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Blogs

Packers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 4, 2012 – 6:30 pm

Perfection isn’t an option. Everyone knows that. But that means a couple of mistakes, not many. If Adrian Wilson is going to miss on a red-zone tackle that ultimately cost the Cardinals four points – the difference between a touchdown and a field goal – then Early Doucet can’t drop a couple of passes that should have gone for first downs, and John Skelton can’t force a ball into coverage that ends up being intercepted (and turned into a field goal) and the defense can’t get caught allowing a 72-yard touchdown pass, whether it was Paris Lenon or someone else.

Both sides of the ball had slow starts again Sunday. That wasn’t happening early in the year. The defense was punctured too many times in the first half. That wasn’t happening earlier in the year. The Cardinals lost again. That wasn’t happening earlier in the year.

What that means on the other side of the upcoming bye – a road trip to the currently undefeated Atlanta Falcons is up next – is anyone’s guess.

“It don’t get no easier, that’s for sure,” defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said.

Dockett was talking about the schedule. Hopefully he wasn’t foreshadowing how the Cards will play the rest of the season.

– The “big” story of the game, if you want to call it that, was the insertion of Nate Potter at left tackle. I thought during the game he held up well after coming in to replace D’Anthony Batiste in the second quarter. Potter got a lot of first-team work during practice last week so it wasn’t a surprise to see him. I’m guessing we will see him a lot more, and now he’ll have two weeks to prep for what I would suspect will be his first NFL start.

– No idea what has happened to the defense, especially early in games. They are playing well after some time, but those early hiccups are killing the Cards. Clearly the Cards set up to foil the Packers’ passing game Sunday, so the Packers said “OK, we’ll run.” And they ran for a season-high 176 yards, while Aaron Rodgers still got his four TD passes. If Wilson had just been able to make that first tackle of Randall Cobb on the catch-and-run – it was déjà vu of the Michael Crabtree San Francisco in-close catch-and-run – who knows how that might’ve changed things?

– The drops were not good, especially those of Doucet. According to Mike Sando of ESPN.com fame, Doucet already has six drops this season. “I had a couple of plays that I let get away from me,” Doucet said. “I need to do my job.” The question will be how many chances he’ll get to do that. Given Whiz’s post-game comments, this could easily be the point where Michael Floyd gets more playing time going forward. Floyd did have his best overall game, with five catches for 80 yards.

As for Doucet, Whiz shook his head when asked about what was wrong with Early, although he certainly wasn’t going to scapegoat his receiver. “I do not know. I do not know,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s not just him. We missed tackles. We missed a tackle on the first touchdown. There was a busted play on the 72 yard touchdown pass. That’s the point of what I am saying.”

– So much for the sack fest everyone – including me – was expecting. One sack for the Cards, two for the Packers.

– Whisenhunt was asked, again, about the possibility of rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley playing.

“I don’t know if the way that John (Skelton) played today would warrant that,” Whisenhunt said. “We feel like we’re going to go forward looking for the guys that can help us win. If that comes up in that situation, then we will certainly consider it.”

Personally, I didn’t think it was the quarterback play that got the Cards. There may be a point where the record dictates the Cards should try the rookie behind center. I don’t believe this is that time. Not yet.

– The Cards will have a couple of practices this week. There are multiple days off, something I believe is mandated by the CBA. I don’t know if this team needs a break – “After a loss, the one thing you want to do is get back on the field and play,” Lenon said – but I can’t say that I don’t welcome the mental respite.


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Niners aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on October 29, 2012 – 11:20 pm

Ken Whisenhunt called it a test, Monday night’s game. The grade was not good. The defeat was very methodical, but that’s the 49ers, isn’t it? The Niners’ run game gashed the Cards early, then when the Cards stiffened San Francisco went to the air, and it’s just too hard to score against that defense. Not when the Cards’ offense is looking for answers.

“We have to get tougher and more physical and get after them that way because at this point we aren’t doing a whole bunch of things successfully,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “We just have to start punching people in the mouth.”

There was absolutely no room to run. LaRod Stephens-Howling was swamped almost every time he carried the ball, and the run game was hurting more than it was helping. With a game in Lambeau this coming weekend against an offense that can score a lot more than the 49ers do, the Cards need to find a way to generate more points. Yes, that’s obvious. But that’s also the fact.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked if he was comfortable with the starting offense. Like Larry Fitzgerald said later, noting that the guys in the locker room were the ones who were going to be in it for the long haul, Whiz knows options are limited.

