Yes, training camp starts today (hopefully you can check out our redesigned homepage and our training camp page.) But before we get off and running, how about a quick glance at the Cardinals’ opponents for the 2016 season — which, as you know, the league has determined 14 of the 16 regular-season games already.
— New Orleans Saints
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers
— New England Patriots
— New York Jets
— NFC East team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (assuming the Rams are still in St. Louis)
— Carolina Panthers
— Atlanta Falcons
— Buffalo Bills
— Miami Dolphins
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional spot as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— St. Louis Rams (even more important to see if Rams are still in St. Louis)
Tags: 49ers, Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Falcons, Jets, opponents, Panthers, Patriots, Rams, Saints, Seahawks
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There are plenty of realistic scenarios where none of the top three rated offensive tackles are left on the draft board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. It’s been suggested by some that the Cards could think about trading up in that situation. I just don’t see it. I didn’t before, and I don’t now after GM Steve Keim said “I’m not in the business of giving away picks.”
Smartly, Keim isn’t going to rule anything out. But moving up from 7 is going to be too expensive, even if it was just a spot or two. And frankly, the Cards can’t afford to give up a second or a third right now when those guys have a chance to turn into starters on a team that needs to fill holes. (Mike Jurecki reported the Cards have discussed the possibility of trading for disgruntled franchised Chiefs tackle Branden Albert, but I don’t see that either. If the money he wants on a long-term deal is scaring the Dolphins away, I don’t see how it makes more sense here.)
So maybe the Cards don’t trade up, or trade for Albert. But that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t trade. One thing I can definitely see is Keim willing to trade down, especially in this draft. He may not want to give away picks, but stockpiling them I’m sure is of interest, especially for a draft guy like him. Of course, there has to be someone on the board at 7 someone feels the need to come up and get, which could be a long shot. And who, exactly are the Cards going to seek? Offensive line and pass rusher remain the most obvious choices, and there are a handful that have been discussed not only top 10 but into the 11-15 range that make sense.
I do see Keim being aggressive in such draft moves, willing to move up and back if necessary. That second round pick, in fact, could be interesting in that regard. In the first round, though, I’m thinking back and not forward — if the Cards move at all.
Tags: Branden Albert, Chiefs, Dolphins, draft, Steve Keim
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One of the clichés that always floats around at draft time is that a team never ever ever should fall in love with a player. I mean, if you’re picking No. 1, fine. But otherwise, there is always a risk that said player or players isn’t going to be there. And you don’t want to be disappointed or let the emotion of losing out on such a crush drive you to do something dumb when you are on the clock.
That crossed my mind this morning when NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock talked about what has become a growing sentiment — that all three high-end offensive tackles available: Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson — will all be off the board by the time the Cardinals pick at No. 7. Let’s make this clear, no one knows for sure the Cards even like all three at that point, although it stands to reason they do. For a while, it was people thinking Fisher would be there and Joeckel wouldn’t. Then it was Fisher being gone and Johnson being the consideration. But there is a strong likelihood that the Chiefs take Joeckel at No. 1 (KC wants to trade Branden Albert) and the Eagles (No. 4) and the Lions (No. 5) both easily could take the other two tackles. Even if one lasts to No. 6, the next scenario could be the Browns trading out of No. 6 to the Chargers or Dolphins, both of whom need a left tackle like Johnson (pictured below).
Now, the Dolphins are talking with the Chiefs about the Albert trade, which would take them out of the mix. But the Chargers, picking 11th, could try to jump up (with Ken Whisenhunt’s new team potentially stealing a tackle out from under his old team.)
What does this all mean? Well, this is operating under the assumption the Cards are focusing on a tackle. That was the thought last year too and they took Michael Floyd over Riley Reiff, so there’s that. I don’t see the Cards trading up and surrendering a pick, although I’m not positive on that. If all the tackles are off the board in the top five, I could definitely see the Cards trying to trade down a little, although other than the tackles, I don’t know who would trade up. And again, if three tackles go off the board that early, someone is sitting there that hadn’t been expected. Will it be someone the Cards want?
