Blogs

After practice: Penny bashes at the Red-White

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2017 – 6:22 pm

Famous last words.

Mike Jurecki asked about cornerback Ronald Zamort in Saturday’s lunchtime presser. And if he hadn’t, someone would have. Bruce Arians’ reaction was swift.

“You guys keep asking about individual guys and they keep getting hurt,” Arians deadpanned. “You and Josh (Weinfuss) are 2-for-2. If you get this one, you’re done.” (There had been previous questions about Aaron Dobson and the lack of soft tissue injuries at that point.)

Arians chuckled.

He wasn’t chuckling a couple hours later, when Zamort indeed went down. At first it was scary — Zamort wasn’t moving — but he eventually got up. We don’t know what the injury was — an update likely won’t come until Monday — but we’ll see what kind of questions Arians will answer going forward. UPDATE: Kent Somers reports that Zamort tore an ACL.

As for the rest of the Red-White:

— Elijhaa Penny is trying to find a spot on the roster. The big second-year running back wanted to clarify some of the reports about his weight — he said he weighed 250 last season, and is now down to 236, feeling lighter on his feet — and he spends most reps looking for contact as he runs downfield.

“I want to be the linebacker on offense,” Penny said. “I want to deliver the hit instead of taking the hit. The main point is I want the offense to get the same mentality that the defense has. Hit them instead of them hitting us.”

He is in a fight with a crowded backfield. “Every day, I have to treat it almost like it’s game day.”

— It was interesting to watch the final three plays on the full-contact goalline scrimmage. Three straight carries for rookie T.J. Logan. Logan and fellow rookie linebacker Haason Reddick collided something fierce in the hole on the first two. On all three, Logan’s helmet popped off.

— Among the notable plays in 11-on-11 work: Patrick Peterson’s tip-drill interception in the end zone, tipped by Tyvon Branch; Jaron Brown hauling in a tipped pass that had been defended well by Zamort; Larry Fitzgerald’s sliding TD catch on the first play of red zone work from the 11-yard line; Krishawn Hogan’s juggling catch on the sideline; and Budda Baker’s nice from-behind pass breakup on Jeremy Ross.

— LB Karlos Dansby sat out the practice with a sore knee.

— The defenses and offenses essentially split success at the end-of-practice scrimmage plays.

— Robert Nkemdiche was a disruptive force much of the time again. The second-unit offensive line has a hard time blocking him.

— The crowd ended up being 25,000.

— The Cardinals are off tomorrow and don’t have another open practice to the public until Aug. 8. They play in Canton Thursday.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 9 Comments »

After practice: Zamort time at cornerback

Posted by Darren Urban on July 28, 2017 – 5:09 pm

There is no new veteran cornerback yet. But who knows, maybe one will become inherently necessary sooner rather than later. Justin Bethel ended up sitting out practice Friday — he had a brace on his left knee — and interestingly, Ronald Zamort was the one in his place with the first unit and not Brandon Williams. Zamort actually had a decent camp a year ago, but he was cut and not brought back to the practice squad. (The Cardinals ended up bringing in a bigger defensive back, Trevon Hartfield, for the PS.) Zamort was re-signed to the practice squad later in the season after injuries. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in preseason games, and how Williams does as well.

(Not sure how Bethel was hurt. Bruce Arians didn’t mention anything at the lunch presser. Bethel did have a play Thursday when he and tight end Jermaine Gresham collided and seemed to bump knees/legs, but Bethel finished practice after getting up slowly.)

— Carson Palmer was technically back at practice but he threw little. Very little. He didn’t go in during any of the 11-on-11 work, and he didn’t throw much before that either. (Again, as Arians said earlier in the day, given the early start, all this work is “bonus” time for Palmer. I wouldn’t read too much into the inactivity.)

— Tyrann Mathieu had another pick in a drill, grumpy at one point that he was flagged for a hold he didn’t think he should have. Mathieu is trying to be more low-key, but he’s playing better and better.

— Practice ended with a pair of situational periods. The first started around the defense’s 30 with 22 seconds left and the offense down 6. That ended up all offense: A David Johnson TD catch for the first unit, a Troy Niklas TD catch for the second unit, and a clutch fourth-and-10 TD catch down the seam by tight end Ifeanyi Momah for the third unit.

— The other sequence started on the offense’s end of the field needing about 15 yards for a long field goal try and 19 seconds left. First unit’s possession ended with a interception by Antoine Bethea. The second ended with a Josh Mauro sack. The third unit succeeded, with a Carlton Agudosi catch setting up a 56-yard field goal by the ageless Phil Dawson.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »

Resting Palmer again and Buc’s status

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2017 – 12:10 pm

If there was any doubt about how careful the Cardinals were going to be with QB Carson Palmer this camp in an attempt to have him ready for the regular season, he will be resting at Thursday’s practice, the second time he’s sat out through a mere five practices thus far.

