Inevitably, most of the talk with the draft and the Cardinals has been about pass rushers and quarterbacks, as it should be. Those remain the two greatest areas of need. But, as many of you have pointed out before, offensive line is a unit that cannot be ignored. How the Cardinals analyze that need could dictate how the draft plays out (assuming, right now, that there is no free agency period before the draft).
Center Lyle Sendlein and guards Alan Faneca and Deuce Lutui all have expired contracts. I think the Cards feel good about bringing Sendlein back. Faneca and Lutui are much bigger unknowns. Faneca is wanted back, but he is considering retirement. Lutui is considering a fat contract, and the fact he hasn’t gotten one in Arizona yet could ultimately lead him to take an offer elsewhere.
Without knowing what the free agent rules will be, it’s impossible to know exactly what free agents will be available. It’s safe to say Levi Brown will remain at tackle – I assume on the left side; there is no reason to think otherwise – while Brandon Keith is going to have to show he is better than veteran Jeremy Bridges at the other tackle. The reason the Cards signed Rex Hadnot to a three-year deal was for exactly this scenario, and he can step in if there ends up a guard vacancy.
(It’s weird to be talking about a potential offensive lineman depth shortage, after the Cards collected so many last year that they were forced to trade long-time starter Reggie Wells to relieve the logjam.)
The Cards aren’t going to go offensive lineman with their first pick, but after that, I could see it at any point. Finding someone to begin grooming – a la Keith – now that Herman Johnson has left seems crucial. There seems to be some line depth in the draft, especially at tackle, again with the knowledge decent interior guys can often be found later or undrafted.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Deuce Lutui, draft, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Rex Hadnot
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As expected, the Cardinals made a roster move at quarterback today, putting Max Hall on injured reserve with his bad shoulder and signing UFL graduate and former Redskin Richard Bartel for the rest of the season. I do not expect a decision on the starting QB to be made public today (although you never know). Bartel was with Washington last season and this preseason and with Cleveland in 2008. He has never appeared in a regular season game, although he did complete 12-of-14 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals in the preseason finale.
While coach Ken Whisenhunt did not rule out a new signee to start right away at QB, I still expect it to be either John Skelton or Derek Anderson. Skelton seems to be more likely, but predicting such things hasn’t been easy.
UPDATE: The Cardinals have also lost offensive lineman Herman Johnson off the practice squad when Johnson was signed to Chicago’s active roster. Johnson, the Cards’ 2008 fifth-round pick, long battled weight issues and the writing may have been on the wall when, after Brandon Keith went down with a season-ending injury, the Cards decided to sign D’Anthony Batiste to fill the roster spot instead of promoting Johnson.
Tags: D'Anthony Batiste, Herman Johnson, Max Hall, Richard Bartel
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The Cardinals have put together a practice squad. Three newcomers are joining G Tom Pestock, T Herman Johnson and WR Isaiah Williams. RB Ian Johnson, cut by the Vikings, is best known for being the Boise State hero in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl who ended up proposing to his now-wife at University of Phoenix Stadium after the game. The Cards are also adding WR Tim Brown — no, not that one — who was cut by the Giants (and who played for receivers coach John McNulty when both were at Rutgers) and LB Curtis Gatewood, cut by the Redskins. Gatewood has bounced around with the Lions, Chiefs, Eagles and Steelers as well as an inside ‘backer. The Cardinals still have two spots to fill, although that is expected to happen sooner rather than later.
Oh, and it’s now official the Cards brought in the three waiver claim players: FB Jerome Johnson, LB Cyril Obiozor and CB Brandon McDonald.
P.S. Adrian Wilson and his foundation are hosting an ice cream social on tomorrow (Tuesday) from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Cold Stone Creamery headquarters in Scottsdale. (9311 E. Via De Ventura). Stop by and help A-Dub help the less fortunate. For more info: http://www.adrianwilsonfoundation.org/
Tags: Brandon McDonald, Curtis Gatewood, Cyril Obiozor, Herman Johnson, Ian Johnson, Isaiah Williams, Jerome Johnson, practice squad, Tim Brown, Tom Pestock
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Deuce Lutui still has to fend off Rex Hadnot to stay the starting right guard, but Lutui is the guy for now, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. So everyone wanted to talk to Lutui after practice today, and while Deuce was holding court in front of the cameras, fellow O-lineman Jeremy Bridges nailed him in the face with a shaving cream pie.
(I think everyone should have known the “pie” was shaving cream, although Deuce admitted after, “I thought it was a cream pie until I started licking my lips.”)
It’s been a long offseason for Lutui, taking criticism from everyone because of his weight. He shrugged it off. “It’s not the first time I’ve been called fat before,” Lutui said. He insisted he was working out on his own and was thinking about other things, like working on his U.S. citizenship, so “It’s not like I was just standing in one place.”
