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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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Taylor promoted as Fitz insurance

Posted by Darren Urban on September 14, 2013 – 1:17 pm

The Cardinals did a not-altogether surprising roster move today, promoting wide receiver Kerry Taylor from the practice squad and cutting cornerback Jamell Fleming. It makes sense with Larry Fitzgerald ailing from a bad hamstring. Does this mean Fitz isn’t playing? Not necessarily. But it does give the Cards an option for a fifth wideout if Fitz should suffer a setback.

Fleming was the sixth cornerback. He could in theory be signed right back next week (and Taylor sent back to the practice squad) if he clears waivers. He might be claimed by someone, but for the Cards he has been pushed further down the depth chart than you would’ve expected from a former third-round pick.


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Friday before the Cowboys

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2013 – 1:48 pm

Bruce Arians sees a lot of positives about playing Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. They play a version of the Tampa Two thanks to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a zone that forces different decision-making than the quarterbacks have been making thus far. They feature a four-man defensive front, which the Cards do not see in practice. These are all things the Cards need to work on in preseason game No. 2.

But it’s also a game against Cowboys, which, preseason or not, tends to bring with it a different vibe than other games. When you hear guys like Jonathan Cooper talking about nerves, it seems to me playing against Dallas doesn’t do much to help – especially knowing it’s a nationally televised game on NFL Network (which will be blacked out locally I believe, because ABC-15 has the game here.)

This, however, is where I’d think one of the biggest benefits of holding training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium comes into play. Usually, the team hasn’t even been to the stadium yet, or maybe had a brief walkthrough the night before. But all these new players – rookies and otherwise – know UoP like the back of their hand now. They are there almost every day, dressing in the locker room and playing football on the field. There will be no newness to it whatsoever. As a player, they aren’t going to be any more comfortable than they already are.

– Arians said he plans to play his starters about 20 plays but also doesn’t want to have them play the entire first half. My guess is that their performance will dictate some of that, at least offensively. Arians was not happy with the number of points the Cards scored last week and that will be something to watch.

– General Manager Steve Keim, on Thursday night’s Big Red Rage, said Arians “has a few tricks up his sleeve for the fans on Saturday.” Hmm. Any chance the Patrick Peterson-at-receiver gets unveiled? Regardless, something to look forward to in the home opener.

– With Tyrann Mathieu starting at free safety, he may just be limited to those 20 plays. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they extend Mathieu a little with the second unit. With Jonathon Amaya already nursing a knee injury, the Cards are thinner at safety with Rashad Johnson down and it’s not like Mathieu doesn’t need the reps. Keim said Mathieu didn’t want to come out of the game last week in Green Bay.

– Here’s the reality of camp and fighting for jobs, too. Keim said the powers-that-be “probably have 10 tough discussions” coming on who was going to make the roster. “The rest are set in stone.” Do the math, and a lot of guys are already out of it before a second preseason game is even played.

– There are a lot of guys who need to make some inroads after injuries. CB Jamell Fleming and WR Robert Gill are two that come to mind. Arians hasn’t really made a secret out of the fact guys fall behind when they are hurt. When you are fighting to make the team, you can’t afford hiccups.

– Speaking of injuries, Keim was noting how guard Daryn Colledge came back “on a fractured leg” to fend off Paul Fanaika. Colledge was put right back with the first unit when he returned to practice this week.

– One player to watch is kicker Jay Feely. Feely had a good season last year and he is very dependable. But he did miss a long field goal last week and his leg doesn’t always boom kickoffs. Like most positions, Arians isn’t going to just give a guy the job. Finding an upgrade may be tough, but that doesn’t mean the Cards wouldn’t look.

– Do not forget the new bag policy is in place. Go here to read about all the details.

– Paid final respects to former Arizona Republic writer Jim Gintonio this morning. He was a good man and I hope he rests in peace. Go here or here or here to read those more eloquent about Gintonio the man than I.

– Reports from Dallas are that quarterback Tony Romo will get about 15 plays himself.

A day game in the preseason. Something different.


