The news the Cardinals and Bruce Arians have added Jen Welter as a coaching intern for camp and the preseason has created, not surprisingly, major nationwide buzz. Hiring the first NFL coach tends to do that. Mostly the reaction has been positive. But Arians didn’t do it for the reaction.
Arians cares about the idea of opening a door or bringing down a barrier. He said as much. He did not have to do this, however. He noted back in March players would accept anyone who would be able to coach them to better play, including a woman. It got a reaction then, but that’s as far as it had to go. At the time, Arians didn’t have anyone in mind (although he was aware of the one-time work of Dot Murphy coaching receivers at Hinds Community College in Mississippi.) Even when he heard from Texas Revolution coach Devin Wyman suggesting Welter, Arians didn’t have to do anything, and again after he brought her in for a visit during an OTA.
But Arians believes both in the door-opening possibility for women and Welter as coach. He isn’t about to bring in a coach he doesn’t think can coach. What would be the point in that? Publicity? It’s not like Arians and the Cards don’t have plenty of that already. When Arians says his players are on board, I believe that too.
Arians made the point that there will be six other coaching interns. Welter isn’t the only one. She’ll work with the inside linebackers with her master’s in sports psychology and her 14 years of professional football playing experience. Whatever it ends up meaning beyond that will be a bonus for Arians and the Cardinals — even though it certainly will mean more.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jen Welter, Kevin Minter
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Minicamp began Tuesday — the last three days of work before the players break for the offseason — with Carson Palmer right where he said he wanted to be when he first hurt his ACL last November: Playing on the field. Palmer had been taking part in OTAs but Tuesday was the first time he took part in full speed 11-on-11 work. Much more on that later, but it’s a great sign for Palmer and the Cardinals — especially since Bruce Arians said there are no limitations right now.
(That could change come training camp, but we will see.)
Other quick notes from the first day:
— The weather couldn’t have been nicer — clouds, a few raindrops and a touch higher than 80 degrees — and so the longer time on the field wasn’t that brutally hot minicamp stuff the Cardinals usually deal with. The work followed. Arians was pleased with what his team did (and he’s a guy who will say so if he’s not.) Arians said the Cards finished early and still got about 30 extra reps.
— Arians said he’s pleased with the team speed, which is always something GM Steve Keim is looking to upgrade.
— Wide receiver Michael Floyd remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, which kept him out last week as well. Arians said there is no reason to risk Floyd’s health right now. On a good note, rookie inside linebacker Alani Fua (foot) took part in practice for the first time since getting hurt in rookie minicamp. Rookie linebacker Shaq Riddick (hamstring) remains sidelined.
— Running back David Johnson got more reps Tuesday (the Cards are down to one field of work as opposed to the two-field practices) in part because Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor are sitting out with minor injuries.
— Arians acknowledged he was hoping quarterback Logan Thomas would have made more progress by now. Thomas remains in a three-QB race for the third QB spot.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, minicamp
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One of the things Bruce Arians said last season — more and more as the year went along — was that while he still believed in the philosophy of the offense that allowed Andre Ellington to be the linchpin both running and receiving, it became a big problem when Ellington was dinged up and then sidelined with injuries. It was especially true in the passing game, where Ellington excels when he is on the field.
As the offseason goes on and people keep wondering what will be the role of rookie third-round running back David Johnson might be, it’s telling that Arians mentioned first the other day praise for Johnson as a receiver. The thought was that the Cards would take a big running back to pair with Ellington, but instead, it points more toward the ability for the Cardinals’ offensive gameplan to absorb an Ellington injury if necessary.
Arians said as much right after the draft, saying with Johnson “you don’t have to change if there was an injury,” but that message is easy to forget over the weeks. Arians has said Johnson needs to put on pads before anything can be determined of him as a runner. How this running rotation plays out will be interesting — Arians has talked a lot about Robert Hughes about needing more work, although Hughes never quite was able to fill that void left when Jonathan Dwyer was let go last season. Maybe the offensive line upgrade will make a difference all the way around. But even though Johnson physically has size on Ellington, they’ll likely do a lot of the same things on the field.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, David Johnson, Robert Hughes
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The Cardinals opened the final week of OTAs Monday (the mandatory minicamp is next week, and then the players are off until training camp.) Nothing eventful, although the rising temperatures played into some mistakes late, coach Bruce Arians said. Some tidbits from the day:
— The depth on the front seven — or maybe the uncertainty — has been on display because of the second practice field. Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu, defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, defensive end Ed Stinson and newly crowned linebacker Kareem Martin are all taking reps on the second field even though all figure to be a part of the rotation.
