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Chargers (and preseason) aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2014 – 11:52 pm

We’ll try not to get too verbose here. It’s late and in a matter of hours, the Cardinals are going to at least begin the process of making the final cuts to the 53-man roster. I’m just thrilled to have a computer to type this on, after leaving it in the taxi and watching it drive away before the game. But that turned out OK — obviously I got it back — and maybe it’s good the preseason is over for me as well.

Bruce Arians rarely pulls punches. He didn’t tonight saying some of the play was “disturbing” and that it will make some of the roster choices easy. We’ll see how it filters out. I don’t know if injuries will affect anything. Safety Eddie Whitley, with a potential broken foot, wasn’t going to make the team. Safety Curtis Taylor, who may have broken his arm, was trying to make a push, especially with the iffy status of Tyrann Mathieu. That option is now gone. Nate Potter was trying to make the team as a backup tackle — maybe, just maybe, the Cards would keep an extra two tackles — but hurt his shoulder. (I don’t know how Bradley Sowell did either; it’ll be interesting to see if Max Starks is ever brought back like Arians said he might be.)

I expect some cuts Friday, some Saturday. And then we’ll see what else comes in the form of waiver claims, maybe another signing. We have a long 10 days before the opener.

— The big mystery was whether Tyrann Mathieu would play. He did not, and yes, if you take Arians’ word for it, he won’t play in the opener. I’m beginning to think that’s not just lip service. Look, Arians can change his mind, but it’s feeling more and more like the Cardinals are going to handle this with kid gloves. And really, why not? Here’s the interesting question — does Mathieu come back after the bye (three games into the season), like Arians always thought he would?

— No way to know how they looked at the battles for spots. Undrafted linebacker Glenn Carson played well with 10 tackles and could’ve (should’ve?) had a leaping interception late in the game. That would have looked good on the résumé. You can’t help but notice the kid out there. Can he edge out a vet like Desmond Bishop? Carson said he’s done all he can do — “It’s in the hands of the coaches now,” he said — but he’s made a nice case. Practice squad certainly.

— Felt the same about Walt Powell. He looked good on kickoff returns and made a nice move after a catch to avoid tacklers and get a first down. Brittan Golden dropped a deep ball. One play does not a roster spot make, but if it’s close, you have to wonder (although Golden did make a nice play to open the second half and force a fumble on a San Diego kickoff return.)

— I agree with linebacker Kevin Minter that he looked OK. At least he was back on the field. Jonathan Cooper looked a little more shaky, but in his case, Ted Larsen is starting for the time being anyway. It’s going to take some time for Cooper, clearly. That’s just reality.

— Love the way Deone Bucannon hits. That is a physical aspect the Cards need in the secondary, their answer to Kam Chancellor. He got lost in tight end coverage once though, losing his man as he stared too long in the backfield. Got to be careful on that.

— The way Arians sounded talking about Tommy Kelly’s 15 or so plays, I got the impression he’s got a good chance to make the roster. Isaac Sopoaga, who had been battling an oblique strain, didn’t play. Will be interesting to see how the defensive line plays out.

OK, that’s a wrap. We’ll have some news tomorrow. I don’t know how headline-grabbing it will be, but the next two days will go a long way in shaping the roster for the season.

Bruce Arians


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Fitzgerald must pass concussion protocol UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2013 – 12:47 pm

No surprise that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, after suffering a concussion last night in Tennessee, will go through the concussion protocol this week to determine if he can play Sunday in Seattle. That decision won’t be finalized until later in the week. Fitz did pass the tests needed to at least leave the stadium and fly home with the team last night “but that’s still a long way to go from being cleared.” Never know what each day will bring in regard to head injuries.

UPDATE: On his weekly Westwood One radio segment before Monday Night Football, Fitzgerald talked about passing his initial concussion test today. “I feel better than I did yesterday,” Fitzgerald said. He talked about the concussion protocol, saying Monday he saw an independent neurologist who tested Fitzgerald to compare his score to the baseline score Fitzgerald took on the same test in the spring, to make sure Fitzgerald was at the same level.

“Those tests came back positive,” Fitzgerald said. “I was right where I needed to be. (Tuesday) I will see another independent neurologist to get another independent look and at that point it’ll be how I feel going through the week. But right now I’m feeling good and I’m going to get some rest today, some rest tomorrow and get back to work for a big game against Seattle.”

That’s not the only injury concern though. While coach Bruce Arians said quarterback Carson Palmer has a low-grade high ankle sprain and running back Andre Ellington has a thigh bruise and both should be fine, safety Rashad Johnson suffered a bad high-ankle sprain and that’s a major concern. High ankle sprains are usually bad news and mean missed time, and the Cards are already down Tyrann Mathieu. If Johnson is out, rookie Tony Jefferson would be the starting free safety and his backup would be the inexperienced Curtis Taylor.

