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Blogs

The Rock isn’t coming, but Arians attracts

Posted by Darren Urban on July 11, 2016 – 10:10 am

So Sunday, actor, former professional wrestler and one-time college football player Dwayne Johnson — The Rock — tweeted out a video of Bruce Arians with the message “Would’ve loved to play for this man.” It got me thinking about something GM Steve Keim said about one of the benefits of having the “All or Nothing” series out there for public consumption.

It helps not only the brand, but it helps create resources you didn’t have before,” Keim said. “Sometimes, when you talk about free agency, there is a recruiting aspect to that. So when there is a perception of a team or an organization and it is good, it makes it that much easier to talk players into signing here and sometimes signing for less money, because they want to be part of something special.”

OK, The Rock isn’t signing a contract with the Cardinals (and, it should be noted, the video clip Johnson used was actually from the Arians bio “A Football Life” and not from “All or Nothing.”) But it underscores what Keim said about the Amazon series. It’s clear the biggest “star” of the whole thing is Arians. Without his personality, I’m not sure the series is as successful as it is, and that’s not to knock anyone else in the program. But the head coach is naturally going to be at the epicenter of a series like that, and — as all of us know who work with Arians on a daily basis — Arians has that kind of charisma.

Yes, he can MF you on the practice field, but players can see it’s about the football. Arians forgets about it as soon as the work is over. He can separate the player and the man. That’s why guys love to play for him. And while The Rock isn’t coming anytime soon, you can bet there are active players out there who have watched “All or Nothing” or Arians’ “A Football Life” and are thinking that they too want to play for Arians and the Cardinals. That’s a powerful tool.


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More than 53: No bad days allowed

Posted by Darren Urban on June 21, 2016 – 10:48 am

There were multiple things that ranked as priorities for GM Steve Keim when he first got his current job, and one of those was to build depth on the roster. On that, he has most certainly succeeded. Where might that leave the Cardinals at the end of training camp?

“We have more than 53 (players),” Arians said at the completion of minicamp. “We have 65 probably that I am comfortable with. You can’t have a bad day. Especially with certain position groups, you just can’t have a bad day. You’ll fall too far behind.”

There are still areas in which the Cards could fortify. A veteran cornerback. A veteran right tackle. If the team ends up signing one or both of those guys, then the Cards have 66 or 67 guys with whom Arians would be comfortable. It sets up the possibility of a camp trade for a late-round draft pick, but it means the Cardinals will definitely release some players who will be considered “surprises.”

So much is left to be fought before then. The defensive line was one of those overstuffed spots last training camp, but the dynamic changed considerably when Corey Peters hurt his Achilles and was lost for the season. Still, it was a mild surprise when Matt Shaughnessy was released, and someone else would have had to go had Peters stayed healthy.

What are the positions this year? Defensive line, once again. The back end of the secondary — while there is inexperience, drafting three defensive backs will make those choices intriguing. Reserve offensive linemen and outside linebackers. Arians isn’t wrong. Bad days won’t help.

FightFor65


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All in on “All or Nothing”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2016 – 1:58 pm

It’s not “Hard Knocks,” and that’s something Bruce Arians insisted upon from the start. That’s why the coach always said he didn’t want to do the HBO training camp series, because of how it showed things like players being cut — a cold way to have someone’s professional life laid bare for the world to see. Michael Bidwill agreed, although both liked some of the things “Hard Knocks” did show, like the human side of players and coaches.

In a very general way, that’s how “All or Nothing,” the story of the 2015 Cardinals, came to be.

There are still a few weeks before the series is available on Amazon. July 1 is that date (if you didn’t already know), when all eight episodes will be there on demand for everyone to see. Want to binge? Go ahead. Want to space them out? Your call. Do you prefer to watch with your kids and have the sometimes harsh words of the NFL bleeped out? There will be both unrated and edited versions.

I have only seen one episode, the seventh that chronicled the win over the Packers in the playoffs. It was, as you can imagine in something put together by NFL Films, pretty epic. The original score — which has a main theme that can be heard during the Brentson Buckner portion of the trailer — is excellent. And even though you know what will happen, to see how the emotions flowed not just for the players but others (like Arians’ wife Chris) is simply riveting television.

A couple other thoughts I had about the series, based on what we saw:

— Buckner, who is a great quote and a colorful figure, sure seems like he is going to be one of the stars.

