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Arians: Suspended players need structure

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2015 – 9:48 am

When Bruce Arians was asked about suspended linebacker Daryl Washington earlier this week, he declined again. Arians has been pretty straightforward with handling questions about Washington that way. “He’s not even a part of our team so there’s no sense in talking about him,” Arians said.

Washington recently spoke about his excitement about returning to the NFL. It’s still no guarantee. The NFL still has to reinstate him, and in terms of the Cardinals, he’s still going to have to rebuild the trust he shredded on his way to his year-long punishment. (And that doesn’t include any other possible NFL punishment for his assault conviction.)

In general terms, though, Arians was willing to talk about how suspended players are treated. Washington, like other players with long-term suspensions, has not been allowed to be around the facility.

“I would definitely not isolate them from the only structure in their life,” Arians said. “You have to make sure they have structure on their life. Hopefully, that structure will help them overcome the problem — not turn them loose on themselves because obviously when they’re by themselves they can’t handle it. … Not just the team, but structured rehab with the team.”

WashBAbloguse


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The need for speed and that first draft pick

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2015 – 11:28 am

The Cardinals may or may not sign another noteworthy free agent (although knowing the history of Steve Keim, it’s likely they will at some point.) But there is little question, with the draft just about a month away, the Cards are going to be turning their attention there. Bruce Arians left little doubt what he wanted to see when the Cards use their eight picks.

“In the draft, it’s still speed,” Arians said. “Speed at running back, speed at receiver, speed at linebacker, another interior player.” (I’m guessing the speed isn’t as important for that last one.)

At this point, assuming no significant changes to the roster pre-draft, I would guess there is a chance the Cardinals could take a running back with their first pick. I still think that’s unlikely, although it’s so hard to predict anything when you are talking about the 24th overall pick. So many different options could be there. I still think the Cards would like to get that edge pass rusher in the first round. If he’s not there, would anyone be surprised if Keim tried to trade down? Maybe a young cornerback could be the pick (at this point, both Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers are scheduled to be free agents after the season.)

The running back will be the position that draws the attention. Nothing has happened to change my mind about a certain potential trade for a vet running back. Paying a running back who has been in the league a ton of money doesn’t make a lot of sense in the grand scheme of things. Not when the Cardinals could take a running back on a rookie contract and pair him with Andre Ellington.

“This might be the best group (of running backs) top to bottom that I’ve seen in about 10 years,” Arians said. “There’s some teams in college running the ball and not just at the top two or four guys but all the way down. There are 15 really quality running backs in this draft.”

Bruce Arians, Steve Keim


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Whisenhunt’s “great memories” of time with Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2015 – 2:07 pm

Ken Whisenhunt returned to Arizona for the first time as a head coach since the Cardinals fired him after the 2012 season, and at Tuesday’s AFC Coaches breakfast, the current Titans boss talked about the “great memories” he has from his six years at the helm of the Cardinals.

“It’s good to come back,” Whisenhunt said. “The people, even in the short time I’ve been here (for the meetings) have been great. Lot of special memories about this place.”

Whisenhunt said Bruce Arians — whom Whisenhunt looked into hiring for his Cardinals staff — has done a “great job” as his replacement as head coach.

“I’m happy for him, I’m happy for the players, I’m happy for the fans,” Whisenhunt said. “To see the excitement around this team and what they are doing … this is a great area, it’s a great fanbase, and University of Phoenix Stadium, when it’s rocking, it’s a great environment. I’ve always enjoyed that.”

 Titans Jaguars Football


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Bethel up, as the Cro flies

Posted by Darren Urban on March 12, 2015 – 12:52 pm

The inevitable happened Thursday, with Antonio Cromartie getting the long-term (four years) and hefty ($32 million, at least at its max, reportedly) contract he sought and right where he wanted to be — back with the Jets, back with Todd Bowles and Darrelle Revis, and back where he has his home. The Cardinals knew for a long time Cromartie was a likely one-and-done, like Karlos Dansby before him.

There is a reason Bruce Arians often talks about Justin Bethel’s potential as a cornerback, and now here we are, with — at least as of today — Bethel seems the choice to step in across from Patrick Peterson. That’s assuming Jerraud Powers remains the slot cover man, where he is most effective. Even Bethel reacted to the Cromartie departure news in a similar vein:

Bruce Arians has never been shy about praising Bethel’s potential as a cornerback. Last offseason, he said he thought Bethel could end up being better than Peterson and multiple times during the season said Bethel might be starting if he were on another team and not stuck on a depth chart populated with Peterson, Cromartie and Powers.

