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Blogs

Lasting thoughts from the first

Posted by Darren Urban on April 30, 2014 – 10:54 am

The first Cardinals draft I covered as a beat guy was back in 2001, which just so happened to be the highest pick the Cards have had since I have been around the team — second overall. That’s 13 drafts overall and 14 first-round picks. As the Cards get closer to this year’s draft (jeez, is it ever going to get here?) I thought I’d hit the first-round picks I’ve seen, with both my initial thoughts at the time and what hindsight has brought.

2001: T Leonard Davis. It was a no-brainer. Davis was a sure thing, taken right after Michael Vick. He’d be the 10-year left tackle the Cardinals sought since Lomas Brown had left. Bigg (he went by the nickname “Big” and at some point, started adding an extra “g”) was just that, a mammoth man. Sure, the Cards decided to play him at guard his first season, but that was so he could get used to the game. Dave McGinnis even brought myself and Kent Somers to his office one day to show us Davis manhandling a couple of defenders. I remember him totally rag-dolling Bears safety Mike Brown on one play. Problem was, he never really panned out as a left tackle, even though Denny Green insisted on shoe-horning him there. He was a better guard, and the Cards weren’t going to break the bank on a guard, so he later got big money from the Cowboys. And made the Pro Bowl. As a guard.

2002: DT Wendell Bryant. What I really remember is hearing how then-defensive line coach Joe Greene had been so impressed with Bryant the player and the person during a workout up in Wisconsin. Uh, yeah, not so much. Bryant was a holdout until the regular season started of his rookie year, and he never climbed out of that hole. A total bust.

2003: DE Calvin Pace and WR Bryant Johnson. Ahh, the everyone-assumed-Terrell-Suggs-was-coming-to-the-Cards draft. This was the most surprising first round. The Cards traded down from No. 6 overall, thinking in part they could get DE Jerome McDougle. The Eagles jumped to No. 15 to get McDougle, and the Cards reached for Pace at 17 and then took Johnson at 18. Pace ended up a decent player, although he didn’t really hit his stride until Ken Whisenhunt showed up. This was a thank-goodness-for-Anquan-Boldin-in-the-second-round class.

2004: WR Larry Fitzgerald. And to think, if Josh McCown’s pass falls incomplete, would it have been Eli Manning? Or would Denny Green have made sure Fitz was No. 1 overall?

2005: CB Antrel Rolle. This was pretty straight-forward. Rolle was considered a top-10 talent, the Cards needed a corner. The problem was Rolle came into the league with most assuming he’d be better at safety. He was.

2006: QB Matt Leinart. Green said when the pick was made that Leinart falling to the Cards at 10 was really a “gift from heaven.” Seems really silly now. But it wasn’t at the time. (The Cards likely would have taken Jay Cutler, who went No. 11, if Leinart had been off the board.) Truth be told I thought it was a good pick, and I was convinced he would be that QB the Cards needed after his first two starts, come-from-ahead losses — but not his fault — to Kansas City and Chicago (“We let ‘em off the hook!”) Time proved I was way wrong. But it allowed Kurt Warner’s rebirth, so there’s that.

2007: T Levi Brown. The Cards wanted a left tackle. Joe Thomas was already taken. The Cards already had Edgerrin James, so Adrian Peterson didn’t make enough sense. And I’ll move on.

– 2008: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. DRC was odd. He was raw. He was good. He frustrated sometimes, going from Pro Bowl talent to a guy who wouldn’t pay attention in stretches. But it was the right call. If only he hadn’t been the price for Kevin Kolb …

– 2009: RB Beanie Wells: Beanie was never really healthy. A prime example of why teams don’t look to running backs early anymore.

– 2010: NT Dan Williams. Williams has been a starter and has improved. He forms a nice tandem with Alameda Ta’amu. Funny, the biggest thing I remember of when the Cards took him was that Tim Tebow was picked right before him — virtually eliminating any chance he was going to get mentioned on national TV broadcasts.

– 2011: CB Patrick Peterson. Yeah, a good pick. Obvious, but good.

– 2012: WR Michael Floyd. He’s turned into a good player in a short time. He wasn’t the left tackle everyone said they wanted, but he was better than the tackles on the board.

– 2013: G Jonathan Cooper. Coop should turn out to be a wise choice. If any of the big three tackles had been left at No. 7, the Cards probably would have nabbed one, but GM Steve Keim was about best players, and he believes Cooper was that.