— It reminds you of who isn’t here anymore. Jerraud Powers and Rashad Johnson were so important to last year’s team and this will rightfully reflect that and it’s a little weird since they are no longer on the roster.

— Carson Palmer had said that even with the mics and cameras Arians “was still B.A.” all last season and, yes, that was apparent.

— Crazy to think defensive coordinator James Bettcher specifically talked to the team about defending an Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary before the game, and yet Rodgers still pulled one off.

I’m looking forward to seeing the whole series. I’m guessing it will live up to the hype.

AoN.onsetBLOG


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Here’s the full Bruce Arians: A Football Life

Posted by Darren Urban on May 25, 2016 – 4:37 pm

A few months ago, the excellent NFL Films “A Football Life” episode on Bruce Arians was released. Now it’s available on azcardinals.com by clicking here or by watching below. It covers Arians’ story from young, sometimes-troubled kid to where he is now leading the Cardinals. It’s well worth the time to check it out.

NFL Films is also working on “A Football Life” episode of Pat Tillman and so that’s something else to look forward to seeing. And we’re still waiting on the official announcement of the availability for “All or Nothing” as well.


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Chargers confirm Cardinals’ San Diego practice

Posted by Darren Urban on May 23, 2016 – 8:31 pm

Last week, Bruce Arians said the Cardinals were talking to the Chargers about spending time in San Diego during training camp so the teams could practice against each other. Monday, Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed it would happen even if details haven’t quite been worked out.

“I can’t tell you it’s going to be this day, it’s going to be that day,” McCoy told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But we’re going to practice against Arizona.”

The details are still being worked out, McCoy said, but the Cardinals play the Chargers on a Friday night (August 19) in San Diego. University of Phoenix Stadium is also unavailable to the Cardinals earlier in the week — Monday, Aug. 15 — because Guns N’ Roses is scheduled to play a concert that night. McCoy was one of the Cardinals’ options for coach before Arians was hired; the man who was let go by the Cardinals to create that vacancy — Ken Whisenhunt — is back with the Chargers as offensive coordinator after his stint as Titans’ head coach.

Another thing to watch, regardless of whether the teams practice against each other one, two or three times. The last few times teams in the NFL have practiced against each other in training camp, it’s resulted in some scuffles. And as we all know, Arians doesn’t tolerate scuffles in camp. He won’t tolerate it against another team either.

Carson Palmer, Donald Butler


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The second field and DBs work

Posted by Darren Urban on May 18, 2016 – 2:35 pm

Ever since Bruce Arians arrived in Arizona, he has made use of the second field during OTAs and minicamp. The concept is simple. With 90 players on the roster, and the veterans needing their time to learn, the third- and fourth-string players and others needing work head over to run the same script that the first two units run on the main field.

After the opening OTA, Arians said that meant 42 reps for each field, and significant work for the inexperienced.

“Most teams’ rookies got five or six reps if they were lucky,” Arians said. “Ours got 42. That’s one of the ways we try to bring young players along.”

Nowhere are those reps more important than at defensive back, with Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Bethel all sidelined with injuries. The Cards are short enough that draft picks Brandon Williams and Harlan Miller, both cornerbacks, are getting their work on the main field thus far. Williams, not surprisingly, has a way to go given his inexperience at the position — Peterson has been working with him closely in practice. But reps against receivers like Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd or Smokey Brown and even guys like J.J. Nelson will quickly show what needs to be learned.

There has been much speculation about whether the Cardinals will sign another cornerback. With the versatility on hand (safeties like Tyvon Branch and Marqui Christian will likely get some work there in practice) and the second field, the Cardinals will get a good sense of just what they have at cornerback on the roster — and whether they need to find someone else later.

millerdbblog


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Possible practice in San Diego for Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on May 17, 2016 – 10:51 am

The Cardinals play in San Diego on Aug. 19 (a Friday) for their second preseason game. There’s a chance they will be in California a little longer than that. Coach Bruce Arians said today after the team’s first organized team activity of the offseason that the Cards are in discussions with the Chargers to practice in San Diego for the week of training camp leading into the game between the teams.