“I came back in shape,” Lutui added. “Maybe not the weight they wanted, but I passed the condition test.”
He said he was surprised Reggie Wells was in his starting spot when he returned, but he kept working with the backups and the starters. Lutui played a lot in the preseason, deep into games unlike previous years, but he was OK with that. Now Wells has been traded and Lutui has his job back. “I just became that hungry dog, fighting to get my position back,” Lutui said, adding it helps him if he is in a constant battle to fight for his team. But he also never thought he’d be anything but a starter.
Among other things as the Cards returned to practice today:
— No injury report, because the Cards don’t need to put one out yet. Whisenhunt did say WR Larry Fitzgerald is still on pace to to return although he is working on his conditioning after missing so much time. I am guessing that won’t be an issue. RB Beanie Wells’s knee “is not 100 percent,” Whisenhunt added, and “we will see how he progresses during the week.” I still think Beanie plays.
— The Cards are slowly putting together their practice squad. None of the players reportedly claimed yesterday were here yet, but I still expect all three to show. G Tom Pestock, T Herman Johnson and WR Isaiah Williams were brought back to the practice squad, so there are five spots left. I still think CB Marshay Green is a possibility.
— Speaking of Green, Whisenhunt was asked what it was about fellow undrafted rookie CB A.J. Jefferson that kept him on the squad. Many, including me, thought Green was ahead of Jefferson. But Jefferson got the nod. It doesn’t hurt that A.J. is 6-feet, plus there were a pair of plays Whisenhunt noticed. One was Jefferson’s raw speed when he chased down a Redskins’ kick returner. The other was a deep pass Jefferson defended and “didn’t panic” on, which can happen with young corners. My guess is that Jefferson will still be a project.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Beanie Wells, Deuce Lutui, Herman Johnson, Isaiah Williams, Jeremy Bridges, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Marshay Green, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot, Tom Pestock
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Here are the players that have been reported as cut by the Cards so far; when coach Ken Whisenhunt meets with the media at 3 p.m. a full list is expected. Keep checking back here for updates.
Obviously G Reggie Wells was dealt. LB Gerald Hayes (back) was placed on PUP, meaning he’ll miss the first six weeks. And LB Mark Washington was waived/injured:
- TE Anthony Becht
- LB Stevie Baggs
- LB Monty Beisel
- T Herman Johnson
- T Tom Pestock
- LB Cody Brown
- DE Jeremy Clark
- DE John Fletcher
- CB Trevor Ford
- WR Ed Gant
- WR Mike Jones
- WR Onrea Jones
- CB Justin Miller
- G Jonathan Palmer
- FB Charles Scott
- WR Isaiah Williams
WR Max Komar tweeted he made the team, and QB John Skelton has also made the team. Matt Leinart hasn’t gone anywhere yet. Big surprise so far is Brown, given he was a second-round pick. Obviously he is a big disappointment, since the coaches knew what they had even though he didn’t play most of last year.
The Cards still have three moves to make by tomorrow.
Tags: Cody Brown, Herman Johnson, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Matt Leinart, Max Komar, Monty Beisel, Reggie Wells, Stevie Baggs, Tom Pestock
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And then it was over.
The last practice today was a lighter affair — the tempo was still good (these guys wanted to finish ASAP) but it was more slow-mo; for instance, on many of the passes, the DBs let up as the ball approached, just to make sure there wasn’t any stupid contact that could cause an injury. Then the final horn blew and Herman Johnson raised his helmet above his 6-foot-7 head and Tim Hightower chucked his jersey in the air in celebration.
Whisenhunt declined to talk about planned playing time for the Tennessee game. “We have a plan but a lot will depend on how it unfolds,” Whisenhunt said. “I would have never guessed we would have played (QB) Derek (Anderson) into the fourth quarter last week.”
The biggest news of the day was Whiz talking about last night’s rookie show, which included a skit where players — Whiz didn’t indicate who — imitated Whisenhunt, linebackers coach Matt Raich and Larry Fitzgerald doing a breakdancing routine. “We were actually quite good dancers,” Whisenhunt said, and when asked if it was then OK for the rookies to make fun of the head coach, Whiz replied “It didn’t seem to stop them. Guess the only way you can look at it is they feel a lot more comfortable with themselves.”
(P.S. This is a picture of WR Mike Jones. I took it this morning and I liked how it looked, so here it is.)
That’s it. Camp’s over, and I am outta here.