“Oh, he’s moved up the depth chart in my mind,” Arians said in mid-December. “He’s a starter. He has potential to be a starter in the league. I’m very excited about his future.”

As usual, there are moving pieces to all of this. Powers — who is going into the last year of his contract — could be in the mix to return to the starting spot he had with Peterson before Cromartie arrived. That possibility could increase if the Cardinals decide to use Tyrann Mathieu in the slot, like he was used in his rookie season before tearing his ACL.

(Quote to note on Powers from Arians: “I don’t think anybody played any better than Jerraud Powers last year. He was probably our best guy.”)

The Cardinals probably need to add a cornerback at some point, either by free agency or the draft, for depth. But the secondary still has a lot of good remaining, with four safeties that can play (Mathieu with Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson and Deone Bucannon) and the ability the mix-and-match.

Still, this seems to be Bethel’s chance to emerge beyond being a Pro Bowl special teamer.

Kenny Britt, Justin Bethel


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Cards add A.Q. Shipley, Cory Redding

Posted by Darren Urban on March 11, 2015 – 4:21 pm

The Cardinals added two more free agents Wednesday, bringing in a pair of ex-Colts: center/guard A.Q. Shipley and defensive end Cory Redding. Both are Bruce Arians specials; He coached both when he was in Indianapolis. Shipley has been with Arians three times now (he started in Pittsburgh when Arians was there) while Redding said he came to lean on Arians when Colts head coach Chuck Pagano got sick in 2012.

Both are the kind of depth signings GM Steve Keim has begun to master. Redding — below, signing his deal — will be great in the locker room and still can play, even though he contemplated retirement after the 2014 season. He’ll be perfect to mentor guys like Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson (as will fellow signee Corey Peters.)

Shipley fits into the mix on the interior of the offensive line. The numbers are starting to grow there, however, and it’s getting crowded for the current bunch even with a 90-man roster. Paul Fanaika is leaving (reportedly is going to sign with the Chiefs) but with Shipley and Iupati coming in, adding in with Lyle Sendlein, Ted Larsen, Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford, it’s a logjam. Sendlein’s $4 million-plus salary cap hit sticks out right now. We’ll see how it plays out, and who might be able to find their way onto the revamped offensive line.

ReddingBloguse


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Saving the running backs – or at least, their market

Posted by Darren Urban on March 9, 2015 – 3:25 pm

Long-time running back Steven Jackson was cut by the Falcons and is looking for work, and in this day and age where multi-back-backfields are in vogue and few teams want to spend a lot of money on a running back, I came across this Jackson creation: Savetherunningback.org. The video is something else. It feels like a “Saturday Night Live” digital short. I kept waiting to hear laughter in the background.

Jackson’s point, tongue-in-cheek as it might be, still is made. It’s worth having an every-down back, in his humble opinion. It’s just that most NFL teams disagree, and certainly, even if you use a guy every down, you don’t want a lot of money sunk into that guy because his shelf life isn’t extended.

Bruce Arians said when he walked in the door in Arizona he prefers having one main back. Andre Ellington was mostly that guy last season, before he broke down. The Cardinals, meanwhile, continue to be linked with two of those high-priced, every-down backs that are (or could be) available: DeMarco Murray, who will be a free agent tomorrow, and Adrian Peterson, who for now remains locked up under a contract with the Vikings — although multiple reports suggest he could be available in trade. Peterson reportedly would choose Arizona as his preferred destination; another report suggested he’d like $25 million guaranteed in a new contract. Murray reportedly is hoping for $8 million a season.

It will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. Marshawn Lynch got more money from the Seahawks for (at least) one more season. The Cowboys supposedly don’t want to have to pay Murray the kind of money he probably can find somewhere else. As for Peterson, his trade value and his contract are gigantic logistical issues if he were to leave Minnesota. Murray and Peterson will get paid, they just might have to go somewhere they didn’t plan on going to get that money. The Cardinals are in the market for a running back and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they considered Peterson, but again, do you sink that much money into the position? In the end, maybe it shouldn’t be about saving the running back as much as saving up for one.

saveRBSblog

 

 


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Peterson dealt with “blood issues”

Posted by Darren Urban on February 20, 2015 – 3:21 pm

There were a couple of times coach Bruce Arians noted this season that the cornerback had dealt with some health issues aside from the badly sprained ankle Peterson played through after the Denver game. Peterson never talked about it specifically. Then Arians mentioned it during an appearance on Pro Football Talk that Peterson had some “blood issues” early in 2014.

