As cuts approach – down to 75 by Tuesday, down to 53 by next Saturday – it’s getting a lot clearer who will likely be around for the Cardinals. (I will have a post on my predicted 53 next week.)
But coach Bruce Arians made a great point Friday about the last few spots on that 53-man roster, and what the decisions can be based upon.
“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to come down to positions of strength and we have about four or five positions of strength,” Arians said. “You always have to measure those last five guys and what is harder to find if another injury occurs.”
The injury component is important. Maybe keeping an extra defensive lineman makes sense if you are already thin. I’d think that definitely could come into play at inside linebacker with Kevin Minter’s situation. It’s hard enough finding guys sitting around to fill in there. Maybe less so on the offensive line. We shall see.
– Arians said there are still players that could stave off getting cut Sunday through their play, especially if they shine on special teams. If you are looking for hints of who will make it through to at least the final preseason games, look for the players that flash in the “transition game,” as Ron Wolfley likes to call it.
– Not that Jaron Brown’s place on this team has been in much doubt after an impressive training camp and preseason, but this was General Manager Steve Keim’s comment about Brown on this week’s edition of the “Big Red Rage” radio show: “He may be one of the most improved players from year to year I’ve seen in my NFL career.”
Brown simply didn’t get the reps in college playing behind future first-rounders Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. He’s gotten that work now.
– I don’t know how much time linebacker John Abraham might play Sunday, if at all, but there is clearly little concern from either Abraham or the coaches that the veteran will be ready for the regular season. There is still a lot of talk about him getting into shape, and it lead to a funny exchange when Abraham was asked about his current weight.
“I didn’t check,” Abraham said. “I’ll let you know, though. Some time next year.”
Seriously, though Abraham said weight has never been an issue in his career and he doesn’t think it will be now.
– Arians has been happy with the progress of rookie defensive lineman Ed Stinson. Stinson isn’t someone who is going to fill up your notebook when you talk to him, but “of course when the head coach brings your name up in anything you are happy,” he said. “I just want to make sure I put my 100 percent effort in and show what I’ve got.”
– Keim said safety Tyrann Mathieu has been fully cleared and essentially, it will be up to Mathieu to decide when he can play in games again. “We’re not going to press him,” Keim said.
– Keim reiterated he thinks guard Jonathan Cooper, somewhere down the road, is going to be “fine” and he is reveling in the fact that neither tackle position has been a constant source of chatter this camp. That’s a nod to Jared Veldheer and Bobby Massie.
“It’s been refreshing,” Keim said. “They don’t talk about the right or the left side. Both have had very good camps.”
– If you are going to the game Sunday (or any home game for that matter), don’t forget about the NFL bag policy instituted last year. Click here for more info.
– Arians acknowledged “I would be surprised” if an NFC West team was not the NFC representative in the Super Bowl. Asked if he expected an NFC West team to win the Super Bowl, Arians didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
– Arians, as he opened his final press conference of training camp: “I know you guys are really upset of this being the last day here,” Arians said.
Then B.A. referenced the next practice-day presser, which will come at the team’s Tempe facility. If you recall, construction there means the famous “interview tree” is no more. “The biggest thing, I don’t want to see any tears when we don’t meet underneath that tree next week,” Arians said.
– Camp is over. Bring on the Bengals.
Tags: Bengals, Big Red Rage, Bruce Arians, Jaron Brown, Steve Keim
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Big Red Rage, Calais Campbell, Honey Badger, NFL, Tyrann Mathieu
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Right before Carson Palmer arrived in a recent trade, there were a few stories speculating that Palmer might not want to come to the Cardinals — the team that was the main one linked to Palmer as a destination — because he might want to be a backup for a contender and try and get to a sure winner after all his years in Cincinnati and Oakland. Palmer wasn’t talking before the trade, and after the trade, he proclaimed how much he was excited to be in Arizona.