Tags: Herman Johnson, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Raich, Mike Jones, Tim Hightower, training camp
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The players are just getting back to Flagstaff and many won’t even show up to lunch (it isn’t mandatory). But coach Ken Whisenhunt spoke as did Matt Leinart. Much more later, but a few of the highlights:
— Whisenhunt said the offensive production behind the top two quarterbacks “wasn’t good enough.” “I was disappointed we weren’t more effective.” he added.
— Whiz was upset about guys lining up wrong. “A couple of times it was a joke, plays we ran 25 times in 2 weeks, it looked like we were running it the first time.” Mental mistakes were much more prevalent than physical ones.
— Nothing new on WR Larry Fitzgerald’s knee sprain. He will likely sit for a while. “Larry would never take a break, so maybe this is a good thing.” Fitz is expected back for the regular season.
— Leinart said he thinks the offense will get better. “We just don’t want to go backward.”
— No other significant injuries, Whisenhunt said.
— G Deuce Lutui played well and T Herman Johnson played better than he has practiced. Both are trying to reach proper weight, though, and Whisenhunt said both won’t play more until their weight is where it needs to be.
— Whisenhunt praised rookie LB Daryl Washington and QB John Skelton, but both must continue that play to earn moves up the depth chart. They aren’t there yet.
— The Cardinals are going to practice at Arizona State’s practice bubble on Wednesday and Thursday of the final week of the preseason when they get back from Nashville/Chicago and if it goes well, Whisenhunt said they will continue that for a while. “That is something we are talking about,” Whisenhunt said.
— Whisenhunt said Leinart’s not showing up to the postgame press conference was “not an issue” and Leinart said he didn’t think it was a big deal, simply a mistake.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Deuce Lutui, Herman Johnson, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, training camp
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The first practice came and went in relative sunshine! Stunning, I know. But the rain stayed away and the Cards’ first practice — in shells, looking much like a minicamp or OTA workout — was good. But as Ken Whisenhunt said a couple of times, “It’s only the first day.”
The first day did cost the Cards defensive tackle Dean Muhtadi, who hurt his right calf on basically his first step of the conditioning test. For a guy working so hard to stay in shape all offseason, a killer result. Whisenhunt said Muhtadi will be out for a while, although he added, “it’s a long camp.” Whether it is long enough for Muhtadi to make enough of his impression, we will see.
Many of the depth chart choices this early were not unexpected. Trumaine McBride was running across from DRC as first-team cornerbacks, not Greg Toler. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis stressed to me that job opposite DRC is “wide open.” The inside linebackers, with Gerald Hayes hurting, are Monty Beisel and Paris Lenon. Daryl Washington knows what it is to be a rookie; he is third-string behind Lenon and Ali Highsmith.
On offense, Matt Leinart looked pretty good although Derek Anderson got a good chunk of reps too. The offensive line is the same that ended OTAs, with Levi Brown (LT), Alan Faneca (LG), Lyle Sendlein (C), Reggie Wells (RG) and Brandon Keith (RT). Deuce Lutui is second-team RG, next to tackle Herman Johnson. Ben Claxton is second-team center, with Jeremy Bridges at left tackle and Rex Hadnot at left guard.
I’ll have more tonight on the homepage, with notes about Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and their weights, DRC’s injury feelings and a story about the spotlight on the quarterback position.
Tags: Alan Branch, Alan Faneca, Ali Highsmith, Ben Claxton, Bill Davis, Brandon Keith, Daryl Washington, Dean Muhtadi, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, DRC, Gabe Watson, Gerald Hayes, Greg Toler, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Leinart, Monty Beisel, Paris Lenon, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot
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OK kids. Here is part two – The Final Chapter — of my starting lineup blog guesses. Today is the offense, after I offered up the defense yesterday. There seems to be less in flux on the offensive side of the ball, so these are my thoughts of who will be on the field when the Cards go against the Rams in St. Louis Sept. 12:
WR – Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz had a big year with touchdowns but his yardage shrunk. With Anquan Boldin gone, I’d expect Fitz to look for more of everything.
WR – Steve Breaston. Breaston has proven he can be a good receiver in this league. Assuming Early Doucet stays healthy, the Cardinals will still be in good shape at wideout.
FB – Nehemiah Broughton. The position is open, but the Cards liked what they saw from Broughton late last season once they signed him. They will need a bruiser to help in what is expected to be a more prominent run game.
RB – Tim Hightower. Ahh, the most “controversial” of the starting calls. Will I be shocked if Beanie Wells is starting in St. Louis? No. Could Hightower start Game One and then have Wells move in? Sure. Might they stay Hightower-Wells all season as last year? Yes. Have I mentioned before it doesn’t matter? I am feeling pretty good in saying Beanie will have more carries and be the leading rusher. The other details are window dressing.
