So profootballfocus.com has a series they call “Secret Superstar” in which they try to highlight players who are under the radar or are poised for breakout seasons. This week, they named Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie a Secret Superstar. You know who noticed? Bobby Massie.
“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Massie said.
Then again, he was also reading with a grain of salt.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me, because the same people that wrote that were the same people that were talking bad about me (early last year),” Massie said.
There is no question Massie has rebounded from his rough rookie start. He was plugged in at right tackle from jump last season and for half-a-season, struggled mightily. It wasn’t hard to see, and PFF graded him among the worst in the league. Then, things changed for Massie. PFF noted that had Massie performed all season like he did in the final nine games, they would have graded him as the third-best offensive tackle — right or left — in the entire NFL. It’s that kind of performance that the Cardinals noticed, why he likely wouldn’t be moved inside to guard. Why when you already have a solid tackle?
“Last year was my rookie year,” Massie said. “I’m not using it as an excuse, but sometimes it takes some players longer to get adjusted than others. It took me eight or nine games to get everything down, and as Pro Football Focus said, I was one of the top three tackles in the league.”
(So clearly, Massie is reading what is being written.)
“I’m a lot more comfortable, even as I am learning this offense,” Massie said.
Massie will be the right tackle, barring something unforeseen. Levi Brown continues to be the left tackle option, with, by the start of the season, rookie Jonathan Cooper figuring to start at left guard next to center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Daryn Colledge (Right now, Chilo Rachal is holding down the first-strong LG spot). With Massie, the Cards would love to have a homegrown superstar on the offensive line, secret or not.
– Many have been asking, so here you go: Fan Fest 2013 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. That’s a Tuesday during minicamp. Save the date. Further details TBA.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, Fan Fest, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, Pro Football Focus
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The Cardinals began OTAs today and coach Bruce Arians tried something new with his 90-man roster: A dual practice. For a good chunk of the time on the field, the main first- and second-units worked on the front field, while the younger players — including almost every rookie — went to the second field with a mirror type of workout.
“We wanted to make sure we maximized the opportunities our rookies got, to get repetitions,” Arians said. “You can’t find a diamond in the rough if he’s standing on the sideline watching. You can find one if he’s out there working. That’s our goal. Get every single guy here an opportunity to make the ballclub.”
Arians said he’s never seen it done in his time in the NFL. Usually there aren’t enough players. “Our offensive tackles got a good workout,” Arians said. “There’s only four of them.” (That’s Nate Potter, Bobby Massie, Jamaal Johnson-Webb and Paul Fanaika today. Levi Brown was limited in his rehab and UDFA Joe Caprioglio isn’t here yet because Colorado State hasn’t finished up the spring semester.)
– Arians noted the full participation and thanked his players for the voluntary work. That included Daryl Washington (who has been here the whole time, not that it is new). Washington did address the media. Here is the story right here.
– Karlos Dansby was running with the first unit with Jasper Brinkley at inside linebacker. Washington was with Kevin Minter with the second unit. That was tough not to notice. We’ll see how it progresses as we go. Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho are working as the first-unit outside linebackers. Jerraud Powers continues to work first unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson.
– Jonathan Cooper was running second-team left guard behind Chilo Rachal. All the other draftees — save for Ryan Swope, who was pulled up after LaRon Byrd had a neck spasm — were working in the second practice.
– It was weird seeing Dansby wearing No. 55. It was more weird seeing him in Miami Dolphin blue cleats. I’m sure that’ll be fixed soon. “I told him he could have my red shoes tomorrow,” Arians said. “He looked good. He looked spry.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Chilo Rachal, Daryl Washington, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Joe Caprioglio, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, OTAs, Paul Fanaika, Ryan Swope
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The Cardinals finally added an offensive lineman in free agency Wednesday, signing veteran guard Chilo Rachal. What does that mean for the line going forward? Something. And nothing.
Adding parts that can help in some way, shape or form — starter or depth — has been one of the mantras for General Manager Steve Keim. Rachal could end up as either. So obviously, his arrival carries that significance. But it isn’t going to impact the draft. If the Cardinals decide, for instance, Chance Warmack is their guy at No. 7, they’ll take him and figure it out from there. If they want to take a tackle like Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson and move Bobby Massie to guard, they will do that too. If their top pick is a pass rusher, maybe we see a line of LT Brown, LG Colledge, C Sendlein, RT Massie and a battle between Snyder and Rachal. Or there could be an offensive lineman chosen in the second round or third round — or maybe even later — who could be part of the mix.
