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Skittles, taste the victory

Posted by since1898 on December 23, 2013 – 9:31 am

BACK TO #since1898

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After tragedy, Dan Williams goes back home

Posted by Darren Urban on December 13, 2013 – 10:00 am

In September, Dan Williams’ family — his father, mother and sister — were driving from their home in Memphis to New Orleans to watch Williams and the Cardinals play the Saints when they were in a bad accident. Thomas Williams was killed.

This weekend, Dan Williams, who missed a couple of games while being with his family and attending the funeral, will head back (close to) home when the Cardinals play at Tennessee in Nashville. The nose tackle insists it will not be emotional for him.

“Just seeing my family and friends will be great,” Williams said. “I know what happened earlier, but I am pretty much past that. I love my dad and mom. But things in life happen. My mom is getting stronger every day. A lot of my high school and college buddies will be out there, cousins, family members. I am glad to have family I can count on and will be glad to see me play.”

Williams said his sister recovered quickly. His mother is doing well too, surrounded by her Williams’ grandmother and aunts. “I talk to her every day,” Williams said. “She sounds happy on the phone, she is getting better mentally too, and I couldn’t ask for anything better. There is a lot of family near her.”

Williams, who played college ball at the University of Tennessee, also is optimistic about the game. “I’ve never lost in Nashville before in a game that counted,” he said with a smile.


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Panthers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 6, 2013 – 7:17 pm

Larry Fitzgerald was asked what he could say about the defense.

“You can’t say enough about the defense,” the Pro Bowl wide receiver said.

It was an impressive showing Sunday. It’s one thing to beat up a rookie QB like Mike Glennon. But Cam Newton had been playing pretty well, and while the Panthers got a few

yards, they didn’t get points, and the big plays were everywhere. If this team gets inside linebacker play from Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby like that, it won’t need nearly as much from its outside linebackers. Calais Campbell was a beast too. (And I really, really like what I have seen from new nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Dan Williams played well too. Nice to have some strength at the point of attack.)

We’ll get back to the defense in a moment, though.

It was hard not to notice Fitzgerald and the way he took on his press conference, clearly tussling with the mixed emotions of a victory yet knowing a) the offense didn’t play very well again and b) he was going to have to answer questions about it. Again.

He said the win helped “keeps you sane a little bit.” Then Fitz chuckled that knowing chuckle – did he learn that from Anquan once upon a time – when you can’t really say what you want to say. “We’ve got to get better.”

Then he was asked if he was surprised points are so hard to come by. “How surprised am I? Um. I don’t want to answer that. Uh.” And then another smiling chuckle. “I’m, I’m, um. We’ve got to do better.”

The Cardinals are 3-2 and the fact Bruce Arians went to the run a bit more Sunday is a good sign, because the passing game is having more ups and downs than they want. Can it get fixed? More importantly, will it be effective enough for the San Francisco-Seattle five-day twosome the Cards have next week? They better hope so.

– I’ll say this: If the Cards can perform this way defensively, they should at least be in games. Washington’s return was impressive, but the fact Dansby was everywhere was too. Dansby is a smart football player. He might not always have the speed anymore to get to where he wants to be, but he knows where he should be. That duo played the whole game at inside linebacker. Yes, Jasper Brinkley was hurt, but I think we know what direction the Cards are going there. Kevin Minter, barring injury, is going to be waiting a while before he gets to play defense.

Washington did miss four weeks, right?

– That’s two straight outstanding games for Patrick Peterson, I thought, and he almost broke that interception return.

– The pressure was intense often on Carson Palmer. It was mostly on the interior Arians said, and I tend to agree. Bradley Sowell was fine at left tackle, but we all knew the next two games were going to be a stiffer test.