BiggUSE

 


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B.A. + draft = playing time

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2014 – 11:47 am

One of the reasons Steve Keim liked hiring Bruce Arians as head coach was because Arians was so blunt in proclaiming his ability to go young. Young, in this league, often means inexperienced and with the potential for mistakes, and that’s not always a coach’s favorite thing. Of all the ways Arians and predecessor Ken Whisenhunt are different, it is the use of the inexperienced that stands out the most.

Last year, first-round pick Jonathan Cooper and third-round pick Tyrann Mathieu each were inserted into the starting lineup (although Cooper’s injury sidelined him). Andre Ellington got more and more time as the season went on. It’s not as if Whisenhunt didn’t play rookies, but looking at first-round picks alone — the guys you would think would play a lot from the outset — Whiz clearly moved them in slowly. Patrick Peterson was an anomaly (and don’t forget, if it wasn’t for a Greg Toler injury, even PP might’ve started the year on the bench.) Michael Floyd, Dan Williams, Beanie Wells, DRC all were slow to be worked in. Levi Brown needed Oliver Ross’ injury.

Meanwhile, Arians doesn’t bat an eye to go to a Mathieu, or to stick a Bradley Sowell in at left tackle when Brown fails. It leads you to a couple of thoughts. One, whomever is drafted May 8-10 could make an immediate impact. It’ll depend on who it is and what position they play, but even though Arians has repeatedly said this team could go play the season as is and it would work, I’m guessing there will be draft picks that make a difference a la Mathieu and Ellington. The other is that if you are a young player upon whom this staff hesitates, you clearly need to ramp it up, for example, Bobby Massie. It’s not age alone that will provide hesitation in getting you on the field.

CoopBAuse

 


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Cards add a cornerback (no, not him)

Posted by Darren Urban on March 17, 2014 – 1:54 pm

Everyone is waiting for news on free agent Antonio Cromartie. There is nothing new to report there. But the Cardinals did re-sign cornerback Bryan McCann to a one-year deal Monday, which gives them options both on special teams and with depth in the defensive backfield. McCann came back last year after the Teddy Williams injury to help on special teams, but he nearly made the active roster coming out of camp.

This does not preclude the Cardinals from adding another corner, whether it be Cromartie or someone else. (Mike Jenkins, someone whom the Cards reportedly have interest in, was scheduled to visit the Buccaneers today.) That position definitely remains in play in the draft too, especially high, if no one of import is signed in free agency.

With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signing with the Giants today, the price of Cromartie — the best cornerback remaining in free agency, just went up. Which might have been why Cromartie was waiting in the first place.

– The next episode of “Tenacious,” the occasional video series chronicling the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu is coming this week.

– We also, with it being the bracket-picking time of year, have our second annual Cardinals Bracketology page looking at the top plays of the past season as they battle for the respect of the fans through votes. The No. 1 seed?  Michael Floyd’s TD catch in Seattle. Last year, the 16th-seeded play, guard Senio Kelemete’s freak catch in the season finale, upset everyone en route to a title. Let’s see how it plays out this year. Click here to watch the plays and vote every day.

McCannBackUSE


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The DRC experience

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2014 – 12:28 pm

The last time I talked to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at any length, he understood he hadn’t played as well as he should have during the 2010 season. Perhaps that underscored what the cornerback was about, or at least how I had perceived DRC during his brief and mercurial NFL career that featured a Pro Bowl and, well, oddly uneven play. The Cardinals’ 2008 No. 1 pick was a guy who seemed to play better when the team was playing better. When the team wasn’t playing well, well …

All those thoughts and DRC memories came rushing back this morning when DRC, now playing for the Denver Broncos, told a bunch of reporters at a media session that if the Broncos win Sunday and beat the Seahawks, he might just retire. He wanted to play five seasons in the NFL, he told reporters. This is his sixth season. It’s all math, apparently. Sure, DRC is only 27. Sure he had a pretty good year and is an unrestricted free agent to be, a combination that would seem to point toward a decent pay day from someone. Then again, this is DRC we are talking about.

DRC always was quirky. He made his fried baloney sandwiches in college and even after he got to the NFL with an iron. (I can’t recall if he actually used the iron on clothes as well.) When teammates would have a Gucci or some other brand of bag to take on their road trips, DRC would wear a kids’ backpack featuring Dora the Explorer or Toy Story. Once he wore footie pajamas in the locker room. (OK, it was late in the season, so maybe he just wanted to be warm). He dressed as a baby, complete with giant diaper, once for Halloween. He shaved half his hair during part of one offseason, going with the Two-Face-from-Batman look (at least on top). Sometimes, his toenails were painted. In odd colors.

