Some quick tidbits on a quiet Friday …
— Linebacker Daryl Washington gets named to yet another all-NFL team (although Bucky Brooks picks three inside linebackers and two outside linebackers for his new 12-man defense, apparently.) UPDATE: Washington was named second-team all-pro on Saturday as well.
— Assistant defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend is leaving, heading to the college game. He will be the new defensive backs coach at Mississippi State.
— The Cardinals signed seven players to “futures” contracts: LB Tim Fugger, DT Ricky Lumpkin, LB Colin Parker, DE Everrette Thompson, RB Fozzy Whittaker — all of whom ended the year on the practice squad — and G Jeremiah Warren, who was on the Patriots’ practice squad. (WR Gerell Robinson signed a futures deal with Denver.) A “futures” contract just means it doesn’t officially kick in until the new league year in March.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Deshea Townsend, Everrette Thompson, Fozzy Whittaker, Jeremiah Warren, practice squad, Ricky Lumpkin, Tim Fugger
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October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the NFL takes up the cause in a big way. At the forefront, as usual, is Larry Fitzgerald, because of both his high-profile as a player and his unfortunate circumstances, given that his mother died of the disease when Fitz was still in college.
Fitzgerald, as mentioned yesterday, will donate $1,000 per reception he grabs and $10,000 per touchdown he scores in the Cards’ four October games (they have a bye Oct. 16). He was set to do a sit-down interview with the NFL Network after practice today talking about his involvement (which he did with me yesterday).
“I just feel privileged to be a part of it,” Fitzgerald said. “I am happy the NFL has done this and raised so much awareness. It gets so much publicity. Early detection is the key I believe, and this raises awareness so women get the mammograms and get checked. If we can save one mother, one sister, one daughter, I think the NFL is doing their part.”
The death of Carol Fitzgerald, not surprisingly, impacted Larry greatly. It’s been a theme in his life too. He decided to surprise a pair of breast cancer survivors with a trip to Hawaii during the Pro Bowl this past February, and it wasn’t lost on him that a “random” follower who won a Twitter contest for another Pro Bowl trip was also a cancer survivor.
“It’s hard for me all the time, every time I think of my mother,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m not the only one. (Assistant defensive backs coach) Deshea Townsend’s mom died of breast cancer. It’s around the league. I feel as though, in the position I am in and dealing with what I have dealt with, I need to take a leadership role.”
Tags: Deshea Townsend, Larry Fitzgerald
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It was a topic that was mentioned more than once when the Cardinals had hired Ray Horton – who played in the NFL for a decade – as their defensive coordinator. The idea that players might have a deeper respect for someone who had been them.
Horton summed it up pretty well, I think, with this line: “It gives you some credibility that you have sat in the same chairs they’re in,” he said. “It helps until they say, ‘Why’d you call that?!?’ ”
And ultimately, that seems to be the general feeling.
“I have seen some very good coaches that didn’t play,” said head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who of course played near a decade himself in the NFL. “So I don’t know if it has an impact if you can’t coach. Players are smart enough, if you’re not getting it done on the field as a coach, they’ll recognize it pretty quick. If you have been a player, obviously you get a little bit of respect, because they know you’ve been through some of the same battles they have.
“But if you’re not a very good coach, it doesn’t matter what you say or what your background is, guys are going to tune you out pretty quick. They are interested in winning and getting better. If you can help them do that, they’ll listen to you.”
Of the current staff, Whisenhunt, Horton, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, quarterbacks coach Chris Miller and assistant defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend played in the league. The majority did not.
“Once you get into (practices and meetings) you don’t think about it,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But if they played your position, it’s better because they understand you and the thoughts you have.”
The defensive backs may have the most interesting combo given the three latest hires. Horton played, but has been out of the game for 17 seasons. New defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi didn’t play (and in fact was on his first NFL coaching staff at age 19 as a Jets assistant). Meanwhile, Townsend not only played, but he was just playing as recently as November and will be learning the coaching ropes on the fly.
“I think the main thing a player wants is consistency,” Townsend said. “That’s what I wanted, to (have a coach) say one thing in July and to say the same thing in February. You don’t want a guy saying something and changing his mind. And be fair.
“You’re going to have to make decisions, but everyone in the room has to be accountable. I loved to have a coach who, when he made a mistake, he said it and when I made a mistake, he let me know. We have to grow that and teach them what we are looking for, but to be true professionals, those guys have to understand that’s the business of football.”
Tags: Chris Miller, coaching staff, Deshea Townsend, DRC, Ken Whisenhunt, Louie Cioffi, Ray Horton, Russ Grimm
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Technically, Deshea Townsend still hasn’t retired. Still, don’t expect him to return to the playing field. That’s pretty much over.