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A close battle among the corners

Posted by Darren Urban on August 13, 2013 – 5:09 pm

Coach Bruce Arians said he thought cornerback was among the closest battles on the roster and that’s not surprising. The depth of experience there is better than the Cardinals have had in a few seasons. Assuming everyone stays healthy — and Javier Arenas left practice early Tuesday with some sort of injury — it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

Jamell Fleming finally got back on the field after dealing with a hamstring problem. Justin Bethel is too valuable of a special teamer to let go, but he’s still learning the cornerback position. Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers are locks. I’d think vet Antoine Cason is too, especially with Cason running as cornerback in nickel when Powers slides inside. One interesting name this week was Bryan McCann, who was singled out by Arians as having a good camp. If McCann really is in the mix, there are a ton of decisions that have to be made.

– And again, I’d expect a possible trade at the end of the preseason for guys they don’t want to keep here, a la A.J. Jefferson last season. At least get an extra 6th- or 7th-round pick.

– Because the Cards are off tomorrow, I don’t expect an Arenas injury update until Thursday.

– Among Tuesday’s highlights: WR Robby Toma made a beautiful one-handed catch on the sideline to beat Tyrann Mathieu. Cason, covering “wide receiver” Peterson, made an interception as Peterson went down and Cason basically had to climb over Peterson’s prone body to grab the ball. (Those two are both in the highlight package below.) And Peterson finished the session by slicing in front of WR Kerry Taylor during the final two-minute drill against the second-unit offense, sticking out his hand and having the ball stick there like it was flypaper for the drive-killing interception.

– Sitting out Tuesday was S Jonathon Amaya (knee), S Rashad Johnson (knee/ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), TE Jeff King (knee), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), DE Frostee Rucker (undisclosed), LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring), DT Ricky Lumpkin (ankle), DT Dan Williams (ankle) and LB Dan Giordano (PUP – toe.). RB Andre Ellington returned to practice limited.


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Making plays, and not, in practice

Posted by Darren Urban on August 6, 2013 – 5:15 pm

Nothing super exciting today, other than a chance to talk to Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter on the Cardinals Daily Report (below). But here are some notes and observations:

– Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Tyrann Mathieu forced a fumble, punching a ball lose after a catch by tight end Jeff King. It’s going to be very interesting to see him in games because over the last week or so, Mathieu has been a playmaking machine.

– We’ve mentioned Jaron Brown, Charles Hawkins and Robert Gill as receiving options, and after the depth chart came out it was clear Kerry Taylor had made inroads as the No. 4 receiver. Someone who hasn’t been mentioned (and I will admit I didn’t think we would be) is recent rookie signee Robby Toma out of Notre Dame. He’s not big, he’s not real fast. But it’s tough not to notice him catching almost every pass thrown to him.

– Veteran safety Yeremiah Bell made a very impressive diving interception — he fully laid out to grab it — against Ryan Lindley. Who says being 35 has to hinder athletic plays?

– (By the way, both the Bell pick and the Mathieu play are caught in today’s highlight package you can see here.)

– Bell said he hadn’t expected QB Ryan Lindley to throw the pass. It’s been a rough stretch for Lindley, and now Arians is talking about keeping only two QBs. It’ll be very interesting to see how Lindley does in preseason games.

– Drew Stanton did hit Andre Roberts with a long touchdown pass at one point.

– RB Andre Ellington left practice early on Tuesday with what looked like some sort of neck issue. It didn’t look serious (he walked off the field fine) but he did not return.

– Those sitting included DT Ricky Lumpkin (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring), G Daryn Colledge (leg), WR Robert Gill (hamstring), WR Kerry Taylor (hamstring), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), LB Alex Okafor (ankle), DT Dan Williams (ankle) and LB Kenny Demens (not sure on his injury).

– Just when Arians was asked about a lack of scuffles in camp, there was a scuffle. Guard Scott Wedige and defensive end Ronald Talley got into it a little bit after one play, but teammates quickly broke it up. Perhaps they were all warning the pair about Arians’ rule against camp fights.

