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Blogs

Still on the market

Posted by Darren Urban on May 7, 2013 – 11:13 am

The draft is over. Rosters for most teams have ballooned to the max of 90 or near it (the Cardinals, right now, have 88 on the roster.) And yet there are still a ton of veteran players out there without jobs that you wouldn’t think would be without jobs.

Some players you can understand why it might be happening. Both Michael Adams and Paris Lenon played significant time last season for the Cards, but both were free agents and their time had run its course in Arizona. Adams was always a Ken Whisenhunt favorite — with both Whiz and former special teams coach Kevin Spencer in San Diego, I expected Adams to end up with the Chargers, but it hasn’t happened yet — but his size isn’t great for a cornerback. Lenon played well but at his age, teams are looking to go younger and cheaper.

Of the players cut, Kerry Rhodes still hasn’t been picked up, nor Early Doucet or Beanie Wells. It’s not surprising with Beanie, unfortunately. His knees aren’t in good shape and he’s going to have to pass a physical for someone. But I thought Doucet would have a spot by now and Rhodes too. The Cards wanted Rhodes to take a pay cut, yes, but they wanted to find a way to extend his contract too and apparently he passed. So now what?

Those aren’t the only “names” on the market. Profootballtalk.com actually has compiled an “All-Unemployed team” of players still looking for jobs, and it’s a pretty impressive list. (The Cardinals have been linked to defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, by the way, and they still need to sign a couple of players.) Some of these veterans are looking for money they probably aren’t going to get. Former front-office guy/agent Andrew Brandt pointed out this morning some vets may not be in a hurry to sign because the same minimal offers out there now will be there closer to camp (and then the vet doesn’t have to show up and work in the offseason.) That may be true. For some, you have to consider the risk/reward. Even if Lenon, for instance, was paid minimum, is that worth it at age 36 for the pounding his body takes?


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Catches from the backfield

Posted by Darren Urban on February 19, 2013 – 3:12 pm

Just in case anyone wasn’t sure about new coach Bruce Arians wanting to get the ball downfield if possible in the running game, Arians makes it pretty clear what he wants to see in his running backs.

He wants someone who can run, of course. And block. Beyond that? Let’s just say that fantasy football players in points-per-reception leagues aren’t going to look at the Cardinals first.

“They are back there because they are runners and pass protectors,” Arians said. “Will we throw to the backs? Yeah. But the receivers are the ones paid to catch it. (Running backs) are helping but it’s doubtful our running back leads the team in receiving.”

Last season, injuries crushed the Cards’ running backs, so reception totals don’t correspond perfectly in what the prior staff wanted to do in the passing game, but even Ken Whisenhunt’s pass game didn’t use the backs a ton as receivers (especially after Tim Hightower left.) William Powell had the most catches for a running back last year (19), and that was sixth on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler and Early Doucet. LaRod Stephens-Howling was tied for seventh with tight end Jeff King with his 17 catches. Ryan Williams had seven receptions, Anthony Sherman five and Beanie Wells only had one.

HyphenCatchUSE


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Potter inactive, Batiste to start vs 49ers

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2012 – 12:57 pm

Left tackle Nate Potter is inactive today because of his sprained ankle, putting D’Anthony Batiste back in the lineup for the first time since Potter replaced him during the Green Bay game prior to the bye week Nov. 4. That will make for an interesting matchup when he goes against 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith (19.5 sacks). Fullback Anthony Sherman (knee) is also inactive, meaning tight end Jim Dray will fill in for the fullback duties.

Rookie guard Senio Kelemete is active for the first time this season, too.

Also inactive for the Cards today are:

– QB John Skelton

– WR LaRon Byrd (knee)

– G Mike Gibson (calf)

– WR Early Doucet (concussion)

– DE Ronald Talley (ankle)


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Hoyer active as backup QB; Rashad sits

Posted by Darren Urban on December 23, 2012 – 12:59 pm

Brian Hoyer is active as the backup quarterback today with John Skelton inactive against the Bears. Ryan Lindley starts, but Hoyer will be available if coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to play him. It’s not a surprise, but for Skelton to open the season as starter and now be inactive with Kevin Kolb also out is an amazing journey.

