The three quarterbacks of the Cardinals were at the facility today, doing a workout, hanging out and prepping for when the team can officially get started with new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris next week. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, a cohesive group all last season, looked like it again and made me think of something Bruce Arians told me a couple of months ago. “You have a (quarterbacks) room, (and) if you have a starter and you know who the backup is and you have a third guy who fits in the room, you don’t fool with it,” Arians said. “It’s too delicate of a learning place to fool with it.”
In the context of what the Cardinals might do in the draft, it’s a notable belief. Palmer said today he would understand if the Cardinals picked a quarterback in the draft. He’s not getting any younger, and the Cards would like to have a long-term answer at the position. What team wouldn’t? Arians is a major part of the draft meetings and he of course will have input on the top 120 board. But GM Steve Keim will have the final call, and like any GM viewing the big picture — which Keim most certainly does — settling on a young quarterback would be nice, to say the least.
Is there a guy in this draft worth it? Keim might think so, but he won’t be saying, wisely. Draft meetings are going on about 25 feet from me but there’s no way to know what this group of QBs will be graded by this scouting staff and front office. One thing that is interesting in this situation: Palmer is going to be due an extension after this season, and there is a large difference between paying a starting quarterback what Palmer would command (he’s getting $9 million this season) and what a guy under a rookie contract would cost. I don’t think that’s a determining factor (I don’t think the Cardinals would have a problem with Palmer as 2015 starting QB, assuming his level of play remains solid) but it is something to consider.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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The draft, in a “normal” year, would have begun April 24. It instead has been pushed back two weeks, to May 8. But that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t have some significant draft discussion the night of April 24 — and the fans will have a chance to be part of it.
That Thursday night, which has usually wed the draft party with the opening of the Big Red Rib & Music Festival on the Great Lawn outside University of Phoenix Stadium, there will be a live TV special shot during the Cards’ “Spring Tailgate” event. Admission is free. Gates open at 5 p.m., and at 7 p.m., a draft preview shown on Fox Sports Arizona will take place with fans as the studio audience. The show, hosted by Paul Calvisi and Ron Wolfley, will feature team president Michael Bidwill, GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, along with safety Tyrann Mathieu and new left tackle Jared Veldheer.
Part of the show will be questions from the fans, including some sought through social media. So, using hashtag #CardsTailgate, you can send questions over social (via Twitter, for instance) and some of those will be used in the broadcast. It’ll be two weeks before the draft, so I’m not sure anyone is going to be giving away any trade secrets, but it will be entertaining and a chance to get up close and fairly personal with key Cardinals’ personnel.
UPDATE: Using hashtag #CardsTailgate on Twitter, you can tweet questions for the Spring Tailgate panel. If your question is used, you will win an autographed Cardinals mini-helmet.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jared Veldheer, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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A little of this, a little of that …
– Kurt Warner captured by TMZ talking about Arizona vs. St. Louis. “I probably feel more allegiance to Arizona than St. Louis, just because of the fact there are a number of people that are still there, teammates or in the upper levels (of the organization), being the last place I played, I still live there, there is probably a little more allegiance there,” Warner said. “But still a huge fan of St. Louis and I thank them for everything they gave me.”
I’ve been asked before whether Warner, if and when he goes into the Hall of Fame, would go in as a Cardinal or a Ram. Moot point. Players don’t pick a team for their bust, like you do in the baseball Hall. I just like the fact Warner showed up on TMZ.
– As far back as when Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Cards Bruce Arians was talking about how he had “inside and outside capabilities” at linebacker. Last year, the Cards needed him outside. Now, they need him inside, so it’s no surprise to hear that’s where they are going to play him. It’s highly likely the Cards look at outside linebacker/pass rusher again in the draft (you keep taking those guys when you are building a 3-4 and you don’t have a dynamic, young pass rusher) and depth is needed inside. You don’t know if/how long Daryl Washington might be suspended, you don’t know if Kevin Minter will be the answer. Alexander, who has played inside earlier in his career in Washington, provides depth and a guy who can spot start.
