It was a play that doesn’t technically mean anything, especially on a day when pads weren’t on and players aren’t hitting much anyway. But running back Ryan Williams
provided the highlight of the second practice of camp (
sorry, we didn’t catch it on video I stand corrected — the play is the final one on the highlight video to the right). He ran left on a play, was hemmed in and made an incredible on-a-dime cutback that staggered a couple of defenders as he moved back right. It was the kind of play that reminds everyone while Williams has potential and why this team drafted him in the second round in the first place.
I’ve been asked a couple of times and, no, I don’t think Williams will be able to unseat Rashard Mendenhall as the starter. But I do think Williams has a chance to get playing time. Carson Palmer praised Williams’ blocking, which is a big deal in Bruce Arians’ offense. One play early in camp doesn’t sew anything up, but it does set a tone. We’ll see where Williams takes it.
– Wide receiver Tyler Shaw and tight end Alex Gottlieb were sitting out practice with undisclosed issues, while wide receiver Robert Gill left the field in the middle of practice with a trainer.
– The Cardinals signed undrafted rookie receiver Nick Edwards (Eastern Washington) and now have two open roster spots left (not including the one technically open while Jonathan Cooper remains unsigned.) Some have asked why the Cards aren’t looking for a vet with Ryan Swope now gone. Simple. They have plenty of capital — money and otherwise — invested in their top three receivers. Plus, they like some of the young receivers — Gill, Jaron Brown and Robert Hawkins in particular — a lot.
– QB coach Freddie Kitchens talked about coming back to work after his near-fatal issue with his aorta in early June. I’ll have much, much more in a story I am working on, but Kitchens said other than getting fatigued at the end of the day, he is doing well. “The worst thing that could have happened to me missed its opportunity,” Kitchens said.
– The first padded practice comes Sunday. I’m hearing there could be many of them, many more than what we saw under Ken Whisenhunt. The BA era will be fun to watch unfold.
– Finally, after I saw the Colts’ Reggie Wayne arrived at training camp in a helicopter, I had to needle Fitz a little bit on Twitter. As usual, he played it perfectly:
.@Cardschatter When I make playoffs w/ 106 catches + 1,355yds maybe but 5-11 700 yd season they barely let me in back door 4 camp this year.
— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) July 28, 2013
Tags: Alex Gottlieb, Freddie Kitchens, Larry Fitzgerald, Nick Edwards, Rashard Mendenhall, Reggie Wayne, Robert Gill, Ryan Williams, Tyler Shaw
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Only two months removed from emergency surgery to repair an aortic dissection, QB coach Freddie Kitchens is ready to get back to work.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Cardinals, Freddie Kitchens, National Football League, NFL
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Freddie Kitchens sat in his office Friday afternoon, going over some things with training camp about to start. That the quarterbacks coach was back so soon after emergency surgery to repair an aortic dissection in early June is incredible in itself, especially since Kitchens nearly died. But coach Bruce Arians talked Monday about Kitchens being cleared to return to work — which, believe it or not, had been the plan for Kitchens pretty early on — even if it might be limited for a little while. For instance, there will be on-field QB work at the team facility the next couple of days in which Arians will not let Kitchens take part in. Recovery is ongoing and he is still building back his stamina, but Kitchens said he was looking forward to getting back into the meeting room and working with his quarterbacks and the staff.
“What am I going to do, sit in my recliner?” Kitchens said.
Kitchens, who was Alabama’s quarterback the one year Arians was offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide, is getting his first chance to be an NFL quarterbacks coach after coaching tight ends with the Cowboys and Cardinals during his NFL career. Amazingly, his opportunity was only put on hold for about seven weeks.
“I’m ready to go,” Kitchens said.
Tags: Freddie Kitchens
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It had been noticeable, after six years of watching John Lott gather the players at the outset of every practice and listen to him bellow instructions for a stretch, that the Cardinals weren’t stretching before their workouts since Bruce Arians arrived. The reason was simple. Arians wants his guys stretching on their own and being ready to practice when practice starts.
“I know this,” Arians deadpanned. “If a guy starts chasing you with a gun, you’re not going to stretch.”
Point taken. Obviously, players need to get loose (not that it can be that hard in 105 degrees right now) but Arians’ major point is that they should be professional enough to do it on their own. In the meantime, the Cardinals ended their minicamp today after a brief walkthrough. They were out there for about 30 minutes doing light work before backup kicker Will Batson was given the chance to boot a 48-yard field goal. Good, and the veterans saw the end of their offseason work. Miss, and practice would go on. Batson hit it, to the celebration of all (although I am really curious to know if it would have continued with a miss. We’ll never know.)