“I guess we don’t have a lot of choices,” Whisenhunt said. “We’re always looking to get better, but we have to do a better job of taking advantage of our opportunities.”

So, although the trading deadline is coming up, I’m not expecting Steven Jackson or DeAngelo Williams to come walking through that door. And certainly not Kurt Warner.

– Darnell Dockett said the first thing after the loss he thought of wasn’t the four-game losing streak. It was Whisenhunt.

“We are letting our coach down,” Dockett said. “I think Coach Whiz is very fair with us, he’s a player’s coach and I feel like as players we are not giving enough back to him. I felt that more than anything after the game. He’s really been looking out for us. He works us hard but he wants us to be more mature. I felt we let him down in the Buffalo game. He asked us to give him everything we got and I felt some of us didn’t. We didn’t last week. I can see it on his face.”

– Dockett talked about players staying professional, which is why they won’t slide off the map this season, even with things looking grim. But he said he was ready to say some things that were said first by Whisenhunt.

“Coach called out a lot of things today that I wanted to say to some guys,” Dockett said. “Guys in the training room that we need on the field. We need them. Hopefully the message rings a bell.”

– That was the first time the Cards had allowed more than 21 points in a game this season. The defense did not play well, and in a game that was supposed to be a tight, defensive affair, the early missed tackles are unacceptable. But it’s not like the Niners hung 45 on them.

– That huge hit Dashon Goldson put on Early Doucet made me think of the scuffle they got into last year. Not that it had anything to do with the hit itself, but funny how those two keep meeting. Physically.

– Niners coach Jim Harbaugh obviously didn’t like the stories about quarterback Alex Smith losing confidence or Harbaugh losing confidence in him. So, after Smith completed 18 of 19 passes and was nearly perfect, Harbaugh had his shot when asked about the showing helping Smith’s confidence.

“I don’t think there was ever a question there,” Harbaugh said. “I think it’s just a lot of gobble, gobble, turkey. Just gobble, gobble, gobble, turkey. That paints a pretty good picture. He’s a very confident guy.”

Alrighty then.

– Linebacker Daryl Washington had two sacks again. He becomes the first Cardinal to have two sacks in back-to-back games since Eric Swann did it back in 1999.

– The Cardinals are only the third team ever to start a season 4-0 and then lose their next four games. The first team to do that, the 1993 Philadelphia Eagles, finished the season 8-8. OK, not ideal. But the 2002 Oakland Raiders ended up going 11-5 and making it to the Super Bowl. Obviously, I’m not predicting that, but this losing streak does not have to be a death knell.

– Now, if the Cards can’t generate more offense, well, that could be the death knell. I can’t remember points being at such a premium for this team. But they were finding ways to score some points earlier this season. It can’t be that they have just forgotten. They’ll never be the Patriots or Packers, but it shouldn’t be like this and they know it. That’s why the frustration grows.

It’s late. It’s a short week, and I have a long drive home. We can talk more tomorrow.


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Skelton questionable and Kolb’s family question

Posted by Darren Urban on September 21, 2012 – 1:16 pm

Quarterback John Skelton was limited again Friday with his sore ankle and will be questionable for the game. Kevin Kolb figures to start against the Eagles — the only reason I say “figures” is because coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t actually declare it to be true — but even he has a factor involved in his playing. Kolb’s wife is due with their third child Oct. 4, but at this point, you never know when a baby will come. It’s possible it could come on a Sunday, and Kolb is very aware of it.

“I’m just hoping it doesn’t present itself, let’s put it that way,” Kolb said. “I don’t want to have to make that decision. I care about both obviously. I would have to lean toward seeing my baby be born, but that’s a long shot (having a conflict) so hopefully it doesn’t present itself.”

Asked the perfect scenario of the birth, Kolb smiled. “The perfect scenario is right after meetings Monday, so I have a day-and-a-half off. But I don’t make the rules, God does. We’ll see what happens.”

Interestingly, the Cards have a game on Oct. 4, a Thursday. That’s the night they play in St. Louis on NFL Network. But by then, Skelton figures to be much healthier too.