At this point, there are dozens of ways this can go, and the Cardinals have set it up just so they have that flexibility. I could see them letting a veteran go in a June 1 move if they felt they had enough other pieces for their puzzle. Certainly Keim has shown he isn’t afraid to make such moves. I’m not certain there couldn’t be a veteran offensive lineman added later in the offseason either.
(The Cardinals, prior to the Rachal signing I would guess, had $9.496 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday according to the NFLPA.)
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to the Cardinals and the draft. The braintrust has reiterated a few times how deep in offensive line talent this class is, beyond just the top 10. Will it shock me to see them pick a player that isn’t an offensive lineman? Absolutely not. Stop me if you’ve heard this before — Keim believes in a difference-maker at the top. That doesn’t mean a difference-maker can’t be an offensive lineman if his grades are the right ones, but I truly believe the idea of reaching there for need over a guy graded much better makes Keim’s stomach turn.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Chance Warmack, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, draft, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, salary cap, Steve Keim
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The NFC coaches breakfast was this morning — bright and early at 7:15 a.m. — here at the NFL coaches meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. That meant an hour hanging out with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. There will be plenty more in-depth of what was said, but for now a few of the main highlights — the biggest being that the reality of Drew Stanton being the 2013 starting quarterback feels very close right now.
– Asked if this was a tough year to be going into the draft needing a quarterback, Arians didn’t blink. “I don’t feel we need one.”
– Along those lines (and again, I will have an article up later today on the subject) Arians said he wasn’t worried about the quarterback situation. He doesn’t know enough about Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley or John Skelton yet, because he hasn’t had a chance to go over video and ask “why” on various plays. He obviously has done that with Stanton. But he said he thinks he can win with Stanton, and he said he won’t have a problem if things stay status quo starting Stanton this season.
– Yes, such QB talk is possiblely a smokescreen. Or just hard driving optimism so players (and fans) don’t want to write off 2013. But Arians sure sounded genuine.
– He wants to name a starting QB before training camp. That’s best for the team, he said, making sure the locker room knows who “The Man” will be.
– It hurt Kevin Kolb that Arians couldn’t sit down with him and talk about his play last season and again, figuring out the whys and why nots of decision-making. Without that information, moving on (given the contract) was the best decision, Arians said.
– He talked a little bit about the possibility of adding free agent Josh Cribbs, assuming at some point Cribbs is healthy and the Cards still have interest by that point. He wouldn’t mind having both Cribbs and Patrick Peterson back for a kick or two. “It’d be a nice addition if it works out.” One thing Cribbs won’t do is be QB in a wildcat formation. “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said.
– Not only will Lorenzo Alexander play outside linebacker, new defensive end Matt Shaughnessy can also stand up and play OLB. That could make for an interesting pass rush situation.
– Asked about the tight ends, he was blunt: “I’m not a fullback guy, never have been.” Not great news for Anthony Sherman, at least on the surface. Arians wants two tight ends when one can maneuver into the backfield, making it much harder for the defense to know what’s coming. Having a fullback restricts that flexibility, he said.
– He said the speed at receiver with Fitz, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd is “plenty fast enough.” He added with a chuckle, wide receiver “is not the position I’ve worried about.”
– Rehab has gone well for center Lyle Sendlein, tackle Levi Brown and running back Ryan Williams, but Arians isn’t sure how much they will do in the early on-field work.
– It’ll be wait-and-see where second-year offensive linemen Nate Potter and Bobby Massie play, either guard or tackle. But Arians is confident they each can do both.
– Levi Brown could play right tackle. But Arians right now sure sounds like a guy expecting to have Brown at left tackle.
– The coaching staff are still trying to figure out what position Justin Bethel will play, cornerback or safety. They will pick one and let him learn it well.
– The Cardinals color Kangol was on display again Wednesday morning. Could we see something similar on Sundays? Arians is talking with with New Era and the NFL on that subject. “I’m not getting fined,” Arians joked. “There’s got to be more than baseball caps, know what I mean?”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Drew Stanton, Josh Cribbs, Justin Bethel, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, quarterbacks, Ryan Williams
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The Cardinals had two players among the top six in the NFL in terms of earning extra money last season through the NFL’s performance pay plan, which essentially gives bonus checks to players who aren’t making a ton in salary but play a lot. One was tackle Bobby Massie, no surprise as a fourth-round pick who started all season. Massie got an extra $283,776, not bad when his salary was $390,000. The other was linebacker Sam Acho, who received an extra $273,715 on top of his salary of $465,000.