So here are some notes, thoughts and observations after an offseason of work:
– The Cardinals are pretty healthy, to which Arians was happy. “You cross your fingers every day,” he said, but rehabbing guys like Levi Brown and O’Brien Schofield had immersed themselves back into all the work by the time it was over. There were some dings but nothing that should be an issue by the time camp starts. That doesn’t include, right now, the very much unknown situation of rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope. Arians already said he was hopeful Swope would be ready for camp. I don’t know if anyone can know for sure right now.
– Arians said his guys have to be in better shape. He emphasized that should come if the players keep working. Carson Palmer already said that should be happening, and Larry Fitzgerald made it sound like he is expecting more Cardinals than ever before to show up at his Minnesota workouts (and also some in San Diego, where Palmer lives.)
– While I will take my pre-vacation guesstimates at lineups next week like I usually do, Arians clearly hasn’t set much in stone. That’s because football “is a noise-level game,” he said, and the noise level doesn’t exist in the offseason in shorts. Some things are guarantees as you would think, Palmer and Fitz and Peterson and Campbell and Dockett among them. But there is wiggle room for training camp upsets.
– We are far from setting a roster too. But some of the undrafted guys who made positive impressions include receivers Jaron Brown, Charles Hawkins and Robert Gill, nose tackle Padric Scott and tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb. We’ll have to see if that can carry through training camp.
– Arians is going to spend a few weeks at his lake home in Georgia during his vacation, which for the coaches starts now as well. Arians will also be hosting his first charity golf tournament June 24-25 in Georgia. He made sure to invite anyone from Arizona who wants to come, so, if you are looking for something to do …
– Rookies will stay one more week with Lott. The veterans are out.
– Arians said recuperating quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens stopped by the facility. Arians isn’t sure that was the best thing given Kitchens’ health but “he wanted to see his quarterbacks.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Charles Hawkins, Freddie Kitchens, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jaron Brown, John Lott, Padric Scott, Robert Gill
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Cardinals QB coach Freddie Kitchens has been released from the Arizona Heart Hospital following his emergency surgery to repair his aorta last week. He has returned home, although he will have limitations on his activities and visitors. Kitchens is expected to return as QB coach, likely limited in the beginning, at some point during training camp. It’s great news for Kitchens, who, had things not been covered so well by the Cards’ training staff last week, might not even be alive right now. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who was coincidentally out here the day after Kitchens’ surgery reporting for a future story, wrote today that 80 percent of such cases like Kitchens results in death. That we are talking about his return to coaching is a great thing.
Kitchens released a statement through the team:
“There are so many people that I’ll be indebted to for the rest of my life and ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem near enough. First to the Cardinals medical staff, (head athletic trainer) Tom Reed and his crew, (team physician) Dr. (Wayne) Kuhl. They recognized immediately that something was wrong, even when I wouldn’t admit it. They knew enough to send me right away to Chandler Regional (Medical Center) where the ER staff and attending physician jumped right in and knew how critical the situation was. They airlifted me to Arizona Heart Hospital and made the arrangements for Dr. (Andrew) Goldstein and the surgery team there to operate on me through the night.
“Looking back, I have no doubt – none whatsoever – that I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the those people. I’ve played or coached football my whole life so I can definitely appreciate teamwork and a smooth, efficient operation but the work those doctors, nurses and medical personnel do is just incredible. Again, I wouldn’t be alive without them. I’m overwhelmed by the prayers and kindness everyone has sent my way; from the Cardinals, throughout the NFL, in Arizona, Alabama and everywhere else. I realize how truly fortunate I am and the blessing I have been given.”
Tags: Freddie Kitchens, Peter King
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Bruce Arians was planning on seeing recuperating QBs coach Freddie Kitchens in the hospital Thursday afternoon, as the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013 OTAs earlier in the day. Kitchens, of course, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday night to fix his aorta. Arians said he received a text from Kitchens’ wife Ginger that Freddie “took a lap down to X-ray and walked back and was breathing fine” Thursday morning. Doctors took the tube out of Kitchens last night, and while it was a rough night, Kitchens was doing much better today.
“Something just didn’t seem right,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, echoing the thoughts of fellow QB Drew Stanton. “Freddie is about a tough of a guy as you are going to meet. We had the trainers come and look at him. Freddie is lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.
