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Cards cut to 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2012 – 4:52 pm

The key point anytime a team gets to the 53-man roster on final cuts is this: It’s never quite the final roster. That’s something to keep in mind when looking over the Cards’ cuts today, which leaves an unbalanced roster for now.

The team decided not to move tackle Levi Brown off of injured reserve, leaving 22 cuts to be made:

Injured reserve — RB Javarris James (knee), QB Rich Bartel (shoulder)

Waived-injured – LB Brandon Williams (shoulder), WR Stephen Williams (Achilles)

Released – CB Crezdon Butler, LB Antonio Coleman, S Blake Gideon, LB Clark Haggans, G Russ Hochstein, DT Ricky Lumpkin, LB Colin Parker, CB Larry Parker, WR DeMarco Sampson, TE Steve Skelton, RB Alfonso Smith, LB Quan Sturdivant, DE Ronald Talley, DE Everrette Thompson, TE Martell Webb, C Scott Wedige, WR Isaiah Williams, T D.J. Young.

So this is what we get out of this:

– The Cardinals cut Sampson and Stephen Williams, leaving five receivers and undrafted LaRon Byrd (pictured below) as No. 5.

– OLB Quentin Groves makes the cut but both Clark Haggans and Brandon Williams are out – you’d have to think another linebacker is on the way.

– Right now, the Cards have 11 defensive backs and nine offensive linemen, and you figure one or the other, if not both, will be trimmed down. All three OL draft picks are on the squad right now. The defensive backs will have to come down if you are looking for a place to cut to add at another position. In my guess at 53, I had guessed six WRs and eight OL, and the Cards took one from receiver to add to the line. And they took one of eight linebacker slots and added it to the 10 defensive back spots, so I was kind of close. We’ll see how it shakes out.

– Running back William Powell indeed makes the team too.

– This group probably won’t be the exact group that hits the practice field Monday. That’s the cold reality of the NFL.


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A guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2012 – 4:59 pm

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.


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The first depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2012 – 9:22 am

The Cardinals put out their first official depth chart of the season today. This stuff is fluid given certain competitions, but they have to make someone No. 1 and No. 2 and so on. There are no shocking developments, but:

– Kevin Kolb is listed as the No. 1 QB right now. John Skelton is the No. 2.

– Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.

– With Jeff King still rehabbing his quad, Todd Heap is the No. 1 tight end, Rob Housler No. 2.

– Behind Fitz is DeMarco Sampson and then Stephen Williams. At the other receiver spot, it officially goes Andre Roberts, then Early Doucet, then Michael Floyd.

– William Gay is the No. 1 right cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. Greg Toler is listed as Gay’s backup, with Michael Adams listed as Peterson’s backup.

– Brandon Williams is Sam Acho’s backup, with Clark Haggans as O’Brien Schofield’s backup at OLB. Quentin Groves is behind Haggans.

– With the large roster, the only second team rookies (no starters) are LG Senio Kelemete, FB Jared Crank and Massie. (And the Cards are incredibly unlikely to keep two fullbacks.) T Nate Potter is third-string, Floyd is third-string, S Justin Bethel is third-string and, with the large amount of veteran cornerbacks, Jamell Fleming is technically fourth-string behind Gay, Toler and A.J. Jefferson (although he will be on this roster, no doubt.)

Here is the entire depth chart.


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The work at the end of the week

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2012 – 6:41 pm

I’m not a big fan of doing any play-by-play or recaps of practice, because in the end, it just doesn’t matter. Each play is a snapshot, with little or no context. But, with the Red-White practice tomorrow — which will basically be a series of drives, offense versus defense, with play calls like it’s a game — the Cards worked on red zone and two-minute drills today. It provided some highlights.

– Tight end Rob Housler made a couple of nice catches at the back of the end zone, one time banging into the pad on the lower upright. Michael Floyd couldn’t haul in a high jump ball in the end zone, but later in the two-minute drill caught a pass while tippy-toeing toward the sideline. DeMarco Sampson beat Greg Toler in the end zone for a touchdown.

– But on the defensive side, Patrick Peterson broke up one pass over the middle, while Kerry Rhodes managed to control a bouncing, tipped pass to finally nab it for an interception.

– Interesting that, in the two-minute drill in the defense’s dime package, the defensive backs were Rhodes and Adrian Wilson at safety, and then four cornerbacks: William Gay, Peterson, Michael Adams and A.J. Jefferson. Toler worked with the second dime unit. It’s early, but these are the things you notice.

– The second unit of the offensive line during the two-minute drill were, from left tackle to right tackle, D.J. Young, Senio Kelemete, Ryan Bartholomew, Chris Stewart and D’Anthony Batiste. Eventually, Bobby Massie was put in at right tackle, Batiste slide to right guard, and Scott Wedige at center. I’ve said it a few times, but I think the wait for Massie to start will be awhile.

– Running back Alfonso Smith blew up linebacker Sam Acho on a block during the two-minute work. Smith has worked hard to earn a spot on the team, which I think is pretty assured at this point.

– If you are coming to the Red-White, don’t forget to come early. All the details are here, but last year, there were about 13,000 fans on hand.