Every team distributes an extra $3.46 million to their players. Every guy who played a snap gets a check, with the money proportional to snaps and salary. The lower your salary and the more snaps you play, the more money you’ll get.
Other odds and ends on this Wednesday morning:
– Linebacker Quentin Groves agreed to a two-year contract with Cleveland, re-joining Ray Horton with the Browns. The Cardinals already needed help at inside linebacker, but now they are thin at outside linebacker too.
– The inside linebacker issue could be helped if they sign ex-Bengal Rey Maualuga, who tweeted yesterday he was coming here for a visit. Other visits expected are quarterback Drew Stanton, running back Rashard Mendenhall and cornerback Jerraud Powers.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Drew Stanton, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Quentin Groves, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Sam Acho
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The day Steve Keim was named general manager, the one-time offensive lineman spoke about his offensive line — the much-maligned line in 2012, for a variety of reasons.
“I think we have some pieces in place,” Keim said. “The level of physicality, the ability to run the ball consistently, that is a huge issue and that needs to be fixed.”
Last week before the Super Bowl, new head coach Bruce Arians said the offensive line situations is “not as dire as some might make it out to be.”
So what does that all mean? Certainly, injuries took their toll on the unit last season. Reading between the lines — and that’s all it is right now — it seems to me there is a good chance Levi Brown will be part of the unit in some way, shape or form. I don’t know if that means at guard or tackle. It would seem to be Bobby Massie has a chance to be a tackle going forward after he finished well in his rookie year after a difficult start. Where does Nate Potter fit in? And how do the current interior starters — guards Daryn Colledge and Adam Snyder, with center Lyle Sendlein — fit?
It’s still early. First, the new staff, which will have multiple coaches that will teach the offensive line, need to go through the video and analyze what players are already in place. Free agency gives the Cards some options, especially at tackle, although the cap implications of a big-dollar signing will have to be carefully considered. (Among the tackles currently slated for free agency — knowing a couple could get the franchise tag — include Denver’s Ryan Clady, Kansas City’s Branden Albert, New Orleans’ Jerrod Bushrod and the Giants’ Will Beatty.)
As for the guys already on the roster, the 2013 salary cap numbers for the four vets are as follows: Brown $7.65M, Colledge $7.3M, Snyder $4M, Sendlein $3.1M. (And before you ask, the “dead” money if those players were released would be $5.6M, $4.5M, $4M and $2.1M, respectively.) The draft seems like a more likely spot to add a piece, but whether that would be a tackle (like Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher) or guard (like Alabama’s Chance Warmack) or even after the first round, well, it’s way to early to have a good sense of that. The Cards have to have their meetings and again, the coaches need to evaluate what they have.
There has been a lot of talk about the quarterback and what the Cards will do about it, and that’s clearly the top topic. But what happens with the offensive line — and how that unit is addressed by Keim and Arians — will play into the quarterback story as well.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Branden Albert, Bruce Arians, Chance Warmack, Daryn Colledge, Eric Fisher, Jerrod Bushrod, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Nate Potter, offensive line, Ryan Clady, Steve Keim, Will Beatty
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Sunday, the Cardinals have a chance to fully wipe away last weekend’s loss in Seattle. But that’s all it was, a loss, and given the tragic events in Connecticut today, it’s difficult to get worked up over it as any more than that. The Lions come to town also as a 4-9 team, and this is one – if the Cardinals are going to get one – to get. Ryan Lindley will be back at QB, and if he can play more like the guy in the first 30 minutes of his lone start at University of Phoenix Stadium and not the last 30 minutes, the Cards should have a chance. I definitely don’t see the defense melting down again.
– It’s amazing, and I know it’s because of the quarterback situation, but there has been very little discussion about the Cards’ offensive line in recent weeks. The unit is far from perfect, but rookie tackles Bobby Massie and Nate Potter have been doing well enough. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t disclose who the new starting center will be Sunday – “I think we need every little element of surprise that we can get. We can certainly use it,” Whisenunt said – but we’ll see if that group can hold up.
– As for needing a new center, “there’s continuity with the quarterback and the snaps and that’s something you can’t always simulate or get in practice,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve struggled with that a little bit the last couple of games with adjusting to (now injured) Rich (Ohrnberger). Then just when he starts to get comfortable and you feel good about that, he goes out.”
– The Lions have a good defensive line, although with DT Nick Fairley doubtful and unlikely to play, the Cardinals catch the break. They still have ends Cliff Avril and nearing-the-end Kyle Vanden Bosch, the one-time Cardinal. They have defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who can be dominant at times. It will be a good test for the Cards’ line.