– I’ve been asked a couple of times whether the signings of LeQuan Lewis and Eddie Whitley means the Cards would be less likely to draft a cornerback. No. I thought that when they signed and that’s just underscored with the news yesterday that both two-year deals the players signed did not include a signing bonus. In other words, they can be released without any cap penalty, and in the offseason and a fluid roster, there are often a player or two signed that don’t even get to training camp. I’m not saying that’s Lewis or Whitley, but the bottom line, they are no locks either.
– Virginia Tech tweeted out photos of Arians working out QB Logan Thomas yesterday. What does it mean? It means the Cards are doing due diligence. Beyond that, please don’t get too riled up. I’d want to see what the kid could do too, especially since he’s about as raw as they come even with his considerable physical tools. The annual workout/pre-draft visit caveat: Just because the team meets/works out a guy, it doesn’t mean they are interested. I know of past connections done specifically when they knew they didn’t like the guy just as a smokescreen. And you never know how the meeting/workout went anyway — the Cards may find out they don’t like the kid for one reason or another.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, draft, Eddie Whitley, Kevin Minter, Kurt Warner, LeQuan Lewis, Logan Thomas, Lorenzo Alexander, Roster
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The Cardinals got 11.5 sacks out of starting linebacker John Abraham and excellent edge-setting run defense from fellow starting linebacker Matt Shaughnessy last season. With both coming back in 2014, it’s hard to believe those won’t be your starters at the position. It’s also hard to believe neither were starters when 2013 opened — instead, it was Sam Acho starting over Shaughnessy, and Lorenzo Alexander instead of Abraham.
That changed early in the season, when both Acho (broken leg) and Alexander (foot) suffered season-ending injuries Week 3 in New Orleans. Oh, and that was the same day rookie outside linebacker Alex Okafor (biceps) also was lost for the season. It opened the door for Abraham — who hadn’t been thrilled with his playing time — and Shaughnessy to play a lot and ultimately play well. But it also leaves in question the roles of Acho and Alexander going forward, as well as the spot for Okafor.
It would be an upset if the Cardinals do not take a pass rusher/outside linebacker in the draft. As well as Abraham played last season, he is 35 and in the last year of his deal and the team needs to find a longer-term solution as a dynamic pass rusher. Acho and Alexander have their strengths, but neither figure to fit that bill. Okafor (who said late last week he has been officially cleared to work post-rehab) still could become that guy, although missing his rookie year set him back in his development. Acho did have seven sacks as a rookie in 2011 but only four in 2012. Alexander, meanwhile, might not end up outside. Coach Bruce Arians has talked about Alexander’s ability to move inside and right now, the Cards could use the depth there after cutting Jasper Brinkley and losing Karlos Dansby to free agency.
Like cornerback, outside linebacker (and more specifically, pass rusher) is a position at which a team will constantly throw numbers. You always need multiples, and you can never have too many. Where Acho, Alexander and Okafor fit in Year 2 of the Arians/Steve Keim era will be something to watch. The landscape is definitely different from the last time they stepped on the field.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, John Abraham, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho
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The Cardinals grabbed a headline when they signed a speed receiver in Ted Ginn. And Larry Fitzgerald remains at the top the receiving food chain in Arizona, especially after he restructured his contract. But the team leader in yards and yards per catch last season was former first round pick Michael Floyd, who broke out in his second season to surpass 1,000 yards and remains — because of the lengthy shadow of Fitzgerald — somewhat under the radar.
That can change, coach Bruce Arians thinks, because Floyd is still developing.
“He became a 1,000-yard receiver,” Arians said, “but he can improve as much this year as he did last year.”