It’s one thing to be different off the field. But he could be frustrating to coaches. He wasn’t shy about admitting he’d lose focus on the field, one time saying teammate Karlos Dansby came over to headbutt him because Dansby didn’t think DRC was paying attention. And again, when the team didn’t do well, there always seemed to be a parallel with DRC.

Maybe that explained his 2010 falloff, which coincided with the Cards’ slide. DRC was traded for quarterback Kevin Kolb after that season, because that was the price for Kolb, and while I don’t think the Cards really wanted to part with DRC and his talent, his inconsistency was rough on coaches. It doesn’t sound like it changed much during his two years in Philadelphia (where, perhaps not coincidentally, the team did not play well.) He found himself in Denver this year and he’s been an important piece to the Broncos. Oh, and the Broncos won. A lot.

Would DRC really retire? Who knows. Many fans have asked if the Cards would ever re-sign him. I suppose I wouldn’t rule it out — assuming, of course, he’s still playing in 2014. But I guess, if I had to canvas my mind of the players I have covered who would up and walk away from the game, seemingly out of left field, DRC would probably fit the bill.

DRCblogUSE


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With free agency, younger is better

Posted by Darren Urban on March 5, 2013 – 2:55 pm

That sounds obvious, of course, younger is better. But as Pete Prisco formulates his annual top 50 available free agent list, it’s the law. No restricted free agents allowed, no tagged players (neither one of those types of guys are available in reality, although it may be interesting to see what happens with Saints running back Chris Ivory) and no one who is 30 or will be turning 30 this year. Prisco’s idea is that no one that old deserves big money, and I tend to agree. The road of free agency is littered with overpaid older players who switched teams and couldn’t live up to the contract.

(Now, I differ when you are extending one of your own guys, because it’s a different scenario and you know exactly what you are getting. Those on the market are on the market for a reason — because their former team didn’t see them worth the same big money they are about to get.)

I suppose, if you are a team on the verge, an older player can be helpful because he can put you over the top. But you’ll notice that most of the teams at the top don’t do that. They are at the top because they build via the draft and keep the best players from those drafts. Peyton Manning does not count. Unique situation.

The Cardinals have one free-agent-to-be on Prisco’s list. Cornerback Greg Toler is No. 24. “A year removed from a torn ACL, he played well in limited time last season,” Prisco writes. “He is a tough corner who will tackle.”

I believe the Cards still want Toler back, but the market will likely dictate that. What will Toler be worth, and is it in line with what the Cards think he is worth?

Interestingly, there are a pair of former Cardinals slightly higher than Toler on the list. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is 19th, and defensive tackle Alan Branch is 21st. I don’t want to start another round of “Will DRC come back?” I don’t think so. Prisco’s analysis is a reason why. “He wasn’t great last season, but he has a ton of athletic ability. It’s almost as if people are waiting for it to show.” DRC has been in the league four years. Consistency should have shown up by now.

I don’t know how active the Cards will actually be in free agency, so I’m not sure how much this would even apply. But as I mentioned yesterday, younger is probably going to be better around this team now.


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Some tid, some bits on a Thursday morning

Posted by Darren Urban on November 15, 2012 – 10:52 am

Sometimes, it takes intense evaluation to know where you are as a team. Sometimes, it’s a little more simple.

“It really comes down in this league — and watching (Sunday’s opponent) Atlanta is a good example, to making those plays (to win),” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “The Falcons make a lot of catches in tight coverage and the quarterback throws it in there. If the Green Bay game is any judge of that, we drop balls when we’re wide open. We can’t do that. We miss tackles in the open field. You can’t do that.”

Again, and this has been said too many times to count, the Cardinals as constructed don’t have margin for error. Their defense is good, but not so suffocatingly good it can hold off the opposition every time. The offense can’t turn it over and must carve out more points when it has a chance, because there won’t be too many — if any — 30-point outbursts. Special teams has to contribute to aid both sides. The Cards have to have something more to be in the game.

– My first visit to Atlanta, way back in 2004, was memorable. The Falcons won, 6-3, even though first-year defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast came up with a great gameplan to foil QB Michael Vick and Cardinals defensive end Peppi Zellner — remember him? — had probably his best game (only good game?) in Arizona. The Cards fumbled the ball late (wide receiver Karl Williams) in the red zone right before a chance to at least tie the game. Atlanta’s kicker booted two field goals for the win. That kicker just happened to be Jay Feely (h/t Mark Dalton for that memory.)

