The Cardinals will still be without nose tackle Dan Williams today against the Lions. David Carter
should will get the start in his place. It hurts the run defense, which has struggled anyway, but the Lions do not have a great running game anyway. Tight end Rob Housler is active, so that helps — he is a favorite target of rookie starting QB Ryan Lindley. Speaking of quarterbacks, newcomer Brian Hoyer is, as expected, inactive. John Skelton will back up Lindley.
The other inactives:
– S James Sanders (calf)
– WR Early Doucet (concussion)
– TE Kory Sperry
– DE Ronald Talley (ankle)
– G Senio Kelemete
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Dan Williams, David Carter, Early Doucet, inactives, James Sanders, Kory Sperry, Rob Housler, Ronald Talley, Ryan Lindley, Senio Kelemete
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No surprise, but defensive end Calais Campbell won’t play today with his bad calf. David Carter will get the start instead, and he’ll get a big chance to show his advances at the new position. It’ll also be another missed game for tight end Todd Heap, who is still dealing with a knee injury.
The other inactives:
– QB Kevin Kolb (ribs)
– WR LaRon Byrd
– LB Jamaal Westerman (meaning undrafted rookie Zack Nash is the only backup outside linebacker behind Sam Acho and Quentin Groves)
– G Senio Kelemete
– T Pat McQuistan
For the Falcons, wide receiver Julio Jones is playing despite missing all week of practice with an ankle sprain. I can’t imagine he’ll be anything but limited today. Starting linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who also has an ankle sprain, is sitting.
Tags: Calais Campbell, David Carter, inactives, Jamaal Westerman, Julio Jones, Kevin Kolb, LaRon Byrd, Pat McQuistan, Senio Kelemete, Todd Heap
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No Darnell Dockett. That’s the very real possibility Sunday because of his hamstring injury. As Darnell mentioned to me in the locker room after the Eagles game, “Every now and then, even the Hulk gets wounded.” The Cards’ version of the Hulk has missed exactly one game since he got into the league in 2004. That’s 135 games played in 136 opportunities, including playoffs, and he started 134 of them. (He missed a 2010 game with a shoulder problem, the Cards lost.) The Cards can overcome an absence, I’d think. They did pretty well last week when safety Adrian Wilson had to sit out.
“If that’s the case, they’ll step up. That’s kind of the mentality of that group,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. The Cards have Vonnie Holliday, Nick Eason and even David Carter who could probably play some. Besides, you never know what DC Ray Horton might cook up.
The injury situation will be interesting, not only because the Cards have a bunch of guys that could sit, but also because the Cards have a short week next week – they play Thursday night in St. Louis. Asked if the schedule might dictate how he would make inactive decisions for this game (for instance, resting a guy because he wouldn’t have as much recovery time) Whisenhunt said that hasn’t been the approach.
“I can’t say that wouldn’t change maybe as we got closer to the game,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t anticipate it changing. We’re focused on this game and I’m not really worried about the Thursday game right now. I think that’s the way you have to approach it.”
– The spotlight will be on the Cards’ running game. The Dolphins are allowing less than three yards a carry and are third in the NFL in run defense. The Cards are averaging less than three yards a carry on offense. Ryan Williams, what say you?
– The Dolphins are also fourth in the league in rushing, not a surprise because when you have a rookie QB like Ryan Tannehill, you are going to effort to run the ball. Reggie Bush, who has broken out as a back since going to Miami, is questionable with a sore knee. Word from Miami is that Bush is expected to play. Holliday made the point earlier this week the Cards’ defense, as well as it has played, needs to do better against the run. Here’s a big chance.
– History said last week that Larry Fitzgerald always did well against the Eagles, and then he went out against the Eagles and played well again. The sample size is much smaller against the Dolphins, but the highlights are there. In 2008, Fitz, Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner riddled Miami with shots in a 31-10 home win. Fitz ended that day with six catches for 153 yards – that was the first day the whole Todd Haley ridding the Cards of the “one-trick pony” and a guy who never got yards after the catch finally took hold. Fitz was a monster (Boldin had six for 140 too, with three touchdowns.)
The other Fitz-Miami game was less spectacular but more memorable. It was 2004, Fitz’s rookie year, and he made a two-yard jump-ball touchdown catch with 19 seconds left to beat the Dolphins, 24-23. Fitz had five catches for 92 yards that day, and the Cards snapped a 17-game road losing streak (Ah yes, those were the days). Mostly from that game I remember Fitz’s post-game presser. Those were the days when Fitz often left the locker room before reporters even got there. With the game-winner he was made to come into the interview room for what might have been the most awkward presser ever. I think Fitz delivered very few short sentence answers before it mercifully ended. He’s come a long way since then.