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King hurt, Beanie rehabs and a good first OTA

Posted by Darren Urban on May 22, 2012 – 12:58 pm

The Cardinals had almost everyone on the field today to start OTAs. One man who had hoped to be out there was veteran tight end Jeff King, but it turns out he suffered a partial tear of his quadriceps tendon recently working out at the facility. He had surgery to repair it and is scheduled to return for training camp.

UPDATE: King saw this post on Twitter and responded via Twitter: “Will come back stronger….“The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” “

The OTAs, which are voluntary, got great turnout once again. Those who weren’t practicing couldn’t because of injury or other reasons (rookie guard Senio Kelemete isn’t here because the University of Washington remains in session.) As expected running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams were both off to the side rehabbing their respective knee injuries.

Wells expanded on some of his thoughts about sitting out during OTAs, and coach Ken Whisenhunt addressed them as well, saying it was the plan all along to have Wells sitting at this point. Beanie still has no desire to talk details about his surgery. He reiterated it was “a scope, clean things up.” When asked if it was to repair the meniscus, Beanie said it was “a little more complicated.”

“I am pretty confident in being ready when the time is right,” Wells said. “It’s football. I’m just glad to have a job.”

– CB Greg Toler, rehabbing from an ACL tear, has returned. He is limited in his number of reps but did everything. More on him in a later blog post.

– Lineups mean little right now, but William Gay was working on the top unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson (although the secondary coaches were careful to call their lineups 1a and 1b right now). Jeremy Bridges is working as the top right tackle. Kevin Kolb was with the top unit at quarterback. At receiver — although that’s a position that always tends to be fluid during OTAs and practices when everyone is trying to get reps — Andre Roberts joined Larry Fitzgerald, DeMarco Sampson was with Early Doucet next, and then came Michael Floyd and Stephen Williams.


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Pushed by Fitz

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2012 – 11:54 am

The other day, running back Ryan Williams was finishing up with his three sets on the military press — 10 reps each with 50-pound dumbbells — when veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald told Williams he wasn’t done yet. There would be three more sets, with the 80-pound dumbbells.

“He don’t let me slack at all,” Williams said. “When I say I love working with Fitz and I hate it at the same time, I mean, that’s the best way I could put it.

“I did three more sets of 80 with him. That’s the stuff I’m talking about. To have someone do that, who’s been in the game for a minute, I don’t care who your favorite is. You can’t leave Fitzgerald out. That’s how I want to be.”

Fitzgerald isn’t the only veteran doing such things. There are reasons so many of the defensive backs look like they’ve added muscle, and one of them is having veteran Adrian Wilson looking their way and insisting they continue to work hard even in the offseason. You really don’t want to let down A-Dub.

But for Fitz, pushing his teammates is about more than just leadership. Or even about making the team better. It’s about making Fitz — who leaves tomorrow to Malaysia on a Starkey hearing mission — better too.

“I’m just an extremely self-motivated person, that’s all,” Fitzgerald said. “Every day I am trying to run faster, jump higher, lift more. I have always been that way. Especially young guys like (Williams) … yesterday Patrick Peterson, we had a squat competition. I do it with (receivers) DeMarco Sampson, Jaymar (Johnson). I am into that. I love the competition, no matter if it is on the field, the basketball gym, the bowling alley, competition always makes the cream rise to the top. So I love to compete.”


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What the Cards have in Lindley

Posted by Darren Urban on May 4, 2012 – 10:28 am

So the questions began yesterday, asking me my thoughts on Sports Illustrated’s Peter King saying that sixth-round draft pick Ryan Lindley — the second of two sixth-round picks, mind you — not only had a better chance to make an impact as a rookie than guys like Miami’s Ryan Tannehill or Seattle’s Russell Wilson, but could be playing by midseason. I know Peter a little and respect him greatly as a reporter. I wouldn’t be shocked if someone from the Cards whispered in his ear how much they like Lindley’s potential. But to be playing by midseason? I can’t see that as anything but ridiculous — barring injuries.

But Darren, you’ll say, the Cards just did it with Max Hall and John Skelton in 2010, and you would have said the same thing about those guys in May that year. Which is true. But I will argue 2010 and the Hall situation is precisely one of the reasons Lindley won’t play. Hall wasn’t ready, but the Cards had nowhere to turn once Derek Anderson failed.

This year, the Cards have two guys who they can go to in Skelton and Kevin Kolb. Neither, I believe, is in the place of Matt Leinart, who had already had multiple chances to convince the coaches he was the right choice and never did win them over. There is a little matter of the $7 million bonus the Cards just gave Kolb, which you don’t do and then dump a guy (which is what it would take for Lindley to be in a spot to play.) And there is also the circumstances of both Lindley’s rookie status — we know coach Ken Whisenhunt would rather not play rookies too soon — and where the season would have to be to create a Lindley opportunity. The Cards would have to be 1-7 or 0-8, I believe, and have not one but two QBs to be terrible for Lindley to get a shot. I just don’t see that happening.