General Manager Steve Keim got a sense of that immediately, even before the trade was consummated.
Keim relayed this anecdote on the Big Red Rage Thursday night, after he noted that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie had given the Cards permission to talk to Palmer prior to a trade. The Cardinals flew Palmer in and took him out to dinner, with the next day about taking a physical and some conversation at the team facility.
“Carson calls me at 6:15 in the morning, begging me to pick him up so he can watch tape,” Keim said. “For a 33-year-old quarterback, 10 years in the league, I love that passion.”
A few hours later, Palmer was a Cardinal in a move that — in hindsight — felt inevitable.
Keim watched the last three years of Palmer’s passes in scouting him before the trade. The Raiders were ready to dump Palmer for a song, yet Keim found himself midway through the process, “about 70 throws into it from (the) 2012 (season) and I was shaking my head trying to figure out, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ “
Obviously the Cardinals don’t see any issues.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Carson Palmer, Steve Keim
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A few odds and ends on a Monday morning during the second week of voluntary workouts:
– The Cardinals signed punter Will Batson Monday. Batson also can kick field goals and kick off, so he’ll fill the role of Ricky Schmitt for this offseason and preseason, I’d think — which means he’s a major long shot. Ultimately, Dave Zastudil (who was very good last year) will be the punter and Jay Feely the kicker. This just gives the Cards an extra helper with a 90-man roster. Batson was with the Titans in preseason last year.
– There will be a special edition of the Big Red Rage this Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the regular spot, Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. Exact details are still being firmed up, but it will be live on Arizona Sports 620 and one of the guests will be General Manager Steve Keim.
– The 2013 Cardinals Cheerleaders will be announced on the site Friday. We will have a series of videos posted this week (1 p.m. so don’t miss them) detailing the audition process.
– I find it interesting that Kevin Kolb signs with the Bills after it could be argued that, had he not gotten hurt against the Bills last season, he might still be a Cardinal. (Then again, following that logic, there might not have been a coaching change at all. But I digress.) He’s got big plans for Buffalo.
– Presented without comment: Former Cardinals QB Max Hall has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Tags: Big Red Rage, cheerleaders, Kevin Kolb, Max Hall, Senio Kelemete, Steve Keim, Will Batson
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Linebacker Daryl Washington, snubbed for the Pro Bowl Wednesday, is still chasing his 10th sack of the season. Notching one more would not only tie the franchise mark for sacks by a linebacker, but also make him the first guy with 10 since Bertrand Berry had 14.5 in 2004 and the first Cardinal ever to have 100 tackles and 10 sacks. Of course, Washington as been stuck with nine sacks since getting one against the Rams Nov. 25. Chasing down mobile 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for one might not be easy. Washington did have two sacks the last time the Cards played the 49ers, but at that point, Alex Smith was still playing QB for San Francisco.
– Left tackle Nate Potter sat out Wednesday’s practice with a bad ankle. If Potter isn’t able to play Sunday, his backup is D’Anthony Batiste — who struggled so much when he was in there earlier in the season — and I’d think Batiste would likely get another start. That would definitely be something that bears watching.
– The Big Red Rage tonight at Majerle’s in Chandler will feature not only host Kerry Rhodes but also wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, so reserve your table quickly. The show starts at 6 p.m.
Tags: Bertrand Berry, Big Red Rage, Colin Kaepernick, D'Anthony Batiste, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Potter
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Darnell Dockett appeared on the “Bickley and MJ” show on XTRA 910 Wednesday to talk about his latest kerfuffle. Bottom line? “It’s not my intention to leave,” Dockett said, and insisted he hasn’t brought up to anyone the desire to be traded. That said, he also said he didn’t want to be anywhere where he wasn’t wanted — I don’t think anyone has told him with the Cardinals they don’t want him, but again, emotions have run high.
