As mentioned the other day, the Cardinals still have a vacancy on their 90-man roster. Bruce Arians, during an interview on Arizona Sports, indicated that the Cards could still re-sign veteran running back Chris Johnson, which has always been a possibility as long as Johnson remained on the market.
With all that in mind, a quick look at the notable veterans General Manager Steve Keim has signed in the days prior or during training camp while the Cardinals are at University of Phoenix Stadium:
2013 — T Eric Winston (started all season), LB John Abraham (led team in sacks), K Dan Carpenter (signed as competition to Jay Feely, lost battle.)
2014 — T Max Starks (eventually released at end of camp), DT Tommy Kelly (had a solid season as a replacement for the injured Darnell Dockett.)
2015 — TE Jermaine Gresham (has been team’s top tight end since), C Lyle Sendlein (started all season), RB Chris Johnson (played well before late-season injury.)
2016 — LB Donald Butler (released during final cuts), CB Mike Jenkins (was in line to start until tearing ACL).
Odds favor a couple more signings in this camp, necessary either because of play or injury. Whether they make a difference (see: 2016) we will see, but as always, the roster is churning.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Dan Carpenter, Darnell Dockett, Donald Butler, Eric Winston, free agency, Jay Feely, Jermaine Gresham, John Abraham, Lyle Sendlein, Max Starks, Mike Jenkins, Steve Keim, Tommy Kelly, training camp
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GM Steve Keim said on his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports’ “Doug and Wolf” show that the Cardinals expect linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral) and guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) to return to practice today. That is good news, although it should probably come with a caveat: Because the Cards just played last night, I am guessing practice will be very light today. But it’s a start. Bruce Arians had said this is a big week for both if they have any hope of playing in the opener. We’ll see how it plays out.
— Keim confirmed what I thought I had seen, that wide receiver Michael Floyd did hesitate in his route on the play where Carson Palmer overthrew him despite no defender in the area. “Michael slowed down in his ‘go’ route and the fact is if he would have kept running Carson would have hit him in stride for a touchdown. I expect that to be cleaned up.” Keim said he checked with Bruce Arians to see if Floyd was actually running a double move, but that Arians told him it was a straight fly pattern.
Overall, “it just didn’t seem like our quarterback and our receivers were in sync last night,” Keim said.
— He said after watching video, he was even more impressed with the offensive line play, especially the protection.
— Keim said a big concern of his coming into camp was right tackle but said that no longer is an issue. “Bobby Massie played very well last night,” he said.
— He said he thought DT Dan Williams had his best game of the preseason. In light of Darnell Dockett’s absence, that’s a good thing.
— Keim was very high on the play of rookie safety Deone Bucannon, and said he hopes Bucannon gets more playing time.
— Asked if the Cardinals were going to take one kicker or two kickers to San Diego, Keim said they would make that decision “later today.” UPDATE: The Cardinals cut Jay Feely.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Deone Bucannon, Jay Feely, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Michael Floyd, Steve Keim
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Bruce Arians said he wants Darnell Dockett to get his surgery as soon as possible and get him back to the Cardinals rehabbing, because the defensive tackle will remain a big part of the team even though he cannot play.
“I plan on having him on the sidelines all year long because of his spirit and leadership,” Arians said. “It’s something we need and don’t want to lose.
“Injuries, they happen. It’s terrible for him, a great opportunity for somebody else. Frostee (Rucker) will step into that role, the young guys will step up and we’ll keep moving on like we always do. One injury is not going to change who we are and what we do.”
Arians called Dockett’s history of health — he played in 158 of 160 possible regular-season games in his first 10 seasons, plus all six postseason games — “unbelievable.”
“It just shows how hard he trains and keeps himself in top physical condition all the time,” Arians said. “Unfortuantely, it was one of those non-contact deals. You put your foot in the ground and it’s over.”
— Arians said everyone will be back at practice today save for linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral), guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) and tackle Max Starks (ankle).
— That means center Lyle Sendlein will return after missing much of camp with a calf injury. That moves Ted Larsen out to left guard, and Arians confirmed Larsen will start at left guard Sunday night against the Bengals.
— S Tyrann Mathieu and DT Alameda Ta’amu will only do individual drills today in their first practice after coming off the PUP lists following major knee rehabs. They will work their way into practice slowly. Arians said whether one or both play in the regular-season opener will be up to their progress on the field, but clearly, both are aiming to play against the Chargers in that Monday night game.
