A recent ESPN Insider article breaking down the holes remaining for each NFC West team marked tight end as the spot in which the Cards have a question mark. Some of that — much of that — has to do with the scheme of new coach Bruce Arians and the fact he likes to use two tight ends. Arians has made that abundantly clear.
The main focus will be the play of Rob Housler, in many ways. Arians has said, as Steelers OC, he considered Housler as a big wide receiver prospect when he was coming out for the draft. Does that color his perspective for Housler as tight end? Housler definitely has potential skills as a seam threat. He remains a work-in-progress as a blocker. This is a big year for him. Veteran Jeff King remains in the final year of his contract. He’s coming off recent knee surgery and hasn’t been practicing but the hope is he will be back soon (Veterans have next week off completely, and the final four OTAs take place the first week of June, when King could return.) Jim Dray played a little fullback last season when Anthony Sherman was hurt, has been good on special teams and has turned into a solid seventh-round pick from 2010. Those are your top three tight ends right now.
The Cards drafted D.C. Jefferson in the seventh round this year, and he certainly looks the part, especially of a pass catcher. But the former quarterback — he didn’t become a tight end until getting to Rutgers — is definitely raw at this point. And it’s tough to figure out if he can block yet given that the Cards aren’t in pads and in shorts. They also have holdover Kory Sperry, who was on the roster part of last season, and recent inexperienced signees Alex Gottlieb and Kyle Auffray.
There are a few tight ends still out there, but probably not an upgrade. Dallas Clark? The Colts let him walk away last year as Arians was coming in as offensive coordinator. Kellen Winslow? Injuries have robbed him of what he provided. Chris Cooley, again, another older player who may not have much left. It’s not like the Cards aren’t doing their due diligence on these guys and if they felt bringing someone in would be worth it, they would — could you doubt that after all the changes this offseason?
That said, I could see them adding someone later, after they get an offseason to sort out what they have.
Tags: Alex Gottlieb, Bruce Arians, Chris Cooley, D.C. Jefferson, Dallas Clark, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Kellen Winslow, Kory Sperry, Kyle Auffray, Rob Housler
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It’s a Friday, and I wanted to try to get back to the late afternoon, wrap-up of the week blogs that I had been doing last season. Big weekend for the Cards, especially going into the bye. There is such a huge difference between 2-1 and 1-2, knowing that with the latter it means an 0-2 record at a home field the Cards thought they could turn into a 6-2 or 7-1 massive advantage. With the Texans, Panthers, Vikings and Packers still left on the home schedule, that’d be a rough goal with a loss Sunday.
But I feel good about this one for the Cards, and I’d like to believe it’s not because I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. This is the kind of game in which these Cards tend to thrive, on national TV, at home, against a good team (and one that many are picking to win on the road). I’ll guess we’ll see Sunday night.
— Coach Ken Whisenhunt on getting hyped for “Sunday Night Football”: “It all started many years ago with the Monday Night games when there were no other games and everybody was watching and you knew everyone was watching,” Whisenhunt said. “Now, it’s Sunday night and the emphasis put on it, it’s the same thing. There is so much more coverage with the NFL than there ever has been which is great. But when you are the only game playing and it is on national TV, your juices do get flowing.
“Now, our team gets excited for 1 o’clock games on Sunday. We’re not just going through the motions. But there is a little bit different air. Everyone talks about how the speed and intensity picks up with the playoffs. Well it’s like that when you play a Sunday night game or a Monday night game.”
— The Cardinals catch a break with Colts stud safety Bob Sanders still out. The Colts’ defense is simply better when Sanders plays. I’ve noticed that over the years watching them from afar. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it just changes the complexion, beyond just what Sanders does tangibly. It’s a lot like when Adrian Wilson is missing for the Cards (see: Jets and Favre against the Cards’ D, 2008).
— This will be Kurt Warner’s 34th consecutive start for the Cards. Never thought he’d reach such heights, but with the dings he plays with, it makes his record-setting game last week even more amazing – even if he says he feels he “stole” the record because of how the game played out.
— I am much more worried about what tight end Dallas Clark will do against the Cards than Reggie Wayne. I think the Cardinals can deal with a top receiver. They don’t see good tight ends often.
— This stat has been making the rounds: If you include playoff games, the Cardinals are 17-0 under Whisenhunt when they hold an advantage in the turnover battle. When they are even, they are 3-2. When they have more turnovers than the other guys, they are 1-15. Guess we know what stat to look at to analyze the end. (That one victory when losing the turnover battle? The electrifying overtime win over the Cowboys last season, when the Cards scored twice on special teams – the ultimate equalizer. Thanks for that off-the-top-of-the-head info, Little Whiz).
— Anquan Boldin needs 61 yards receiving to move into fourth place in the franchise’s history. As of today, Boldin is 1,913 yards shy of Roy Green’s top mark of 8,497.
— This is a huge test for this defense. They have had two pretty decent games (although I don’t think they were thrilled with the fourth quarter in either outing). But last year, the D surrendered 13 and 10 points in the first two games, respectively, and that didn’t hold up. They aren’t going to shut out Peyton Manning. But they have to slow him.
That’s it. Time to go spend some time with the family. Going to take in a football game at the high school where my wife teaches, and count on the Cards being ready in that atmosphere Sunday night. I haven’t been on the field pre-game yet this season, but I think we’ll have to give that a go this week. When you go to a Super Bowl, these are the games you’re supposed to be part of the next season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Anquan Boldin, Bob Sanders, Colts, Dallas Clark, Ken Whisenhunt, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Sunday Night Football
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