– I think it probably went through the coaches’ minds to use Drew Stanton Sunday. I didn’t think they would both because Palmer tends to rally – and he did, for a second straight week, throw a late TD pass – and because that’s an open can of worms that changes a season regardless of what happens. But it’s not like they have a rookie behind Palmer. And we all know the trust Arians has in Stanton. Something to watch if Palmer continues to struggle.

– The Cardinals hadn’t had seven sacks in a game since they had eight against Dallas Sept. 13, 1987. For those scoring at home, that’s the last season in St. Louis for the franchise.

– Calais Campbell’s sack for a safety was the Cards’ first regular-season safety since 2004. Yes, they had one more recently – the infamous Steelers hold in the end zone giving the Cards two (important) points in Super Bowl XLIII.

– If there was a way to wed a punter and gunner together in a Pro Bowl category, there would be votes for Dave Zastudil and Justin Bethel. By the way, a 48.3 net average for Zastudil Sunday with two of four inside the 20.

– The game might have been different if the Panthers didn’t have four drops, including one sure TD by Steve Smith on the first drive of the game. Three instead of seven. The Cards will take it.

– Arians said it was Michael Floyd’s fault on the first interception, the reasoning being if the Cards are going to call for a jump ball, the receiver has to at least knock it down. Sounds fair.

– Antoine Cason sighting: The veteran cornerback has not played defense much at all, but he was in the right place when Campbell had his second sack, and Cason grabbed the ball in the air and returned it inside the Carolina 10.

“I haven’t played a lot,” Cason said. “But whenever they call me to play, that’s what I come to do. Don’t complain. Just go to work.”

– I could go forever but there will be more tomorrow. San Francisco week beckons.

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Washington to start, and other Arians notes

Posted by Darren Urban on September 30, 2013 – 12:48 pm

Bruce Arians just held his day-after presser. Some of the highlights:

– Linebacker Daryl Washington, returning to the roster this week after his four-game suspension, will go right into the starting lineup. “That one’s easy,” Arians said. Karlos Dansby will likely be the other inside linebacker starter.

– Special teams was excellent. The defense was excellent. The offense, Arians said, “was putrid.” Asked if this offense usually takes this amount of time, Arians shook his head. “I haven’t seen it take this long ever.”

– Arians said the injuries suffered Sunday (Dockett, Colledge, Brinkley, So’oto) wouldn’t be updated until Wednesday but he called them “minor.” That doesn’t mean they won’t miss practice time. After last week’s rash of season-enders, the Cards will take it. Linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring) should return this week.

– Nose tackle Dan Williams is due to return to Arizona Tuesday night after missing the past week or so because of his father’s death.

– The pass protection was better, Arians said, but not good enough. He said QB Carson Palmer would have had to make some “superhuman throws” because of some of the pressure.

– Asked his thoughts on Dashon Goldson’s hit on Jaron Brown, Arians said it was “totally illegal, just like he always does.”

– Arians said outside linebacker John Abraham played his best game and looked particularly good against the run. That would be a great development for the Cardinals if Abraham can keep it up.

– Arians clearly wasn’t thrilled with the Buccaneers crashing hard on the Cards during their final kneeldown at the end of Sunday’s game. Tampa and coach Greg Schiano have raised eyebrows before with the tactic. “That’s their style,” Arians said. “I’ve got no comment on it.”

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Some notes before the rainy practice

Posted by Darren Urban on September 25, 2013 – 9:13 am

The Cardinals are heading out to their first day of practice for the week and it is going to be a very wet one. The rain has not let up.

“Anybody got a boat we can borrow,” coach Bruce Arians said to open his press conference.

In a perfect world, it wouldn’t be raining. Not like this. But Arians said the Cards will make the best of it. In the meantime, here are some notes before I head out myself and try to take a few pictures:

– The Cardinals officially put LB Alex Okafor on season-ending IR with his torn biceps tendon. LB Kenny Demens has been promoted from the practice squad. The Cards also added WR Devon Wylie to the practice squad.