“We’ve just been praying and thanking God that he’s doing better … The first thing I thought of was his wife Ginger. She had to fly across the continent and I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
– As for the team in the meantime, assistant head coach Tom Moore (talking to the quarterbacks, below, Wednesday) is taking Kitchens’ spot for now. Moore has been a integral part of the quarterbacks’ learning curve up until this point anyway. “He’ll keep the seat warm until Freddie gets back,” Arians said.
– OTAs are over. The Cardinals have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week (with Fan Fest at the outset on Tuesday) before the vets scatter for the summer. The rookies will stick around a little longer.
– Arians said next week’s goal is just to “continue” and “watching the little mistakes disappear.” The offense is “97, 98 percent done.” The defense “might add a blitz or two.” Arians joked that the Cards worked on taking a safety during today’s workout and “usually that’s the end of training camp.”
– Arians was asked if he had any concerns about the struggles of Levi Brown in the past. Once again, Arians backed up his left tackle.
“I don’t really care (of Brown’s past),” Arians said. “I don’t care about anybody. You start with a new slate. It’s what you do now.”
Arians reiterated he sees Brown as “elite” when he is playing well. And there is little question Arians doesn’t use the term lightly when you consider how important he sees the position.
“If you have to protect your left tackle all the time you’re really game planning with one hand behind your back,” Arians said. “You can find guys who can run and catch, you can find guys who can play in the middle. But left tackle and quarterback, God makes them.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Fan Fest, Freddie Kitchens, Levi Brown, Tom Moore
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Quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens had to leave Tuesday’s OTA when he wasn’t feeling well. Turned out he had a defect in his aorta that needed surgery. Kitchens is doing well this morning. Here is the team’s official statement:
“During Tuesday’s practice Freddie Kitchens began to feel ill – dizzy, light-headed – and was sent to the training room. After being evaluated by the team’s medical staff it was determined that he should be taken to the hospital for more evaluation and testing. During that process, a CT scan revealed a defect to his aorta that required surgery, which he had Tuesday night at the Arizona Heart Institute. According to the doctors who performed the surgery, it went very well and the early prognosis is positive. The Kitchens family is grateful to everyone who has and continues to extend their support, well wishes and prayers.”
UPDATE: Head Coach Bruce Arians credited the quarterbacks for making sure Kitchens was looked at by head athletic trainer Tom Reed. Quarterback Drew Stanton said the group was just having their normal warm-up conversations before Tuesday’s workout.
“Anyone who knows Freddie’s personality, he’s jovial and easy-going,” Stanton said. “He was joking around asking if a heart attack is on the left or right side, going for the chuckle, and then said ‘Actually, it’s kind of in the middle here.’ I told him, ‘Freddie, that sounds kind of serious,’ and Carson (Palmer) said ‘Yeah Freddie, you don’t look so good, you’re kind of flush.’ He tried to say he was OK, but we called Tom over and he was monitoring him.
“Luckily and thank God it worked out and he was taken care of in time. It puts things in perspective real quick. You count your blessings, things that we might just take for granted.”
The team held a pre-practice prayer for Kitchens Wednesday.
Kitchens has been on staff since 2007 and was the tight ends coach before moving to coach quarterbacks when Bruce Arians arrived. The one-time quarterback at Alabama was coached by Arians for a season with the Crimson Tide. While Kitchens recovers, the Cardinals have assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore who can work with the quarterbacks.
Tags: Drew Stanton, Freddie Kitchens, Tom Moore
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »
When Michael Bidwill said yesterday on the radio Kevin Kolb’s contract is “probably something we’re going to need to address,” it wasn’t a surprise. Everyone covering this team has been saying the same thing, that the $11 million Kolb is owed in 2013 (a $2 million roster bonus in March and a $9 million salary) was never going to make it through March.
There was always going to be an element of a game of chicken between the sides. The Cardinals need a quarterback, and Kolb knows that. He also knows there are other teams out there that need a quarterback. But even if the Cards are going to slice that salary, he still might make more in Arizona than elsewhere. Given Kolb’s unfortunate injury history, no one is going to hand him a starting job, whether it is the Cardinals or elsewhere.
I have had some questions today about Kolb’s health. When I last spoke to Kolb the day Arians was hired (via text) he said his ribs were doing well. I don’t expect those to hinder him in the offseason, for those worried his 2013 could be in jeopardy. Obviously he has to stay healthy once the games begin, but there shouldn’t be 2012 aftereffects.
I believe Kolb likes the Cardinals and wants to stay, but not at the expense of a better contract. The rules are such that this coaching staff will not get a chance to see Kolb live before contract decisions must be made (although QB coach Freddie Kitchens and GM Steve Keim have both seen Kolb enough to give a proper assessment.)