“I want to earn my way on the field,” Mathieu said. “I don’t want anyone to give it to me.” Mathieu said he will wear a brace.
— Arians said Jay Feely will kick in the first half against the Bengals and Chandler Catanzaro will kick in the second half.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bruce Arians, Chandler Catanzaro, Darnell Dockett, Jay Feely, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Lyle Sendlein, Max Starks, Ted Larsen, Tyrann Mathieu
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Finally, the Cardinals go outdoors. There is a bit of irony attached that the first time the Cardinals will be outside since training camp started will be a game in Minnesota, since for so many years this game too would have been inside against the Vikings. But the Vikings are playing outside for a couple of years, shacking up as a guest at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium while their new (domed) stadium is constructed.
Regardless, the Cardinals haven’t been outside since minicamp ended in mid-June. Which took quarterback Carson Palmer back a bit when it was mentioned to him earlier this week. “It is (surprising) because I hadn’t thought of that at all,” Palmer said. “Because we do not want to be outdoors right now.”
Tough to argue. You don’t really want to go through outdoor two-hour plus practices when it’s 100-degrees plus and the humidity (at least for around here) starts to spike. The Cardinals had considered one outdoor practice earlier in camp but decided to stay inside. Last year, the Cardinals actually held a training camp practice outside at their Tempe facility. Bruce Arians wanted a tough workout in the heat. He doesn’t see the need this season.
“We don’t have a hot game this year so there is no need to go outside,” Arians said. “We’ve had a pretty physical, hard camp, as hard as we can make it..”
So it’s on to Minnesota, where the forecast for Saturday night is mid-to-low 60s and high humidity.
— We get to see round two of the John Brown experience. What might be more amazing with Brown, even more than his grasp of the offense and his production against veteran cornerbacks in practice, is how much Palmer already seems to trust him.
— Arians, talking about why Brown is so quick (and why it might take the QBs a bit of time to learn timing with him): “A lot of guys have to chop their feet and slow down to cut,” Arians said. “He can run full speed and just change directions. That’s rare.”
— Some have wondered about rookie safety Deone Bucannon and playing the dollar linebacker position in the nickel defense. When Bucannon is in there, that makes six defensive backs on the field. So, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, doesn’t that make it a dime package?
“It’s still the nickel,” Bowles said. “It’s the position, not the player.”
— The Cardinals’ running game wasn’t very productive in the preseason opener (81 yards on 37 attempts, although that includes three kneeldowns). Arians said he wasn’t and isn’t worried about it. “I don’t put a lot into numbers,” Arians said.
Given that Andre Ellington figures to play little, I’m not sure how dynamic the running game will be in the preseason.
— Darren Fells continues to push for a spot as the fourth tight end. Arians said Fells continues to block very well. “He still has to get rid of those bonehead plays,” Arians said. “He’s experiencing a lot of new things too many times. I was disappointing he dropped that pass Saturday because he’s got great hands. I think he tried to score before he caught it. He’s steadily improving.”
— No, I don’t think Jay Feely has to be perfect, in the truest sense of the word, even though that is what Arians said. Feely will get his chance to kick Saturday after Chandler Catanzaro’s impressive debut in the controlled conditions of University of Phoenix Stadium. The pressure is on for Feely, yes. But he’s been through this kind of pressure before.
— One more week of training camp left.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, Darren Fells, Deone Bucannon, Jay Feely, John Brown, Vikings
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Logan Thomas isn’t going to play this week in Minnesota. He got the second half of the preseason opener, so now, it’s Ryan Lindley’s turn to get the second half when he plays against the Vikings. That means Thomas’ impressive (and yes, I know it was against second/third-teamers of a bad Texans team) debut will simmer for now. Nevertheless, Thomas has gotten national praise for the way he played in his 11-12-113-1-0 outing, and Bruce Arians said he couldn’t be more pleased out that aspect.
“I really enjoy all the guys who said he stunk coming out and should have been a tight end, they’re eating a lot of crow this week, so that’s fun,” Arians said with a smile.
Arians was having some fun himself today. He also was talking about third-round pick John Brown, and how in the aftermath of success with such a player there are always people from other teams claiming they had just been about to pick him when the Cardinals did so. Arians clearly isn’t a believer. He said he’s heard from guys on “three or four” teams that were about to choose Brown in the draft.