In the past, Arians has made it no secret he likes the idea of some camp work against another team. He said during camp last year the Cardinals had looked into the idea to no avail. We’ll see if it works out this year, but the Cards — who open the preseason Aug. 12 at home against Oakland — do have at least one day that week in between where they won’t be able to use University of Phoenix Stadium for practice. The band Guns N’ Roses have a concert in the building Aug. 15, which is that Monday.

The Cardinals have practiced in San Diego during camp before. That came way back in 2000, when Jake Plummer was behind center and Vince Tobin was coach.

— Arians also said the tempo was excellent for the first OTA. The Cardinals were off the field about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

AriansSanDiegoUSE


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Byron Leftwich coaching with Cardinals

Posted by Darren Urban on May 6, 2016 – 3:17 pm

Former NFL quarterback Byron Leftwich is the latest ex-player Bruce Arians has brought in as a coaching intern. Leftwich, who played for the Jaguars, Falcons, Buccaneers and Steelers during his nine seasons — including working with Arians in Pittsburgh — was helping quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens with Jake Coker and Stephen Rivers Friday during rookie minicamp. He also has been out working with the regular roster during the week.

(The Cardinals also have former NFL cornerback Willie Williams working with them.)

“I love the game,” Leftwich said. “This is just the next transition from player to coach and (Arians) allowed me to come down and be a part of it. I’ll take advantage of it, and we’ll see.”

Leftwich will be with the team throughout the offseason and through training camp.

“After that, we’ll see,” Arians said. “Hopefully I can keep him all year. I think he’s got a great, bright future in coaching.”

Leftwich said Arians didn’t really reach out to him to coach since the two talk frequently anyway.

“There’s no reaching out — we’re always in touch,” Leftwich said with a chuckle. “Opportunity came about.”

BetterLeftyuse


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Center may be college non-center

Posted by Darren Urban on April 19, 2016 – 4:51 pm

Lyle Sendlein and Ted Larsen are gone. And while A.Q. Shipley remains and the Cardinals have signed a couple of other street free agents in Taylor Boggs and Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, it’s pretty clear the Cardinals are on course to draft a center at some point. Maybe it’s the first round, a guy like Alabama’s Ryan Kelly (who has been a favorite for mock drafters to scribble next to the Cardinals at 29th overall.) But it won’t be a surprise, even though the Cards don’t have a second-round pick, if they wait. After listening to both Steve Keim and Bruce Arians Tuesday, it shouldn’t even be a surprise if one comes later — and isn’t even technically a center. Not yet.

“In this draft, there are several opportunities to draft centers in all rounds,” Keim said. “Some of those guys are projections. There are some guys in the second, third, fourth rounds, who are going to be guys who played left tackle or they played guard at the collegiate level, who we worked out at center or they played center previously in their career that we think has the skill set. There are going to be opportunities to address that position if we feel necessary.”

Arians noted a couple of very good NFL centers like Jeff Hartings of the Steelers and Tim Grunhard of the Chiefs (Grunhard played guard in college, Hartings started his NFL career at guard before moving to center) that made the move. “When you say a college center, there might be three college centers, but there are 15 potential centers,” Arians said.

Options obviously open up a lot of possibilities for that first pick. Waiting on a center makes it easier to take a cornerback. Or a defensive lineman. Whatever Keim might want.

Ryan Kelly


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Arians confident in Jones’ Arizona future

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2016 – 8:24 am

The trade that brought pass rusher Chandler Jones was a big move for the Cardinals, although it came with a semi-caveat — Jones is going into the last year of his contract, and given the market, he’s going to be in line for a large, large payday sooner rather than later. This is something GM Steve Keim acknowledged and said the Cards were prepared for when the trade became official. Now coach Bruce Arians is echoing that sentiment.

At the NFC coaches’ breakfast this morning in Florida at the NFL owners meetings, Arians told the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe he has confidence in Jones remaining a Cardinal long-term.

“When he hits free agency, we’ll have the dollars to make sure he stays,” Arians said.

Arians noted that Keim and director of football administration Mike Disner do a good job managing the salary cap three and four years out. The Cardinals undoubtedly are getting tight cap-wise for 2016 (the NFLPA has them with less than $4 million of cap space right now) but again, there is long-term focus. At the worst, there is a franchise tag the Cardinals can use on Jones (assuming, of course, they can extend a couple other guys, like, for instance, Tyrann Mathieu and probably Michael Floyd).

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