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Cardinals celebrations? “Chandler likes to dance”

Posted by Darren Urban on May 24, 2017 – 1:54 pm

Here’s the thing about the new relaxed celebration rules in the NFL — I’m not sure exactly how much they’ll impact the Cardinals. They don’t exactly have a group of guys pining to make a scene post-play. On our latest podcast, we were talking about a power poll of Cardinals who were most likely to take advantage. I mean, it’s not going to be Larry Fitzgerald (“That’ll never happen,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Larry’s dance is dancing over to give the ball to the referee, which is what he’s supposed to do.”) We know Smokey Brown can dance, but his dance was already allowed in the rules and frankly, I don’t see him going much further than that. J.J. Nelson is pretty low key. David Johnson is definitely low key — it’s tough to embrace the nickname “Humble Rumble” and you know, not be humble.

Arians, in contrast to Marvin Lewis, is cool with the change. “I danced all the time when I scored touchdowns,” Arians said. “I didn’t get many. Danced my ass off when it happened.”

Arians, however, doesn’t figure to score at all these days. In terms of the current players? “I’m not really a dancing type of guy,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said, when asked about his potential plans. “I do love the fact the league is allowing players to show their personality, not putting us in handcuffs. I think it’s a great win for the players.”

Peterson’s first choice in the locker room “probably would’ve been Tony,” but alas, Tony Jefferson has moved to Baltimore.

“Chandler,” Peterson said. “Chandler likes to dance.”

Indeed, Chandler Jones came to my mind first. He’s further removed from the more buttoned-up culture of New England. He has the security of the long-term contract. And he definitely likes to have fun. Jones was asked about the new overtime rule but he said the celebration rule move was the “one that matters” to the defensive players.

Jones did say there wouldn’t be any choreography or dance practice. “That’s when it gets out of hand” and away from football, he said. But, he added, “I’ll have something cooking for sure.”

 


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An early appearance for the accountability board

Posted by Darren Urban on May 17, 2017 – 8:19 am

The accountability board is something Bruce Arians brought with him when he came to the Cardinals, in use since his very first training camp. But it always had its place — camp and then the fall. It was put away in the offseason. Until now.

Arians said he was making a new move this year, putting up the accountability sheet starting this morning — now that OTAs had started Tuesday.

“We never do it in OTAs but we’re doing it this year,” Arians said.

It falls in line with everything else Arians has talked about wanting to do differently this season, all in an effort to rebound from a disappointing 7-8-1 record in 2016. Tackle more in training camp. Prep Carson Palmer now for later. Add more leaders in the locker room. And make sure the Cardinals don’t beat themselves — hence, the accountability board earlier than normal.

“We had too many mental errors in games last year,” Arians said. “It’s a point of emphasis.”


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No QB yet — and perhaps none at all

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2017 – 9:57 pm

The Cardinals made a big trade to move up in the second round Friday. It gave everyone pause. Quarterback? Deshone Kizer was on the board. But then came safety Budda Baker. No QB there. In the third round, the Cardinals traded down, and still, no QB. Now there is a question of whether there will be one in this draft.

“Those guys aren’t always out there,” coach Bruce Arians said. What about the quarterbacks left on the board? “There are still a couple of quality arms out there,” Arians acknowledged. “Whether they are first-string arms or second-string arms is yet to be seen.”

It’s less than a ringing endorsement for a team looking for a quarterback of the future. But again, this class always was seen with warts, and the last thing the Cardinals have any desire to do is make a pick just because they feel they have to.

“Again, would you love to find one? Absolutely,” GM Steve Keim said. “But as I said, you can’t force a pick and you can’t leave better players on the board, and that would have done if we didn’t take the approach we did. It would be a disservice to the organization and everyone who works here if we were to press something that was out of the norm or to panic.”

The Cards pick eighth in the fourth round Saturday. They have five picks — one in the fourth, two each in the fifth and seventh. We will see if one is a QB.

— The Cardinals really, really wanted Budda Baker. And in the third round, they liked Chad Williams a lot. So it worked out for Keim to make the initial trade, however expensive as it might have seemed, to snare Baker. Because Williams was one of those players that the Cardinals liked probably more than most, they were able to drop down 21 spots in the third, still get him and get back a fourth-round pick.

— Arians believes with the addition of Baker, the Cardinals have one of the most dynamic secondaries in the league. He didn’t rule out drafting a cornerback Saturday — I would be a little surprised if they didn’t — but the addition of Baker gives the Cards flexibility even if there isn’t a ready-to-be-on-an-island corner across from Patrick Peterson.

 


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Cardinals feel loss after passing of Steelers’ Rooney

Posted by Darren Urban on April 13, 2017 – 1:57 pm

Because they are two of the oldest franchises in the NFL with ownership that has been in the same families for decades, they has always been a tie between the teams. They actually merged for a season (in 1944 because of the war) and of course matched up in the Cardinals’ lone Super Bowl appearance for Super Bowl XLIII.