“They’re all lyin’,” Arians said.
— Offensive linemen Max Starks and Anthony Steen return to practice today. The other injured players remain sidelined. It does not look like guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) is going to make it back to playing Saturday. Receivers Ted Ginn (knee) and Michael Floyd (groin) could be game-day decisions. Linebacker John Abraham remains absent.
— QB Carson Palmer, on dealing with the mind of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in camp: “We have seen every single coverage there is,” Palmer said. “There’s a couple we couldn’t identify. It’s like he’s making some stuff up just to try and see how it goes.”
— Arians said he has no set snap count for how much the starters will play Saturday. “If it is as good as last week, it’ll probably be the same,” Arians said. “If it’s not it’ll probably be a little longer.”
— Jay Feely will kick in Minnesota. Arians said it was undecided how the kicking will go in the next game at home against Cincinnati, but he does want to see Feely kick off indoors.
— Finally, Arians talked about how he likes to go through the locker room and interact with his players. Some coaches do not like to do that. Other locker rooms will have players who don’t like coaches coming through, but Arians said those locker rooms usually are host losing teams.
“I was taught a long time ago, coach ’em hard and hug ’em later,” Arians said. “That’s the hugging part. Rip a guy’s ass out there and go in, (tell them) it’s just football, nothing personal. ‘Your football stinks, you’re a pretty good guy.’ You want to make sure they know that. You ask them to do a lot of things and you get a lot of feedback when you go through there.”
Tags: Carson Palmer, Jay Feely, Logan Thomas, Todd Bowles
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Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro didn’t have a miss in his preseason debut. He made all three field goals, all three extra points and he was excellent on kickoffs, either driving them over the end zone or creating touchbacks or returns inside the 20. It’s veteran Jay Feely’s turn in Minnesota. So what is coach Bruce Arians looking for?
“Perfection,” Arians said.
Is that all?
Arians said that means making his kicks and having decent depth and hangtime on his kickoffs. “(Jay) has always kicked off adequately, but when someone is kicking off better and all the kicks are the same, you’re going to take the guy who is kicking off better,” Arians said.
Feely will have to kick outside in Minnesota, although Arians has said Feely will get to kick inside too, the following week against the Bengals. The kicking battle will continue to be interesting.
— Arians said yet again that fighting in practice is “not tolerable,” and that’s why Darnell Dockett and Bradley Sowell were stuck doing laps the balance of practice Monday after fighting. “You get ejected from the game (for fighting), so you get ejected from practice,” Arians said. “We practice like it’s a game every day. You lose your temper and punch a guy, you get ejected.”
— S Tyrann Mathieu and DT Alameda Ta’amu are “pretty close” to being removed from PUP and returning to practice.
— Still no rush on filling the empty three roster spots right now. “There really isn’t any need,” Arians said. “The number of players we have, to get somebody ready to play in a game that’s available right now, there’s nobody out there right now who are going to make our team better. We have our eyes on a couple guys that we will potentially bring in.”
— Interestingly, Arians called cornerback Jerraud Powers “probably our most valuable player on defense” right now because of how versatile he is in the secondary. It echoed those one-time thoughts of Ray Horton on Richard Marshall back in 2011.
— The injuries that kept a handful of players out for Monday’s practice will do the same today. That means left guard Jonathan Cooper is still out, which doesn’t help. “It’s a big deal for anyone on the club right now because the competition level is high. It’s not like anything is in cement,” Arians said. The coach added a player can definitely lose his job after getting injured. “You can if someone comes in and plays better than you were playing,” Arians said. “That’s called Wally Pipp.”
— Finally, in case you missed it, Arians took part in the viral #icebucketchallenge to raise awareness for ALS. He had been challenged by Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. Arians accepted — the idea is you get ice water dumped on you on video or you donate money to the cause — and Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer were only too happy to oblige.
“At first it wasn’t too bad,” Arians said. “That second one had too much ice in it. Thought it gave me a concussion. I wanted it to be ‘bam, bam.’ They waited too much.”
Arians challenged Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “Tomlin told me he’s not dumping water on his head so he’s going to donate money,” Arians said.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Chandler Catanzaro, Darnell Dockett, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals’ defense will be good again this season. Just ask the Cardinals’ offense.
“Every day we go on the field is an unbelievable challenge for this offense,” coach Bruce Arians said.
