Darnell Dockett has a place in Miami and spends a lot of his offseason free time in Florida. Our guys Johnny Hayward and Richard Mendez got to see and chronicle Dockett in his natural Florida habitat this past summer, which has been crafted in this nice Zoom piece below. It seemed appropriate with the Cards spending the week in the Sunshine State. It also times out well since Dockett is coming off his best game in a long time, a three-sack effort against the Saints that earned an eye-popping +8.5 grade by profootballfocus.com (as context, any grade above 2.0 is doing pretty good.)
If Darnell plays like that often — and he was going against rookie guard Tim Lelito in New Orleans, so there’s that — the Cardinals will be in good shape. Perhaps he will be inspired in Tampa, with his Florida surroundings.
Tags: Darnell Dockett
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Darnell Dockett, Instagram, NFL, Throwback Thursday
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The Cardinals have a three-year outlook for their roster, the prism in which the front office and General Manager Steve Keim views the team. That’s how they look at the salary cap, and how they evaluate contracts.
Not surprisingly, the sorting of big contracts that occurred this past offseason, contracts that were put in place before he became GM, will happen again after this season. And Keim thinks the Cards are still an offseason away from being able to get where the Cards want to be.
“There are going to be some tough decisions to be made after the season based on the numbers, just looking at the three-year view,” Keim said on a special edition of the Cardinals Underground podcast. “We will obviously have to make some tough decisions like we did this past year after the season. The one thing fans and other people don’t realize (is) there are certain contracts that bind you and you can’t do anything (with) and you have the dead money factor.
“Once we get to 2015 I feel really good where we are going to be from a salary-cap standpoint.”
Keim made tough decisions this past offseason, jettisoning Adrian Wilson, among many others. He didn’t name names. But the contracts that will likely be under the microscope aren’t hard to narrow down. Big money is owed to offensive linemen Daryn Colledge (with Earl Watford, Nate Potter and Paul Fanaika as cheaper options) and Levi Brown. Darnell Dockett is due a lot of money, although he just had a big three-sack game and dominated. Patrick Peterson is in line for an expensive extension. Larry Fitzgerald and his $18 million salary cap number might have to be reworked. None of this means the Cards have to cut people, but guys might be asked to take pay cuts. There are minefields to maneuver for Keim, and he acknowledged, the Cards are “handicapped to a degree.”
Philosophy-wise, it dovetails with Keim’s thoughts anyway. “I’ve always felt it was more important to get rid of a player a year too early than a year too late, because when players get to a certain point in his career and he starts to decline it can have a negative effect on your football team.”
(There’s Keim below, talking to Tyrann Mathieu’s parents before the Saints game. I feel confident Mathieu will not be going anywhere next year.)
The full Cardinals Underground podcast is posted right here.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, salary cap, Steve Keim
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This may be a game between the Cardinals and the Lions, but it feels like in some way, shape or form this week has been about arguably the best two wide receivers in the game (with a little Levi Brown sprinkled in.) Seeing how the Cardinals deal with Calvin Johnson – through Patrick Peterson, of course – was a natural, and then Larry Fitzgerald had to go and tweak his hamstring Wednesday and make his status a big part of the narrative.
The Lions are a better team and more importantly, in a better place, than the group that showed up to University of Phoenix Stadium last December and got pounded, 38-10. Then again, and I think this gets lost, so are the Cardinals. That Cardinals team was floundering on offense (and did so again in that game, mostly, even with the lopsided score) and on a nine-game losing streak. So it’s not like the Cards haven’t moved forward themselves.
It comes down to this: You can’t afford to start 0-2. Not in this division, not with this schedule, not with a team coming cross country to play in your home opener.
“We need a great crowd and the energy that will be there in the stadium,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Hopefully it will ignite us even more. Sometimes you use the opponent’s crowd cheering for them, but it’s nothing like when they are cheering for you.”
– Fitzgerald was asked this week if there are any matchups against a cornerback he relishes like Peterson does going against a guy like Johnson. Fitz said – no doubt knowing exactly what he meant – that it would be Peterson.
“Every day I match up with Patrick is special, in practice,” Fitzgerald said. “I have the benefit of having the top guy in my own locker room.”
We will take him at his word. Fitz did note how Peterson has gotten so much smarter as a cornerback, using safety help to create better leverage and just overall taking a step forward in the mental game when he already had a lot going for him physically. “That’s a deadly, deadly combination,” Fitz said.
– Life on an island against great receivers isn’t easy. But it can’t matter, cornerback Jerraud Powers said. “You know what you are getting into once you play this position,” Powers said. “You know some of the big-time names and guys in the league out there who have proved it, Calvin and Larry, that you know are top-notch. You have to believe in your technique and believe in your ability. They put their shoes on just like they do. You just have to have that type of confidence.”
– Big game for left tackle Levi Brown. It’s one thing to deal with speedster Robert Quinn on the turf. He’ll be back on grass, and the Lions don’t have an edge guy like Quinn. For all the focus on the Peterson-Megatron matchup, everyone knows Brown will be under the microscope too, after last week.
“We have a high expectation for that position and he has to meet that,” said offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Harold Goodwin. “(He needs to) carry over things he does in practice and take it to the game. That’s all he has to do and he’ll be fine.”
– Arians said he thought inside linebackers Jasper Brinkley and Karlos Dansby played “solid” in St. Louis, although he said Brinkley got caught in space a couple of times. Profootballfocus.com gave both good grades against the run but noted their struggles in pass coverage.
– Missed tackles were an issue last week too. “I’m not surprised,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “Probably disappointed. (The Rams) are a good football team. We just have to tackle better. We had been doing a good job of it, but we didn’t last week.”
– Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was credited with two tackles and one quarterback pressure last week, according to the coaching staff. Dockett will need to make more of an impact for this defense to really shine.
“I don’t feel I played bad,” Dockett said. “I played well in spurts. I can do better. No matter what the stats say I always feel I could have done something better. The biggest thing was creating pressure when I had one-on-one blocks, I could have done a lot better with those.”
– The Cardinals, if you wanted to know, will be wearing their red jerseys. I anticipate white pants.
– There were no fines last week for the Rams for any of the hits on Andre Roberts. But cornerback Cortland Finnegan was fined $7,875 for a late hit (I believe on Michael Floyd, that was the play Finnegan drew an unnecessary roughness flag) and so was St. Louis linebacker William Hayes, who hit someone late after the play on a punt.
– Almost a week later, Tyrann Mathieu still isn’t going to get all giddy about his forced fumble against Rams tight end Jared Cook last week. He’s much more matter-of-fact.
“It definitely boosts your confidence, let’s you know you can make plays in the NFL,” Mathieu said. “I am looking forward to making more plays like that in the NFL. It’s all about how you practice. If you practice those things, 100 percent of the time you will make those plays in games.”
I mentioned that both Arians and Hall of Famer Deion Sanders (who happens to be a Mathieu mentor) called it one of the best plays they had ever seen. Mathieu shrugged his shoulders. “If I forced a fumble and picked it up and ran it back 100 yards, that’s amazing to me,” Mathieu said. “But I understand why they said it. It was a big-time play. I’m happy those guys are rooting for me.”
OK, that’s plenty. Cards-Lions Sunday. I’ll be on pre-game radio at 10 a.m., on KTAR 92.3 FM, if you want to give a listen.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Calvin Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Darnell Dockett, Deion Sanders, Harold Goodwin, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lions, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals named their captains yesterday and the names were not a surprise. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, after a year off, was voted to be one again for the fourth time in his career (he was also captain from 2009-11). Dockett just wanted to clarify that honor (check the video below about the 2:10 mark.)
“I told my coach, ‘I’m a captain, not a role model,’ ” Dockett said. “He said, ‘You don’t have to be a role model. I want you to do what you’ve been doing, coming to work every day, leading the team, set a high tempo, never missing days, working hard, staying after practice.’ Understanding this is my 10th year, I want to get to the playoffs. I don’t have time to wait around, saying we can be good next year if this guy develops.
“(Being a captain) is an honor. I’m thankful for my teammates looking at me in that nature. I will do the best I can to lead but again, I’m not a role model. I don’t want anybody to think I’m a role model. I want to be the best leader I can possibly be on the field and off. But I’m still going to do Dockett every now and then.”
In case you were wondering, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said he was fine with the work Dockett and defensive end Calais Campbell did in camp and the preseason.
Tags: captains, Darnell Dockett
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The Cardinals have named their captains for the season, and they really come as no surprise: On defense, it is cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. On offense, it is quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. And on special teams, it is linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and kicker Jay Feely. Center Lyle Sendlein isn’t a captain for the first time in a couple of years, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind. There had been a void since there really hadn’t been a quarterback to step into that role. Palmer is definitely that guy. The choices were made through a player vote.
– Tackle Nate Potter will start playing guard as well in practice. It’s something Bruce Arians has long hinted at, but Potter is just now starting out. The more you can do …
– Tight end Rob Housler remains day-to-day with his bad ankle. He’s getting better, Arians said, but the coach added the Cards do not want this to be a lingering problem and would rather have him miss time now and knock it out than deal with it long-term. We’ll see whether Housler does anything at practice today. Otherwise, the Cards are healthy.
– Arians had his line of the day, when asked if patience was needed when judging this team out of the gate. “No,” Arians said. “I have no patience.”
– The Cardinals are just getting out to practice now (media availability this season will be before practice on Wednesdays.) More bubble work today.
Tags: captains, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Lorenzo Alexander, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler
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The depth chart, as I mentioned yesterday, can only be believed to a certain point. Things often change and are more flexible than what’s listed in one certain package (especially on the defensive side.) That’s one thing to remember when John Abraham pops up as “third string” behind Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Shaughnessy. I remember running into Bruce Arians at one point during the owners meetings in March at the Biltmore, and even then — long before Abraham, for instance — saying that he considered many more than just 22 guys “starters.” If you were in a certain package as first unit, you were a starter. Since Abraham will be on the field for nickel to rush the passer, he too is a “starter” in Arians’ eyes.
Abraham played just 27 plays the entire preseason. The Cards knew what they had in him (especially when, in just five plays in the opener, Abraham came up with a strip-sack in Green Bay.) The Cards are counting on him getting double-digit sacks this season — as he is himself — and that’s been an elusive thing for the Cards’ defense the last few years. The last time that happened was 2004, when Bertrand Berry had 14.5.
Pressure on the quarterback is always where the defense starts. The Cardinals will need Abraham. They will need the defensive linemen, especially Darnell Dockett, to up the havoc level. Calais Campbell has to be seen as a given. And elsewhere, whether it is Sam Acho or Lorenzo Alexander or Matt Shaughnessy, there has to be more. It will start with Abraham, though. That’s why he’s here.
– One more number change in addition to the ones we saw yesterday. Safety Rashad Johnson is switching from 49 to 26.
Tags: Bertrand Berry, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, John Abraham, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashad Johnson, Sam Acho
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Cardinals, Darnell Dockett, NFL
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The worst part of football is seeing some one get cut. Knowing it was a dream for a lot of them. I hope they continue no matter what!🙏
— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) August 30, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, Darnell Dockett, NFL, Twitter
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Darnell Dockett was asked if he would say hi to Ken Whisenhunt before Saturday’s game against the Chargers.
“Of course,” Dockett said of his former head coach, now San Diego’s offensive coordinator. “I have nothing against Coach Whiz. Wish him much success at San Diego. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field.”