– Officially John Abraham is listed third on the depth chart at linebacker. But as proof as why the depth chart is dangerous, Abraham — as he has been since he showed up — is running first unit nickel as the right side pass rusher. Matt Shaughnessy is on the left, with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell in the middle. The linebackers are Reggie Walker (with Dansby out) and Jasper Brinkley. The corners are Patrick Peterson and Antoine Cason on the outside, with Jerraud Powers as nickel slot. Bell and Rashad Johnson are the safeties.

– Random note: Prior to Tuesday’s roster moves (which are unlikely to impact the salary cap anyway), the Cardinals had $5.76 million in salary cap space.


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Peterson’s plays and post-practice with Palmer

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2013 – 5:06 pm

It’s hard not to notice Patrick Peterson on offense (I’ll have more tomorrow on the subject). Every day there seem to be more plays using the Pro Bowl cornerback on that side of the ball. Friday, he caught a long bomb from Carson Palmer over Tyrann Mathieu and later completed a pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer said the Cards actually have a “pretty big package” in for Peterson on offense, and it certainly looks that way. Why not? He’s that good.

“If he wasn’t playing corner he’d probably be just as good of a receiver, H-back or Percy Harvin-type player,” Palmer said.

We all know Peterson doesn’t mind. The only concern would have to be Peterson getting tired playing so much offense when he’s needed on defense. Who knows, maybe that’s why GM Steve Keim collected so many experienced cornerbacks in the offseason — he wanted to give Peterson some leeway to get a blow if needed.

– OK, maybe I don’t think that’s why the Cards have their cornerbacks. Peterson is going to be on the field on defense, don’t worry.

– Palmer reiterated he’s still learning a good chunk of the offense, but it will come. He wanted to come to Arizona in part to learn Bruce Arians’ offense (check out this story here) and embraces the challenge of learning yet another new scheme after going through a couple between Cincinnati and Oakland the past few years.

“I’m very comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Palmer said.

– Along with Darnell Dockett, K Jay Feely was also absent from practice because of a personal reason.

– RB Rashard Mendenhall was fully dressed out for practice but for a second straight day was very limited, spending much of the time on a bike. The rest of the injury list remained static: G Daryn Colledge (calf), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), LB Alex Okafor (ankle), NT Dan Williams (ankle/knee), TE Alex Gottlieb (hamstring), WR Robert Gill (hamstring) and TE Jeff King (knee.) (My mistake, I forgot LaRon Byrd, out with a concussion.)


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A new Pro Bowl, a day off and a mashup

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2013 – 12:25 pm

The Cardinals have the day off, so the NFL did us a favor and threw out a little news: The Pro Bowl is changing. The biggest news of these changes is that, instead of AFC-NFC, the Pro Bowlers will be picked and then “drafted” on to two separate teams. Could that mean Patrick Peterson covering Larry Fitzgerald in the Pro Bowl? Yes. Then again, we see this all the time in camp. (It’s been suggested this won’t work, that say Terrell Suggs can’t be asked to sack Joe Flacco, or Aldon Smith to Colin Kaepernick. Maybe. Seems like, in general, a good idea for a game looking for good ideas.)

There will be other changes too. From the NFL release:

  • Game within the Game – A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter.  This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct “two-minute drills,” which are especially exciting for fans.
  • No Kickoffs – The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first.  The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
  • Rosters – The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad.  The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
  • Cover Two and Press Coverage – The defense will be permitted to play “cover two” and “press” coverage.  In previous years, only “man” coverage was permitted, except for goal line situations.
  • Stopping of the Game Clock – Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass.  This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
  • Game Timing – The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
  • Play Clock – A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
  • Sacks – The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game.  Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.

We’ll see how it works.

– The Cardinals are off today. They resume meetings tonight and have practice outside at the team’s Tempe facility tomorrow. I’ll be curious to see how many of the injuries can be cleared up by then. (The team goes back to University of Phoenix Stadium Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being the Red-White practice.) Here’s the list of players who were still out yesterday: G Daryn Colledge (calf), WR Robert Gill (hamstring), TE Alex Gottlieb (hamstring), TE Jeff King (knee), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), WR LaRon Byrd (concussion).