– Calais Campbell went to the University of Miami, although he doesn’t see facing the Dolphins as an big deal because of that (now, the Denver Broncos for the Aurora, Colorado, native is something different.) That said, Campbell has a long memory. Before the Cardinals took Campbell in the second round of the 2008 draft, the Dolphins could have taken him but instead took Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling. Merling is now in Green Bay, having washed out as a Dolphin.
“I was a little bit mad about that,” Campbell said. “I definitely want to make sure they regret the decision. I love being in Arizona, I don’t think I’d do well in Miami, but I know one thing, I want them to regret not drafting me. I’m sure they already feel that way, but I want to make them feel it even more.”
– For those wondering, Scott Green – who is the head of the referees’ union, is scheduled to officiate Sunday’s game. (He was the ref for the Cardinals-Packers wild-card playoff game in 2010 too. Karlos Dansby must be happy.)
– Speaking of Karlos, he was also a good guy. He also was one of those players that always dropped a “Know what I’m sayin’?” every third sentence. It was kind of his calling card. But the one I remember most is when I went to ask him for his reaction that then-teammate Sean Morey had agreed to donate his brain to research after his death in an effort to find out about potential brain effects that come with playing in the NFL. Karlos didn’t hesitate.
“That’s huge, man,” he said.
Indeed, it was.
– Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said stud pass rusher Cameron Wake has played very well this season and is pressuring the quarterback often. Wake, however, has yet to record a sack. The tackles will have to hold up against Wake, who could have been a Cardinal. After lighting up the CFL, Wake worked out for the Cardinals in late 2008 as a potential outside linebacker. The Cards ended up passing, and Wake didn’t latch on anywhere until Miami signed him in the offseason – and where he had notched 28 sacks in three seasons before this one.
– Since Whisenhunt arrived in 2007, the Cardinals are 27-5 in games in which they have carried a lead into the fourth quarter.
– Kevin Kolb, with a passer rating of 108.6, is the third-ranked passer in the NFL behind Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger. Raise your hand if you saw that coming.
– Congrats, by the way, to the Kolbs for the arrival of Saylor. Family time intact, and no missed games.
– The Cardinals, over their last 11 games, have allowed a mere 1.33 touchdowns per game. Wonder if Tannehill knows that.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Cameron Wake, Darnell Dockett, David Carter, Dolphins, Karlos Dansby, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Nick Eason, Ryan Tannehill, Vonnie Holliday
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Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.
Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.
But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.
QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)
RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.
FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”
WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.
TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.
OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.
DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.
LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.
DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.
ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Adam Snyder, Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, D'Anthony Batiste, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, David Carter, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, Jim Dray, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Nick Eason, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Rich Ohrnberger, Rob Housler, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stewart Bradley, Todd Heap, Vonnie Holliday, William Gay, William Powell
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Quarterback Kevin Kolb was talking about how coach Ken Whisenhunt treats the players fairly, not overworking them usually. “We have to reward him with a better effort.”
Practice sure seemed more intense Monday afternoon after the Cards had a disappointing game in Kansas City. There was a scuffle between defensive lineman David Carter and center Scott Wedige and some various whoops and hollering, and the battling went all the way down to the late part of the two-minute drill, when Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson went up for a jump ball in the end zone and while it looked like Peterson had it at first, Fitz wasn’t going to give up the battle as they fell to the ground.
As for the offensive woes of late, answers are at a premium. “If we knew, maybe practice today would have been a little better,” Kolb said. “I’ve been a lot of places and you go through funks like this. To be honest a lot of time it happens in practice a lot when the defense, they know route concepts and stuff like that. You just keep pushing through, trust your keys and keep working hard.”
– The Cardinals made a move in the lineup Monday, with D’Anthony Batiste taking over as first-string right tackle from Jeremy Bridges, who then took Batiste’s place as second-string right guard. No way to know what it means yet — coach Ken Whisenhunt is next available at lunch tomorrow — but at a position where everyone was waiting for a Bridges-versus-Bobby Massie fight, it was an interesting development.
– Sitting out with injuries were FB Jared Crank (neck), CB Michael Adams (hamstring), WR LaRon Byrd (shoulder), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (undisclosed) and LB Paris Lenon (ankle).
Tags: Bobby Massie, D'Anthony Batiste, David Carter, Jared Crank, Jeremy Bridges, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Michael Adams, Paris Lenon, Scott Wedige, training camp
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This time of year, everyone is always asking me, among other things, what player do I think is going to break out during whatever season is approaching.
(And when I say everyone, it’s mostly when I am doing radio interviews, although some fans will ask from time to time.)