“I wants those guys to get more reps too,” Arians said of having them on Field Two. “But that is the depth we have. Those positions right now, it’s a dogfight.”
— The Cardinals were working on the no-huddle a lot Monday, and Arians said he thinks the offense will use it more often this season. (More on the subject soon in Kyle Odegard’s notebook on the homepage.) At this point, with Carson Palmer still not taking part in 11-on-11, he can’t work in that facet of the no-huddle.
— Arians was asked about Larry Foote’s timetable if he wanted to give up coaching and try to play again. Arians said Foote would have to make a decision by the time training camp were to begin. Foote said the other day he was only thinking about coaching at this point.
— RB Kerwynn Williams is out right now with a hamstring issue, joining the same rookies who have been out: OLB Zack Wagenmann (foot) OLB Shaq Riddick (hamstring) ILB Alani Fua (foot). Riddick tried last week one day to give it a go but ended up sitting out again. Arians said there is no question the fifth-round pick is falling behind. “You can’t make any progress in the training room,” Arians said.
— Arians clarified his comment that first-round pick D.J. Humphries was a little immature at this point. “You’d like to see steady improvement,” Arians said. “He’s only 20, 21 years old. He’s a college kid still and this is a professional league. But he’s figuring it out fast.”
— A couple of quality Arians quips today. On whether he can wide receiver John Brown has added some muscle. “I don’t know. He’s still little.” And when he was asked how much rookie running back David Johnson might take off the plate of Andre Ellington, Arians said “Dave is not in the picure yet,” adding, “he ain’t getting s*** yet.”
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Alani Fua, Bruce Arians, D.J. Humphries, David Johnson, Ed Stinson, John Brown, Kareem Martin, Kerwynn Williams, Larry Foote, Matt Shaughnessy, Shaq Riddick, Zack Wagenmann
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Bruce Arians made it pretty clear the other day where his quarterback depth chart stood. The third quarterback spot is “wide open” as a competition, a comment that both solidified Drew Stanton’s status as Carson Palmer’s backup (not a surprise at all) and left the rest of the offseason and training camp to an interesting situation for Logan Thomas (which might be a little more surprising.)
When the Cardinals signed Chandler Harnish, it was easy too look at it as adding an extra camp arm — the Cards always have four quarterbacks around — who was familiar with Arians’ system. Thomas was a guy who figured to be around at least one more season so the team could figure out if the 2014 fourth-round pick could indeed develop into an NFL quarterback. Then the Cardinals decided to sign tryout QB Phillip Sims and suddenly, the Cards had five quarterbacks. Maybe, if Palmer was further back in his rehab, all those arms would be important. And, truth be told, the full boat of QBs could still be partially about Palmer relief this summer. But after Arians praised Sims recently and then noted the whole wide-open thing, well, then you wonder where this could go.
With two practices running simultaneously during OTAs and minicamp, there are reps to share. Thomas is getting work, as is Sims — which normally does not happen much for a fifth QB. It’s so early, and right now, Thomas still seems to be the probable guy who ends up as the No. 3 QB on the depth chart once the Cardinals host the Saints Sept. 13. But Thomas still has work to do on all the things that were giving him issues as a rookie, and Sept. 13 is a long way away. While in theory the third QB spot isn’t one to focus upon in the grand scheme, the Cardinals unfortunately found out last season just how valuable that spot can become — and why this is a deep depth chart battle that still bears watching.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chandler Harnish, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas, Phillip Sims, quarterbacks
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The Cardinals had the first of their 10 organized team activities of the offseason this morning. Coach Bruce Arians called it crisp and noted the work got done quickly enough that the team ended early. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked good in limited work — more on Palmer’s drive to get back on the field in a bit when I have a story on the homepage — and Arians said there is a chance that Palmer could be back for even more reps (regular reps?) by the time the Cards reach their minicamp in mid-June. I’ll admit, when they said that once upon a time I was thinking it was much too optimistic, but clearly, Palmer has a good chance to prove me wrong.