– Okafor said he possibly could’ve played with the injury but decided he has too much football left in his career to risk something like that, so he decided to get it taken care of.

– NT Dan Williams will not play Sunday. His father’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

– Arians said he doesn’t plan on using any inside linebackers on the outside. We’ll see if that can hold up given the circumstances.

– The Cardinals will face a rookie QB Sunday. The Buccaneers benched starter Josh Freeman today for draft pick Mike Glennon. That should benefit this injury-ravaged defense.

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Saints aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2013 – 5:59 pm

In the end, Sunday felt a little like the last time the Cardinals went to New Orleans, when Tim Hightower ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run on the opening possession and you were thinking, “OK, now, this will be interesting” and it really wasn’t. The Cards were more deliberate on their first drive this time around but the result was the same, and you were thinking, “OK now …” only the offense kept sputtering. There were too many trips without points to not have it end up adversely affecting the team.

A lot of those out there jumped on the defense, but sorry, I can’t see it. Did the unit finish? No. was there still too much poor tackling, leading to bad situations? Yes. But the defense was doing its job much of the game. Jimmy Graham proved too much – I wonder if the injuries (more below) might have impacted that – but the Cards weren’t giving up anything on the ground and had mostly stumped a pretty good offense. Eventually, though, the Cards’ own offense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain.

Now it’s on to Florida for the week. “We need to make sure it’s (good to be away),” QB Carson Palmer said. “We need to make sure this is a crisp week. We have a chance to get back to 2-2, a chance to play against Carolina at home, a chance to get a win against a team that is struggling a little bit.

“The veterans need to make sure this is work week. We are there to work.”

– Bruce Arians was not specific about the injuries suffered by the Cardinals during the game, but he sounded grim when he said “it’s not good.” Given that three defensive starters left the game in linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (foot), safety Rashad Johnson (finger) and linebacker Sam Acho (ankle), that wouldn’t bode well. Acho tweeted out a picture of himself in a boot saying “God has a plan.” Those aren’t usually the words spoken – even for someone devoted to his faith like Acho – by a guy who might miss a week. We’ll see.

– Palmer was pressured, too much according to Arians (although the Saints have a better pass rush than I gave them credit for.)  He didn’t look sharp regardless. The first interception was just a bad throw to tight end Rob Housler, Palmer admitted.

– Alfonso Smith got off to a great start, gaining 27 yards on three carries on the first drive, including a touchdown. He didn’t get another carry and played sparingly if at all on offense the rest of the way. Andre Ellington got a ton of work again behind Rashard Mendenhall.

– In the grand scheme, it didn’t mean much but the Cards, after scoring the opening TD, allowed the Saints to get one on their own first possession. “You score a touchdown you don’t like it answered with a touchdown,” Arians said.

– Larry Fitzgerald looked OK dealing with his hamstring. Led the team in catches and yards (5-64). The week of little practice seemed to make a difference.

– Who were the two guys most brought up during the week by the Cards as the ones to watch for? Graham and Darren Sproles. Who were the catalysts for the Saints? Graham and Sproles.

– Can’t discount Drew Brees and his ability to move in the pocket. He was sacked four times but he seemed to somehow escape about four others, turning them into gains either by running or passing. Those are always gut-punchers for the defense.

– A lot of this, of course, seems pretty trivial given the horrible news about Dan Williams. Arians said the team is keeping their collective thoughts and prayers with Williams. That’s all it can really do.

That’s it from Florida. We’ll have all the coverage out here for the week as the Cards will try to bounce back against the Bucs.

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Dan Williams loses his father

Posted by Darren Urban on September 22, 2013 – 8:32 am

In sad news, nose tackle Dan Williams lost his father after Thomas Williams was killed in a car accident. Williams did not make the trip to New Orleans and will not play today. Williams’ family was driving to New Orleans from Memphis to see the game. Williams’ mother and sister were also in the car and survived.