It’s about more than talent, though. The defense not only has players but it has information. It has watched the offense run its plays over and over, in camp and this offseason. It has heard the audibles.
“Because we see so many pressures, blitz period or not, they are going to know our audibles,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “Coach Arians said it (Tuesday), as soon as we audibled one play the whole defense knew what was coming. He just wants to see the audible executed, (even if it is) completely covered and blown up. But you see it in a walkthrough and then in practice, it’s pretty easy to pick up. Once you go in a game, you only use that audible once every three weeks. You understand the situation for what it is. But that stuff does get frustrating.”
Palmer emphasized how much respect he has for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. “You can’t get a bead on what you think is coming,” Palmer said.
Still, it makes success during training camp much, much harder.
“When offense wins a few matches in practice, I am very proud our offense is getting better,” Arians said.
— Maybe that played a part in Wednesday’s practice. At one point during team work, the defense would have come up with a handful of sacks and/or heavy pressures on the passer. Then at the end of the day, when the offense took on the defense — first unit versus first unit, and so on — for an attempt at a mostly length-of-the-field drive, the defense was winning. The first-string offense drove all the way into the red zone, only to have cornerback Antonio Cromartie bring down a beautiful one-handed interception on a fade route to Ted Ginn. The second offense only had a couple of plays before a pass to Jaron Brown was deflected high in the air before linebacker Ernie Sims grabbed the ball. The third offense was successful, eventually scoring a touchdown on a short run by Jonathan Dwyer.
— Darren Fells would seem to have an inside track at a roster spot as the fourth tight end after Jake Ballard’s retirement, but he had his hiccups Wednesday after the news came out, dropping a couple of catchable passes.
— Everybody was out practicing except for DT Darnell Dockett (who was given a rest day by Arians) and center Lyle Sendlein, still out with a calf injury.
— Tyrann Mathieu, on the help he gives rookie safety Deone Bucannon: “I try to tell him what I know. I don’t try to tell him too much because I don’t know everything.”
— Arians said the kicking spot will come down to how the games play out. “All the eggs are in that basket,” he said. “It’ll be a tough decision.” Arians said each kicker will be given a full game to work, starting with Chandler Catanzano against Houston Saturday. Feely will kick in Minnesota the following week.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, Darnell Dockett, Darren Fells, Deone Bucannon, Ernie Sims, Jay Feely, Jonathan Dwyer, Lyle Sendlein, Todd Bowles, training camp, Tyrann Mathieu
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This isn’t necessarily about starters, since I have already addressed that directly. But the battles of training camp aren’t always about who plays first or the most. Sometimes it’s about roster battles and depth and who plays more than who. Some competition will come seemingly from nowhere — going into camp last season, no one would have guess Paul Fanaika would have gotten into the mix, but the Daryn Colledge injury helped that come into focus — so there will be other players to watch.
But for now, here is some of the competition I will be watching:
Guards Earl Watford, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Anthony Steen. Larsen has been backing up Lyle Sendlein at center while Steen, who can also back up both spots, didn’t do anything in the offseason recovering from injuries. Someone will be the starting right guard. The Cardinals would like for Watford to step up. It very well could be Fanaika for a second straight season. Watford should be on the roster regardless, so if he’s not starting, that will be a spot that must be won. The Cards likely will only dress seven on game days, making those swing interior guys valuable.
Tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. OK, everyone knows this one. It doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Like Watford, Massie is the guy the Cardinals would like to win the job. But he’s got to win it. Sowell isn’t going away without a fight. Sowell, however, can be a valuable game-day backup since he played left tackle all last season and can play the right. That’s a one-for-two guy on your bench.
Cornerbacks Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers. With Tyrann Mathieu still hurt, Powers is an important piece in nickle coverage to start the season. But when Mathieu gets back, can Bethel — who got so much love for his potential this offseason — find a way past Powers on the depth chart? Bethel still has much to prove. Powers has his limitations, but his smarts make him a favorite of Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians.
Inside linebackers Ernie Sims and Kenny Demens. Sims has the experience, but he also has the reputation of struggling the past couple of seasons, which is why he finds himself bouncing around the league. The Cardinals have been intrigued with Demens since his (undrafted) rookie year last year, when he spent most of his time on the practice squad. Sims came in late and is trying to catch up. Losing Daryl Washington sent a lot of things into flux at inside linebacker. One of these guys are vying for a depth role probably behind Kevin Minter, Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander.