That’s one of the reasons the passing of Steelers owner Dan Rooney Thursday was felt around the Cardinals — not to mention that Rooney was one of the most beloved owners across the league.

“This is an incredibly sad day and profound loss for all of us who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Dan Rooney,” Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “Mr. Rooney’s love for the Steelers, their players and their fans was apparent to everyone, as was the tremendous pride he took when he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to his beloved Ireland. But all of that was exceeded by the love and deep devotion he had for Patricia and their wonderful family. Our thoughts are certainly with the Rooneys, their entire organization, and all of Steeler Nation upon the passing of this remarkable man.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians tweeted out his sentiments, after coaching with the Steelers for a number of years before coming to Arizona.

The Steelers were also the opponent in the first game at University of Phoenix Stadium in August of 2006, when Dan Rooney (second from left) posed with (from left) Michael Bidwill, Bill Bidwill and Art Rooney II.


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On competition committee, Arians talks future

Posted by Darren Urban on April 3, 2017 – 3:53 pm

Bruce Arians admitted he wasn’t sure he wanted to be on the NFL’s competition committee when he was first asked, but he said he has had fun doing it. He chuckled when he was asked if he tried to stay in the background at first.

“I don’t think Mr. Goodell put me on there for that reason,” Arians said. “I don’t have any problem giving my opinion. Especially when it comes to rules and referees.”

Arians likes the change in replay challenges, with the officials looking at the play on a tablet on the field and not going “under the hood,” with officials in  New York helping decide the play. It’ll speed up those decisions and therefore, the game, Arians said. As for the idea — long discussed — about full-time officials, Arians said he believes it will happen at some point.

“Hopefully we will get 17 (full-time) referees,” Arians said. “There are a lot of negotiations in that process, between the union and the league.”

Arians said he thinks even having the one main referee full time will help with consistency, even if it isn’t every official. The Cardinals, for instance, have a meeting before each game just to discuss the officiating crew each week because the way the game is called by each crew differs enough that it needs to be discussed.

“Hopefully we will get more consistency in that area,” Arians said.


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No East Coast trip for Cards before London

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2017 – 12:58 pm

The Cardinals still are making plans with how they are going to handle their travel to London to play the Rams — the date remains TBD — but Wednesday at the NFL owners meetings, Bruce Arians knocked down one possibility: The Cardinals will likely not take one of their East Coast road games (Washington, Philly) and fly from there to London. Instead, the Cardinals will likely play a home game and then leave from Sky Harbor the next day.

“Our plan is to leave from here,” Arians said. “We don’t know. We haven’t gotten it all finalized. But Michael (Bidwill) has made that trip so many times that we feel right now we would probably leave Monday night. When we went to Berlin (with the Chiefs in 1990) quite a few years back, we got off the plane and went right to practice and broke a sweat.

“We’ll get off and do a glorified walkthrough practice, break-a-sweat deal, and then get acclimated to that time, and then go into a normal week.”

The Cardinals, as do most teams returning from a London game, are expected to have a bye the week following the London game.

“The jet lag is a bitch when you get back,” Arians said. “I can’t imagine, even on the East Coast even though it’s a five-hour flight. It’s probably not as bad as going from Miami to Seattle and playing the next week. It’s kind of like that. That’s really hard on your guys. You have to be aware of how tired they are.”

Alas, there is still no date for the London game, which will be either Oct. 22 or Oct. 29. At this point, it is not expected to be announced until the full NFL schedule is released sometime in mid-April.


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No B.A. regrets for Bethel comment

Posted by Darren Urban on March 29, 2017 – 9:59 am

It’s been a battle for Justin Bethel for the last 18 months, fighting a broken foot at the end of the 2015 season, thinking it was healed, re-injuring it in the offseason before OTAs to sideline him all summer, fighting it all 2016 and then absorbing a paycut recently.

Coach Bruce Arians has been complimentary of Bethel the last few times he has been asked about him, and Bethel did close the season better — returning an interception for a touchdown in the finale — and Arians was asked Wednesday whether he regretted calling Bethel a “failure-in-progress” in early December.

“No … no, because only one line of that was used,” Arians said. “Because I said it was not his fault because of his broken foot. That part never got to the article. It was just I said he was a failure in progress because of not being able to practice.”

Arians said Bethel’s father actually attended the Saturday practice following Arians’ Monday “failure” comment.

“(He) grabbed me and said, ‘You trying to motivate my son?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ ” Arians said. “He said, ‘I think it’s working.’ ”

Arians again reiterated Wednesday that the draft is loaded with cornerbacks, that Brandon Williams will be a lot better in Year Two, and that Bethel too will be “a hell of a lot better if he can finally practice.” (Bethel believes he should be the starter.)