Some other quick notes/thoughts from the first OTA:
— The draft class is doing work on Field 2 during 11-on-11 (except for OLB Shaq Riddick, who tweaked his hamstring last week.) D.J. Humphries is the third-string left tackle for now, a long way from usurping Bobby Massie. Arians said the rookies have a lot of work to do to get on Field 1, although it could happen as we go. (This is the first of the draft classes from Keim/Arians that I can remember all the draftees on Field 2. Usually someone is working on the main field.)
— Arians praised everyone’s conditioning but he particularly noted the good shape of guard Jonathan Cooper and wide receiver Michael Floyd.
— Speaking of Cooper, Arians was asked if Cooper was better at knowing when to “gut it out” and play. Arians said it’s tough to gut it out when you are simply injured as Cooper had been, including his broken leg. “You can’t gut out broken bones, unless you’re Jack Youngblood,” Arians said. “Then the coach gets sued these days. Back then, it was cool.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, D.J. Humphries, Jonathan Cooper, Kareem Martin, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, offseason
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The NFL draft, in reality, was the shortest time-wise as it has ever been. It didn’t seem that way when we were sitting around waiting after the second of the Cardinals’ two fifth-round picks all the way until the Cards’ next pick, which was the last of the whole thing. Now that it’s over, and there is little question Steve Keim had a plan that wasn’t chalk. But I’ll say this as I do after every draft — I have no idea how this will turn out. No one does.
The pick with which I’m most intrigued? Markus Golden. The Cards weren’t the only ones who talked about how he kept showing up on video when watching Missouri play. Is that enough to break through on the NFL level? And will he be the first second-rounder since Daryl Washington to make an immediate impact? But there are plenty of intriguing guys here. I thought it was telling when Keim said today that the tough part is projecting guys who can make the team in the Cards’ current state.
How these guys fit it this season, well, that’s what the offseason and training camp is all about.
A few more wrap-up thoughts:
— There were plenty scratching their heads after the Cards picked Delaware State DE Rodney Gunter in the fourth round, and that was more vigorous when adding in the trade up to do so. But Keim and Bruce Arians both said they had reliable intel that multiple teams were on the Gunter in the fourth round. When that happens, and when it’s a guy you want and you have draft pick ammo to do so, you trade up. Keim knows it was a surprise to most. He plans on it being a pleasant surprise.
— The personality of first-round pick D.J. Humphries is real. He drew laughs when he called himself an “awesome person” during his conference call, but during his press conference, he simply wins the room with his smile and demeanor. Easy guy to root for, especially when you read the story about him and his father, who was 15 when D.J. was born.
“My dad always told me when I was a kid, if you be yourself then people are going to love you,” Humphries said.
— Humphries has never been to an NFL game, interestingly.
— Gunter is cousins with the Cardinals’ seventh-round selection, TE D.C. Jefferson. Jefferson had a quick and bumpy tenure with the team, getting a tattoo during the preseason of a birdhead on his torso even though his place on the team was no sure thing. He made it, but was released a few weeks later after a DUI. Gunter said he and Jefferson are “very close but we lost contact for over a year because he has some personal issues going on. I wish him the best.”
— Fifth-round wide receiver J.J. Nelson is one of the last players to be drafted from the University of Alabama-Birmingham now that UAB has shuttered its football program. The school provided an in for Nelson during his visit to the Cardinals; the son of coach Bruce Arians, Jake Arians, played football at UAB.
“When I came to visit, I ran into Coach Arians,” Nelson said. “He said, ‘J.J., I already know you. You’re a Blazer. We love UAB.’ … I just felt like everything fell in my hands in the right direction.”
— It wasn’t all draft at the Tempe facility Saturday. Yes, it was the weekend, but there was quarterback Carson Palmer, working out in his quest to come back from a torn ACL. Significant nose to the grindstone.