Safety Rashad Johnson (hamstring) will sit out, meaning Adrian Wilson could get extended time beyond his play in the base defense, although James Sanders is available. This, again, could end up being Wilson’s final home game with the Cards depending on what the Cards do with him this offseason.

Others inactive:

– G Senio Kelemete

– OL Mike Gibson (calf)

– TE Kory Sperry

– WR Early Doucet (concussion)

– DE Ronald Talley (ankle)


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Punt return royalty seeks to regain shine

Posted by Darren Urban on December 21, 2012 – 1:28 pm

Two of the four players in NFL history who have four punt return touchdowns in a season will be returning punts Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I think it’s going to be fun, having Devin Hester on one end and Patrick Peterson on the other,” Peterson said. “I believe that calls for a good show.”

Whether it actually produces anything remains to be seen. Both Peterson and Hester have been quiet this season on punt returns. Hester has averaged just nine yards on 34 tries, with a long of 44. His average is well below his career average of 12.3 yards a return. Peterson, of course, has also been slowed. He has an average of 8.6 yards on 47 tries (and has lost three fumbles). Neither Peterson or Hester has a touchdown this season.

Peterson has talked a few times about trying to break out on punt returns. But he is playing well at cornerback, and the always confident Peterson will not sway from his belief the big punt return will still come.

“It doesn’t bother me,” Peterson said. “At the end of the day the Arizona Cardinals drafted me to be a defensive back. The punt returns are a plus. When my opportunities comes, I will try my best and I want to break one. But teams now are so dialed in, when (number) 21 has the ball in his hands, bottle him up on the sideline and if you don’t, have all 11 hats to the ball.”

– Wide receiver Early Doucet (concussion) and newcomer offensive lineman Mike Gibson (calf) — who apparently got hurt in practice this week after re-signing — are both out Sunday. The Cardinals have a bunch of players questionable, although both safeties Rashad Johnson and James Sanders were upgraded to limited Friday. In addition to those two, the questionable list includes T Nate Potter, FB Anthony Sherman, LB Quentin Groves, TE Rob Housler, DE Ronald Talley and NT Dan Williams.

The Bears will be without LB Brian Urlacher. DT Henry Melton is doubtful. Questionable are NFL interceptions leader Tim Jennings, LB Blake Costanzo, WR Earl Bennett and T Jonathan Scott.

PPPuntReturnUSE

 


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Dan Williams sits out, Hoyer inactive

Posted by Darren Urban on December 16, 2012 – 12:43 pm

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


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Sunday in the rear view; Lindley back as starter

Posted by Darren Urban on December 12, 2012 – 2:56 pm

The other day defensive tackle Nick Eason was saying that, in the aftermath of the Cards’ 58-0 loss in Seattle, that the players were simply going to go back to work. “That’s all we can do,” Eason said, noting that they were football players, and this was just another week of football.

So the reaction Wednesday coming off what in some ways was a historic loss was just like the Cards have done every Wednesday after their other losses. And their wins, for that matter.

“It was a typical practice,” defensive end Calais Campbell said. “We were flying around. Same as it has been all season.”

Quarterback Ryan Lindley noted “you try to forget about (Sunday) as quick as possible.” “We did some things all right (today),” Lindley said. “Wednesday is always an up and down day because you are putting new stuff in. (Thursday) will be better.”

The message wasn’t going to change much. There are guys banged up — wide receiver Early Doucet suffered a concussion, and the Cards could use nose tackle Dan Williams given their woes stopping the run, but Williams was also sitting out with his bad hamstring — yet that isn’t going to stop the schedule and the three games left.