— As long as we are talking about potential picks at No. 7, we have our annual mock draft contest ready for play right here. Hope you decide to take a crack at who you think the Cardinals will select.
Tags: Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, draft, Eagles, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Lions, Luke Joeckel, Michael Floyd, Riley Reiff
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Ken Whisenhunt coached in Pittsburgh for six seasons before coming to the Cardinals and knew what he’d be seeing when the AFC teams played his new team in Arizona. That’s worked out well.
The Cardinals have been a good home team since Whisenhunt’s arrival in 2007, and no place does that show up more than when AFC teams come to visit, like will happen Sunday when the Buffalo Bills will be the opponent. It’s the second and final AFC visitor of the season, and of the 11 previous AFC teams to come to town, the Cardinals have beaten nine of them and will be the favorite Sunday against the reeling Bills.
The only two home AFC losses in Whiz’s tenure came in 2009, when the powerful Colts beat up the Cards on “Sunday Night Football” and last year, when the Steelers caught the Cardinals at arguably their lowest point in the season in a 32-20 Pittsburgh win. Because of the way the schedule has worked out, the Cards have seen repeat AFC visitors in that time. The Cards have beaten Miami twice, Cleveland twice, along with a then-undefeated Buffalo (when Adrian Wilson knocked QB Trent Edwards out of the game, below), Houston (late goal-line stand), Oakland (Janikowski’s shocking missed field goal) and Denver (the Jay Feely score-a-thon.)
Next season, the AFC teams who will visit Arizona are the Texans and Colts again.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, AFC, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, Ken Whisenhunt, Raiders, Steelers, Texans
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A short week starts in as good of a way as possible. Let’s put it that way.
What do you say? Even coach Ken Whisenhunt’s opening statement acknowledged there was so many areas to correct that he wasn’t going to try and hit on them all. But the Cards won. I’m not sure how – it was hard to believe the Hartline 80-yard score wasn’t a backbreaker, and the Dolphins certainly thought it would be – but it wasn’t.
Kevin Kolb had a couple of shaky moments. But being down on the field, to see that dart he threw to Andre Roberts for the game-tying touchdown, it looks even more impressive up close. On fourth down, no less … just another step forward. No he can’t throw the end-zone pick. He knows it, Whiz knows it, we all know it. But he overcame it. So did all the Cards. Unreal.
— The Cardinals missed Darnell Dockett today, sitting with an injured hamstring, but safety Adrian Wilson returned with a vengeance after missing one game. Wilson had a team-best 10 tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, a forced fumble, three pass deflections and almost had an incredible diving interception until replay stole it from him. With everything that happened today, it’d be easy to lose sight of that performance. But you can’t.
— Patrick Peterson had a miserable night returning punts. He averaged just 4.5 yards a return. He was charged with three fumbles, two on one return (although he fortunately recovered them all). He fair-caught a punt inexplicably at his own 3-yard line, and thank goodness for Dave Zastudil it didn’t hurt the Cards.
“I was pressing a little bit today, the ball was dropping a little faster,” Peterson said. “I was trying to hurry up and get the ball in my hands and try and take off. I wasn’t patient today. I definitely wasn’t myself in the punt returns, but that won’t happen again. I told the return team, that’s my fault. We’ve got 12 more games to get to the end zone and make it right.”
— The Cards got everyone involved in the passing game Sunday. Fitz was targeted 15 times – 8 catches for only 64 yards, but a score – and Michael Floyd even had four grabs. Roberts has played excellent football, with 118 yards. Now, Kolb can’t get sacked eight times. Some of that was him holding the ball, and some was the offensive line. Rookie right tackle Bobby Massie was overwhelmed by Cam Wake in the first half, although he did better in the second half (Wake still had 4½ sacks.) Mostly, though, when there is time, I still think Kolb looks pretty good in the pocket.