If Floyd legitimately makes as big a leap in his third season as he did in his second, the Cardinals would be looking at a superstar. The Cards could use that on multiple levels, one of which being what could happen with Fitzgerald’s future given his unwieldy 2015 salary cap number. Because of the way the Cards run the offense and the way they want to use Fitzgerald now that he has moved inside because of his age, Floyd will get the shots down the field (although some figure to go to Ginn). At some point, defenses may start to see him as a double-team candidate, but can they risk leaving Fitz one-on-one? Or Ginn deep? Or Ellington split out wide? These are the problems the Cards are trying to create.
Floyd can get better. Arians wants to see more consistency, although Floyd had a stretch last season where he looked pretty darn consistent, grabbing first down catch after first down catch. He is so physical in his battles with defenders.
“He learned how to play hurt, play through injuries, but he lost some big plays,” Arians said. “We have tape for him to watch when he gets back. A real good one and a real bad one. He needs to eliminate the real bad one.”
That should be a natural progression anyway.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn
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About five weeks into the season last year, Carson Palmer approached coach Bruce Arians to talk about rookie running back Andre Ellington.
“Let’s make him a wideout,” Palmer said.
“No,” Arians responded. “We can use him as a wideout as a running back.”
Arians recounted the conversation Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings. Ellington’s receiving skills are not only well-known but have been discussed quite a bit, by Arians, Palmer and Ellington. “We are going to have a lot of fun this spring because his skill set is so unique,” Arians said. Once again, Arians talked about the Ellington workload and the fine line between riding the running back and not subjecting him to too much punishment.
“He is still not a guy who you will pound up the middle 30 times a game and survive,” Arians said. “He can run the football 30 times a game if you do it correctly, but you’d rather have him have 10 catches and 20 carries and let Stepfan Taylor or (Jonathan) Dwyer have the rest of the carries pound the rest of the ball up in there.”
(Noteworthy that Arians didn’t mention Ryan Williams as a possibility? Perhaps.)
Arians said the mismatches offensive coordinators find these days with tight ends used to be the ones for running backs, naming old-school guys like Ronnie Harmon and Todd McNair. “It will be fun with Andre, see how people play him,” Arians said.
One other Ellington note: Arians said the staff has to be careful with how much of the offense is actually built around the back. “You’ve got to watch that you don’t create too much stuff and then he sprains an ankle and you don’t have any offense because you put too much in one basket,” Arians said. “You still have to have your cinch-it-up, grind-it-out football.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, owners meetings
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The subject is not taboo in Tempe, that’s for certain. Super Bowl XLIX, coming early next year after the 2014 season, will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium, and the Cardinals — after 10 wins last season and improvement — have mentioned the possibility of playing in the game. Just last week, when cornerback Antonio Cromartie was signed and team president Michael Bidwill appeared with Cromartie at his press conference, both alluded to the idea.
“You look for a team that has been a big-time contending team that is coming up for a Super Bowl,” Cromartie said. “A chance to play a Super Bowl in your own stadium would speak volumes.”
But coach Bruce Arians had the ear of the national media Wednesday morning at the NFL owners meetings, and not only did he address the idea, he emphasized his belief in his team making such a run.
“I ain’t afraid of it,” Arians said. “We played well at the end of the season. If we can do that early, the confidence of the core of the team is back. Our leadership is back. We are talented enough. Talent is not the issue. I told them that last year but they didn’t believe me until it was too late. There is no reason we can’t be the first team to play a home Super Bowl. Absolutely no reason.”
Arians has never shied away from being confident, in both himself and his players. He sets the bar high.
Tags: Bruce Arians, owners meetings, Super Bowl
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Free agency churns on today with the news — confirmed by General Manager Steve Keim on Sirius XM NFL radio — that wide receiver Ted Ginn is visiting the Cardinals today. Ginn makes a ton of sense for the Cards, assuming Keim gets his price. He is fast, he can stretch the field and he is an expert kickoff return man. You aren’t adding Calvin Johnson or even Mike Wallace, but Ginn would serve a need and seems to have improved on the drops that have plagued him from time to time.