Kolb hitting the open market wouldn’t be a shock, even if he returns, a la Levi Brown. Kolb’s will-he-or-won’t-he status will be the story of the pre-free agent period.
Tags: Freddie Kitchens, Kevin Kolb, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals finally released a list of their new coaching staff Tuesday. They had already announced, after the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians, the addition of assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Now comes 13 new names, along with keeping four holdover coaches:
– Special teams coordinator: Amos Jones (last job, special teams coach, Pittsburgh Steelers)
– Quarterbacks: Freddie Kitchens
– Wide receivers: Darryl Drake (receivers coach, Chicago Bears)
– Running backs: Stump Mitchell (head coach, Southern University)
– Tight ends: Rick Christophel (head coach, Austin Peay)
– Assistant tight ends, assistant special teams: Steve Heiden (tight ends coach, Concordia University)
– Assistant offensive line: Larry Zierlein (OL coach, Hartford of UFL; was Steelers’ OL coach from’07-’09)
– Defensive line: Brentson Buckner (intern DL coach, Steelers, 2010-12)
– Pass rush: Tom Pratt (consultant, IMG Academy)
– Linebackers: Mike Caldwell (linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles)
– Outside linebackers: James Bettcher (special assistant to head coach, Indianapolis Colts)
– Defensive backs: Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator, University of Deleware)
– Cornerbacks: Kevin Ross (safeties coach, Oakland Raiders)
– Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs: Ryan Slowik
– Offensive assistant: Kevin Garver (offensive assistant, University of Alabama)
– Strength and conditioning: John Lott
– Assistant strength and conditioning: Pete Alosi
An interesting note: the offensive line doesn’t have a offensive line coach per se. Duties teaching the line will be split between Zierlein, Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who has spent his coaching career as an offensive line coach.
Kitchens had been coaching tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt, but moves to quarterbacks, a position Kitchens played in college. Slowik was outside linebackers coach on the last staff, and of course, Lott and Alosi remain in their former jobs. The staff of 21 is four more coaches than was on Whisenhunt’s staff. Arians said he preferred to have extra coaches on staff, and said he likes the diversity of experience and youth. The group moved into offices and began their meetings today. More in a bit on azcardinals.com, including more background on the new group. (And here it is.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Brentson Buckner, Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Darryl Drake, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, James Bettcher, John Lott, Kevin Garver, Kevin Ross, Larry Zierlein, Mike Caldwell, Nick Rapone, offensive line, Pete Alosi, Rick Christophel, Ryan Slowik, Steve Heiden, Stump Mitchell, Todd Bowles, Tom Moore, Tom Pratt
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The Cardinals still have not officially announced their full coaching staff, past the the three top assistants. Usually the team likes to wait until everything is finalized with everyone before putting out the full list, as opposed to putting it all out piecemeal. But that doesn’t mean word hasn’t gotten out here and there as coaches are at the Senior Bowl or talk to hometown newspapers or the like. So, from that, here are the names circulating in various spots:
– Wide receivers: Darryl Drake, long-time receivers coach for the Bears;
– Running back: Todd McNair, former USC running backs coach who played in the NFL and for Arians at Temple;
– Tight ends: Rick Christophel, who had been head coach at Austin Peay;
– Defensive line: Brentson Buckner, a former 12-year defensive lineman in the NFL in his first NFL job (he interned with the Steelers from 2010 to 2012, and Arians was there a couple of those years);
– Linebackers: Mike Caldwell, who had been on the Eagles’ staff with new DC Todd Bowles and played for the Cardinals in 1997;
– Pass rush: Tom Pratt, who has been working with potential draftees at IMG in recent years;
– Defensive backs: Nick Rapone, who had been DC at the University of Deleware and coached with Arians at Temple;
– Special teams: Amos Jones, who worked with Arians in Pittsburgh;
– Offensive quality control: Kevin Garver, formerly of Alabama.
There is also holdover coach Freddie Kitchens, who was coaching tight ends but now is expected to coach quarterbacks. Kitchens played quarterback at Alabama and was a senior starter there when Arians was offensive coordinator in 1997. There are other spots still open, too, obviously, as we wait for official word.
Tags: Amos Jones, Brentson Buckner, coaching staff, Darryl Drake, Freddie Kitchens, Kevin Garver, Mike Caldwell, Nick Rapone, Rick Christophel, Todd McNair, Tom Pratt
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