“I like practice,” Palmer said. “I enjoy what I do in the practice aspect. I like throwing in blitz period and team period and 7-on-7 and routes on air. But I’m listening to the professionals, the people that have studied this and read and been to seminars. I’m going with the recovery process and what people tell me to do.”

Again, it’s important to remember that the Cardinals have an extra stretch of camp this year because of the fifth preseason game, so this is all bonus practice anyway, especially for a veteran like Palmer. It’s smart to slow-play it like this if he needs to protect his arm.

— Arians said $LB Deone Bucannon, on PUP with his ankle, is doing some running. No timetable for a return, but Arians said he’d want Bucannon to have at least a week if not more of practice before playing in the opener. We’ll see if Bucannon ends up hitting that target.

— The good news was no one got hurt at Tuesday’s practice. S Ironhead Gallon (knee) and LB Jarvis Jones (NFI-quad) are close to returning — Jones could practice Friday, Arians said. LB Alani Fua (knee) is going to miss 2-to-4 weeks, Arians said.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 2 Comments »

Arians confirms Flowers visit

Posted by Darren Urban on July 25, 2017 – 12:04 pm

Bruce Arians confirmed today that free-agent veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers is visiting the team — Arians said he’s getting a physical today — as a potential addition to the roster. Flowers has had concussion issues, so the physical is important. Arians also emphasized adding Flowers doesn’t necessarily mean a reflection on the play of current first-stringer Justin Bethel. The Cardinals want to add pieces, and besides, it’s worth noting the Cards lost a pair of cornerbacks who had been up the depth chart for a couple of weeks — Elie Bouka (ankle) and Jumel Rolle (hamstring).

— Arians again praised the work if Bethel. Bethel made more plays Monday, and Arians even likes the fact Bethel is getting better responding when he makes a bad play. “He’s learning to get amnesia,” Arians said, which is such a great quote.

— DT Ed Stinson hurt his hamstring while LB Alani Fua and S Ironhead Gallon each hurt a knee. No timetable was given for those players. (Tough for both Stinson and Fua, who seemingly are both always battling injury.)


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

Camp scuffle? “Rank has privilege”

Posted by Darren Urban on July 24, 2017 – 12:13 pm

Bruce Arians has never been shy about his feelings about fighting in training camp — nobody better do it. So as the pads come on for camp and the level of intensity rises, inevitably, it’s something Arians will watch out for. Talking about hitting with the pads on, Arians said “Just don’t take anyone to the ground if you want to stick around.”

(He’s a poet and he didn’t know it.)

And if someone does?

“Throw them off the field,” Arians said. “If it’s the wrong guys, I’ll cut ’em.” Well-timed pause. “Rank has privilege.

“I don’t think any of our ranked guys are gonna fight.”

Arians does make sure his message gets across. “They know that has no place in football. It’s not in the rule book, you fight and you’re ejected, so why practice things that aren’t in the rule book?”

— With the heavy rain across the Valley — and the University of Phoenix Stadium field sitting outside the building as usual this morning as it came down — Arians acknowledged he was a little concerned with the field. But it’s being rolled in as I write this and it looks OK. Doesn’t really matter anyway. Arians said there wasn’t a circumstance where he’d change practice because of a wet field. “We are going to play on that field anyway,” he said. “We better learn how to play on it quick.”

— QB Drew Stanton and WR Jaron Brown will not practice today in a scheduled day off.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 6 Comments »

30 touches for David Johnson? Maybe. Likely not

Posted by Darren Urban on July 17, 2017 – 9:43 am

The subject of David Johnson and his potential touches per game this season has been a ongoing theme this offseason. It came up again this weekend when the Cardinals’ running back attended a fantasy football event (fantasy football is the No. 1 reason so many people want to know about Johnson’s touches this season, in an effort to forecast his production.)

Back at the owners’ meetings in March, Bruce Arians first talked about Johnson getting 30 touches — rushing attempts plus receptions — per game. When Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Diamondbacks game in April, he said there was no reason why he couldn’t get 30 touches a game.

“I never really got fatigued,” Johnson said then. “Those tough defense games against Seattle and the Rams, those games might feel a little sore, but that’s not until the adrenaline comes down. I never really feel too bad.”

Arians has said he’ll be smart about it. And the likelihood of Johnson averaging 30 touches a game, or even reaching that number a lot, just isn’t great.

Last season, one in which Johnson threatened to gain 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving, Johnson didn’t come close to averaging 30 touches a game. In fact, he led the league in touches at “only” 23.3. (Take out his injury-shortened finale, when he only had eight touches before going out with a scary knee injury, and Johnson still only averaged 24.3 touches a game.) Only three times did Johnson reach 30 touches in 2017, when he was the undisputed bellcow of the offense: 30 at San Francisco, 41 at home in the overtime tie against Seattle, and 32 in the late-season win at Seattle. (He had 29 at Minnesota and 27 against Washington.)

