They released Dominique Byrd, who had yet to appear active in a regular-season game this season. With Anthony Becht and Ben Patrick taking hold of the two tight end spots on game day and Stephen Spach a more accomplished blocker than Byrd, Byrd was the odd man out.
The Cardinals also brought back a couple of familiar faces to the practice squad: linebacker Pago Togafau and defensive end Jason Banks. Both Banks and Togafau were injured during training camp and eventually received injury settlements. They take the place of FB Jed Collins and DT Antoine Holmes, who were released from the practice squad.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Anthony Becht, Ben Patrick, Chike Okeafor, Dominique Byrd, Gerald Hayes, Jason Banks, Monty Beisel, Pago Togafau, Reggie Walker, Stephen Spach, Todd Haley
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Yes, I heard you. I heard from the upset people right about the time the Cardinals fell behind, 14-0, Sunday at home to Seattle. So did the Cardinals, who heard some of the boos about that time. “It was a tough crowd, but I understand because the way we played the last couple games and the way we started off,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “But we responded to them too.”
That was the ultimate message of Sunday, I think. I said during my pregame radio show that I thought the Cardinals should win by two scores and, given the 31-20 final, that’s what happened. Was it the way the Cardinals wanted it to go? No. There were too many penalties and the slow start could have killed them.
But there when it was over, how do you quibble? I wasn’t sure Kurt Warner, after overthrowing Early Doucet on his first pass and making a poor decision on the incompletion-that-was-an-interception-before-it-was-overturned, was going to have a good game. I was right. He had a great game, completing 29-of-38 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cards had 122 yards rushing. The defense had four sacks and two interceptions and, for all the yards the Seahawks piled up, gave up just two field goals after that gulp-inducing 14-0 start.
Asked if he was worried, safety Adrian Wilson responded, “Were you worried?” It doesn’t matter what a reporter thinks though, A-Dub, only you guys. “I was concerned,” he said. “Wasn’t worried. It was some early adversity.”
Wilson wouldn’t talk about what was said at halftime, but it’s clear there were some words (like the heated ones he and Darnell Dockett traded in front of TV cameras early in the game). The Cards had started the comeback by then, however – thank goodness.
As for my other late Sunday night thoughts:
— It’ll get lost in post-game talk, but the Cards drive for a touchdown right after Seattle scored to go up 14-0 may be one of the most important of the season. There was still plenty of time left, but that drive – which ended with a 28-yard TD pass to Steve Breaston – may have saved the game. The confidence came back, not only to the offense but to the crowd.
— I don’t know the exact stats of anyone else, but Ben Graham has got to get serious consideration for the Pro Bowl. He’s been that good and he’s better than that when it comes to pinning teams deep.
— Eight TD catches for Larry Fitzgerald. Quietly, he’s tops in the NFL tied with Indy’s Reggie Wayne for the most in that category.
— Ali Highsmith is very good on special teams. But with Gerald Hayes out with back problems, Highsmith looked like he struggled Sunday while the Seahawks ran early and often. That’s less about Highsmith and more about how important Hayes has become.
— Wilson is now one sack shy of becoming a member of the 20-20 club, after getting his 20th career interception Sunday. Wilson was admittedly fooled a bit but he made a great diving pick on a shovel pass.
— The Cardinals were able to run the ball again. That’s not all Beanie, but he definitely helps. His second touchdown run was a thing of beauty (and the awesome hole-clearing blocks by TE Stephen Spach and T Mike Gandy can’t be overlooked).
— Coach Ken Whisenhunt promised the Seahawks would change up offensively, after the Cards held them to 128 total yards in Seattle. Maybe you don’t expect to give up 472 yards, but we’ve said this before – mistakes are a lot easier to fix after a win.
— Now that was the Anquan that’s been missing since the hamstring and ankle injuries. He’s a difference-maker when healthy.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Ali Highsmith, Anquan Boldin, Ben Graham, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Early Doucet, Gerald Hayes, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Gandy, Stephen Spach, Steve Breaston
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No surprises on the final injury report this week. TE Stephen Spach is out with the ankle sprain, while all the guys who were limited all week (including Friday) will be questionable: DE Kenny Iwebema (ankle, and who was apparently gimpy enough last weekend he still wasn’t ready to play then), RB Jason Wright (back), CB Bryant McFadden (ankle), WR Steve Breaston (knee) and LB Ali Highsmith (thigh).
On a not-so-related note, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald have been named, via a poll taken by E-Poll Market Research (which tracks celebrity popularity), among the top-three liked sports figures. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson was tops with a likability rating of 75 percent, followed by Fitz at 71 percent and Warner at 69 percent. The rest of the names, in order, of the top 10: tennis star Rafael Nadal, former NFL QB Steve Young, former ESPN personality Robin Roberts, NBA player Chris Paul, golfer Tiger Woods, bull rider Ty Murray and NBA player Tim Duncan.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Bryant McFadden, Jason Wright, Kenny Iwebema, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Stephen Spach, Steve Breaston
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