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Cardinals add Veterans Combine receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 11:26 am

The NFL brought in 105 players to Tempe Sunday for their first Veterans Combine. They are leaving one behind. The agent of wide receiver Nathan Slaughter tweeted out his client was signing with the Cardinals. (And a little later, the player himself did the same.) The team has yet to officially announce any move. UPDATE: It’s official now.

Slaughter ran one of the fastest 40 times Sunday (reportedly sub-4.4s), which is noteworthy after a workout with some notoriously slow 40 times. He is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, a West Texas A&M product who was originally signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent last year. He was cut and then signed by the Jaguars in June, then waived-injured by Jacksonville early in August. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game. For a team looking for a return man, Slaughter averaged 41.7 yards per kickoff return his last year in college.

Nathan Slaughter


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Ellington’s hair and some Jaguars aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 17, 2013 – 7:42 pm

That’s five years worth of hair growing on the head of Andre Ellington, so he doesn’t want to lose it. He especially doesn’t want to lose it on the football field, but he lost

some of his beloved dreadlocks Sunday, which might have been the strangest part of a strange game. The rookie running back was tackled, Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin ended up with a handful of it (right) and it ended up on the ground, only to have Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker rescue and return it.

“I didn’t think I was going to get it back,” Ellington said. “I was talking to (Jaguars defensive end) Andre Branch, we are pretty good friends, I told him, ‘I’m gonna get your boys, they pulled my hair out.’ But it’s all good.”

Amazingly, Ellington said he didn’t feel it, although “you don’t feel it when you are being tackled by 300-pounders.” He didn’t even realize it had happened until he saw Babin holding it up. “I was like, ‘Oh man.’ He was like, ‘It’s part of the uniform.’ I was like, ‘Alright. I’ll remember that.’ ”

Ellington later tweeted out he’d just stich back in the loose part. I didn’t really know you could do that, but hey, Rucker is a hero, apparently. Ellington did say he was just happy with the win, which is good, because not only did he have hairs yanked out (ouch, by the way) but he was held to three yards on eight carries (ouch again.)

This game had a little of everything. Big plays, bad officiating, crazy calls, a few turnovers and yet another dominant defensive showing after not exactly a bad but more of a weird start. But lookie here: The Cardinals are 6-4, reeling off three wins in a month after that Seattle loss. The schedule gets tougher, with division leaders Indy and Philly next. But the Cards are where they want to be.

— The Newark Star-Ledger reported the Cardinals game in Philly will be flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” Not a surprise. It is supposed to be Giants-Redskins, and with all the Thanksgiving games (and with Chiefs-Broncos Part II unavailable after Part I was on SNF tonight) there aren’t a ton of choices better than two potential playoff teams. It would be the Cards’ first Sunday night appearance since the Vikings game in Arizona was flexed into the spot in 2009. UPDATE: Here’s an opposing report saying it won’t happen. We’ll see this week. UPDATE II: Monday morning the NFL announced that “Sunday Night Football” was going to stay Giants-Redskins, and the Eagles-Cardinals game is staying as a 1 p.m. kickoff in Philly.

— Michael Floyd was spectacular Sunday. Forget the 91-yard play for a moment, he made a catch on the sideline for 22 yards that was incredible. He made a nice play on the long TD, too. His 193 yards are a career-high, and  that threat means a lot for the Cards going down the stretch.

— Carson Palmer did not throw an interception Sunday. (OK, he did, but it didn’t count.) First time that’s happened this season.

— Palmer looked good. He said afterward he had a clean pocket, and again, that’s the book on Carson – if you give him a comfortable place within which to throw, he will do well. That’s exactly what happened.

— The Cardinals didn’t have a turnover for the first time since the third week of last season.

— The lopsided way the Cards had their offense today – 419 yards passing, 14 yards rushing – reminded me of the 2006 game in Minnesota when Matt Leinart threw for 405 yards but the Cards just ran the ball five times. The Cards lost that game. It’s not like the Cards didn’t try Sunday, with 24 attempts, but against the worst rushing defense in the league? It was surprising, to say the least.

— Special teams did not have a good day at all. The Cards allowed 36 yards a kickoff return, Dave Zastudil looked like he didn’t hit some punts as solidly as usual and more importantly – much more importantly – there were injuries. Justin Bethel went out of the game early after an illegal blindside block left him with a possible concussion, while fellow gunner Teddy Williams was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles. It hurts to lose Williams. Bethel’s status is up in the air, but it was clear how much the special teams need him after he left the game. That’s what happens when a Pro Bowl-caliber player goes down.