Make no mistake. Johnson will again be the centerpiece of the offense. There will be days when he gets 30 touches. But circumstances will be different each game. Defenses will create new challenges. Arians will want his receivers involved. There will be reasons at times to not overdo it with Johnson, too, something Arians has acknowledged. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense that he will average that many. Unless it’s against Seattle.


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »

Cardinals still blitz-happy under Arians

Posted by Darren Urban on July 13, 2017 – 1:15 pm

Bruce Arians kept his promise. The Cardinals acquired Chandler Jones last offseason (and were counting on Markus Golden taking another step forward as a pass rusher) and yet before the season he said he still wouldn’t be happy unless the Cards were blitzing.

“If we’ve got four good ones, why not send five or six?” Arians said then.

The Cards got what they wanted out of Jones (11 sacks) and Golden (12.5 sacks). But they also kept blitzing. Pro Football Focus has the numbers (and a couple of gifs for examples). NFL teams blitz an average of 30 percent of the time, PFF says, and about 38 percent in obvious passing situations. The Cardinals in 2016? Blitzing nearly 41 percent of the time (and 41.4 percent on first downs.) PFF makes the point that, in blitzing, it gives teams less chance to double-team when blocking. But in the end, Arians just likes to bring the pressure. It’s the defensive equivalent of the deep shots B.A. likes to take on offense. What, you thought because B.A. is an offensive guy that “No risk-it, no biscuit” was restricted to offense?

It’s also followed the change in DC from Todd Bowles — who blitzed a lot — to James Bettcher. With the addition of rookie inside linebacker Haason Reddick (who played a pass-rushing defensive end at Temple) and a healthy Tyrann Mathieu, there seem to be more blitzing options heading into 2017.


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »

Post-season cancer surgery for Arians

Posted by Darren Urban on July 11, 2017 – 12:30 pm

Bruce Arians had a rough year health-wise in 2016. There was a scare in San Diego in the preseason (Arians had diverticulitis), and then another hospital check after “discomfort” in late November. Now, in his new book released today called “The Quarterback Whisperer,” Arians acknowledges there was third health concern that had to be taken care of after the season.

Arians writes that he was out to dinner with his wife, Chris, in December when he got a call from his doctor. Arians had just been to the doctor to get a hernia checked, and his ultrasound revealed a small spot on his kidney — renal cell carcinoma. Amazingly, Arians coached the remainder of the season before having surgery to remove a “small portion” of the kidney in February.

“Now I feel great,” Arians writes. “My energy has returned. I’m told I’m cancer-free again. I’m ready for at least one more season of NFL football—maybe more.”

Arians had to deal with a lot of heartbreak around that time. Both his brother-in-law and his longtime agent passed away from cancer. Arians also has a history with the disease. He battled prostate cancer in 2007, and had to have some cancerous cells scraped off his nose during his first summer work with the Cardinals in 2013.

“I now realize more than ever nothing is guaranteed in life,” Arians writes. “Every day needs to enjoyed and celebrated to the fullest. Roses need to be smelled, sunsets savored, time with family cherished. Moving forward, I want to be a beacon of hope for others struggling with cancer. My fight is their fight. I’m not coaching for myself in 2017; I’m coaching for everyone who’s dealing with cancer. This is my charge.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 30 Comments »

Arians delivers a soft warning

Posted by Darren Urban on June 8, 2017 – 1:25 pm

Larry Fitzgerald has already created a legacy that would look pretty nice even if he walked away from the game tomorrow, but that didn’t stop him from being angry (enough that he bellowed an expletive) for not being able to bring in a catch at one recent practice of what was basically an errant throw. That’s what you notice about Fitz, how much he works whenever he is on the practice field.

You also notice that he’s always on the practice field. He doesn’t get banged up often, not in the offseason. Not every player can say the same. It’s something Bruce Arians said he noticed when it comes to soft-tissue problems.

“He knows how to train,” Arians said of Fitz. “He’s tweaked (hamstrings), but he keeps going. He knows how to train. These young guys, they don’t know how to train when they go by themselves, or they hire somebody who trains them to run track. Not move around and hit the ground and push things. So they get soft-tissue injuries when they get to (training) camp.”

Arians said there was a “long conversation” Thursday morning on the topic with the team in their final meeting of the offseason.

“You get a soft-tissue injury this year (in camp), you’re probably going to get cut,” Arians said. “It’s just too competitive.”


Tags: , ,
Posted in Blog | 21 Comments »

Arians: London events “not going to scare us off”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2017 – 12:16 pm

The Cardinals play the Rams in London at Twickenham Stadium on Oct. 22, and they will be spending the week beforehand in the country practicing for the game. Obviously, London and the U.K. have been in the news with recent terrorist events, both with the concert bombing in Manchester and then the attack on London Bridge.

Coach Bruce Arians was asked if those attacks caused him any concern with taking the Cardinals on their trip.

“No,” Arians said. “With concern … Anytime you are apprehensive, and let ISIS or whoever it is change the way you think or what you do, they are winning. We’ll go and we’ll do everything we can to put on a great show. If something happens, it happens. But they’re not going to scare us off.”


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »