As I come back off vacation, things are still quiet around the Cardinals’ facility. Coaches and players won’t start filtering in until next week (report day for training camp is a week from Friday, with the first practice on July 22, a week from Saturday.) This is the time when the radar gets raised for a potential veteran signing for training camp.
The Cardinals currently have one open spot on the 90-man roster, a vacancy created the last time the Cards made moves more than a month ago. Odds are that it would be more of a fringe guy to fill out a position heading into camp, a name that most won’t recognize. But it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to have someone with a better chance of making the roster. The last we heard from GM Steve Keim, the team was monitoring a bunch of veterans who were possibilities (assuming the price was right.)
There are cornerbacks out there, although if you are floating around right now, there are questions: Darrelle Revis is price v. age (and since he is already making $6 million this season and has offset language, he may not be motivated to play), Sam Shields has dealt with concussions, Brandon Flowers and Alterraun Verner are smaller. When last we heard from running back Chris Johnson, he said he was still in contact with the team. Maybe there is a guard to compete with Evan Boehm (besides rookie Dorian Johnson.)
One thing that seems certain: Adding whomever it is won’t be the only move of camp. Since Keim took over as GM, the Cardinals have averaged 18 roster moves from camp-opening week through the first cut to 75. (Again, don’t forget that a new rule means there won’t be a cut to 75 this season, only the final cut, which will take teams from 90 to 53.) The roster, through performance and injuries, will be churned soon enough.
Tags: Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, Chris Johnson, Darrelle Revis, free agency, Roster, Sam Shields, Steve Keim, training camp
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Brandon Carr went to the Ravens Thursday and Morris Claiborne to the Jets and the free-agent cornerback pool got a little smaller. But at this point, I’m not sure it makes a big difference to the Cardinals. Yes, with the defection of Marcus Cooper to the Bears, the Cardinals are going to have to find a new starter opposite Patrick Peterson. But it looks like that will be a slowly developing situation rather than an immediate fix.
There remain in-house candidates like Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams. Bethel did just take a paycut as he tries to rehab his cornerback stock (he did play well at the nickel late in the season and Bruce Arians noted that Bethel’s best spot was probably in the slot), while Williams struggled a lot as the raw, young cornerback that he is and he is far from a sure thing as a starter in this league.
But in a draft deep in cornerback talent, choosing one in the early rounds looks like the initial play. There are a few “name” cornerbacks still out there in free agency — Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, and yes, Darrelle Revis, for example — but there is a reason they are still on the market. (No, I don’t see any chance Revis would be a pickup, regardless.)
This seems headed for the same place it was last season, where Bethel and now Williams and a draft pick will get a chance to show what they have, and a veteran will be picked up at some point to be in the mix. Remember, the Cardinals added Mike Jenkins and Alan Ball in camp last year before injuries took them out (Jenkins was your starter before he hurt his knee) and the team traded for Cooper.
Tags: Alan Ball, Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Williams, Darrelle Revis, draft, free agency, Justin Bethel, Marcus Cooper, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson
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Stefon Diggs is having a pretty good rookie season for the Vikings. But he couldn’t do much of anything against Patrick Peterson Thursday night. Diggs finished with just two catches for a scant 12 yards with Peterson covering him most of the game. (Full disclosure — Peterson was flagged twice for defensive holding. Both were declined.)
Tyrann Mathieu has been fantastic this season, and he was again Thursday night. He deserves the national publicity he has received. But with the way Peterson has turned into the lockdown cornerback everyone had been waiting for since he was drafted — this is definitely is best season as a pro — and how much this team would be hurting if he wasn’t out there, Peterson would seem to have the edge as this team’s defensive MVP.
Profootballfocus.com has Peterson targeted just seven times against the Vikings, and he gave up one completion — and that was a seven-yard screen pass to Diggs. Given the play scheme, it would’ve been almost impossible for Peterson to stop the pass. For the season, PFF has Peterson targeted only 55 times in 13 games, and he’s only given up 24 catches. He’s only allowed 309 yards and one touchdown.
By comparison, (in one fewer game) Denver’s Chris Harris is at 53-37-338-0, Carolina’s Josh Norman is at 70-33-296-1, the Jets’ Darrelle Revis is 59-28-281-2 and Seattle’s Richard Sherman is at 51-26-346-1.
The debate of who the best cornerback in the league seems to have died down from where it once was, mostly because Peterson and Sherman have apparently decided not to talk about it as much anymore. Peterson is letting his play do the talking. He’s making a strong point.
Tags: Chris Harris, Darrelle Revis, Josh Norman, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Stefon Diggs, Tyrann Mathieu
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There has been — and probably will continue to be — much debate about Patrick Peterson and where he stands among NFL cornerbacks after his 2014 season. As has been well-documented, he learned he had diabetes and he had much more of an up-and-down season than anyone would have liked. Bruce Arians talked about how Peterson’s weight is in a better place, and Peterson looked sharp during offseason work.
“I didn’t like the way I played last year so I wanted to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Peterson said at the end of minicamp. “I feel like 2011 Patrick. I feel rejuvenated.”
Even with uneven play in 2014, he was still voted to the Pro Bowl, in part because of the respect he has from his peers. Along those lines, Peterson again was voted — through a player tally — into the NFL Network’s Top 1oo players list this year. Peterson was unveiled as the No. 19 player Wednesday night, which was actually a jump of three places from his spot at 22 last season. It puts him ahead of both Seattle safety Earl Thomas (who was No. 21) and Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden (No. 23), which I’m sure in both cases will lead to debate. Darrelle Revis was No. 17. As for Richard Sherman, he was voted at No. 11.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darrelle Revis, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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After Patrick Peterson made a pair of interceptions last week in Tampa, coach Bruce Arians called Peterson the best cornerback in the game. That shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It’s certainly a topic that has come up before. Peterson certainly has a lot of confidence in himself. Sometimes, he’s a little more vague about his place in the pecking order than others. Sometimes, he talks about being the best cornerback in the game or wanting to be the best cornerback in the game. It never sounds over-the-top. Most of the time, he sounds matter of fact. He said it on a recent appearance on profootballtalk.com’s daily video show.
“I definitely feel like I am the best corner in the game. I just want to continue getting better every week,” Peterson said. “I believe if I do my job to the best of my ability, which is going out there and not letting the opponent’s number one receiver to get off and have a big game, I believe we have a big opportunity of winning the ball game.”
Peterson added that if can compete going against the opponent’s best receiver every game, “then there’s no question that you are the number one defensive back in the league.”
Of course, that’s debatable. There are plenty of backers of Darrelle Revis in Tampa and Richard Sherman in Seattle. Certainly, Sherman is excellent — although it would be interesting to swap these guys around into the different defenses for which they play and see if that impacts the play. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact Peterson is one of the biggest keys on the defense. Nor the fact he aches to improve so that he can take some of the doubt out of such debates.
“He’s getting better and better, not that he wasn’t any good,” said Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, against whom Peterson will most likely match up Sunday. “He has confidence in himself and his abilities, and why would he not? His play shows it.”
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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The last time — the only time — Larry Fitzgerald went to Revis Island, it wasn’t even an island yet. It was still just young, promising cornerback Darrelle Revis, like Fitzgerald a University of Pittsburgh product and No. 1 pick of the New York Jets. Fitz had eight catches for 122 yards that day in New York, but Revis had two interceptions of Kurt Warner — returning one for a touchdown — and two pass deflections. The Jets took a 34-0 lead at halftime and ended up with a 56-35 win. Revis’ first pick was intended for tight end Ben Patrick. His second was on the final play of the game, a pass thrown to Fitz that had little meaning behind it since just a few moments before, Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin had had his jaw shattered.
Fitz and Revis hadn’t had a chance to see each other since. Last year in New York, Revis had long been down with his torn knee ligament, and it’s not like the Jets’ defense needed help on Fitz given the Cards’ bad quarterback situation. The Cards scored just six points that day.
So now Fitzgerald gets a real chance at Revis Island when the Cards visit Tampa Bay, Revis’ new home, Sunday.
“This is the best defense in general we have faced all season,” Fitzgerald said. “Darelle is playing at an elite level as always. I don’t see any difference in his play.”
Revis has played since the opener coming off his knee surgery. He plays a Fitzgerald who is practicing fully this week after suffering his hamstring pull. Fitz had a team-best five catches and 64 yards in New Orleans, but certainly, it wouldn’t hurt if the Cards could use him more and surely, Fitz would like that himself.
“I know Larry very well,” Revis said. “I know him personally and it’s cool, it’s competition, I’ve played him before, a couple years ago. I’m excited he’s healthy and I’m excited he’s back (from injury), so it’s going to be fun. Whoever I line up on — You never know, I might not line up on Larry — but whatever the game plan is and what we’re doing is for us to execute a winning game.”
One interesting coincidence: The last time Fitzgerald and Revis played against each other? It came at the end of the Cardinals spending a week away from Arizona between games on the East coast — just like this week.
Tags: Buccaneers, Darrelle Revis, Jets, Larry Fitzgerald
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Patrick Peterson was blunt when asked about wanting to have an NFL “island” as a cornerback, a la Darrelle Revis. “I don’t want an island,” he said. “I want a universe.” Alrighty then. That’s a pretty big area. You have to assume, in such a universe, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would have to be part of the equation.
Just what will the Cardinals have with the DRC/PP combination – not yet forgetting Greg Toler, who won’t have the draft pedigree of the other two but arguably will be the best tackler? (We have yet to see what Peterson brings to the table in terms of tackling, but for now, keep the DRC comments to yourself.)
Because neither has been around, it’s difficult to get a feel for how the duo – or trio, including Toler – will fit together. Here’s what we know: DRC acknowledged last season he didn’t play as well as he could or should have, and he must improve (note I didn’t say “master”) the art of tackling. Toler can play physically, but he remains raw as a cornerback. Peterson has to learn the NFL game period.
The last time the Cards took a cornerback high in the draft, Antrel Rolle certainly entered a different situation. The starting cornerbacks at the time were David Macklin and Robert Tate, and with all due respect to those guys, DRC and Toler are a better duo. The year the Cards took Rolle, they also took Eric Green in the third round, which shows you how much they needed cornerbacks. Rolle was late arriving to camp but was still going to jump into the lineup sooner rather than later; this was Dennis Green as coach. He had no problem thrusting rookies in the lineup. Peterson has Ken Whisenhunt as coach, and if anything, Whisenhunt has shown he’ll slow it down for rookies and playing time if he has a feasible alternative and Toler qualifies.
(Toler, at the least, should be able to be a solid nickel cornerback in a league where three cornerbacks are often needed.)
One thing is guaranteed, and that’s the confidence both DRC and Peterson own. Perfect for their position, and necessary. As has been noted many times, whomever plays cornerback will need a steady pass rush to achieve high-profile status. But if DRC can take his 2009 season and ratchet it up, and Peterson becomes the player everyone keeps saying he should be, high expectations should be the bar the two are able to reach.
Tags: Antrel Rolle, Darrelle Revis, David Macklin, Dennis Green, DRC, Eric Green, Greg Toler, Ken Whisenhunt, Patrick Peterson, Robert Tate
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