“(Patrick) needs to have a great offseason which he is determined to have,” Arians said. “But to me, he had a bad September and he was battling some blood issues at the time that no one would be aware of …”

Arians was cut off by host Mike Florio to ask about the blood issues at that point. Arians said it was a “blood sugar issue” and that Peterson is fine now.

“It was cleared up in October,” Arians said. “He played four of the greatest games I’ve seen (later in 2014).”

Arians said the issue was “borderline” diabetes and Peterson had to learn how to manage the situation, which he did. He praised both the Cardinals’ medical staff and Peterson for finding a solution, as well as Peterson’s wife, who is studying to be a doctor.

Petersonblooduse

 

 


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Goodwin will get more chances to call plays

Posted by Darren Urban on February 19, 2015 – 12:10 pm

Head coach Bruce Arians calls the plays and that isn’t about to change. But it’s also a goal to eventually get offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin — who is also the offensive line coach — hired as a head coach somewhere like defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did with the Jets. Last preseason, Arians allowed Goodwin to call the plays in the Cards’ fourth preseason game in San Diego. There will be more of that this year, Arians said.

“This year I think I’m going to let him do at least two (preseason games),” Arians said. “So he can continue to develop as a coordinator. He’s doing a great job with what he’s doing. He has really good command of his room also. I think that’s what set James (Bettcher, the new defensive coordinator) apart from a lot of young coaches I have been around, he has really good command of the room when he is in front of it.”

Goodwin does a lot of the gameplanning during the week for the Cardinals. It’s unlikely Arians will ever completely give up his role of playcalling — he said when he first hired he would call the plays “until I find someone who can call them better.” Who knows, maybe Goodwin will eventually be that guy. For now, two or three preseason games will have to suffice.

GoodyBAblog


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Foote to join coaching staff

Posted by Darren Urban on February 19, 2015 – 9:18 am

Bruce Arians did his media turn this morning in Indianapolis, and that possibility of veteran Larry Foote could coach is coming true.

“Larry Foote will join our coaching staff (Friday) to be our inside linebacker coach,” Arians said. “He still could play. We had to go through some different things with the league — there is no such thing as a player-coach — but we’ll add him to the staff to get his coaching career started, but his playing career might not be over.”

Foote will join the Cardinals defensive coaches in Indianapolis for the Scouting combine.

There’s a lot that can happen over the next few months and things that can happen. The Cardinals are going to address inside linebacker in free agency or the draft (or both) and they still have to find out what happens with Daryl Washington (Arians said this morning that until the NFL reinstates Washington “I don’t think about him.”) That all could impact Foote’s potential of playing again, as will Foote’s personal perspective.

But as I mentioned before, having Foote on staff as a coach — maybe taking Kevin Minter under his wing, because the Cards need Minter to emerge — is a good thing. Foote is excellent to have on your side, whether he’s playing or not.

“Larry was a very passionate player, but a very, very smart player, one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,” Arians said.

Footebloguse

 


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At combine, Cards’ braintrust on the schedule

Posted by Darren Urban on February 17, 2015 – 4:40 pm

Let the Scouting combine begin. There’s snow on the ground (hey, that’s unique for someone like me) and we’ll quickly get to a talk with General Manager Steve Keim. Keim is speaking on the podium at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (9:30 a.m. Arizona time). Interestingly, he’s sandwiched between two guys with Cardinals ties. Before him, good friend and former Cardinals VP of player personnel Jason Licht, now the Buccaneers GM, talks. After Keim, it’s former Cardinals coach and current Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt.

Just to add to the Cardinals’ flavor Wednesday, Jets coach and former Cards defensive coordinator Todd Bowles speaks at 2:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.) Wednesday as well.

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians talks at 10:15 a.m. Thursday (8:15 a.m.)

Keim is also supposed to be speaking with Larry Fitzgerald’s agent while both are here in Indianapolis. While I continue to get questions about where negotiations might be, I don’t think anything is about to happen yet. We still have a lot of time before the league year starts March 10.

Combineonthegrounduse


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