— Among the special teams problems, Patrick Peterson muffed a fair catch. He got it back somehow, but punt returning has turned into such tough sledding for him.

— One of the reasons the Cards had a tough time putting the game away? Field position was rarely in their favor, at least until late. The Cards started possessions on their own 3, 16, 9, 10, 2 and 10.

— There wasn’t a big crowd. It was kind of sad. “It’s like a morgue,” Cardinals tackle Eric Winston said. “It makes a three-point lead seem like 20.”

That’s good for now. Lot of flight left, but I have some other stuff I need to get to. Tomorrow, it’s Colts week, Arians against his ex-team week. It will be fun.


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Friday before the Jaguars

Posted by Darren Urban on November 15, 2013 – 3:55 pm

It’s strange, and maybe because it’s because the Cardinals face the Jaguars so rarely, but each of the last three meetings between the teams – dating back to 2000, my first full year covering this team – is burned into my brain for a particular reason.

2000 – The Cardinals were manhandled in Jacksonville. The Jaguars scored on eight of 10 possessions and the final possession ate up the last 9-plus minutes of the clock (as the Jags traveled all of 31 yards. Hard to believe). Afterward, though, it was classic Pat Tillman, raging against a team that had folded in a season that featured the firing of Vince Tobin.

“In this league, you have to overcome injuries, problems, coaches getting fired,” Tillman spouted. “Nobody cares (about excuses). Don’t tell me about the pain, show me the baby. We’re not showing the baby right now, we’re just bitching about the pain.”

2005 – It was a nondescript game at Sun Devil Stadium later in the year – a seven-point loss when Kurt Warner was sacked and fumbled late – except for an angry Anquan Boldin, who had 10 catches and more than 100 yards but got so ticked at what he perceived as dirty play that he got two personal foul calls fighting cornerback Terry Cousin. That wasn’t the memorable part. The memorable part was Boldin writing a letter to the editor of both local newspapers apologizing for the penalties.

2009 – The NFC champion Cards were coming off a home upset loss to the Niners when they had to travel cross country in Week 2. The Cards blasted the Jaguars, in a game marked by Warner’s amazing NFL record, completing 92.3 percent of his passes (24 of 26) to earn another slot in the Hall of Fame.

We’ll see if this game ends up providing some kind of memory.

— Don’t talk trap game with the Cardinals. “No, no, no,” Larry Fitzgerald said. “This is a playoff game. There is no such thing as a trap game in the NFL.” As you might expect, the Cardinals were handing out plenty of compliments to the Jaguars this week. The hope is that they play with that focus.

— Then again, there is this analysis of the Jaguars.

— It’s not often when the “Friday before” post is actually posted from the flight out, but it is today (and will be again in a couple weeks, when the Cards go out on Friday before the Philly game.) Coach Bruce Arians, coaching out West for the first time in his career, said he talked to many people in the offseason about setting a schedule. The Cards don’t get in to the hotel until about 10 p.m., but Arians said he didn’t want to move up the schedule.

“We’ve been down this road with Tampa,” Arians said. “There are no excuses not to come out and play well.”

— How red-hot is Justin Bethel on special teams? Profootballfocus.com, which grades special teamers (among others), has never had a guy grade out the highest in two weeks of the same season, and Bethel has done it three times – including against Houston last week, in which Bethel had PFF’s highest special teams grade ever.

— The Jaguars, which won their first game of the season last week, hasn’t won back-to-back games since 2010.

— Going against the worst rushing defense in the league – in part there, I am sure, because so many teams have blown the Jags out and have run a lot to grind second-half clock – the Cards should run the ball effectively. They need to run it effectively.

— John Abraham seemed confident he wouldn’t be hampered much by his bad hamstring. He’s playing so well, the Cards have to hope he isn’t.

— There isn’t much to analyze about this game. The Cards have put themselves in good position to be 6-4. Now they just have to play like it.


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Taylor, Fleming quiet during Jags’ time

Posted by Darren Urban on November 14, 2013 – 12:24 pm

The Jaguars, trying to rebuild their roster, have collected a handful of ex-Cardinals. None of them, at this point, however, have made much of an impact. The Jaguars signed wide receiver Kerry Taylor from the Cards’ practice squad 10 days ago. They claimed cornerback Jamell Fleming when the Cardinals cut their former third-round draft pick early this season (coincidentally, to put Taylor on the active roster at the time). And going a little further back, the Jags also have former Cards wide receiver Stephen Williams (pictured below) on the roster, after coach Gus Bradley got to know Williams a little when Williams was with Seattle last season (when Bradley was the defensive coordinator).