– On the flip side, the Lions’ secondary isn’t stellar. If Larry Fitzgerald is going to be anything more than a leader for this team and actually contribute to the offense on the field, Lindley hopefully can make that happen this week.
– Speaking of Fitz, I’m not sure acting is in his future.
– He turned 91 today, so former Cardinals star back Charley Trippi can’t help on the field, but he will be at UoP Sunday so the team can celebrate his career and his place in the Ring of Honor. If you don’t know about Trippi, check out Josh Weinfuss’ great story.
– FYI, the security screening locations will be opening early (10:45 a.m.) for both the Detroit and Chicago games, with portable food and beverage stands open on the plaza for those that get there early. Actual stadium access for non-premium seat holders remains the same (90 minutes before kickoff).
– There is a toy drive at the game. Bring unwrapped toys and donations to any stadium entrance to help needy children at this time of year.
– Speaking of good stories, all the state high school championship football teams will be honored Sunday, including Queen Creek High School. If you haven’t heard, the Queen Creek team befriended a very special girl this season, and she too will be at the festivities. Check out the story – although it might get a little dusty wherever you are.
– Because people want to know, here is an early list of offensive free agents-to-be. Chew on that if you’d like.
– Finally, I just want to send thoughts and prayers to those affected in the Connecticut shootings. It’s been tough making sense of writing about football today given what happened, especially when I think of my own kids and my wife – who is a teacher – and worrying about what could happen to them.
Just remember there are bigger things when we sit here and talk about football losses or bad play or whether someone should be fired. I’m not saying you can’t say that. This is a site about the Cardinals and that’s what we all talk about. I’m just asking to be civil when talking about it, when addressing others, when criticizing players, coaches or management. We are all just people — fans, me, guys on the team — trying to get along here. The vitriol isn’t necessary to get the point across. If it’s frustrating you that much, imagine what some back East are going through this weekend.
That’s it. I’m climbing off the soapbox. On to Sunday.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Charley Trippi, Ken Whisenhunt, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Nate Potter, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Seahawks
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The struggles to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball and for Patrick Peterson to break loose — not to mention the Cards’ struggle to win a game — seem to be reflected in the latest Pro Bowl balloting. Both Fitz and Peterson were among the top five in their positions the last time voting was noted. This time around, both have dropped out of the top five in the NFC at their respective positions. Only linebacker Daryl Washington remains on the list, at third for inside linebackers behind the 49ers’ Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Voting continues right here, and is ongoing through Dec. 17.
– For those wondering about former Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer now, here’s an interesting story from the New York Times. Jake wanted to escape the NFL limelight when he left the game. Now, apparently, he wants back in.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Daryl Washington, Jake Plummer, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl voting
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The bye week is always good – I know I appreciate it, so I can only imagine the players’ delight – but it is tough when you go two weeks between games. The storylines dry up a bit, especially this deep in the season, when there isn’t actual action from which to play off.
At this point, maybe it’s helps to look at it simply. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and the players were asked many times different ways about a midseason/bye assessment the past couple weeks. One Whisenhunt answer summed it up best.
“What is there to say besides it’s not good enough?” he said.
True. The 4-0 start is well in the rear view mirror. I don’t think anyone can argue that the Cardinals winning Sunday in Atlanta would be an upset, but in the NFL, it wouldn’t be some kind of stunning shock either. Everything changes if the Cards were to win. But to have that chance, the Cardinals can’t drop passes, can’t miss tackles, can’t get off to slow starts on offense or defense. They have to be good enough.
– The Cardinals have not, as noted, been tackling very well. It hasn’t been a season-long problem, but it’s been a problem for late. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton wasn’t concerned it will continue to be a problem.
“One of our coaches said today that in practice this week, it reminded us how they practiced for New England,” Horton said. “Very focused, very alert, very sharp. I don’t think tackling will be an issue. They are ready for this game.”
– Whisenhunt was asked if he had even been on a team that started two rookie tackles. “Nope,” Whiz said, allowing himself a chuckle. “I think I would remember that. We have been through some tough situations with the line during my time in the NFL. I don’t think I’ve ever started two rookie tackles.”
Nate Potter and Bobby Massie are a first Sunday.
– Here was quarterback John Skelton’s assessment of Potter’s first playing time in Green Bay. “He had the jitters a little bit, but the first play we asked him to block Clay Matthews and he did a good job,” Skelton said. Skelton just happened to hit Andre Roberts on a 40-yard bomb that play. It’s going to be a learning curve for Potter, but it’s definitely will be interesting to watch.