— That end-zone pick, though. Can’t happen. “A terrible decision, a terrible throw,” Kolb said. He understands.
— William Gay was picked on a lot at cornerback. He stayed in playing nickel, but Greg Toler was taking snaps as the guy opposite Peterson in both base and nickel. Jamell Fleming was the odd man out in nickel.
— The flip side of the pass game: Ryan Williams doesn’t look like he is part of the no-huddle package, which the Cards used a bunch Sunday. The Cards had 15 rush attempts and, with sacks added in, 56 pass plays. Williams finished with just 26 yards on 13 carries. If you would have told me that would equate to a win, I don’t think I would’ve believed you.
— Kicker Jay Feely got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a kickoff that was downed in the end zone to start the second half. It could have been bad, but the Cards forced a punt. Feely said the Cards had planned to use him to help block on a Dolphins blocker if he was used a certain way. On a kickoff, Feely is allowed to hit the player in the back if necessary. Feely did and was flagged.
“The ref said, ‘Well it’s a touchback, you shouldn’t have done that,’ ” Feely said. “I said ‘I didn’t know it was a touchback, I was running to the block.’ I was just glad they didn’t get a score.
— That’s 500 wins all-time for the franchise.
— There were mistakes, obviously, but Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill looks like the real deal to me (and yes, I’m looking at you John the Draft Guy.)
— The Cardinals, per Elias Sports Bureau, are now 10-214-1 all-time when trailing by at least 13 points at halftime. That underscores the occasion.
— The last time the Cards came back down at least 13 points at the half was Sept. 12, 1999 at Philadelphia. Heck, that was before I was covering this team. (h/t to Mark Dalton and Randall Liu for those last two goodies.)
— Brian Hartline’s 253 yards receiving was not an all-time high for a Cards’ opponent. Anthony Allen had 255 against the Cards in 1987? Don’t know Anthony Allen? Well, he was a replacement player during the 1987 strike, crossing the picket line in that game against the then St. Louis Cardinals. He was done when the regular players returned, but actually made the Redskins the following year.
— Gotta keep propping punter Dave Zastudil. Nine punts for a net of 47.3? Seriously? So, so huge.
A wild game. Now comes a trip to play the Rams where the Cards have dominated but where the Cards usually have had a week to prepare. Not as much time now – but it’s so much easier after a win.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Bobby Massie, Brian Hartline, Cameron Wake, Darnell Dockett, Dave Zastudil, Dolphins, Greg Toler, Jay Feely, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Tannehill, Ryan Williams, William Gay
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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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Four players did not practice at all this week, and all four are doubtful to play Sunday against the Dolphins, including defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. (The other three are running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, tight end Todd Heap and tight end/fullback Jim Dray). Not having Dockett would be a blow to the defense, obviously. Coach Ken Whisenhunt called Dockett, Heap and Hyphen game-day decisions, but realistically, it’s going to be tough. “I’m not a doctor, I don’t think he could play. He hasn’t taken a snap,” defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.
Horton reiterated his unit is still leaving plays on the table. That allows the group to stay humble at this point.
— Eagles defensive end Jason Babin was fined $15,750 for his horse-collar tackle against Stephens-Howling in the game last weekend. There was no flag thrown on the play.
— The Cardinals needed a fullback with the injuries to Anthony Sherman (hamstring) and Dray (knee), so they brought in Korey Hall this week. That lasted two days.
The team announced Friday Hall has been placed on the reserved-retired list, with local favorite Regan Maui’a once again getting the call to replace him. I just saw Hall in the locker room yesterday heading to meetings, so obviously something changed to make him apparently choose to retire and/or leave after just signing.
This makes eight different times Maui’a has signed with the Cards all told, starting in 2009. Maui’a was with the Cardinals for a while in training camp last month. Maui’a played in 15 games in 2010 and three games last season for the Cards, having spent training camp with the team for all or part of 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Darnell Dockett, Dolphins, Jason Babin, Jim Dray, Korey Hall, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Reagan Maui'a, Todd Heap
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We’ve seen the progress Kevin Kolb has made at quarterback, comfortable in the pocket, waiting for things to develop. Apparently his on-the-way-daughter is going through her progressions the right way too.