– Speaking of Skelton getting healthier and the reoccurring question of this time — who will start at QB when Skelton is healthy again — coach Ken Whisenhunt told “NFL AM” that “it’s going to be the same thing we always do, we’re going to go with the player that we think gives us the best chance to win. Kevin has done exactly what we expected him to do, and that’s come in and played well. I don’t have any expectation of John than wanting to get back healthy and compete for the job. Once we get to that point, we’ll make that decision.”

– Besides Skelton, the Cards have a handful of other players questionable: TE Todd Heap, G Adam Snyder, S James Sanders, S Adrian Wilson and S Rashad Johnson.

– Speaking of Heap, Patriots safety Steve Gregory was fined $7,875 for the late hit on Heap that caused Heap’s knee injury. Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo was fined $21,000 for hitting a defenseless receiver in the head/neck area, after he blasted Early Doucet last weekend. Doucet hung on to the ball. Mayo didn’t launch himself on the play, keeping his feet on the ground, but he definitely got Doucet high (I remember thinking that at the time.) Mayo was not penalized. Gregory was.


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Friday before the Patriots

Posted by Darren Urban on September 14, 2012 – 3:18 pm

Given that Levi Brown is on injured reserve, there are just seven players left on the Cardinals’ roster who were there when the team made its last flight to New England: Adrian Wilson, Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Michael Adams, Lyle Sendlein, Calais Campbell and Early Doucet. What happened that day – an ugly, ugly 47-7 loss in a horrible snowstorm – had both good and bad repercussions.

The showing was terrible. It was the one, in the next-to-last week of the season, where analyst Cris Collinsworth declared the already-NFC West champs the worst to ever make the playoffs. But coach Ken Whisenhunt used it as a jumping-off point to have a padded practice in the rain that week – time to refocus – before the Cards won the season finale against Seattle to finish 9-7. They didn’t lose again until Santonio Holmes decided to rip their collective heart out.

That game means nothing Sunday, really, although it’s tough for any of those players who were around last time to just forget.

“There’s not a lot of guys on this team from the 2008 year, but we remember that butt kicking we took up there in 2008 out there and that didn’t sit well with us then and four years later it still stings,” Fitzgerald said.

“For me I’ll never forget walking off that field and looking at that scoreboard. Just the feeling of embarrassment, disappointment. … They totally tore us down that night. That’s something I still remember very vividly. That was a tough game, the worst game that I ever played in in my professional career.”

There will be no snow this time. The Cards want to make sure a lot of things are different this time around.

– The irony of Fitz saying it was the worst game he ever played in – his career-long reception, 78 yards, came in that game, a late catch-and-run from Matt Leinart for his team’s lone score of the game.

– Leadership means a lot in a game like this, I’d think. I was wondering if a guy like cornerback William Gay, who has faced the Patriots multiple times in his years as a Pittsburgh Steeler, might be able to help a little in terms of familiarity. He quickly dismissed that.

“We have leaders that have been around football for quite some time,” Gay said. “I listen to those guys. Just because I have played them a lot, those veterans still have years over me. Seeing those guys calm, it will calm the rest of the guys down, and that’s what you need. If your leaders are rattled, everyone will be rattled.”

– I don’t know how the Cards are going to approach covering the Patriots’ tight ends. I don’t know if it’ll be the safeties (pictured below) or linebackers, or a combination. The latter seems likely. I know some out there disagree, but Wilson did well in coverage last season. Now, how that will translate against guys like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, we will see. Those two have been impressive.

– The Cards have faced Tom Brady just once – in 2004, when he came to Sun Devil Stadium and won, 23-12, when the Patriots were at the peak of their Super Bowl-winning powers. Matt Cassel, of course, was the QB in 2008 after Brady wrecked his knee in the season-opener that season.

– This is only the third visit the Cards have made to New England since moving to Arizona. The score of the 1996 trip was 31-0 Patriots, so adding in the 2008 game, it hasn’t been a pleasant place to play.

– Fitz needs three catches for 700 in his career. Tight end Todd Heap needs six for 500. And speaking of milestones, Sunday will be defensive end Vonnie Holliday’s 200th game.

– The constant talk of Skelton/Kolb has been exhausting to a point this week. Obviously I think Kolb will start this week. Everyone does, and even Ken Whisenhunt has sent everyone in that direction even if he didn’t officially name a starter. But this is a big deal for Kolb. He had his moment last week, but the moment is over. There will be plenty of eyes on him across the NFL landscape Sunday, not just those in Arizona.

