It didn’t take long before Bruce Arians made it known he was going to be comfortable playing young players after doing it last season in Indianapolis. Then, as March played out, the Cardinals either didn’t bring back older players who were free agents and released others who were on the wrong side of 30. Now, with the offseason roster nearly set, the numbers emphasize just how much younger General Manager Steve Keim has made his team.
The team’s 53-man roster by the end of last season — and that means younger players were on it in place of IR’d vets like Levi Brown, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein — had an average age of 29.7 years. The Cardinals’ current extended offseason roster (subtracting the 16 long-shot undrafted rookies who would obviously bring down the average age by their sheer numbers) features an average age of 25.8 years.
The Cards had 12 players 30 and older on their final 53. As of today, they have eight: Carson Palmer (33), Yeremiah Bell (35, pictured below), Daryn Colledge (31), Darnell Dockett (31), Jeff King (30), Jay Feely (36), Mike Leach (36) and Dave Zastudil (34). Take out those three specialists and the Cardinals’ current average age is 25.4.
The age could rise depending on how the roster is shaped going into the season, because of those 30-year-olds, I don’t right now see any of them being let go. But while Keim’s overhaul was in part about clearing salary cap room this offseason, it was also about an infusion of youth after a Ken Whisenhunt era that relied heavily on veterans.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Roster, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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My question was about philosophy on tight ends, but the first response was about fullbacks, and that made everyone take notice.
“I’m not a fullback guy. I never have been,” Bruce Arians said, and anyone who knew the Cardinals immediately thought of Anthony Sherman. Sherman was the Cards’ fullback the past two years, a piece in Ken Whisenhunt’s offense as a blocker, really, and also a key guy on special teams. Sherman was good enough on teams to be named a captain, and that alone might provide hope for Sherman going forward, even after Arians’ blunt analysis.
This doesn’t have anything to do with Anthony Sherman, really, but how Arians likes to use his tight ends — as potential decoys.
“I want tight ends who are multiple,” Arians said. “If you are a defensive coordinator and I send a fullback in and take out a tight end, I will get your best call for that. If I have two tight ends (in the game), and you don’t know if one will play fullback or one could split out wide, you’re going to give me a down-and-distance (defensive) call. You don’t have a specific call. The more flexible tight ends can be, threats at receiver or dual in-line backfield blockers, the more pressure you put on the defense.”
Arians went on to say Rob Housler was a player who, when Arians was with the Steelers, Arians thought about drafting and making a big wide receiver. Arians sees him as a mismatch for defenses, while Jeff King and Jim Dray (assuming a tight end isn’t drafted) will do the “dirty work.”
Where does that leave Sherman? He played 236 offensive snaps a year ago in 13 games. That would probably dry up. He also played 156 snaps on special teams, and that’s a role he can excel within. Sherman had no rushing attempts all season and only five catches. As Sando noted, Arians did work with a fullback last year, but that guy was considered more of a big running back in Arians’ eyes. Whether Sherman can be the same for the Cardinals — and Arians — is yet to be seen.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Bruce Arians, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Rob Housler
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Just in case anyone wasn’t sure about new coach Bruce Arians wanting to get the ball downfield if possible in the running game, Arians makes it pretty clear what he wants to see in his running backs.
He wants someone who can run, of course. And block. Beyond that? Let’s just say that fantasy football players in points-per-reception leagues aren’t going to look at the Cardinals first.
“They are back there because they are runners and pass protectors,” Arians said. “Will we throw to the backs? Yeah. But the receivers are the ones paid to catch it. (Running backs) are helping but it’s doubtful our running back leads the team in receiving.”
Last season, injuries crushed the Cards’ running backs, so reception totals don’t correspond perfectly in what the prior staff wanted to do in the passing game, but even Ken Whisenhunt’s pass game didn’t use the backs a ton as receivers (especially after Tim Hightower left.) William Powell had the most catches for a running back last year (19), and that was sixth on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler and Early Doucet. LaRod Stephens-Howling was tied for seventh with tight end Jeff King with his 17 catches. Ryan Williams had seven receptions, Anthony Sherman five and Beanie Wells only had one.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bruce Arians, Early Doucet, Jeff King, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Tim Hightower, William Powell
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With everything that happened – and in terms of writing about a game, that’s one in which everything before the five-minute-left mark of regulation is virtually immaterial – I can’t get past the dropped screen pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling in overtime, the play before John Skelton’s interception. Ken Whisenhunt was sure it was set up for significant yardage, and from my spot down on the sideline at that point in the game, that’s how it looked to me too. Even if it only picks up eight or nine yards, the Cards are in a totally different spot.
Maybe Skelton still throws a pick on the drive, maybe not. It’s just hard to feel, the way the game was playing out (and the way the Bills were calling plays) that the Bills weren’t going to drive for a score. Hindsight and all that, I suppose. But Sunday was a gut-wrencher.