– With six days of camp and five practices in the books, it’s a good time to recap. So here’s the first mashup of camp. Truth be told, it’s very cool.


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Good news on Williams and DL tap outs

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2013 – 12:27 pm

Bruce Arians likes the depth he’s built in the defensive line, and it’s necessary. “We want to be able to tap out and play fast,” Arians said, and staying fresh is important to production. Can guys balk at coming out? Maybe. But “the guy knows when to come out,” Arians said. “Some guys won’t come out. Other guys like to play fresh.”

Then sometimes there is the issue Arians had last season with the Colts. “I had a problem last year in Indy,” he said. “(Pro Bowlers Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney tapped out in the same time, I was , ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t both come out. I just learned the two guys’ names behind you. One has to stay in there.’ “

– It turned out RB Ryan Williams did not have the precautionary second opinion he planned on yesterday. Arians said he was feeling better and decided just to rehab at the stadium. He will sit out today, but with the off day tomorrow, Williams is hoping to return to practice Thursday.

– The new injuries are TE Kory Sperry (ankle) and CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring). That’s a tough one for Fleming, who is battling in a very competitive secondary. Sperry, way under the radar after signing late last year, is playing well enough that Arians is bummed out he is out. “I’m a little ticked because Kory is having a heck of a camp.” Sperry can play in the backfield too, which is key.

– TE Jeff King is sitting because of fluid on the knee, which after offseason surgery isn’t surprising. Arians said the Cards just want to be cautious.

– G Daryn Colledge is still out. Arians said it is an unknown with the nerve issue. He could be back Thursday, he could be out another week. No way to know.

– Arians said he wants to play David Carter at nose tackle, not end.

– That battle for fourth and fifth receiver is open. LaRon Byrd is dealing with the concussion. But it should be noted that when Arians was asked about undrafted guys who have caught his eye, he said Jaron Brown and Charles Hawkins  have “done really well. Really well.” Something to keep in mind.

– And here are some highlights from yesterday:


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For what it’s worth in June, defensive edition

Posted by Darren Urban on June 18, 2013 – 11:08 am

It’s that time of the offseason, when players scatter for some time away from the facility and so too does the author of a certain blog. Before that, however, I try and put on my analysis cap and attempt to project – sans injuries – who will be in the starting lineup come Sept. 8 when the Cardinals open the regular season in St. Louis trying to win their first game for a fourth straight season. This one is a little more difficult to sort out. By last year it was easier to get a sense of what Ken Whisenhunt wanted to do and who he wanted to do it with. No real way to know that with Bruce Arians yet.

For starters, he has said time and again judging players in shorts wasn’t enough to make any solid decisions – he said he knew how they could play soccer, for goodness sake – and so I’d expect training camp to be much more important than the past. The Whiz coaching staff, which generally stayed stable, knew very well what they were getting with holdovers. This staff is new and don’t know many of these players. Being unquestioned at your position is rare right now.

That doesn’t even take into account Arians’ desire to play young players. He clearly is much more willing to go with youth. He has also talked often about how the “starters” are more than just 11, especially on defense, thanks to the many packages a team has.

I suppose that’s all a roundabout way of saying this is my best guesstimate, and that’s all. We have defense today, offense tomorrow. There has been lots of speculation out there that the Cards may end up as a 4-3 team, and we’ll see how things are spread around, but they have been working in a 3-4 base the entire offseason.

Remember, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, please, no wagering.

DE – Darnell Dockett. He will get more chances to get on the stat sheet. He will, probably, be used inside in certain packages and not just as a 3-4 end. He definitely is happier than he has been in regards to how he is being used. The Cards are counting on that showing on the field.

NT – Dan Williams. The team poked around potential free agents earlier in the offseason, and Williams came in to workouts needing to shed pounds. But he has, and Arians praised his condition last week. Like the ends, there is talk of Williams getting upfield and attacking more often. It’s so easy to forget he was a No. 1 pick, but the Cards need him to play that way.