TE – Ben Patrick. This is a hunch. They like how Anthony Becht blocks, and I believe Becht will again play a role. I think Patrick would have been in a better spot last season had he not been suspended to start the regular schedule. Patrick can catch, Becht can block. A better, pretty interesting question is whether Dominique Byrd, Stephen Spach or even Jim Dray can find a way into the mix. But that’s for a blog on another day.
LT – Levi Brown. Since the day he arrived, Levi said he felt better at left tackle. Now he gets his chance to show it. Along with more running – the part of the game he is better at – the Cards hope Brown really blossoms.
LG – Alan Faneca. I know coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t guarantee anything when Faneca signed, but he’s going to be in the lineup and he’s going to be at left guard. The guy has made nine straight Pro Bowls.
C – Lyle Sendlein. I don’t know if Rex Hadnot can slip in here, but Hadnot was playing guard this offseason with Ben Claxton running second team. Again, Sendlein has always been a favorite of Russ Grimm. I think that makes an impact.
RG – Deuce Lutui. Here is the upset pick (and remember, this is my gut – not necessarily because I know it to be true). Reggie Wells will have a good chance to hold on to this spot and Lutui must prove he is a) in decent shape and b) not too far behind after missing all the offseason work. But Lutui is a guy this team wants around long-term and someone they were pleased with the second half of the season.
RT – Brandon Keith. This is what they have been grooming Keith for the past two seasons. Herman Johnson may have a spot on the line in the future, but this is where they see if Keith is ready. Considering how little Keith has played, I think that confidence level is remarkably high.
QB – Matt Leinart. Derek Anderson may be sitting in the background (yes, I’m playing off the photo below) but this is Leinart’s job to lose and his team to lead. No reason to hash and re-hash everything we’ve already said. We’ll see what happens. But Leinart will get his chance to show what he can do after his Warner tutelage.
OK, that’s wraps it up. Catch you all in a couple weeks.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Anthony Becht, Beanie Wells, Ben Claxton, Ben Patrick, Brandon Keith, Derek Anderson, Deuce Lutui, Dominique Byrd, Early Doucet, Herman Johnson, Jim Dray, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Leinart, Nehemiah Broughton, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot, Russ Grimm, Stephen Spach, Steve Breaston, Tim Hightower
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We’ll keep some blog items coming, but here are a few key highlights after the first (quick — they were only on the field about 90 minutes) minicamp practice:
— Everybody but G Deuce Lutui was on hand. Lutui has yet to sign his tender offer. Only LB Gerald Hayes (back) and rookie LB O’Brien Schofield (knee) sat out. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was in the lineup, and while he didn’t look 100 percent, it was a great sign to see him playing after his playoff knee injury.
— Coach Ken Whisenhunt passed on talking about Lutui, but did talk about how important it was for the team to be together right now. QB Matt Leinart said he hasn’t talked much to his long-time teammate. “Obviously Deuce has been a big part of this team and we hope he comes in,” Leinart said. “But you’ve got to keep moving forward. Deuce understands that. Hopefully Deuce takes care of his business and we can get him back in here.”
— Leinart seemed at ease with his first chance to be the starter at this time of year in a couple of years. “My accuracy wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but for the first day, it was good,” he said. “This is fun. This is an opportunity I’ve been waiting for for a long time.”
— Some interesting lineup points from the first run-through (with an emphasis that this is still way early in terms of worrying about the depth chart). Michael Adams was running at starting cornerback across from DRC, with Greg Toler as backup. Whisenhunt again emphasized Toler would have to earn any starting job. Rashad Barksdale is backing up DRC for now. The first five offensive linemen, from left tackle across, were Levi Brown, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Reggie Wells and Brandon Keith. The second unit from left to right were Jeremy Bridges, Rex Hadnot, Ben Claxton, Jonathan Palmer and Herman Johnson.
— The rookies, as usual, have to fight their way up. Dan Williams is behind both Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson, although as Robinson noted, “I told (Williams), ‘If I’m playing a lot more than you this year, that means you’re not doing your job.’ ”
— New secondary coach Donnie Henderson has no problem making sure his point gets across, even if it is to DRC or Adrian Wilson. That’s for sure.
— Larry Fitzgerald, joking around about all the new faces at the beginning of the practice, yelled out to rookie tight end Jim Dray — who is wearing No. 81 — “I see you, Q!”
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Alan Faneca, Ben Claxton, Brandon Keith, Bryan Robinson, Dan Williams, Deuce Lutui, Donnie Henderson, DRC, Gabe Watson, Gerald Hayes, Greg Toler, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Bridges, Jim Dray, Jonathan Palmer, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Leinart, Michael Adams, O'Brien Schofield, Rashad Barksdale, Reggie Wells, Rex Hadnot
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