Taylor was inactive last week for his first Jacksonville game. Coach Bruce Arians was blunt about losing Taylor, saying the Cards just didn’t have a spot for him on the roster. Fleming has been active for only four games and didn’t even get on the field in one of those. Williams just signed a month ago and has been inactive for two of his four games.

“We felt we had to compete all season long with the waiver wire,” Bradley said. “We felt we maybe couldn’t do as much at the top end of our roster but we felt like the bottom part of our roster we needed to compete in.”

Sound familiar? It’s a lot like the churning Cards GM Steve Keim wants to do.

“Kerry has come in and he’s been very impressive, as far as his work ethic, his attitude, his approach, all those things,” Bradley added. “We’re going to try and get him some more reps and try and find a way to make him active. … Fleming, the same thing.”

SwillJagsUSE


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Chip trip narrows openings to Cards, Jags

Posted by Darren Urban on January 16, 2013 – 11:46 am

The shocking news Wednesday that Oregon coach Chip Kelly — who had long been thought of as the Eagles’ top choice for head coach but who seemingly made it clear he wasn’t leaving Oregon last week — was indeed going to be Philly’s new coach means there are two open head coaching spots left. Jacksonville and Arizona. (The Bears officially hired one-time Cardinals offensive coordinator Marc Trestman earlier in the morning.)

Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is interviewing with the Cards today. The Cards are reportedly trying to get permission/set up an interview with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. The other known candidates are Ray Horton, Todd Haley and Jay Gruden, and that doesn’t preclude that there might have been unknown candidates at some point.

The Jaguars’ known list is Jay Gruden, Bevell, in-house defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Seahawks DC Gus Bradley and Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer. They are also expected to wait for and talk to 49ers OC Greg Roman — untouchable until San Francisco’s season is over — who is close with new general manager Dave Caldwell.

In the meantime, we wait.

— Ken Whisenhunt missed out again. Just when it looked like he again was making a push to be a head coach — this time with the Eagles — the Kelly bombshell dropped. Whiz was apparently in the mix in Buffalo, Cleveland and Philly (he also talked with the Chargers) but instead, it seems likely that if he coaches this year, it will be as an assistant. The idea that he could end up in Denver as offensive coordinator with Peyton Manning seems to be gaining steam. He’s not going to be on Jacksonville’s HC list.


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Bevell to join coaching candidates

Posted by Darren Urban on January 15, 2013 – 7:06 pm

On a day when Mike McCoy chose to take the San Diego job, the Cardinals added a new name to their list of candidates. Multiple reports have the Cards hoping to interview Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Bevell not only worked with Russell Wilson this year but was a long-time coordinator/QB coach with Green Bay and Minnesota while Brett Favre was playing in those cities. He also happens to be a local product, having gone to Scottsdale Chaparral High School, playing QB there for his father and coach, Jim Bevell.

Bevell is a finalist for the Bears job and the Jaguars also want to include him on their search. Kent Somers reported the interview is scheduled for Wednesday. There hasn’t been any official word from the Cards yet.

Besides Bevell, Steelers OC Todd Haley, Bengals OC Jay Gruden and Cards DC Ray Horton are the known available candidates for the Cards.

UPDATE: And during the night, it came out that the Cards had requested permission to talk to Colts OC Bruce Arians too.


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With Broncos out, path cleared for Cards’ decision

Posted by Darren Urban on January 12, 2013 – 7:28 pm

With the Broncos losing (an admittedly amazing entertaining playoff game) Saturday night to Baltimore, it means their season is over and it means offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is now available to negotiate for a head coaching deal. It also would seem like the Cardinals would be in position to figure out their head coaching situation sometime this coming week.

Now, I’m not saying the Cards want McCoy for sure. But none of their candidates — at least, the ones we know of — are impeded from talking contract now. Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton, McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley?) are all fully available. There’s been a lot of talk the Cards want McCoy, but that’s assumption rather than anything based on fact. Last week was filled with interviews anyway, so nothing was coming down last week regardless of McCoy’s situation.

We’ll see how it plays out. McCoy has interviewed with the Eagles and Bears already as well as the Cards. All of them were in Denver, so I’d expect a second interview with anybody to come in that city. Gruden has upcoming interviews with the Eagles and Jaguars. There is a report the Jags would like to talk to McCoy. Horton also interviewed with the Bills and Browns, although both spots have already been filled.