– Defensive coordinator Ray Horton called his unit’s first game “an excellent start” but that it could have been better. “I was looking at the things we left on the table, and we left a fantastic, great, dominating game on the table,” Horton said. “We have room to improve.”

– This is a testing ground for the string of tough road games the Cards have this season. Trips to Green Bay, Atlanta, the Jets all come later. The long plane rides are par for the course. The Cards need to have a good showing. In a game where the Pats are opening the home schedule, and adding former fan favorite and team MVP Troy Brown to the franchise’s Hall of Fame, fighting those emotions won’t be easy.

See you Sunday.


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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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Quarterbacks staying patient

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2012 – 6:53 pm

The wait for a quarterback is going to continue. And the quarterbacks know this.

Both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb were unfazed today when it was relayed that coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn’t see “any reason” to make a decision on the starting quarterback before the final preseason game. It makes sense, because in the past, Whisenhunt waited too, whether it was Leinart-Warner or Anderson-Leinart. But Whiz insisted the past had nothing to do with the present.

“As superstitious everyone thinks I am, I’m not doing it because that’s what we did before,” Whisenhunt said. “I just want to make sure we have enough situational evaluations of these players to make that decision.”

Both quarterbacks insist they aren’t anxious. That’s what they are saying. “I take it day by day,” Kolb said. That’s all they can do. It was pointed out by Kent Somers that the QBs have had a similar number of snaps (33 for Skelton, 32 for Kolb) and I’d think that would continue. So the debate will rage on for at least another week, in all probability.

– Tight end Todd Heap left afternoon practice early with a stinger. Linebacker Daryl Washington was absent with a death in the family. Sitting out practice were cornerback Greg Toler (knee), tight end Steve Skelton (back), linebacker O’Brien Schofield (knee), safety Rashad Johnson (abdomen strain), fullback Jared Crank (neck) and wide receiver Early Doucet (back).


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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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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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After the Floyd pick, and other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2012 – 9:06 pm

If I am Andre Roberts, there isn’t anything else I can really say but bring it on. And that’s what the Cards’ receiver did — in the right way — by embracing the Michael Floyd draft choice by calling it “a great pick.” He said on XTRA 910 that the Cards needed another receiver because “it is a passing league.” How he deals with this — or how Early Doucet does — will be one of the stories of camp. Floyd is a No. 1 draft pick. He’s not a third-rounder like Roberts and Doucet once were. He’s going to have to play. He’s supposed to play. In some ways, this feels like the wide receiving corps has come full-circle (at least potentially) since the 2008 draft, when Doucet was taken and joined Fitz, Boldin and Breaston.

But as Whiz said, “Michael Floyd hasn’t done one thing in this league as a player.” He must prove himself. And we all know how Whisenhunt prefers to deal with rookies, at least at first.

– The Cards will get a tackle at some point. Maybe even the next pick, in the third round. “I think there will be opportunities there,” general manager Rod Graves said. “We certainly hope so. We are not going to do it at the expense of other magnificent players.” In other words, we need to stick to the draft board.

– In the feedback I have gotten, some aren’t thrilled the Cards passed on T Riley Reiff to take Floyd. Here’s my analogy: It was the flip-side of Levi Brown/Adrian Peterson of 2007. You have to take the player you feel is the best, and go from there. That’s what the Cards did. You can’t take a guy for need if the other guy is rated so much better. You just can’t.

Is Fitz happy the Cards have Floyd? Yes. Did they take him for Fitz? I absolutely don’t believe that. I think they thought that much of him as a player. That the team’s star likes him is a bonus.

– I will be honest: I thought the Cards were going to end up trading. I was wrong.

– Never say never, but don’t be waiting for a second-round pick. They just don’t have the ammunition to get into the second round. “We’re not going to sit idle,” Graves said. “As it stands right now, we don’t have a second-round pick so there is not a lot we can do but wait. We will see what happens.”

– Floyd, on the plan to start from Day One: “That’s my goal. I’m going to keep working hard. That’s in my arsenal, that’s in my head that I’m a workaholic. I’m going to work hard to get in that position.”

– Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly couldn’t stop raving about Floyd’s work ethic, how he grew from his off-field problems, and how he graduated with a degree in sociology in 3 1/2 years. “You could consider Mike a raw receiver in a sense that he can get better in the technical elements of route running and things of that nature,” Kelly said. “But he is certainly a guy that attacks the football and attacks defenders. And blocking, he is an outstanding blocker.”


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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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