Kolb, who’s wife is expecting the couple’s third child, headed off to the hospital after practice Thursday. The baby is apparently on its way. It’s not the perfect scenario as Kolb declared it — right after Monday meetings before a Tuesday off day — but it’s close. Even if it means Kolb will miss some time Friday, he should be prepared for the Dolphins Sunday and there shouldn’t be any kind of conflict. Certainly, the official due date of Oct. 4 — next week, the day the Cards play in St. Louis — won’t be in play.
Everyone can breathe a little easier. Kolb had said he hoped he wouldn’t have to make a choice between playing and baby, and it looks like he won’t.
— A quick injury update: FB Anthony Sherman was upgraded to limited Thursday, but the other four players who sat out Wednesday were still sitting Thursday, including DT Darnell Dockett. Defensive backs Michael Adams (hamstring) and S James Sanders (calf) were added to the already lengthy report as limited. Of the six players listed as limited yesterday, the only change was P Dave Zastudil upgraded to full.
For the Dolphins, RB Reggie Bush (knee) was upgraded to limited and Dolphins beat man Ben Volin said he expects Bush to play. Former Cardinals DB Richard Marshall, battling back problems, may have a harder time getting on the field.
Tags: Dolphins, Kevin Kolb
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The always-morphing Peyton Manning story continued Friday as bits and pieces leaked out and everyone tried to analyze what it all meant when nobody with the initials P.M. was actually making comments.
As of this writing – it seems like things will be changing often, or at least be seen through a changing prism – Manning is in Denver. (You can see the photo and everything.) The Denver Post and ESPN are both reporting that, and also reporting that the Cards will get a visit from Manning while he is out West.
Some stories make it sound like the Broncos, Cards and Dolphins have the visits and are the final three. Another said Manning is just doing due diligence in order of convenience. But if Manning really wants to make a decision in the next few days (as another report said) then he can only visit so many places.
Who really knows?
A quick signing makes sense for teams to be able to move on with the rest of the business for building toward 2012. It seems odd that Manning would sign somewhere without throwing for a team, but maybe he’s already figured he’ll let a team protect itself in the contract for that possibility (and maybe he’s so sure he’ll be back he doesn’t even see that as a risk.)
But at this point, The Courtship of Peyton is a living, breathing thing.
Tags: Broncos, Dolphins, free agency, Peyton Manning
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The National Football Post reported that coach Ken Whisenhunt interviewed Dolphins assistant head coach/secondary coach Todd Bowles for the vacant defensive coordinator job while both are in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl. Bowles has a history with Whisenhunt — they were teammates on the Redskins in 1989 and 1990. Bowles was a defensive back for eight seasons in the league. He was also part of Bill Parcells’ staff in Dallas (and Whisenhunt has Parcells’ ties from his time coaching the Jets; remember coaches from his initial staff — like Todd Haley and Maurice Carthon — are from the Parcells’ tree and coached with Bowles in Dallas. Bowles was also on the Jets’ staff with Whisenhunt).
All that said (and even though the report lists Bowles as “an extremely strong candidate” for Arizona), I don’t believe anything has significantly changed. Whisenhunt had already said he was going to interview candidates this week but given the timing, it’s difficult not to think the possibilities in Pittsburgh (whether it is Keith Butler or Dick LeBeau or someone else) remain at the top of Whisenhunt’s list (or who knows, maybe even a Packers’ assistant). Why else would you have waited for an assistant on a team that didn’t make the playoffs (like the Dolphins)? If a playoff doesn’t work out, I could see Bowles (who obviously has been working with a 3-4 system).
Tags: coaching staff, Dick LeBeau, Dolphins, Keith Butler, Ken Whisenhunt, Steelers, Todd Bowles
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