Will the Cards have a coach this week? Perhaps. President Michael Bidwill has maintained the whole process he had no set timeline in place and I don’t think there is a rush to get this done. But again, if all the candidates can be hired, it makes sense this moves forward in the coming days.

 


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Before 2012, a glance at 2013 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 17, 2012 – 1:22 pm

Yes, yes, I know I am early. Way early. But as long as the info is out there — and while we still have a little bit before we get to training camp — here is a look at who the Cardinals’ opponents will be for the 2013 season.

HOME

— Indianapolis (Andrew Luck!)

— Carolina (Cam Newton!)

— Houston (Arian Foster.)

— Atlanta (Roddy White?)

— NFC North team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings

— and of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.

AWAY

— New Orleans

— Tampa Bay

— Jacksonville

— Tennessee

— NFC East team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings

— and, of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.

I was going to do a little analysis, but then I realized how foolish that was this far out.


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Cards lose Harrington and other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on December 11, 2009 – 9:29 am

For a second straight year, the Cardinals couldn’t keep linebacker Chris Harrington on the practice squad. Last season, the Bengals signed Harrington away to their active roster. This time, it’s the Jaguars who have taken Harrington to their top 53. Replacing Harrington is linebacker Mark Washington, who spent training camp with the 49ers.

A couple of other things:

— To the victors go the spoils. That’s how the cliché goes. So it makes sense that when USA Football decided to put together an all-fundamental team, two Cards would show up. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is on the team for his ability to catch with his hands, while defensive lineman Darnell Dockett is there for his ability to defeat blocks (and the panel choosing such things has a pretty good collective résumé).

— The offensive line also picked up an award this week. With Jeremy Bridges subbing in at left tackle alongside Deuce Lutui, Lyle Sendlein, Reggie Wells and Levi Brown, the line was chosen as one of the John Madden Most Valuable Protectors winners — a new award given out to the top offensive lines every week.

“The closer you get to the end of the season you hope you have an offensive line that is achieving consistency,” Madden said in a press release. “It looks to me like the Arizona Cardinals offensive line is achieving that right now.”


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Thoughts on Monday morning

Posted by Darren Urban on October 5, 2009 – 9:40 am

The players are streaming back this morning and there is another hour-plus practice today with the Cardinals getting back into a groove following the bye. There isn’t a whole lot Cardinal-related going on yet, but otherwise …

— So if you’re with the Buccaneers, there’s got to be a part of you that is hoping with then 2010 schedule comes out in April you see a trip to Glendale in Week Two of the season. Yes, it could mean a loss, but it could mean so much more. Why? Well, the Dolphins played the Cardinals in Week Two of 2008 after losing their opener and were whacked by the Cards, 31-10. The Dolphins went on to win 11 of their final 14 games. This year, the Jaguars lost their opener and then were whacked by the Cards, 31-17, in Week Two. They have followed up with two big victories within their division. So it stands to reason that if you are a Florida team and the Cards run you off the road in Week Two, it’s a harbinger of good things, right? (And yes, Tampa Bay is already set on the Cards’ list of opponents in 2010. The Cards have home games against Tampa, New Orleans, Denver, Oakland and their “matching” NFC East finisher; they have road trips to Atlanta, Carolina, Kansas City, San Diego and the “matching” NFC North team).

— No, no one was expecting the Rams to be very good this season. But to see the 49ers dismantle them yesterday, well, I think the Niners have proven they are for real, especially in context of the NFC West.

— Early byes don’t have to hurt. Last year, six teams had byes after three games. Two were doomed for non-bye reasons: Seattle (injuries) and Detroit (just a mess). The other four did just fine: New England (missed the playoffs but went 11-5) and playoff teams Indianapolis, the Giants and aforementioned Miami.

— Good stuff from Peter King on Pat Tillman looking back into NFL prospects before his death. I knew about the part where he could have gotten out of the Army early and that he could have been on an NFL roster (Seattle, in case you’re wondering, is where former Cardinals defensive backs coach Larry Marmie, who coached Tillman, was and still is, in addition to the Ferguson connection). I agree with Dave McGinnis in the article about Tillman being great on special teams. Even if Tillman had returned to the Cards in 2003 and never joined the Army, he would have likely been beaten out as a starter by Adrian Wilson. But I always thought Tillman would have evolved into a long-term Bill Bates/Steve Tasker/Ron Wolfley/Sean Morey type star of special teams. 

— Finally, props to the man behind Cardinals Underground/Big Red Rage and everything Cardinals radio, Jim Omohundro, for slaying the competition with his bowling game of 242 last week. I told him I’d give him a shout-out.


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