– Because I know some people still might be interested, word out of Philadelphia is that the future of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is uncertain with his contract set to expire.

– Another former Card, Chiefs wide receiver Steve Breaston, was a surprise healthy scratch on Monday night.

– The bye week is tough. With no games, you start to run out of things to talk about over two weeks (although a losing streak doesn’t help.)


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Friday before the Eagles

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2012 – 4:56 pm

A fan (@AzCardsGM) linked on Twitter today a video of the Cardinals’ dramatic late win in Philadelphia back in 2001, when Jake Plummer hit MarTay Jenkins for a long TD with 35 seconds left – what an improbable win, I remember thinking as I stood in the chill of the sideline that day – and mentioned that he wanted the same result Sunday when the Eagles visited University of Phoenix Stadium. Just without the drama.

Sorry. Drama is included with every season ticket these days, it seems.

“History tells us we might as well get ready for another two-minute drive to see who wins the game,” quarterback Kevin Kolb half-joked this week. OK, maybe not half. He’s probably 94.6 percent dead serious.

In 1976, the franchise earned the nickname “Cardiac Cards” because they won eight games by seven points or fewer. Well, since the beginning of last season – 18 games all told – 15 have been decided by seven points or fewer for the Cardinals. The Cards have won 10 of those. The Cards last 11 wins, in fact, have come by no more than seven points. During their current nine-wins-in-11-tries stretch, the margin of victory in those nine wins has been 2, 4, 7, 6, 4, 3, 6, 2 and 3 points.

“As long as we get the ‘W’s,’ I really don’t care,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think you can turn the highlights on every week and you see a bunch of games that come down to the wire. We’ve been involved in a lot of those games but you have to learn how to win and you have to win the tough games and our guys have done that. It’s definitely stressful, but our guys have gotten mentally tougher because of it.”

The Cards may have gotten mentally tough, but I’m willing to say it – the constant close games are mentally taxing.

– Don’t forget the Cards are wearing the black uniforms Sunday.

– Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has come through with some strong statements of late – last week, Tom Brady was the best NFL player in history – and this week, it was his praise for his defense that got the nod.

“This was our best week of practice ever,” Horton said. “The guys came in, they had attention to detail, the focus, the practice, the talk, and that’s how I knew was the talk. By far our best week of practice since I’ve been here.”

– The Cards will need it. They face an Eagles’ offense that leads the NFL in yards per game at 471, a stunningly high total (the Cards, by comparison, are 30th in the league with their 249 yards a game). Yet the Eagles have scored only one more total point than the Cards. Why? Turnovers. Mike Vick and crew have already turned it over nine times, making their 2-0 record impressive in a backhanded way.

“If we can eliminate the turnovers, our offense can accomplish great things,” Vick said. Added Eagles coach Andy Reid, “(Michael) has never been a turnover guy. He’s started out with a few, but that hasn’t been throughout his career what he’s done.”

The Cards did pick off Vick twice last season in their win at Philly. Clearly, how the Cards’ defense handles Vick and company will be the story of the game.

– Horton’s defense has been on a field a lot already. After playing the most defensive snaps in 2011, the Cards already have played 163 total defensive snaps in two games (the Cards have a total of 129 offensive snaps).

“We are always concerned about that,” Horton said, noting that his unit needs to generate more turnovers. “That gets you off the field. No matter how you get on the field, you can’t control that. You can control how you get off the field.”

– Because of the scheme the Cards played last week, starting nose tackle Dan Williams played just seven of 82 snaps, backup nose tackle David Carter just three.

“After missing six games last season it was definitely hard,” Williams said. “Talking to Dave, we have to do what is best for the team. If we only have two big guys in there, can’t complain because it is Calais (Campbell) and (Darnell) Dockett in there, two great player. Dave and I, we understand. As a football player, you want to play but the team is bigger than ourselves.”

– The NFL announced it suspended Cardinals practice squad wide receiver Gerell Robinson. Multiple reports have it for four games for violating the agreement against performance-enhancing drugs. No official word from the team as of yet.

– It will be crucial to see how the Cards’ offensive line, particularly tackles D’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie, handle outside pass rushers Jason Babin and Trent Cole. The Cards have only given up two sacks in two games. The vibe from Philly is that Babin and Cole are expecting big games. Keeping Kolb clean will be so important.