(He’s got to beat out Richard Bartel for a roster spot too. Bartel isn’t going to just give it up.)

So what do the Cards have in Lindley? Football-wise, they have a big, strong pocket passer with potential. It may even be better in the locker room, at least according to his former college receiver and new Cardinals teammate DeMarco Sampson (pictured below with Lindley.)

“Just having him on the team, it’s selfish, but those last two seasons at San Diego State, he helped me a lot, having me stop all the partying, keeping me on the straight and narrow,” Sampson said. “He’s an uplifting guy. He’s a great teammate. He’ll never try to tear anyone down.

“He has a lot to learn, but he’s a good listener. He takes criticism well. He’s all upside to me. I’m biased I know, but he’s the type of guy you want on your team. I’m willing to put money on, if they wanted him to play receiver, he’d try it to help the team.”

There are reasons to like Lindley and what he can be. But you take a guy in the sixth round to sit, learn and develop. Not to play right away.


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A quarterback in the mix

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2012 – 2:11 pm

The Cardinals indeed decided to go with a developmental quarterback in the draft, taking San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley — a big (6-foot-3, 232-pound) and big-armed passer who struggled with accuracy. One analysis compared him to Derek Anderson. Lindley was a four-year starter and threw for 90 touchdowns. His TD-to-INT ratio as a senior was 23-8. But he never completed more than 57 percent of his passes and that dipped to 53 percent this past year.

“A lot of that has been my footwork, which I have been working on that a ton,” Lindley said. “I am at the point where I have enough individual training where I feel I have my feet underneath me and have a good platform to throw from. In the past … I have not had great feet, and I just needed to change that up.”

Lindley did lose his best two wideouts, current Card DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown, to the NFL before 2011. And he said the receiving group was beat up from injury and academic issues, but he took responsibility for his problems. “The stuff I could have controlled is really what I didn’t do well enough,” Lindley said. “The stuff with my feet I’m talking to you guys about.”

Lindley did work with quarterback coach Steve Calhoun and former USC and San Diego State coach Ted Tollner to fix his problems. I am sure Cards QB coach John McNulty will have something to say about it.

The Cards now have the four quarterbacks they will need for training camp. Usually, coach Ken Whisenhunt doesn’t want to have four total when the regular season arrives — there’s just not enough reps to go around — so the likelihood is that either Lindley or Rich Bartel will be fighting for a spot, assuming John Skelton and Kevin Kolb will be around. And I figure both will be around.


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The idea of adding at wide receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on February 26, 2012 – 9:08 am

As this year’s crop of wide receivers run their 40s here at the NFL combine, it’s as good time as any to note that, yes, the Cardinals will look at the position this offseason.

(And as a side note, 40 times don’t mean as much as you’d think. Nice to have speed, but Jerry Rice reportedly ran a 4.71 at the combine. Larry Fitzgerald was a 4.63. Both turned out OK, in my opinion.)

The Cards will have Fitz and Andre Roberts next year. Early Doucet is a free agent and while there is a chance he could return, we will see what the market — and the Cards’ plans — turn out. The team will look over the free-agent market. That does not mean, for instance, they would bring in (if he does hit the market) someone like San Diego’s Vincent Jackson or that ilk. They have a No. 1 receiver in Fitz, and don’t need another. Yes, I have heard the arguments that Boldin was a 1A, but guys that are No. 1 potentials want No. 1 money, and it makes little sense to invest that kind of cash into two pass catchers.

Guys like Pierre Garcon and Robert Meachem make more sense to me. They have speed and, in theory, aren’t as expensive. The latter could change and that will impact the Cardinals. As general manager Rod Graves said the other day, the team sets the value for each player and then goes from there. At some point, each team needs to decide how much adding that free agent is worth. Garcon, for instance, reportedly declined a five-year contract from the Colts. Does that mean he is expecting a huge deal? We’ll see. We’ll see what the market bears.

One reason teams like having free agency before the draft is because free agency can be about need and there is a little more of “best player available” at draft time. Given the deep crop of UFA receivers this year, it makes sense to make a stab there for whatever the Cards might want to do, because you’d figure to get more for your money. If the Cards come out of free agency without a receiver, I’d think they’d look very hard at taking one in the draft.

The Cards still have young guys like Stephen Williams and DeMarco Sampson, but in both cases I’d think their most likely landing place would be as a fourth receiver if they take another step forward.


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Beanie sits out of practice

Posted by Darren Urban on October 26, 2011 – 3:07 pm

Not surprisingly, running back Beanie Wells sat out practice today with his sore knee. Whether Wells plays Sunday is unknown, but as usual, if he can’t practice all week, playing is a longshot. Having Beanie available or not makes a big difference. The Jaguars were able to topple the Ravens Monday night in large part because of their defense, but also because on offense, they fed Maurice Jones-Drew 30 times to take pressure off quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Beanie could be that guy too, if he could play.

Having a pair of receivers sitting out — Early Doucet (quadricep) and DeMarco Sampson (hamstring) — isn’t great either. At least tight end Todd Heap (hamstring) was back to work, at least on a limited basis. Go here for the full injury report.


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