DE – Calais Campbell. Had another very good year last season. He too sounds excited about his opportunities in Todd Bowles’ system, although he tends to be a little more muted than Dockett (who isn’t?) Has become one of the best in the league, period. At some point, it’d be nice to see him get a Pro Bowl nod.

ROLB – Lorenzo Alexander. This has been the spot for O’Brien Schofield, who recently told me camp was the place where jobs are won and lost. Could OB still make a starting run? Sure. But Alexander, wooed as a free agent partially on the strength of starting potential, is going to get his shot. I think, given his ability as a leader, he’ll end up there at least at first.

SILB – Jasper Brinkley. Brinkley was an early free-agent sign, but then the Cards drafted Kevin Minter. Minter is the kind of player who needs camp to show what he’s got. Arians thought he was getting too physical in the offseason. But I think Brinkley still holds him off at first, even if Minter pushes for playing time later this season.

WILB – Karlos Dansby. This is kind of cheating, because I don’t even have to factor Daryl Washington into this – Washington is suspended the first four games. When Washington returns, however, it will be very interesting to see how it plays out with him, Dansby, Brinkley and Minter. It’s been suggested Washington could end up outside in some scenario, but at no point in the offseason did Washington do any work there.

LOLB – Sam Acho. A very smart player and great in the locker room. He should start at the outset, but he needs to up his sacks to stay there. Otherwise they are going to start looking to upgrade.

CB – Patrick Peterson. Easiest position to peg.

CB – Jerraud Powers. The Cardinals did a good job building up depth at cornerback. Antoine Cason is slightly more established given Powers’ injury history, but Powers has an Arians connection from Indy and I think that will make a difference. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cason start, though. Another thing to chew on: With so many corners, is one traded before the season starts? You still have Javier Arenas, Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming, Bryan McCann.

FS – Rashad Johnson. Tyrann Mathieu is going to play in some way, shape or form, including nickel corner sometimes. You just don’t see it any other way. But I don’t see Mathieu starting. Johnson is helped because he played strong safety last season. I can see Johnson moving to strong safety if Mathieu bullies his way into the lineup.

SS – Yeremiah Bell. Bell brings experience and he knows Bowles well from their days in Miami. He is a short-term solution, though.

WorthDefensePicUSE


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Noticing Arenas

Posted by Darren Urban on May 23, 2013 – 10:41 am

The trade when it was made was one of necessity — the Cardinals were not going to need nor keep fullback Anthony Sherman, and at that point, they wanted to get anything they could. The Chiefs, with new coach Andy Reid — a guy who likes bigger cornerbacks — wasn’t going to keep 5-foot-9 Javier Arenas around. So the teams swapped. And even though the Cards have a glut of cornerbacks right now, Arenas (wearing 35 below) sure seems to be making his mark. He has made some plays, and while it’s only May, most of the time it’s only the receivers and defensive backs that you can get at least a little flavor for while these guys are in shorts.

Now, would you stand Arenas on the edge starting across from Patrick Peterson? Probably not. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s clear that Jerraud Powers and then Antoine Cason are running as the top two corners after Peterson right now. But in a passing league where you hoard cornerbacks, Arenas can play inside and has experience on the outside if needed. As it stands right now, I think he’ll make a strong push to be here.

What else is noticeable is the current spot of 2012 third-round pick Jamell Fleming. Much has been made of the ability of the Cardinals to split their roster into two different OTA workouts for much of every practice day. It gives the younger players many more reps than they would ever get normally (and allows the vets learning a new system plenty of work too.) But that means some guys who were on the 53-man roster last season are practicing over on the second field. Fleming is one of them. Again, it allows him to get reps he wouldn’t be getting on the main field. But when the numbers come down, Fleming looks like he’s down the depth chart (especially with fellow second-year man Justin Bethel, now working at cornerback, has been on the main field.)

ArenasUSE


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