Highlights from Dockett’s comments:
– “This was not my saying or my idea of me being traded or people thinking I might be traded or came up with this or said this. I never said that. At the end of the day, I will never be anywhere I’m not wanted or I’m not going to be somewhere where I am treated unfairly. Things like that. I want to be happy. I play with passion, I give everything I have on the field.”
– On his reaction when he first was told on the sideline that letting the Jets score the final TD was the right strategy: “At the time I really didn’t know what was going on. I really didn’t think about it or anything like that. I just didn’t have the ‘quit’ attitude. Once they explained it to me real fast, I just didn’t want to be a part of that. Our defensive coaches emphasize all week, ‘Don’t let a team score, don’t let a team score.’ That’s embedded in me. … At the time, looking back at it, maybe I could have done something different, but I don’t have regret on what I’ve done.”
– On clearing the air with coach Ken Whisenhunt: “Maybe at the end of the season we’ll talk or whatever, but as of right now, my main focus is going out and playing hard. That’s my main focus. As far as a conversation of me being here or a conversation of our relationship, that’s not really my concern right now. He’s got a job to do, I have a job to do. I’m thinking we’re both frustrated at being on a nine-game losing streak.”
– The Big Red Rage tonight at 6 p.m. will feature kicker Jay Feely joining host Kerry Rhodes. As always, it is as Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler.
– No one is going to argue the Cardinals’ offense has been anything but poor. But FootballOutsiders.com, which measures DVOA (basically a system to compare units and players to the average unit or player), points out the Cards aren’t among the worst they’ve tracked, and even note that by those measurements, the Cards struggled more in 2010 through 14 weeks. It’s an interesting read.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Darnell Dockett
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As Pro Bowl voting continues, the folks over at profootballfocus.com are prompting readers to pick three Cardinals as Pro Bowl worthy. Two are the same as their last list, with linebacker Daryl Washington and defensive end Calais Campbell getting the nod. The third was safety Kerry Rhodes, who has been having a solid bounce-back season after injuries wrecked 2011. Rhodes had an interception in Atlanta this past weekend.
– Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, after his 127 yards rushing in Atlanta, is up for the FedEx Ground player of the week. You can vote here until Friday. He’s up against the Bengals’ Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and the Buccaneers’ Doug Martin.
– Speaking of Stephens-Howling, he will be the guest on the Thanksgiving week edition of Kerry Rhodes’ Big Red Rage, which will be held Wednesday night because of the holiday. The show starts at 6 p.m. as usual at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Pro Bowl voting
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Safety Kerry Rhodes still hosted his weekly radio show Wednesday night, getting to the Big Red Rage at Chandler Fashion Center. But when asked about the pain he was in at the show with his messed-up back, Rhodes said “on a scale of 10? It’s 13.”
Rhodes, who didn’t practice Wednesday, was plain about his back problem. “(It’s) not good,” Rhodes said, joking it was “a case of old man-itis.”
“My back is pretty jacked up right now, but I’m trying to get back,” Rhodes added.
Rhodes said it wasn’t back spasms. He thinks he did something near the goalline early in the game, but when it went away, he didn’t think much of it. He came off the field in the fourth quarter when it started to bother him, but ran back on the field even though he was still in pain. He thought he could make a difference. “I wanted to help my team win,” Rhodes said. “The coaches didn’t know I went back in. I just kind of ran back on the field.”
That, it turned out, was a mistakes. Rhodes’ back locked up on him during his final play and the pain “went all the way down to my calves.” Watching the replay, you can see Rhodes freeze and a Bills blocker bear down and ram him with a block. Rhodes couldn’t move at that point and just had to take the hit.
“I thought it was kind of dirty, but it’s part of the game,” Rhodes said. “The block didn’t do any damage. It was all back issues.”
Rhodes said he has never had back problems. “It hurts when I do normal stuff,” Rhodes said. “I can’t brush my teeth, I can’t tie my shoe.”
Tags: Big Red Rage, Kerry Rhodes
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