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Floyd enters concussion protocol

Posted by Darren Urban on September 26, 2016 – 1:10 pm

Wide receiver Michael Floyd was taken off the field in the first half of Sunday’s game after the independent spotter decided Floyd’s banging of his head on the turf after going up for a pass warranted a concussion check. Floyd came out briefly before returning, having been cleared. But coach Bruce Arians said Floyd will enter the concussion protocol after he had a headache Monday.

“We just want to be very safe with him,” Arians said.

Floyd is off to a slow start this season, although he did have four catches for 65 yards Sunday (on 11 targets). But Floyd also wasn’t on the same page as Carson Palmer on a Palmer end-zone interception, with Palmer expecting Floyd to cut in front of the defensive back, Arians said. Floyd also dropped a probable first-down catch on the very first play of the game, which seemed to set a tone for a rough day.

It wasn’t the only injury news. Tight end Troy Niklas has a wrist injury “that could be severe,” Arians said, while punter Drew Butler is dealing with an ankle sprain and Achilles problem that will prevent him from punting. Arians said the Cardinals may have two punters active on Sunday so Butler can continue to hold for kicker Chandler Catanzaro.


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Bills aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2016 – 6:10 pm

That first possession – the one the Bills had – went pretty well. A three-and-out, a Kevin Minter sack, and the Bills fans were already itchy in their seats.

But as the fruitless possessions for the Cardinals’ offense piled up, the defense couldn’t match. For a chunk of the game, it felt  like many of the East Coast games of Cardinals yesteryear. This was a team that, frankly, hadn’t been part of the Bruce Arians era. At all. Even the NFC Championship game felt like an overwhelming performance by a better team. This just felt like the Cardinals never got into sync.

It’s certainly not where you want to be three games into the season. Carson Palmer and Michael Floyd still don’t seem to be on the same page. The run defense slipped hard, especially when the Cards all but predicted LeSean McCoy and, as a scrambler, Tyrod Taylor, were going to be the key to the Bills’ offense.

Now comes two straight NFC West games in what will be a five-day window. They are crucial, against two teams you expected to find behind you in the division standings. They won’t be if the Cardinals don’t find consistency.

— Not a lot of good in the game. But the Patrick Peterson one-handed interception was an incredible athletic feat.

— Speaking of incredible athletic plays, Tyrann Mathieu made one to force that fumble. If he could have only picked it up. He would’ve scored a touchdown. It could’ve been a one-score game with eight minutes left.

— There are – obviously – some decisions coming on the special teams front. Punter Drew Butler was clearly limping every time he was on the field and when he was headed to the locker room. It would seem likely they’ll need someone to at least fill in a week. The long snapper issue isn’t about injury. The Cardinals never had to worry about the position for the longest time. Mike Leach was as close to perfect as you could get. Kam Canaday is struggling. Arians had already acknowledged it. And with that position, it’s tough to wait out growing pains.

— As they did in the first two games, both Chandler Jones and Markus Golden got a sack. They each have three sacks in three games.

— The Cardinals had no turnovers. Now they have five, including four straight interceptions by Palmer to end the game.

— Painful stat of the day: Beginning with the first drive of the game, when the Bills set the Cards up with a punt and the Cardinals began at the Bills’ 36 and went nowhere, the Cardinals got to the Buffalo 36 or closer seven times but only scored twice.

Then again, most of the stats ended up painful.

LeSean McCoy

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Nkemdiche sits again against Bills

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2016 – 8:32 am

No surprises on the Cardinals’ inactive list for the game against the Bills. Rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, battling an ankle and a deep defensive line room, will sit out the game. Although it is interesting that the Cards, with nine defensive linemen on the roster, will have four of them inactive.

Meanwhile, the Bills won’t have wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who has a bad foot, and won’t have receiver Greg Salas either or cornerback Ronald Darby.

The full inactive list for the Cards:

— S Marqui Christian

— G Evan Mathis (toe)

— LB Kareem Martin (knee)

— DT Frostee Rucker (knee)

— DT Robert Nkemdiche (ankle)

— DT Olsen Pierre

— DT Xavier Williams

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Fitz’s lone shutout, Friday before the Bills

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2016 – 2:30 pm

Larry Fitzgerald did not catch a pass, and that was only the beginning of the brutality that was the Cardinals’ last trip to Buffalo.