“I don’t think anybody was happy,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said after practice. “They’re all upset about what happened. They worked well today. Came back out here and had good energy. That’s a painful thing to go through and we went through and looked at why that happened, tried to correct those things, and worked on correcting them today. That’s all you can do.”

– Whisenhunt named Lindley his starter for Sunday’s game. Not a surprise, since Lindley finished the game and John Skelton had five turnovers in his brief chance to start again.

– Whiz said it is wait-and-see for new QB Brian Hoyer. I don’t see how he’d play this week. Beyond that? Let’s see how Lindley fares, but I will not be shocked to see Hoyer get a start down the stretch.

– QB Kevin Kolb wants to be back next season. He hasn’t had any discussions about his contract, which would need to be restructured, I’m sure. He said his “heart and soul” are with the Cardinals.


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Receiver picture looks a little better

Posted by Darren Urban on November 30, 2012 – 1:18 pm

Wide receiver Andre Roberts did not practice again Friday, meaning he sat out the entire week with his bad ankle. But he is still listed as questionable to play against the Jets, one of three receivers for the Cards who are questionable. On the good side, the other two questionable — Early Doucet (back) and LaRon Byrd (head) — each we’re upgraded to full practice Friday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he also expects two other players listed as questionable to play barring an unforeseen setback between now and game day: DE Calais Campbell (calf) and running back Beanie Wells (knee). I thought all week Beanie was just precautionary, but if he is listed as questionable, perhaps not.

The other questionable player, QB Kevin Kolb (ribs), seems like a long shot to be active Sunday given his circumstances.

One of those listed as questionable for the Jets, backup QB Tim Tebow, is dealing with fractured ribs. ESPN reported Tebow will be inactive Sunday.


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Campbell still hurting, Heap will sit too

Posted by Darren Urban on November 25, 2012 – 12:56 pm

Injuries will keep defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) and wide receiver Early Doucet (ribs) as inactive today against the Rams, but it would seem that it is a coach’s decision that will keep tight end Todd Heap inactive once again. Heap practiced full all week and was probable for the game, but after missing every game since Week 2 with knee issues, coach Ken Whisenhunt warned that Heap being active on game day would depend on the rest of the 46-man game day roster. With Rob Housler playing a bigger role, Heap just isn’t as crucial at this point.

With Doucet down, rookie Michael Floyd will have to perform, and it means LaRon Byrd is active too.

Besides Heap, Doucet and Campbell, the rest of the inactives:

– QB Kevin Kolb (ribs)

– RB Alfonso Smith (with Beanie back and LaRod Stephens-Howling playing despite sore ribs, Smith must sit)

– G Senio Kelemete

– T Pat McQuistan


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A slot for Andre Roberts

Posted by Darren Urban on November 12, 2012 – 2:16 pm

Rookie first-round pick Michael Floyd is going to be playing more. That’s obvious. But if Floyd plays more, there is a trickle-down effect. In three-receiver sets, that means Early Doucet, coming off a rough game in Green Bay with drops, probably is the odd man out. In two-receiver sets, I still expect Andre Roberts to line up most of the time with Larry Fitzgerald. Roberts has earned that. But in three-receiver sets, Floyd is the prototypical outside receiver. Roberts fits both outside and inside, so it would make sense that in those situations, Roberts would be the slot receiver.

“If Mike played more, he’s just learning the ‘Z’ (position) and I would be forced to go into the slot,” Roberts said. “I don’t know what that would do to my reps. We have a whole bunch of formations. We’ll see.”

Roberts said in his third season, he is expected to be a playmaker. Sometimes those bigger plays are easier done on the outside. But Roberts also understands the need to fill in wherever the team might need him.

“I love playing on the outside,” Roberts said. “You get a lot more deep passes. But I love working in the slot too. The matchups (are good), I think I have a good feel for it. Like Fitz always says, he’s going against the No. 1 corner. And usually the No. 2 guy is on the outside, so the slot gets, not lesser talent but on the depth chart, the No. 3 guy.”


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