Arians said Jefferson played well when he stepped in the lineup after Johnson got hurt. “I’m concerned we lost both our safeties the last two weeks and we are down to a rookie,” Arians said. “But it’s Week 15 or 16, whatever the heck it is. (Tony) is not really a rookie anymore. Curtis hasn’t played yet so if he’s out there, I’ll be a little worried because the dropoff from Tyrann and Rashad.”

— Arians said he didn’t think the pass defense’s problem was as much about bad secondary play as much as poor pass rush against the Titans.


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Moch highlights practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2013 – 11:04 am

The Cardinals have picked five of their possible eight practice-squad players, including pass rusher Dontay Moch — an intriguing prospect and former third-round pick who has been limited to one regular season game in two seasons because of migraines, a broken foot and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Moch would be a linebacker in the Cards’ scheme. He’s had 6.5 sacks the past two preseasons, so he has flashed. It makes sense as practice squad potential.

The Cardinals also brought back both their Taylors from the preseason roster — wide receiver Kerry and safety Curtis — to the practice squad, as well as linebacker Kenny Rowe. Rowe, like Moch, is part of the Cards’ perpetual quest to find edge rushers.

The other spot went to center/guard Philip Blake, recently cut by Denver.

There are still three practice squad spots left. One could go to linebacker Kenny Demens, cut yesterday by the team. Tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb, cut by the Cards, ended up on the Bears’ practice squad.


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Wednesday before the Broncos

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2013 – 10:57 am

The Cardinals are down to one preseason game. And by now, there probably isn’t much to determine. In fact, it’s tough to get past the words of Darnell Dockett going into this one: “You always want to play preseason games and make sure everyone gets out healthy,” Dockett said, and obviously, with Jonathan Cooper, that didn’t happen. “I’ve never been a fan of preseason games. I understand the games because young guys are trying to get on rosters and this might be their big chance, so I’m all for it. But guys who have to play 16 regular-season games … my biggest thing is getting out healthy.”

That’s why quarterback Carson Palmer may not play, and why I’m sure the Cards will be careful with what they do tomorrow night.

All that said, Bruce Arians did say there was still “four or five” roster spots still up for debate. The positions he named were the back end of wide receiver, safety, cornerback, tight end and offensive line. He didn’t name names, and that’s where the speculation comes in. At receiver, for instance, Kerry Taylor has worked hard for this team and is a smart guy. But Mike Thomas, the newbie vet, has the speed Arians so covets. At safety, can special teamer Jonathon Amaya hold off Tony Jefferson or big Curtis Taylor? Tight end is a very interesting spot too. Veteran Jeff King hasn’t been able to get on the field much, and Arians wants to see him play. When the offseason started I assumed he would be here, but with his balky knee, I’m not so sure anymore — not that the Cards have overwhelming options elsewhere.

That’s the thing about guessing about the 53-man roster (which I will attempt to do later today). It’s hard to know what a new GM and a new coach really like to do. It’s hard to know what they think about raw players like G Earl Watford and TE D.C. Jefferson, guys who probably aren’t ready to help right away but guys who may not make it through waivers to put on the practice squad.

— With RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and TE Rob Housler (ankle) sitting out practice yesterday, I’m sure that would basically rule them out. I am guessing there might be a couple other guys sitting as precautionary, but it did seem like the Cards are fairly healthy right now, all things considered.

— I don’t expect to see major Broncos players, like Peyton Manning. Doesn’t matter whether it was Mike Shanahan or John Fox as coach in Denver, the QB never seems to play that last preseason game.

— Arians has a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. Not sure if cuts will come by then or not (teams must be to 53 by Saturday afternoon) but regardless, whatever this 53-man roster is on Saturday, I will be surprised if it is still the 53-man roster on Tuesday, after waiver claims and the like. Arians said he would probably warn “two or three” players that their spot on the 53 could change into a practice squad spot by Thursday. It’s the reality of the business.

— And as we have said many times, this team is is going to churn the roster. Director of media relations Chris Melvin is going to be a busy man putting out new bio after new bio this season, methinks.

UPDATE: The game, no matter what your TV guide says, will be live on Ch. 15 ABC Thursday. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m.

— It’s good to know Tyrann Mathieu’s eyebrow is coming back. Time to end the preseason.


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One year at a time

Posted by Darren Urban on July 26, 2013 – 9:28 am

Eric Winston, a player who when he was first released was expected to command a healthy contract for multiple years, signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals. It was another impressive step for GM Steve Keim, who has managed to corral quite a few players in one-year deals, providing flexibility going forward and incentive to those players to try and earn an extension.