It was way (way) back in Fitz’s rookie year of 2004. It was Denny Green’s first season. Anquan Boldin was coming back that day after missing the first six games with a knee injury suffered in training camp. Boldin had four catches for 50 yards. Fitz, alas, was shut out – the only time in his career he has not caught a pass in a game.

“That was probably the first time in my life I didn’t catch a ball,” said Fitzgerald, whose consecutive-games-with-a-catch streak is at 181. “Ever since I started playing football. There’s a first for everything.”

(Fitz did have a rushing attempt, for four yards.)

Of course, there weren’t many completions, period. Josh McCown completed just 9-of-24 passes, Drew Bledsoe just 8-of-17, as the teams played in nasty winds up to 30 miles an hour plus rain. It was a joy to watch. (It ended with a 38-14 Bills win).

The weather isn’t supposed to be bad Sunday. The temperatures will be mild, the sun is supposed to be out, the wind at a minimum. And of course, Fitz is playing with a team 12 years later that is light years better than that group that went to New York.

— No Evan Mathis this week, cut down by the dreaded turf toe. Earl Watford gets the start in his place. That’s an interesting development, in part because …

— Sunday will be a big test for right tackle D.J. Humphries. The defense played by the Ryan brothers usually features high-pressure from the outside. Do they go after Humphries? Goodwin said Humphries is doing better, although he noted there were mental lapses both against the Buccaneers and in practice this week. “He is always going to feel the pressure from me and coach (Arians),” Goodwin said.

Now you have Watford and Humphries on the right side of the line without Mathis.

— Defensive coordinator James Bettcher, on his reaction after hearing Bruce Arians accepting the blame for the zone-first defensive philosophy in the Patriots loss: “The first thing I thought was, we needed to tackle better in that game … our communication wasn’t good enough.”

“I love coach’s input,” Bettcher added. “He is one of the smartest men I have ever worked around. Not only is he the best head coach in the National Football League, he is a smart, smart football coach.”

— The Cardinals have yet to turn the ball over. Carson Palmer should have been picked a couple of times so far – the drop by Bucs CB Brent Grimes on the bad route by David Johnson last week the most memorable – but overall the QB has been good protecting the ball. In an offense like this, where the passing game will go down the field, a minimum of interceptions is impressive.

“Experience is one thing,” Palmer said in his explanation why. “You know when to take your shots. You know whether it’s the right type of third-down situation to be in, the right time of the game. You’ve got to be smart.

“(Interceptions are) going to happen. You try to avoid them as long as you can and when they do happen, you bounce back and go down and score on the next drive. That’s something that I pride myself on.”

— While Arians said the cornerback spot across from Patrick Peterson would be shared work-wise between Marcus Cooper and Brandon Williams, Bettcher said whoever had the better week of practice was going to earn the playing time Sunday.

— As we go, don’t discount the idea that newcomer Tharold Simon could also start to get some defensive snaps at cornerback.

— Former Cardinals linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, now 33 years old, is starting in Buffalo and has 1½ sacks and nine tackles in two games, plus a forced fumble and tackle for loss. “Lorenzo is playing really, really well,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said. “He’s got a sack and a half and he’s missed two or three. Just missed.”

— So far, Markus Golden is keeping up with the higher-profile Chandler Jones in sacks. Both have two in two games. Golden shrugged off his pace, but admitted he’ll be looking at it at season’s end.

“At the end of the year, of course, numbers mean something to everybody,” Golden said. “You want to do stuff people didn’t think you could do, so of course the numbers matter, but I feel like if you compete at the high level and play to win, you’ll get the numbers no matter what.

“Just got to keep hunting.”

Buffalo awaits.


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As 2015 begins, a look at … 2016 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2015 – 8:46 am

Yes, training camp starts today (hopefully you can check out our redesigned homepage and our training camp page.) But before we get off and running, how about a quick glance at the Cardinals’ opponents for the 2016 season — which, as you know, the league has determined 14 of the 16 regular-season games already.