The Cards have to find a way to run the ball better. Larry Fitzgerald emphasized that Friday. That will help slow those pass rushers too. But Fitz has to have more than one catch. “We’ve got to feed him,” Kolb said. There’s a fine line between risk and reward, but Fitz needs to make an impact, get in the end zone.

– Ryan Williams has to bounce back. Quickly.

– Fitzgerald had high praise for former teammate and current Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, returning to Arizona for the first time.

“I’ve said it all along, DRC, he’s the most, from a physical standpoint, talented guy I’ve ever been around,” Fitzgerald said. “Dude is (running a) 4.3, (has a) 40-plus vertical, his quickness is unbelievable. I was teasing him this week, I’ve got to put my hands on him. He’s still only 172 pounds.”

– Just like the Cards need to protect Kolb in the pocket, the defense needs to take advantage of Philly’s backup left tackle and center. The Cards have multiple sacks in eight straight games, and the way Vick plays, they really should be able to extend that streak.

– Horton, on how his defense is handling success: “We haven’t had any success yet. We started off 1-6 last year and we still talk about that. I don’t think they think we’ve had success yet.”

– The Cardinals haven’t started a season 3-0 since 1974. We’ll see if they can update that. As far as the last time they started 2-0, well, that season included an Eagles’ trip to Arizona too.


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DRC makes his return

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2012 – 9:39 am

The headlines this weekend begin with Kevin Kolb (probably) facing the Eagles for the first time since they traded him away. But it’s also the first chance for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — the other player in that trade — to return to Arizona for the first time. Kolb may have been hurt last year when the teams played in Philadelphia, but DRC was there, at least at first. DRC hurt his ankle returning the opening kickoff of the second half and missed the Cards’ rally that day.

“They’re the ones who gave me the opportunity to be in the National Football League, so you always want to thank them for that,” DRC told PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I had fun times (in Arizona); there are no hard feelings.”

DRC never really seemed to be a hard-feelings kind of guy. He was/is talented, and showed, especially in 2009, why the Cards made him a first-round pick in 2008. He made the Pro Bowl and seemed headed for great things. But he wasn’t good in 2010 — few were for the Cards that season — and even he knew it. When the Cardinals hired Ray Horton to be defensive coordinator, Horton talked about having “little guys who could hit,” and anyone who watched DRC had to wonder if DRC fit that bill.

(Although I will say this — Horton has made it clear to me that if a guy is a good enough cover corner, other issues can be overlooked.)

When the Eagles were willing to trade Kolb, and on the lookout for a cornerback knowing their time with Asante Samuel was likely coming to an end, DRC ended up being the piece the Cards surrendered. DRC struggled a bit last season as the nickel corner while the Eagles started Nnamdi Asomugha and Samuel started. “The way he handled that was phenomenal,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “My hat’s off to that kid just for that alone. It was new to him. He attacked it the best he could attack it. We were blessed with three real good corners, so one of them had to sit. He was the one and he was awesome with that, but he’s playing well now.”

DRC admits he was surprised at the trade, but he’s moved on. The locker room certainly hasn’t been the same. Close friend Michael Adams (tackling DRC on DRC’s first-half kickoff return last year) and DRC often did a lot of talking, bantering, arguing. It’s hard to forget DRC’s sometimes painted toenails, his Toy Story kids backpack, how he talked about his love for sandwiches he “cooked” with an iron on the ironing board, or the time he wore old-school footie pajamas into work when the Cards had to practice on a holiday. He was one-of-a-kind.

He and Fitz had some practice battles — the ones Patrick Peterson took over after DRC left — and considering DRC played just three seasons in Arizona, he left a mark. It’ll be interesting how his homecoming goes Sunday.

“I’m just looking at it like another game,” DRC said. “I know a lot of people are probably looking at (the trade angle), but I’m just going in there facing an Arizona team that’s on the rise.”


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Number ones from “Day One”

Posted by Darren Urban on July 3, 2012 – 10:08 am

It was a simple response to a Twitter comment yesterday, and somewhat open-ended at that, although it ended up generating a couple hours of Twitdebate. I wouldn’t say I expected wide receiver Michael Floyd to start “from Day One.” I’ve already covered that, actually. But it goes to a larger component — nothing surprising — with coach Ken Whisenhunt and his staff. Bottom line, he prefers to ease his top picks into the lineup, and earn their way.