There’s always the matter of defining just who can be a breakout candidate. To me, it’s a guy who has only been in the league a short time. Usually it’s a guy who just completed his rookie season, although it could be a player who has been around a bit longer. There was a point early on when Adrian Wilson was my pick a couple of seasons in a row. Alan Branch was a popular choice. This year, it’s tough to get away from a couple of potentials: tight end Rob Housler and running back Ryan Williams. Williams, of course, has to prove himself healthy. Housler has to battle a lot of guys at tight end to make sure he gets playing time.
But others are intriguing. Sure, Patrick Peterson is a Pro Bowl punt returner, but he still has to prove a lot at cornerback — and having him take a big step forward there is certainly possible this year. The Cards wouldn’t mind if either Dan Williams or David Carter really established themselves at nose tackle.
It’s not always simple, though, not like Steve Breaston going from eight catches in 2007 to a 1,000-yard receiver in 2008. Still, this is the time of year when you mull such possibilities.
P.S. I will be doing a pre-camp live chat tomorrow — Tuesday — at 11 a.m. Arizona time (that’s 2 p.m. in the East) right here. We can talk breakout guys or whatever you might want. We’re only a week away.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Dan Williams, David Carter, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Steve Breaston, training camp
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Tight end Todd Heap should play Sunday and perhaps show up on the offensive radar after all these weeks battling the bad hamstring.
“I think we are finally going to see the real Todd this week,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said after practice. “So hopefully he’ll have a chance to make some plays and we can see the guy we were excited about.”
Heap played a full game in St. Louis two weeks ago and a couple of plays against the Eagles. Other than that, Heap has been out since getting hurt Oct. 2 and he doesn’t have a catch since then.
In other injury news, Whiz said punter Dave Zastudil, who hurt his bicep trying to tackle Dez Bryant last weekend, should be fine. The Cards did work out a couple of punters Thursday as a contingency, but it doesn’t look like it will matter. And while linebacker Joey Porter may not be “all the way there yet,” Whisenhunt said, he will be available for the game if needed. “We are to the point that if he had to play, he could play,” Whisenhunt said,
Safety Kerry Rhodes will probably be a game-day decision, Whiz added, but it seems he might be a little further away.
– Defensive coordinator Ray Horton was asked if he was happy with the play of Dan Williams’ replacements at nose tackle, Nick Eason and David Carter. “Am I happy?” Horton repeated. “Does that mean satisfied? Does that mean elated?” Told it meant “satisfied,” Horton said he was. “We have the rotation and we are doing what we need to be doing.”
Tags: Dave Zastudil, David Carter, Nick Eason, Ray Horton, Todd Heap
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Ken Whisenhunt acknowledged Friday that, when Kevin Kolb got hurt originally, as bad as it looked, “you knew at that time there would be a time period to come back.” And there has been. Kolb did some work this week, but Whiz said Friday his next test would be the plane flight to St. Louis.
“Getting the rust off was what was important this week,” Whisenhunt said. “Seeing if he could play from the standpoint of practicing one day and see how it reacted the next day.”
What does this all mean? I suppose we could see Kolb Sunday. He is questionable after all. But Whiz also emphasized how important feet are to a quarterback – you can’t have him be a sitting duck back there – and given that he was limited all week after not practicing at all the previous three weeks, signs again seem to point to a John Skelton start.
That would be good for Skelton, to be honest. No way you want a young quarterback’s last taste during a season to be what transpired in San Francisco. That kind of ugliness – and how it noticeably affected Skelton, compared to how he usually is – needs to be flushed. Besides, if you are unsure of where Kolb is, what’s waiting one more week?
(Just in time for the pass rushes of the Cowboys and 49ers the next two games, by the way, albeit at home.)
We’ll see. Otherwise, it’s Rams Part II:
– Larry Fitzgerald tends to avoid talking specific criticisms, but he was blunt in calling the offense’s third-down conversions a “problem.” The Cards converted just one of 11 tries in San Francisco and “that’s unacceptable,” Fitzgerald said. “The plays are there, we have to be able to execute them.”
Overall, the Cards have converted a shade more than 30 percent of their third downs this season. Their last four games, it is 11-for-46, or 24 percent.
– You never want key cogs to go down with season-ending injuries (Everyone would have liked to see what the offense would have looked like with running back Ryan Williams or the defense with cornerback Greg Toler), but with nose tackle Dan Williams out, I would like to see how well rookie David Carter does. Veteran Nick Eason will be the starter, but Carter is the intriguing one, after pushing Williams in camp.
– That said, defensive coordinator Ray Horton liked what Williams was doing before he got hurt. Williams needs to keep his weight in check. Next year will be a big one for him, especially with Horton needing an anchor in the middle.