Dockett and Whiz had butted heads at the end of last season, but time goes on. If Saturday’s game was in the regular season, if it meant something in the standings, Whisenhunt’s return to University of Phoenix Stadium would be a bigger story. It probably would help if there were some time and distance between his firing and now, too. But it’s tough not to notice too.
Patrick Peterson hasn’t forgotten he scored a touchdown on an interception in his first University of Phoenix Stadium game against the Chargers in the preseason of 2011. Reminded of that, Peterson said “hopefully I can get another pick-6 — especially on coach Whisenhunt.”
Peterson smiled. “It was a great two years with him. I’m happy for him he got another job. We miss him around here but we have a bunch of new faces that will help us turn the corner.”
Whisenhunt spoke to a couple of outlets in Arizona this week about his return trip, both with Kent Somers and Mike Jurecki. On Jurecki’s show (on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix), Whiz mostly talked about the support the fans gave him and the friends he made in the organization and said he wasn’t sure what response he will get in the stadium Saturday.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there are a lot of great memories,” Whisenhunt said. “I really don’t know. It will be different for me because it’ll be the first time I will be in the stadium where I am not a Cardinal.”
The holdover players will likely move over and greet Whiz before the game. That’s to be expected. From there, well, it is just preseason. Right?
“There will be a ceremonial dap or two, say hi,” guard Daryn Colledge said, “but then again I know he’ll have a mindset in making a point.”
As for the rest of the game – and the fact it is the “important” third preseason game on the slate:
– The starters are supposed to go into the third quarter against the Chargers. I don’t expect any surprises in the starting lineup and I’m not sure we’re going to get any changes before the opener, although Bruce Arians has not said for sure he’s settled on anything.
– Given the red-zone issues last week, that will be something very important to watch. The team worked on it again in practice Thursday and methinks the head coach needs to see progress in that area.
– The Cards were into practicing-like-it’s-regular-season-game-week mode this week, which makes sense going into the game where the starters will play the most. That included dressing linebacker Kenny Rowe in a red “93” jersey much of the week (the rest of the defense was wearing white) to know where pass rusher Dwight Freeney would be.
– Curious to see how much time Mike Thomas gets at receiver. He just showed up so he probably isn’t familiar with a ton yet. And Arians, earlier in the week, noted Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor are next up beyond the “big three” receivers for playing time. Does Thomas have to wait to get much time, at least until Denver?
– Big game for Karlos Dansby, just in terms of seeing him on the field. Didn’t play the first two weeks, probably won’t play a lot against the Broncos. But he practiced all week and this will be a good tune-up.
– If this is the game in which the main players are going to get a lot of time, does that mean Patrick Peterson gets a few offensive reps? It’s going to be very interesting to see how much time on the offensive side of the ball he does get when games begin to count.
– Ryan Williams will likely be suited up. But again, if this is about the guys in the main rotation, Williams is going to have to cut in line to get much work. And you still have to wonder how much work he can handle with one practice in three weeks.
– Larry Fitzgerald turns 30 next week and is feeling the pinch of Father Time. If you didn’t see it, here’s my story.
– The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster. They must trim to 75 by Tuesday (although I’d guess their cuts will be before then. There will be practice Monday.) If you wonder about who is getting cut, keep an eye on the players who do not get a snap against the Chargers. If you are going to release someone, you don’t want them getting hurt.
– Once, as noted by Bob Glauber deep in this piece about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, reigning Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms not only played in the fourth preseason game, but he played the whole game. As he noted, he’s not sure when the third game became the important one.
– Yet we do know, thanks to Denny Green, this game doesn’t count, but it matters. After all, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know.
Tags: Chargers, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Jaron Brown, Karlos Dansby, Ken Whisenhunt, Kenny Rowe, Kerry Taylor, Mike Thomas, Patrick Peterson, Phil Simms, Roster, Ryan Williams
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