Let’s look at the Cardinals’ No. 1 picks through the Whisenhunt era, and when they started for the first time:

– 2007: T Levi Brown. Started at right tackle Week 1. Brown was the fifth overall pick. The Cardinals had no holdover at right tackle that made sense to plug in for Whisenhunt’s first year. Heck, Mike Gandy was signed as a free agent just to play left tackle. When Brown hurt his ankle in the third game of the season, Elton Brown — a natural guard — was forced to start for a few weeks. You want to plug-and-play a top five offensive lineman, but Levi’s ascension was as much about need as anything else. (UPDATE: And as “footballguru80″ pointed out in the comments — which I had forgotten — Oliver Ross was running at RT before going down with a season-ending triceps injury in the preseason. Ross likely would have started the opener, I’m thinking, given history.)

– 2008: CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: Started at right cornerback Week 9. DRC was coming from Tennessee State and his learning curve was steeper than some. His natural talents were undeniable. But Eric Green started instead. DRC came in midseason (Green fell so quickly he was inactive every postseason game) and did a very good job. But he wasn’t ready at the outset and definitely was a player who needed to earn his time.

– 2009: RB Beanie Wells: Started at running back Week 7, 2010.Wells actually had just one start his first two seasons, playing behind Tim Hightower (and I’m not so sure Wells would have gotten that start had Hightower not had his fumbling issues, leading the coaching staff to try and make a point to Hightower.) Wells was obviously “The Man” last year but he continues to be challenged to work to keep that spot.

– 2010: NT Dan Williams. Started at the nose Week 1, 2011. Here’s another No. 1 pick who didn’t start as a rookie. He played, like Wells, but battled his weight and needed to show the coaches he deserved to get that honor. He couldn’t supplant veteran Bryan Robinson in 2010. It’s probably not a coincidence the two top picks who took the longest to crack the starting lineup were also the guys drafted latest in the first round, with Wells at pick No. 31 after the Super Bowl and Williams No. 26 after the Cards’ second straight division title.

– 2011: CB Patrick Peterson. Started at right cornerback Week 1. Peterson, the fifth pick, had an argument that he should have started right away. But I don’t think it would have happened if Greg Toler hadn’t shredded his knee in the preseason; Peterson was running second team at that point and I really have no doubt he would have been there when the regular season started if Toler had stayed healthy.

With all this in mind, and with Andre Roberts (who was, after all, a third-round pick; it’s not like he was an undrafted free agent) growing last year, I don’t know why my thought that Floyd will start the regular season as a reserve is so shocking. Will Floyd be a part of the offense? Of course. At least he should. But start? I don’t think so. Not from Day One.


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Missing rookies no longer an issue

Posted by Darren Urban on June 15, 2012 – 10:45 am

Once, the end of offseason work for the Cardinals wasn’t just a beginning but a much bigger deal, specifically when coach Dennis Green used it in his first season as a time to announce his starting lineup for the season. (That was a crazy time. It really was.)

Now, coach Ken Whisenhunt emphasizes competition and ongoing competition. Nothing up for grabs was going to be settled in a month’s worth of work in May and June. But there was one thing settled that is a significant step for the Cardinals — every draft pick was signed before the work ended. Michael Floyd and Jamell Fleming (below) signed on the dotted line, and just like that, a headache that had shrunk in recent years (yet still existed) was gone.

It’ll be league-wide, and it’s thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement. No longer will players be holding out. I’ve never thought, if a player missed a day or two of camp, it was a huge deal, but looking at the last 10 years and the number of picks that have missed at least some time in camp, this is a welcome change:

– 2011 Patrick Peterson, missed 1 day

– 2010 Dan Williams, 3 days

– 2009 Beanie Wells, 3 days

– 2008 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, 2 days

– 2007 Levi Brown, 6 days

– 2006 Matt Leinart, 15 days

– 2005 Antrel Rolle, 8 days

– 2004 Larry Fitzgerald, 1 day

– 2003 Calvin Pace, 3 days; Bryant Johnson 4 days

– 2002 Wendell Bryant, all of training camp and two weeks of the regular season

“Knowing the first day of training camp you will have everyone there is a big deal,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “When they miss those first couple of days, it seems like they are always playing catch-up. It’s good we had all our guys here. It’ll be good to have everyone there from Day One. It’s great that our organization, (president) Michael (Bidwill) and (general manager) Rod (Graves), have been so proactive.”


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