– The Cards can’t complain to the Rams about injuries, that’s for sure. Friday, tackle Jason Brown and receiver Mark Clayton were put on injured reserve – the 12th and 13th guys on that list for the Rams (and that doesn’t include a couple of injury settlements).
– The Cards have blocked four field goals this season, three by defensive end Calais Campbell alone. It’s the highest total for an NFL team since the Bears in 2007. “If you want to judge a team, watch that unit,” Whisenhunt said. “No matter what the score or where in the game it is, those guys are working hard. It’s just an effort play. It’s pretty amazing.”
– Quietly, wide receiver Early Doucet is on pace for 67 catches for 817 yards this season, decent numbers considering the inconsistent play at quarterback and in the passing game.
The Cards have won six straight games in St. Louis. I used to think it was a Kurt Warner-revenge thing. Nope. They’ve done it without him too.
Tags: Dan Williams, David Carter, Early Doucet, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Rams
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Nose tackle Dan Williams broke his left arm Sunday in the game against the 49ers. No official word on how long he is out, but with six games left, you figure it’s going to be tough — and probably not worth it — to come back. That means rookie David Carter will move into the starting lineup, and probably means Nick Eason will get more work at the position.
UPDATE: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said on his post game radio show Williams was indeed done for the season.
Right tackle Brandon Keith also suffered a concussion during the game and his status will be evaluated this week.
Tags: Brandon Keith, Dan Williams, David Carter
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It will mean nothing in the official statistics of the NFL, or in all likelihood, with the Cards’ roster decisions. Undrafted rookie running back William Powell — cut a few days into camp, mind you, and brought back only because Ryan Williams was lost for the season — had 29 carries Thursday night against Denver in a stat line that crystallizes what the fourth preseason game is all about. Powell gained just 60 yards, and he actually had six more carries than he did in his entire (JC-shortened two-year) stint at Kansas State in college.
More carries in one game than two years in college? “I’m awake now,” Powell said. “All them carries, I am wide awake. I wanted to be out there as much as possible, get as many carries as I can, show my talent and quickness and put as much on tape as I could.”
The Cardinals did what they needed to get out of the preseason. No major injuries. A win. Some nice plays (although the Broncos didn’t play their starters and clearly are hurting in the depth category). Coach Ken Whisenhunt has a press conference tomorrow at 2 p.m., and I expect most, if not all, the Cards’ cuts to be announced. That’s how it has worked on Fridays in the past under Whiz.
– Guard Deuce Lutui was still playing late in the fourth quarter. It’s not a shock, given his battle of the bulge. “When you get down to the last preseason game, you don’t have a lot of offensive linemen,” Whisenhunt said. “This was a game he had to show us something. It’s been a battle the whole time and we knew the whole time he needed to lose weight in order to play like we thought he could play. It will be good to look at the tape and see where he is.”
– Rookie defensive lineman David Carter, who had been playing backup nose tackle most of camp, spent a good chunk of time at defensive end Thursday. “We are trying to push him, see what he can do,” Whisenhunt said. “No question he has had an outstanding preseason. The more things you can do, the better value you have on game day.”
– It will be interesting to see if the left pectoral strain of tight end Jim Dray impacts the decision on the roster, assuming he indeed was battling Stephen Spach for a spot. Speaking of battles, Reagan Maui’a continues to show up at fullback. I still think Anthony Sherman makes the team, but Maui’a has made it a very difficult choice.
– Safety Hamza Abdullah I think has made the team, but he made a couple of big hits out there. Don’t confuse him as just the nice-guy-who-visits-the-President. “You have to let them know you’re out there,” he said.
– The Cards watched the Broncos miss a field goal despite only having, after a couple guys sprinted off the field thinking they weren’t supposed to be out there, eight men on the field. “You know what, as I was biting my tongue as it was happening, I was thinking, ‘It’s the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game,’ ” Whisenhunt said. (Actually it was the end of the third). “(The Broncos) didn’t know what they were doing (either). It was tough but we’ll let it slide.”
– Whatever happens with “final cuts,” this roster is going to be fluid to a point. I expect another running back. Some guys who make the roster probably shouldn’t breathe easy, since they could still be on the move.
– Finally, quarterback Rich Bartel looked impressive again. He wasn’t perfect, as he said himself, but he looked very good — again. Is he the No. 2? Is it Skelton? I think Bartel has made a strong case for himself. In all honesty, let’s hope Kevin Kolb stays healthy and the No. 2 is a moot point.
And with that, time to head home. We will have news tomorrow afternoon. And then, the regular season begins.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Broncos, David Carter, Deuce Lutui, Hamza Adbullah, Jim Dray, Kevin Kolb, Richard Bartel, Ryan Williams, William Powell
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