— Time for football. The Cardinals are on the field Monday for the first time as Phase 2 of the offseason work begins. Rookie minicamp starts Friday.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, D.C. Jefferson, D.J. Humphries, draft, J.J. Nelson, Markus Golden, Rodney Gunter, Steve Keim
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Day Two is in the books. Some quick notes and thoughts before I call it a night:
— After the trade Friday with the Ravens, the Cardinals have six picks on Saturday. There is a chance they won’t still have six by the time they draft Mr. Irrelevant to end the whole thing. GM Steve Keim said the trades might not be done. He mentioned a trade up possibility twice, so it’s on his mind.
“There are still a lot of guys (left) that Coach and I like,” Keim said. “We’ve had some conversations about going up (in a trade.) We will be active and aggressive. If there is someone we think that can help us, we will certainly make a jump at them.”
— As I noted in my story, Keim had Markus Golden on the brain Friday morning, long before the Cards were on the clock. That doesn’t mean they would’ve taken him no matter what, but they definitely feel good about the pick. Can he turn into James Harrison, as Bruce Arians suggested in who Golden reminded him of, well, we will see.
— The addition of RB David Johnson from Northern Iowa will help, but he’s got a long way to go to battle for the title of best Cardinal to come from Northern Iowa. That happens to be a quarterback who directed the team to the Super Bowl.
— Johnson will be in the mix for kickoff returns. “Yes indeed,” Arians said. “He and anybody else who can catch it,”
— Keim acknowledged the Cards were headed toward taking another offensive lineman Friday because of how their board fell. He made the point that another pass rusher or offensive lineman could end up another pick on Saturday.
— Nice job by Adrian Wilson making the announcement of the Golden pick. “Go Birdgang.” He’s a natural.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bruce Arians, David Johnson, draft, Markus Golden, Ravens, trade
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First things first. Steve Keim and Bruce Arians weren’t committing to any position for their second- and third-round targets by the time the first round was over Thursday night. It won’t be an offensive linemen, but Arians reiterated the Cards will stick to their board when pick No. 55 comes up Friday afternoon, and unless there are a handful of closely graded guys sitting there (which is when need could come into play) the Cards will stay with the rankings.
That means we could see a running back, or a cornerback, a pass rusher or inside linebacker. I could possibly see a receiver with return skills as well. Among players at those positions left (while acknowledging the Cards have to wait until pick 23 Friday): Pass rusher Randy Gregory, cornerback Jalen Collins, pass rusher Eli Harold, cornerback Ronald Darby, linebacker Eric Kendricks and almost all the running backs, like Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson, T.J. Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah.
— As for the choice of D.J. Humphries, it seemed like there was some surprise from the feedback I got, although offensive line was something I mentioned as a possibility on various outlets. Humphries sounds like an outgoing guy and while he is young, the Cardinals are convinced his upside will turn into something good on the field. He’ll battle Bobby Massie at right tackle, but when you are a first-round pick, usually, you’re going to be expected to play right away.
— Keim said the Cards could have traded up. No way to know if they might have tried to draft pass rushers Bud Dupree or Shane Ray. But obviously it wasn’t so important that the Cards wanted to shred their remaining picks.
— The last three tackles taken in the first round by the Cardinals: Levi Brown in 2007, Leonard Davis in 2001 and L.J. Shelton in 1999. None worked out the way the Cards hoped they would, but Keim clearly has higher hopes this time around. The upgrades to the offensive line in Keim’s short tenure have been drastic and should be effective.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Bud Dupree, D.J. Humphries, draft, Shane Ray, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals have a handful of games back East (or at least in the Eastern time zone) this season and the team requested at least a couple of them back-to-back so they could just spend a week out there without having all the flying. According to Peter King, that’s what the games in Detroit Oct. 11 and Pittsburgh Oct. 18 are about — a week back East for the team. Obviously, coach Bruce Arians has deep roots in Pittsburgh having coached there for so long and being from Pennsylvania. (GM Steve Keim is from the area too, so it works for those guys.) Both Keim and Arians have a pre-draft press conference today so I’m sure the subject will come up. UPDATE: Arians confirmed the Cards plan to stay back and that the team is looking for an indoor facility within which to practice.
The last time the Cardinals spent a week away, there were some rain issues in Tampa, when the Cardinals got beat up in New Orleans in Week 3 of 2013 and then barely pulled off a win against the Buccaneers in Week 4.
A week in Pittsburgh. It’ll be interesting.
Tags: 2015 schedule, Bruce Arians, Lions, Steelers, Steve Keim
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