It also has created quite a lengthy list of players that, as of now, are set to become unrestricted free agents after the season:

— S Jonathan Amaya

— CB Javier Arenas

— S Yeremiah Bell

— CB Antoine Cason

— LB Karlos Dansby

— TE Jim Dray

— K Jay Feely

— TE Jeff King

— RB Rashard Mendenhall

— G Chilo Rachal

— WR Andre Roberts

— DE Frostee Rucker

— DE/LB Matt Shaughnessy

— TE Kory Sperry

— S Curtis Taylor

— LB Reggie Walker

— T Eric Winston

— P Dave Zastudil

Obviously, not every name on that list is someone that the Cards are going to want to keep around long-term. Others will have to earn that right. It also doesn’t include other situations, like the inevitable Patrick Peterson extension that is assumed to be coming at some point after the season. The Cardinals definitely have a plan, however. Flexibility is key for Keim, who is trying to rebuild the roster.


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Palmer contract helps Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on April 4, 2013 – 1:51 pm

The Cardinals didn’t have to pay much in trade compensation to acquire quarterback Carson Palmer. The new contract he agreed to doesn’t exactly hurt the Cards either.

Both Brian McIntyre and Aaron Wilson broke out the details of Palmer’s new Cards’ deal, the most important detail being that Palmer’s salary cap number is only $4 million in 2013, lower than originally expected but one that fits into Wednesday night’s news of the Cards having about $8.2 million in cap space remaining even after the Palmer trade. (Since the top 51 offseason rules apply to the cap, I’d guess the signings of Curtis Taylor and Bryan McCann didn’t impact the cap at all.)

Turns out Palmer’s two-year deal is technically a three-year contract, helping the cap distribution. It might as well be a two-year deal though, because the third year voids automatically if Palmer is still on the team five days after the Super Bowl next year and if the team wants to cut him, the third year wouldn’t matter anyway. The magic of contract structures.

Anyway, Palmer’s salary of $2 million is guaranteed this season, and he got a $6 million signing bonus. He has an $8 million salary in 2014, with $2 million guaranteed fully, and a cap number of $10 million in 2014.

And here’s a picture of Palmer and Daryl Washington from this morning’s sprints.

PalmerRunBlogUSE


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Cards add two DBs (and Fitz talking to Palmer)

Posted by Darren Urban on April 4, 2013 – 10:41 am

The Cardinals have signed a pair of defensive backs: safety Curtis Taylor (who we mentioned was coming last night) and cornerback Bryan McCann. Taylor has played in 12 NFL games since he was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers back in 2009. He hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2010. He was on the 49ers’ practice squad throughout the 2012 postseason after the Raiders cut him following the 2012 preseason.

McCann played eight games for the Dolphins last season (10 tackles and a sack) after the Raiders cut him following the preseason. He was an undrafted rookie with the Cowboys in 2010, and even scored a pair of touchdowns as a rookie (on a 101-yard interception return and a 97-yard punt return). In 2011, he played in 12 games with the Cowboys, Ravens and Raiders. He can return both punts and kickoffs.

The Cards also announced running back Alfonso Smith signed his one-year exclusive rights free agent tender.

Oh, and here’s a grainy iPhone shot of Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer talking shop this morning during the Cardinals’ workouts. I assume they are talking shop. Maybe Palmer is asking Fitz where to live. Or about the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.” But you get the picture.

FitzCarsonBLOG


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Still some cap space and adding players

Posted by Darren Urban on April 3, 2013 – 6:50 pm

The NFL Players Association tweeted out a document this afternoon listing every NFL team’s cap space, and, with everything fluid this time of year (cap space changes as soon as players are added or subtracted) the Cardinals have about $8.2 million in salary cap space for their top 51. That’s not a bad situation to be in after trading for Carson Palmer. (UPDATE: There seems to be some question if that is before the Palmer deal factored in. Obviously if it hasn’t been, that will make a big difference It included Palmer already.)

The Cards did add a small piece today in former 49ers safety Curtis Taylor (the team has yet to officially announce it). I’d expect a few more similar signings over the next couple of weeks as the Cards prep for their first (voluntary) minicamp beginning April 23.

The Cards still only have 57 players after adding Palmer (and before Taylor) and they need to grow that number. There will be seven draft picks and a bunch of undrafted rookies, but again, the Cards eventually want to get to 90 players

— The Bengals claimed quarterback John Skelton, cut by the Cards Monday, off waivers Wednesday. Here’s hoping Skelton catches on as a backup. I still believe he’d already have a win in Cincinnati if Early Doucet hadn’t fallen down.

— I never wrote anything because of when it happened (and in case you were living under a rock) ex-Cards QB Kevin Kolb agreed to a deal with the Bills a few days ago. He has a chance to start there, at least as of right now.


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