— New Orleans Saints
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— New England Patriots
— New York Jets
— NFC East team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (assuming the Rams are still in St. Louis)


— Carolina Panthers
— Atlanta Falcons
— Buffalo Bills
— Miami Dolphins
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (even more important to see if Rams are still in St. Louis)

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Cromartie keeping options open

Posted by Darren Urban on January 17, 2015 – 9:53 am

Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie has been a natural go-to guy the last few days to talk about Todd Bowles as the new New York Jets coach, since Cromartie just played for Bowles and since he still has a lot of media relationships with New York media after playing so many years with the Jets. He went on NFL Network to talk about Bowles — and also about his future given his impending free agency.

During his Bowles’ analysis, Cromartie noted “$50 million in cap space” the Jets have to work with. That probably wasn’t a coincidence, especially from a guy who didn’t really want to leave the Jets last year in the first place.

“I’m leaving the door open,” Cromartie said. “Right now, until the Super Bowl is over, I’m still an Arizona Cardinal. Until they come to me about a conteact, I’m still an Arizona Cardinal. Once March 10 at 4 o’clock hits, March 12 at 9 a.m. hits, and no one’s offered me a contract, then I’m free game. And I’m open to anything to go out and try to win a championship and help any organization.”

(Free agency does indeed start March 10 at 2 p.m. Arizona time, which will be 4 p.m. Eastern.)

Cromartie made $3.5 million on a one-year contract this season. He had a good season and is a Pro Bowl alternate. But his signing, and his season, has long played out as a parallel to the one linebacker Karlos Dansby had in 2013 for the Cardinals. Dansby, like Cromartie, signed with the Cardinals for one year when the free agent market did not play out the way they wanted. Dansby, like Cromartie, had a good season (Dansby actually had an excellent season, even better than Cro’s.) But both are on the wrong side of 30 in a league that values youth. There has always been a good chance Cromartie’s situation plays out just like Dansby’s did — I expect the Cardinals to make a solid offer, although it may only be for two or three years. And it’s easy to see another team swooping in to offer more years/more money. The Browns did that with Dansby, and maybe the Jets — or the Bills, who now have Cro’s former coach, Rex Ryan — will do the same with Cromartie.

Cromartie, as he said, is open to everything.


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Michael Bidwill on passing of Bills owner Ralph Wilson

Posted by Darren Urban on March 25, 2014 – 12:46 pm

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, one of the founding members of the American Football League and a Pro Football Hall of Fame member, died today at the age of 95. The Cardinals released a statement from team president Michael Bidwill.

“At a critical juncture in the National Football League’s history, Ralph Wilson provided a level of leadership and vision that helped make the NFL what it is today,” Bidwill said. “He not only recognized the sport’s potential popularity and success but was pivotal in helping to achieve it. Our hearts go out to his wife Mary, the Bills organization and everyone in Western New York on their tremendous loss.”

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Fitz’s comments on changes, and Whiz’s future

Posted by Darren Urban on January 1, 2013 – 9:48 am

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald put out a statement in regards to the firings Monday of coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves:

“We all shoulder the blame for a disappointing season which began with such promise. A unique relationship with all of my coaches past and present is a valued life experience. I would like to thank them all, especially Coach Ken Whisenhunt and General Manager Rod Graves who gave me the opportunity to live my dream in the NFL.

“Even in the midst of a tumultuous season, it was still a pleasure to work for the staff we served under, and for that, we remain grateful. Their professionalism will provide for renewed accomplishments in different environs. We all, to a man, thank them and wish them the best.”

Fitz hadn’t been available in the locker room Monday, but after the game Sunday, he was asked about if he ever would give his input to the team going into offseason.

“Yeah, in opportune times I speak up, but I don’t think you should air your dirty laundry either,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a close-knit group. We have a great relationship with each other and I think it’s best done in house and I’ve always believed that.”

Fitz, however, added — again — it doesn’t really come up. “If they ask me any questions I’ll be always open to talk and give them my opinion, but it hasn’t happened in nine years so I don’t expect it to happen any time soon,” he said. ” I’ll be ready when my numbers’ called.”

There is little question this move has a potential huge impact on Fitz. The offensive issues killed his season. How Fitz would fit with whatever the new offense will look like — and who would be throwing him the ball — will be one of the top storylines.

— It’s no surprise Ken Whisenhunt is in search of another head coaching job at this point. Kevin Acee reported Whiz was interested in the Chargers job (although no word that the Chargers were actually interested in him.) Tim Graham said the Bills will probably be interested in Whiz, and interestingly, one of the other two known candidates is Cards’ DC Ray Horton. Whiz apparently had contract language with the Cards that means any new job salary he gets comes off the $5.5 million they owe him. That would allow a new team, in theory, to get him cheap in 2013 (since Whiz will get $5.5M regardless) but at the same time, would save the Cards at least some money as opposed to if Whiz just sits out this next season.

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Bills aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 14, 2012 – 7:28 pm

With everything that happened – and in terms of writing about a game, that’s one in which everything before the five-minute-left mark of regulation is virtually immaterial – I can’t get past the dropped screen pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling in overtime, the play before John Skelton’s interception. Ken Whisenhunt was sure it was set up for significant yardage, and from my spot down on the sideline at that point in the game, that’s how it looked to me too. Even if it only picks up eight or nine yards, the Cards are in a totally different spot.

Maybe Skelton still throws a pick on the drive, maybe not. It’s just hard to feel, the way the game was playing out (and the way the Bills were calling plays) that the Bills weren’t going to drive for a score. Hindsight and all that, I suppose. But Sunday was a gut-wrencher.

It’s really classic NFL reaction, I guess. Jay Feely’s kick goes through at the end of regulation, or if the Cards find a way to win in OT, and it’s all good, relatively speaking. Instead, you fight the feeling that the sky is falling. I do think this – that game in Minnesota next week might be the tipping point for either one of the two upstart teams, whoever loses.

— I guess we’re going to be back talking about who is the starting quarterback again. I’m assuming we won’t know much more tomorrow about the status of Kevin Kolb’s ribs, unless it’s some devastating injury that ends his season (which I don’t think it will be.) So then we’ll see if Skelton is back under center. Skelton looked rusty when he came in, completing just 2-of-10 throws. He’ll get more practice time this week. It’s the story that just never quite goes away though.

— Larry Fitzgerald had a very good game, when they could get him the ball. There was no cheesy stat-padding today. Every one of his six catches seemed to hold importance (and that one-handed sideline grab that didn’t count because it was out of bounds still is highlight-worthy — check out the photo below.) The grab he made to keep the Cards alive on fourth down before Feely’s 61-yarder was amazing.

Plus he surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career. Not that he cared. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been at home and not won so it still hasn’t registered to me, really,” Fitz said. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t come out and protect home field. That’s bothering me right now.”

— Speaking of Feely’s kick, it was blocked. Not enough to knock it all the way down, but enough to cause problems. Alex Carrington, a Bills defensive lineman got it, and I suppose given all the times the Cards have used a blocked kick to save a game, it’s a painful reminder the Cardinals do not have the market cornered on such crucial saves.

— Props to Feely, though, on the 61-yarder. It destroyed his career-high of 55 yards. I didn’t think he had it in him. I guess that was foolish.

— The Cards had 182 yards rushing. Yes, 24 of it came on a fake punt and 66 of it was Kolb’s on scrambles. Yes, it came against a defense that struggles against the run. But still, 182 yards is 182 yards, easily the best of the season. William Powell looked OK, didn’t he? To get 70 yards on 13 carries was impressive. I’m guessing the Cards will be willing to ride this for now.

— If you watched the game on TV, you saw Whiz light into fullback Reagan Maui’a for his post-play spike after a key eight-yard reception. It cost the Cards five of those yards on a delay of game and virtually stopped that drive, which looked good up until that point. Tight end Jeff King false-started after that and everything got backward quickly. “You can’t do that,” Whiz said. “It’s just stupidity.” It’s also never a good thing for a player who is always on the verge of being released anyway, as starter Anthony Sherman tries to return to health.

— Safety Kerry Rhodes left with a back injury and Rhodes was walking like it in the locker room. Bad backs can be tricky. It also looked like a Bills player hit Rhodes low in the leg (kind of cheap-looking, although I’d like to see another replay) before he was carried off, so let’s hope there isn’t anything besides the back to complicate things.

— Safety Rashad Johnson, who ran the 24 yards as the up back on the fake punt, actually walked on at the University of Alabama as a running back before he was switched to safety. “I played running back for two years there,” Johnson said. “Anytime I can get the opportunity to do that – anything to get the offense an extra possession, maybe get points, I’ll lobby for it again.”

Bottom line today: These are the games the Cardinals play. It finally bit them back.

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Friday before the Bills

Posted by Darren Urban on October 12, 2012 – 4:03 pm

There will be many things that people will be waiting to see Sunday when the Cards finally kick off against the Bills – how the Cards’ run game looks, whether the Bills have recovered from a couple of historical beat-downs – but from the Cardinals’ side of the fence, it’ll be Arizona’s first few pass plays that will be under the microscope. The Bills won’t have (struggling) defensive end Mark Anderson, although they do have (struggling) defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and (struggling) defensive end Mario Williams. There has been plenty of talk not surprisingly, from the Buffalo perspective that their pass rush can get healthy against the Cards. It’s vice versa for the Cards, who count on righting the pass-protection ship after surrendering 17 sacks the past two games.

“If you go into the game thinking that you are going to do that just because, you could be in for a rude awakening,” Mario Williams said. “If we go out and think, ‘Oh well, it’s going to be easy because the last two teams did this,’ we could be in for a rude awakening.”

Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb spoke again this week about how there were many facets in the pas game that need to do better to improve the pass protection. Someone suggested more three-step drops for Kolb, which the quarterback dismissed. “You can’t just go to three-step drops,” Kolb said. “That’s not the way the game is.”

You can’t just do a lot of anything. Pro teams – and pro coaches – figure that out soon enough. Leave more guys in to block? OK, but that’s fewer people in pass routes, and fewer options for which Kolb to pass. Coach Ken Whisenhunt knows he needs better technique from his blockers, better protection schemes and better overall play. There’s will have been 10 days to try and iron some of this out.

— There are two banged-up teams going out to play. With cornerbacks Greg Toler and Michael Adams doubtful, it sure sounds like rookie Jamell Fleming will be thrust back into a prominent defensive role. And kind-of-newcomer Crezdon Butler may be active right off the bat after being away from the team since being cut at the end of the preseason. The Bills, meanwhile, are missing a pair of starting offensive linemen themselves.

— Cornerback William Gay, who stands to start across from Patrick Peterson again Sunday, has struggled at times. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said it is technique issues with Gay, and along those lines, Gay’s role was reduced against the Rams. “Obviously, he’s capable,” Horton said. “He had a good week of practice. We reduced his role and message sent, I believe. Now, whether message was received or not, we’ll find out.”

— The Bills have allowed 97 points the last two games, to the Patriots and 49ers. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Cardinals will suddenly break out, but if the Cards’ offense is going to have a chance to improve, this is a matchup you want.

— Quarterback John Skelton is listed as probable for the first time since his ankle injury. I fully expect Kolb to start – who wouldn’t? – but Skelton, I would guess, would be the backup. After that, I don’t know if we are going to have any big announcement or not. The Cards are going to go through the gauntlet on the schedule after this game, at Minnesota, home against the Niners, at Green Bay and at Atlanta, which will be rough on whoever is playing QB.

— Today is Adrian Wilson’s birthday. He turned 33. His biceps don’t look a day over 27.

— Yes, I used that on Twitter.

— Speaking of birthdays, analyst and Cardinals Underground compatriot Ron Wolfley turns 50 Sunday, with the Cards playing against his hometown team. How great is that?

— The Cards are wearing black Sunday, as a reminder. And pink. This is the annual Breast Cancer Awareness game, in case you are still putting together your gameday outfit.

— It probably saved an interception return for a touchdown – and it wasn’t even flagged at the time – but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was dinged for a $7,850 fine from the NFL after grabbing cornerback Janoris Jenkins’ facemask on a play against the Rams. The Rams didn’t escape fines for their play, though. Two players were nailed for roughing up Kevin Kolb – defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo was fined $7,875 for roughing the passer when he ripped Kolb’s helmet off, while defensive end Robert Quinn was fined $15,750 for hitting Kolb helmet-to-helmet.

— Fitz needs 48 receiving yards to reach 10,000 in his career.

— Fitz, by the way, wasn’t about to pop off about the Bills’ struggles. “I always remember my grandfather said, you let a sleeping dog lie,” he said. “We just don’t want to ruffle any feathers and try to sneak out of here with a ‘W’ without getting anyone upset.”

It seems like it’s been forever since the Cards last played.

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