Kickers Jay Feely, Chandler Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann. This is another obvious one. Still it’s one to watch. It’s definitely a subject that seems to get the fans riled up — and looking around the league, it’s a position that tends to do that with the fan base, for whatever reason.
Running backs Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman. Arians came out praising Hughes. He figures to be the top choice as the fourth running back behind Ellington, Dwyer and Taylor. But Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league and could sneak his way into the spot instead. What will be interesting is if the Cardinals want less of a bruiser as a fourth, like a Bauman, considering Dwyer is a big back and Taylor is more of a between-the-tackles guy too.
Wide receivers Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden. The top four receiving spots are taken. Fitz is Fitz and Floyd is Floyd. Ted Ginn will have a role, as will third-round pick John Brown. Brown flashed last year but again, he’s got competition. He’s bigger than Powell and definitely Golden — Golden would seem to be in trouble given the arrival of Brown and Ginn — but Powell is a draft pick and that usually ends up playing a role if it’s close.
Quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley. It’s hard to believe that, barring a meltdown, Thomas doesn’t find a way on to the roster. But you never know, and both players figure to get plenty of playing time in the preseason to let any battle play out in front of us.
Tags: Anthony Steen, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Brittan Golden, Chandler Catanzaro, Danny Hrapmann, Earl Watford, Ernie Sims, Jalen Parmele, Jaron Brown, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Kenny Demens, Logan Thomas, Paul Fanaika, Robert Hughes, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ted Larsen, training camp, Walt Powell, Zach Bauman
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I’ve been covering the Cardinals full-time since 2000. I don’t ever remember a time when there were three kickers on the roster, even in the offseason and even when the team was actively looking for a kicker. But that’s what the Cardinals have right now, even with incumbent Jay Feely. He is joined by undrafted rookie Chandler Catanzaro out of Clemson and Danny Hrapmann, who has had a couple of cups of coffee with the Steelers. Hrapmann has a big leg even though he’s the smallest of the three. You can see that. Cantanzaro had a solid college career, but because Clemson had a punter (Bradley Pinion) who could kick off, he hasn’t done a lot of it. Neither have the résumé of Feely, who has had a very good 14-year career and nailed 30 of 36 field goals last season.
Bruce Arians hasn’t hidden his desire to create competition at kicker since last training camp (Feely responded well then). Still, it’s odd to have three kickers around. What will be interesting to see is if the Cardinals decided to sign one or two of the tryout players in this weekend’s minicamp. Anyone signed means someone has to be cut. Would the Cards trim the kicking lineup to get back a spot on the 90-man roster, or will the Cards bring three kickers all the way to training camp? Or the preseason? Teams are usually loathe to spend too many roster spots on specialists, even in the summer.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chandler Catanzaro, Danny Hrapmann, Jay Feely
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Eric Winston, currently a free agent but the Cardinals’ starter at right tackle last season, was elected president of the NFL Players Association Wednesday, replacing the outgoing Domonique Foxworth. Winston, who has started 119 straight games in his career, has been active in the NFLPA since 2010 when he was named one of the player reps for the Houston Texans. He has served on the NFLPA’s finance committee and the committee for agent discipline. It makes a ton of sense. Winston is intelligent and he understands the ins and outs of the business that is the NFL.
UPDATE: It’s been a big day for Cardinals and the top of the union food chain. Kicker Jay Feely and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander were elected to the NFLPA’s executive committee as well.
Winston said at the end of the season he wanted to return to the Cardinals, but he knows the reality. He made about $2 million last year in an incentive-laden deal. I’m sure he’d like more and for more years than just one, but the Cardinals will likely approach his situation much like last year — looking for younger options, and seeing where Winston stands after those options are explored. Bobby Massie is still around as a potential right tackle and there is also Bradley Sowell, but the Cardinals figure to add another possibility there.
Someone asked if I thought Winston’s position as NFLPA president would hurt his chances to return to Arizona. I don’t think so. What would hurt his chances is if the Cards sign a veteran right tackle, or if they draft one. Winston went unsigned until training camp was opening last season. I don’t know if that will happen again, but it wouldn’t be shocking if it did. He is a smart, stabilizing force in the locker room, however, so if he is on the roster, the Cards get more than just an offensive lineman.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Eric Winston, Jay Feely, Lorenzo Alexander, NFLPA
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