– I know the Falcons are calling wide receiver Julio Jones a game-day decision, but a sprained ankle is tough for a wide receiver, and from what I have always seen, any guy who doesn’t practice all week tends to be not much of a factor on Sunday even if the player does play.
– Calais Campbell could play Sunday, I suppose, but I don’t expect it. It’s like Darnell Dockett being banged up earlier in the year – you’d rather have a player miss one game rather than risk a longer-term problem. If Campbell sits, it looks like David Carter will get a shot at a lot of playing time. It’s easy to forget how well Carter played at times as a rookie. He’s definitely a player the Cards can develop and if he can play both end and tackle, even better.
– I know a lot of people keep asking. I don’t know what to expect from tight end Todd Heap. He was limited all week and questionable. I’d guess he’s one of the ones that will work out before the game, and the Cards will go from there. I have zero idea if this is the week he plays.
– Ralphie is an Arizona Cardinals’ fan. Who knew?
– This will be the first start for Quentin Groves at linebacker, following the season-ending injury to O’Brien Schofield. That shouldn’t be a huge deal; Groves, after all, has been a starter in Oakland and Jacksonville. But it also means the Cards’ depth behind Groves and Sam Acho falls on a pair of first-year Cards: Jamaal Westerman and undrafted rookie Zack Nash. Westerman has experience, but he was also the one left inactive on game in favor of Nash, which could say something about both of them. If Acho or Groves get nicked, how the backups respond will be important.
“They don’t have much choice.” Whisenhunt said. “This league, you have to play and be successful when you aren’t getting all the (practice) reps.”
– A quick heads-up: “Season In Focus” will air Saturday morning at 7 a.m. on ABC-15. There will be a recap of the first half of the season, a “Wired” segment with linebacker Daryl Washington and a “Zoom” episode featuring a Cardinals cheerleader who happens to be a veteran of the war in Iraq. Then on “Flightplan” – airing Saturday at midnight on NBC Ch. 12 right after “Saturday Night Live,” Whisenhunt and Ron Wolfley break down video of the Roberts’ bomb and Potter’s overall work in his first game.
The second half of the season is upon us.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Calais Campbell, Falcons, Jamaal Westerman, Ken Whisenhunt, Nate Potter, Quentin Groves, Ray Horton, Todd Heap, Zack Nash
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Once upon a time, Nate Potter was considered a possible first-round pick.
Sure, that was almost a year before he was drafted, long before his final college season was played and long before the scouts got a hold of him and broke him down every which way. But it’s not like he came out of nowhere when the Cardinals took him in the seventh round this past April. While it’s not news he is finally getting his chance to start, nine games into the season with one Levi Brown injury and one failed D’Anthony Batiste experiment setting up the situation, he was officially placed atop the depth chart Tuesday.
Former Cardinals left tackle L.J. Shelton was a guest on the Big Red Rage last week — L.J. was another of those great guys I covered on not-so-good teams of the early 2000s — when he was asked to what Potter’s biggest challenge was.
“The biggest challenge for him,” Shelton said, chuckling, “is John Abraham.”
Abraham is, of course, the Falcons’ top pass rusher.
“Just going against experienced, Pro Bowl players like that is a challenge,” Shelton added. “He has teammates and coaches that will put him in the right position and give him help. I’d advise him, on any short pass early on, cut him to slow him down, and from there on, just play football. Once you are out there and the ball is snapped and the helmets hit, it’s football again. Trust your instincts.”
Asked what he sees when he sees Potter and fellow rookie tackle Bobby Massie, Shelton said, “I see rookies.”
“I see promise — I do see promise — but I see rookies,” he said. “The biggest thing they need is experience. There are hundreds of different looks you see every Sunday, with different coordinators. As they get experience, they’ll start to recognize different looks. Right now, it’s a learning game for them.”
How this turns out is a guessing game right now. Finding solid tackles in the fourth- and seventh-round isn’t unheard of. To say that’s what these players can become is premature at best. I’ve had questions about whether Brown, for instance, could move to guard if Potter does well. Certainly — and I have said this in the comments before — that’s not a subject that can be reasonably discussed yet. Not with Potter just getting started, and not when the earliest you need to do something would be at minicamp in May, months — and both free agency and the draft — away.
Given the defenses the Cards and Potter are slated to face in the stretch run (Falcons, Rams, Jets, Seahawks, Lions, Bears, 49ers), there should be plenty with which to judge Potter’s future going into the offseason.
Tags: Bobby Massie, D'Anthony Batiste, L.J. Shelton, Levi Brown, Nate Potter
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