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and running back Rashard Mendenhall will play, as expected. With Rob Housler active for the first time, rookie tight end D.C. Jefferson will be inactive for the first time. Newcomer Alameda Ta’amu will play in Williams’ place. Rookie linebacker Alex Okafor is active for the first time this season. Also inactive today:

– LB Kevin Minter (hamstring)

– RB Ryan Williams

– QB Ryan Lindley

– T Bobby Massie

– G Earl Watford

RB Mark Ingram is inactive for the Saints.

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Dan Williams questionable with family matter

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2013 – 5:15 pm

Nose tackle Dan Williams did not make the trip to New Orleans because of a family matter and so is officially listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Saints. If Williams can’t go, it makes sense that the Cardinals would make newcomer Alameda Ta’amu active for the first time since picking him up on waivers.


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Arians the day after

Posted by Darren Urban on September 9, 2013 – 11:29 am

Bruce Arians just met with the media, and the locker room will be open in about 10 minutes. So, before then, some quick notes:

– Left tackle Levi Brown had some technique problems and needs to play better. But Arians said he didn’t think the offensive line play was “the end of the world.” He also said on two of the sacks Brown gave up a running back should have helped with a chip and went out into the pass pattern too early. Clearly, a change is not coming. But Arians is aware of it. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the most negative thing was the pressure on the quarterback and the sacks and the turnovers,” Arians said.

– The Cardinals got out the game “clean,” Arians said, although he said tight end Rob Housler (ankle) would probably miss another game.

– He thought the defense did well in a couple of key stands, especially after turnovers. Obviously the pass rush was a problem. He said he liked the push provided up front by Dan Williams and Calais Campbell. It was hard not to notice he did not mention Darnell Dockett, who did not seem to show up much Sunday. Pass-rush-wise, Arians said too many players forgot about the proper technique like going with power moves instead of speed they might not have had. “Don’t all of a sudden go rogue” and forget your strengths, Arians said.

– Clearly Arians wasn’t thrilled with kicker Jay Feely, who not only missed the 50-yard field goal but “was poor on kickoffs.” The early squib kickoffs of Feely were not planned, Arians said. But Arians also said the Cardinals were not planning on looking at any other kickers right now. “We looked at the best kicker” available, Arians said in a reference to Dan Carpenter. It’s also notable that Feely, as a vested veteran, is guaranteed his $1.5 million salary now that he was on the roster the first week.

– Arians said the Feely miss, and the other red-zone visit that resulted in a Feely field goal instead of a touchdown, ultimately were scoring opportunities that cost the Cards the game.

– Arians talked about how the Cards had correctable problems for the most part. After the loss, he said he was “disappointed? Yes. Discouraged? Not at all.”

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Two waiver claims add offensive, defensive linemen

Posted by Darren Urban on September 1, 2013 – 2:00 pm

The Cardinals ended up with two linemen today awarded on waiver claims: tackle Bradley Sowell (late of the Colts) and defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu (cut by the Steelers). The corresponding cuts were linebacker Kenny Demens (who is practice squad eligible) and cornerback Bryan McCann (which takes the Cards down to six cornerbacks).

Bringing in a nose tackle-type like Ta’amu is no surprise. The Cards had been looking for one behind Dan Williams. Adding another offensive tackle is interesting, since the Cards already have four on the roster. You have to wonder if they check out Sowell, see if he fits their bill, and then choose between him and another (Nate Potter, perhaps?) Sowell had also been used sometimes to line up as a tight end with the Colts — I’m sure in jumbo packages — so there’s that aspect. He played 10 games last year for the Colts, so offensive coordinator/O-line coach Harold Goodwin and coach Bruce Arians are both very familiar with him.

The release of Ta’amu was notable in Pittsburgh. He was a fourth-round pick in 2012 who didn’t have much of a rookie season after being involved in an auto accident after which he was placed on probation. The Cardinals now have six defensive linemen and 10 offensive linemen.

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