(Free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who still is playing pretty well, is also visiting the Cards. The Cards need a cornerback with Antoine Cason and Javier Arenas both free agents. Cromartie would be an interesting upgrade at the position and could really make this FA period impressive for Keim. Again.)
Ginn’s visit got me thinking about asking Bruce Arians at the Scouting combine about what he is looking for in that much-discussed speed receiver. The coach has never made any bones about his desire to have a pass catcher that can take the top off a defense.
“A 40 time is a good measuring stick but sometimes a guy runs a 4.3 in shorts and then plays like a 4.6,” Arians said. “I want a guy who plays the game fast. A guy who runs 4.3 and plays the game 4.3, then you have something special.”
Ginn, when I have seen him, plays 4.3. His hands just haven’t always cooperated. But again, he’d fit a role in two key areas, and that’s important. This could be a big day in Tempe. UPDATE: The Cards signed Ginn to a three-year deal.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bruce Arians, free agency, Steve Keim, Ted Ginn
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Quarterback Carson Palmer was in the building working out Wednesday as Veldheer was arriving and signing. The former and again teammates got a chance to briefly talk in the weight room (pictured below). Palmer gave his own scouting report of Veldheer later on.
“He plays big,” Palmer said. “He’s very difficult to bull rush. He can anchor it down, but he’s quick. For being what looks like 8-feet tall, he moves really well. He moves like a shorter tackle. And he’s a monster in the run game. He mauls people. He’s a big person and he uses all that weight. Lot of power underneath.”
Both Palmer and Veldheer downplayed their previous relationship as a huge factor in Veldheer coming to Arizona, but GM Steve Keim said Palmer did tell him to go after Veldheer when it was clear Veldheer was going to hit free agency. Not that Keim needed encouragement.
– Guess we don’t have to worry about Veldheer staying in the weight room. He is co-owner of a gym in his home state of Michigan called Power Strength. Veldheer said his co-owner Mark Ehnis was praising the knowledge of new Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. Sounds like Veldheer will have a willing pupil there.
– Veldheer did miss 11 games last year with a triceps injury, but he said he was back to full strength and Keim quickly shot down a question about concern toward the injury. That was not a factor in the process.
– Funny moment during the Jared Veldheer press conference. Veldheer admitted “a press conference like this is not really my gig” and that’s his reputation — he’s a nice guy but he’s not looking for the spotlight. So when Keim and Bruce Arians sat down immediately after, Keim opened by saying “Bruce and I both agree that press conferences aren’t our gig either.” To which BA quickly quipped, “I love it.” And, for anyone paying attention, he clearly does.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals hired Buddy Morris as their new strength and conditioning coach Tuesday. Today, one of the men Morris used to train became his new coaching associate — and it is an interesting hire to say the least. Olympian hurdler Roger Kingdom, who won gold medals in the hurdles in both the 1984 Los Angeles and the 1988 Seoul Games, will be the Cardinals’ new speed coach. With assistant strength and conditioning coach Pete Alosi remaining in place, the Cards have grown their coaching staff yet again in a quest to have the Cards be a one-stop shop for however the players need to prepare.
Kingdom originally attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship, so he knows the sport. That’s how he knew Morris, who was the school’s strength coach from 1980-89 in his first of three stints there. Kingdom won the gold in the 110-meter hurdles. He retired from the sport in 1999 (he briefly tried a comeback a few years later) and spent time as the track coach at California University of Pennsylvania. During his track career, Kingdom was a five-time United States outdoor champion (1985, 1988-90 and 1995) and two-time gold medalist at the Pan American Games (1983, 1995). He also holds a World Cup gold medal (1989) and won gold at the World University Games in 1989.
Now he will try to bring his speed training to the Cardinals. That’s something Bruce Arians has harped on since he arrived. Meanwhile, Morris in past interviews has talked about how he doesn’t believe Olympic-style lifting helps guys play football. This will be a very interesting transition to a new strength and conditioning program, and will make for an intriguing offseason.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Buddy Morris, Roger Kingdom
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