“He hasn’t practiced for two years on that broken foot,” Arians said. “He can now have a chance to really compete as a corner and get better rather than just throwing him out there when we had to have him. That’s not fair to him. But I think he’s going to really, really take off with it this spring.”

 


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An anthem, the “itch” and Fitz’s return

Posted by Darren Urban on February 6, 2017 – 11:51 am

The moment, Fitz said, boiled up when Mike Phillips was playing the national anthem in Atlanta before the NFC Championship game between the Falcons and Packers. The Cardinals wide receiver said he was “just into it.”

“I was sitting there and the fire was burning,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to be out there.”

That’s what told Fitz he needed to play again in 2017, something he announced last week.

“I called (Bruce Arians), I said, ‘Coach, I’ve got that itch,’ ” Fitzgerald said the other night, after he was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year. “He was like, ‘Don’t rush, don’t make a hasty decision. Take your time.’ We talked again, I had dinner with Coach (Friday) night. I love that man, I love playing for him, he brings a great energy to our team and a toughness that is contagious.”

That’s what Arians had predicted, that the players would eventually have that itch. (Of course, when Arians said that, it was after the NFC Championship game and after Fitz said he was “pretty sure” he knew his decision, so B.A. was working with inside information.) Fitzgerald acknowledged all the things expected to have impacted his wavering about playing in the first place — feeling “pretty bad” after the season both physically and psychologically.

Spending time in Houston last week wasn’t ideal either.

“It sucks coming here (to the Super Bowl) and enjoying the pageantry of the event but not actually participating in the event,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not the same. We all play for that. Hopefully we get off to a fast start and get it going this year.”

The Cardinals are waiting to hear from quarterback Carson Palmer about his status for 2017, but at this point it feels like a foregone conclusion Palmer will indeed play.

“We all hope that Carson comes back, not to put any pressure on him,” Fitzgerald said. “But we are a very, very good team when Carson is playing quarterback for us.”

6th Annual NFL Honors


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QB, if Palmer were to retire

Posted by Darren Urban on February 1, 2017 – 10:03 am

Let me start this post by saying I have all along believed Carson Palmer would play in 2017, regardless of what Larry Fitzgerald ultimately chose. (Wednesday, Palmer cleared up the idea his house in Arizona was for sale — it isn’t.) I will admit I am a little surprised that Palmer’s situation remains up in the air as it apparently is, but I still think he will play. But … if he doesn’t:

It would kind of feel a little bit like the offseason of 2013, right when Steve Keim and Bruce Arians were hired into their current spots. The Cards were going to move on from Kevin Kolb and John Skelton. They signed Drew Stanton, who was ostensibly going to be the starter (and then the Cards would draft a QB), until Palmer came along in the big trade with the Raiders.

If Palmer were to retire now, Stanton again would ostensibly be the starter. The Cardinals likely would go into the draft looking to pick a QB. But there would be a good chance Keim would look into the trade/free-agent market hard. (Mike Glennon, maybe?) In some ways, perhaps the situation would parallel even more that 2010 season right after Kurt Warner retired. You’d have the remaining veteran — Stanton playing the role of Matt Leinart — and the possibility of adding another veteran (in 2010, it was Derek Anderson). Zac Dysert is still around, but there’d likely be a rookie. In 2010, that was Skelton and Max Hall, both of whom ended up with roster spots ahead of Leinart (who by then had worn out his welcome with then-coach Ken Whisenhunt.)

Again, I think Palmer will play and the Cardinals will remain stable for another season. But as Bruce Arians said, the team is prepared for either contingency.

— Quick note for all those wondering where Stump Mitchell was going. He has reunited with Todd Bowles after taking the Jets’ vacant running backs coach job Tuesday.

bacarson


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Arians and his torn rotator cuff

Posted by Darren Urban on January 23, 2017 – 10:17 am

Even Bruce Arians ended up with a significant injury this season.

The injuries hit the Cardinals much harder in 2016 — when they used a total of 70 players during the 16 games — than 2015 — when the total was 56. (The 70 players that appeared in at least one game was the most for the Cardinals, in fact, since they used 74 during the 2005 season.) That list, of course, doesn’t include Arians, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t hurt.

And we’re not talking his two separate hospital stints either. No, this was an injury — a torn rotator cuff, in fact, which Arians confirmed to azcentral’s Dan Bickley. Arians said his left rotator cuff was “torn completely through” when wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald hugged him in celebration of Chandler Catanzaro’s game-winning field goal in Seattle on Christmas Eve.

Arians had hinted at such. In his final press conference, Arians noted “my shoulder that Larry screwed up. I just got it injected and will see if I have surgery on it.” He jokingly said Fitz would pay if he couldn’t golf, but apparently, Arians is making do on the course. (We’ll see how — if — he can get it done next week in the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am.) And unlike Fitzgerald, who wanted to let his body heal before making a decision about playing in 2017 (no decision yet), Arians knows he’ll be around in 2017, regardless of his shoulder situation.

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