Townsend now sits in a side office among the Cardinals’ coaches, the new assistant defensive backs coach hired just a little more than three months from his final NFL play, in a game when he knocked down a pass against the Eagles Nov. 7 playing for the Colts. Released from the roster a couple of days later, Townsend had already begun to mull his athletic mortality before the season even started (he didn’t sign as a free agent with Indianapolis until the beginning of August).
“I haven’t even put my papers in for retirement,” Townsend said, taking a break from some paperwork grading out the players he now must oversee. “It’s pretty neat to have the option, even before you are done. I was at a point, even last year when I was a free agent, I thought, ‘If someone calls, good, if they don’t, they don’t. I’ll ride off into the sunset.’ It’s not hard for me to walk away … although I’m sure when we get started I’m going to want to get out there and be in the mix.”
Townsend still wasn’t 100 percent he was done playing (he had a 13-year career at defensive back), but felt the decision was made for him. As happens with many possible coaching changes, Townsend was on a short list and got a phone call from Horton asking if he was ready to coach if Horton ended up getting the job (Townsend would have likely also been brought on board had Keith Butler been hired as defensive coordinator).
Now he’s hoping to impart some wisdom on guys like DRC and Greg Toler, wisdom that allowed him to play more than a decade in the league — and, I suppose, could get longer, since, you know, he hasn’t retired yet (No sign yet that there will be any Brett Favre comparisons.
“At 35, it’s a good thing (to coach),” Townsend said. “It’s neat to have something to step into, but it keeps me in the game, a game I love. If I can help a young guy reach his goals, that’s my next challenge. That’s what you always want, is a challenge.”
Tags: coaching staff, Colts, Deshea Townsend, DRC, Greg Toler, Ray Horton
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In news that had been expected, the Cardinals have hired long-time Bengals assistant Sigismondo “Louie” Cioffi as defensive backs coach to join last week’s hire, Deshea Townsend, as the team’s new secondary bosses. Cioffi and Townsend replace Donnie Henderson (whose contract expired and was not renewed) and Rick Courtright (who had a year left on his contract but was let go).
Cioffi doesn’t turn 38 until September, but he has already coached in the NFL for 16 seasons, including with the Bengals since 1997. He spent time coaching both with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau, so those ties remain strong. He got a chance to meet a lot of his new players Tuesday; defensive backs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and A.J. Jefferson were all in the building.
I don’t expect the Cards to make any further hires on the coaching staff either.
Tags: Deshea Townsend, Dick LeBeau, Donnie Henderson, Louie Cioffi, Ray Horton, Rick Courtright
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UPDATE: The Cardinals have officially announced the hiring of Deshea Townsend as assistant defensive backs coach. That was the only news released.
The Cardinals have made changes on the defensive staff with Ray Horton coming in as defensive coordinator. We knew something was coming, and reports now attach names to the news. XTRA’s Mike Jurecki reported the Cardinals fired defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson and assistant defensive backs coach Rick Courtright (who had been a part of the staff since Denny Green was hired in 2004).
Joe Reedy in Cincinnati, meanwhile, reported the Cards are hiring former Bengals assistant Louie Cioffi, who had been in Cincinnati since 1997 and has been their assistant defensive backs coach. Cioffi coached together with Horton with the Bengals. Add in Deshea Townsend, the just-retired defensive back who also interviewed Wednesday and who Horton made clear he wants to hire, seems like the other likely hire. By the sound of it, both could end up being co-secondary coaches, although we’ll have to see how that plays out.
Nothing official has come down yet, but I’d guess we will see something Thursday.
Tags: coaching staff, Deshea Townsend, Donnie Henderson, Louie Cioffi, Rick Courtright
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UPDATE: Chris Miller said he will be remaining as quarterbacks coach of the Cardinals.
While everyone waits for the results of Ray Horton’s interview to be the new defensive coordinator, the Cardinals could quickly find out about another possible change on their coaching staff — now that Southern Oregon has been accepted into the Frontier Conference, their announcement of a new head football coach could come as soon as today. That could impact the Cards because quarterbacks coach Chris Miller is among the finalists for the head coaching job. He, along with the other finalists, already had interviews. It’s now down to a job offer.
Obviously, if Horton is hired, there could still be defensive staff changes too; ESPN already reported this morning that if Horton is named defensive coordinator he will be bringing longtime NFL cornerback Deshea Townsend — who played for the Steelers for 12 seasons before playing eight games for the Colts in 2010 — for a spot on the staff.
Tags: Chris Miller, coaching staff, Deshea Townsend, Ray Horton
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