It’s really classic NFL reaction, I guess. Jay Feely’s kick goes through at the end of regulation, or if the Cards find a way to win in OT, and it’s all good, relatively speaking. Instead, you fight the feeling that the sky is falling. I do think this – that game in Minnesota next week might be the tipping point for either one of the two upstart teams, whoever loses.
– I guess we’re going to be back talking about who is the starting quarterback again. I’m assuming we won’t know much more tomorrow about the status of Kevin Kolb’s ribs, unless it’s some devastating injury that ends his season (which I don’t think it will be.) So then we’ll see if Skelton is back under center. Skelton looked rusty when he came in, completing just 2-of-10 throws. He’ll get more practice time this week. It’s the story that just never quite goes away though.
– Larry Fitzgerald had a very good game, when they could get him the ball. There was no cheesy stat-padding today. Every one of his six catches seemed to hold importance (and that one-handed sideline grab that didn’t count because it was out of bounds still is highlight-worthy — check out the photo below.) The grab he made to keep the Cards alive on fourth down before Feely’s 61-yarder was amazing.
Plus he surpassed the 10,000-yard mark for his career. Not that he cared. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been at home and not won so it still hasn’t registered to me, really,” Fitz said. “I’m just disappointed we didn’t come out and protect home field. That’s bothering me right now.”
– Speaking of Feely’s kick, it was blocked. Not enough to knock it all the way down, but enough to cause problems. Alex Carrington, a Bills defensive lineman got it, and I suppose given all the times the Cards have used a blocked kick to save a game, it’s a painful reminder the Cardinals do not have the market cornered on such crucial saves.
– Props to Feely, though, on the 61-yarder. It destroyed his career-high of 55 yards. I didn’t think he had it in him. I guess that was foolish.
– The Cards had 182 yards rushing. Yes, 24 of it came on a fake punt and 66 of it was Kolb’s on scrambles. Yes, it came against a defense that struggles against the run. But still, 182 yards is 182 yards, easily the best of the season. William Powell looked OK, didn’t he? To get 70 yards on 13 carries was impressive. I’m guessing the Cards will be willing to ride this for now.
– If you watched the game on TV, you saw Whiz light into fullback Reagan Maui’a for his post-play spike after a key eight-yard reception. It cost the Cards five of those yards on a delay of game and virtually stopped that drive, which looked good up until that point. Tight end Jeff King false-started after that and everything got backward quickly. “You can’t do that,” Whiz said. “It’s just stupidity.” It’s also never a good thing for a player who is always on the verge of being released anyway, as starter Anthony Sherman tries to return to health.
– Safety Kerry Rhodes left with a back injury and Rhodes was walking like it in the locker room. Bad backs can be tricky. It also looked like a Bills player hit Rhodes low in the leg (kind of cheap-looking, although I’d like to see another replay) before he was carried off, so let’s hope there isn’t anything besides the back to complicate things.
– Safety Rashad Johnson, who ran the 24 yards as the up back on the fake punt, actually walked on at the University of Alabama as a running back before he was switched to safety. “I played running back for two years there,” Johnson said. “Anytime I can get the opportunity to do that – anything to get the offense an extra possession, maybe get points, I’ll lobby for it again.”
Bottom line today: These are the games the Cardinals play. It finally bit them back.
Tags: Bills, Jay Feely, Jeff King, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Johnson, Reagan Maui'a, William Powell
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Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.
Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.
But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.
QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)
RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.
FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”
WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.
TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.
OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.
DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.
LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.
DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.
ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Adam Snyder, Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, D'Anthony Batiste, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, David Carter, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, Jim Dray, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Nick Eason, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Rich Ohrnberger, Rob Housler, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stewart Bradley, Todd Heap, Vonnie Holliday, William Gay, William Powell
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Running back Beanie Wells is getting the start tonight in his preseason debut at running back, while tight end Jeff King will also get the start tonight as he returns. King’s appearance offsets the missing Rob Housler, who is sitting out with a bad hamstring. It’s a big night for Beanie, who is expected to get the same kind of work Ryan Williams had last week — which was eight snaps and five carries.
Also sitting out tonight are:
– CB Greg Toler (knee)
– FB Jared Crank (neck)
– S Rashad Johnson (abdomen)
– LB O’Brien Schofield (knee)
– LB Daryl Washington (death in the family)
– T Levi Brown (triceps)
Tags: Beanie Wells, Daryl Washington, Greg Toler, Jared Crank, Jeff King, Levi Brown, O'Brien Schofield, Rashad Johnson, Rob Housler
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After two games missed, running back Ryan Williams should get his first preseason action against the Raiders Friday night, coach Ken Whisenhunt said during the lunchtime update today. Tight end Jeff King officially came off the PUP list with his quad injury, and Whisenhunt said he will be treated conservatively like Beanie Wells has been. King said the more realistic return to game action for him would be in Tennessee a week from Thursday.
– The game is a possibility for Wells as well, but Whiz said he wants to see Wells in a padded practice and how he reacts. Beanie sounded like he felt the same. “I don’t know if it’s this week,” Wells said, but “I went through warmups last week and it felt great to be out there just preparing for a game.”
Wells added, “I definitely need preseason. Maybe one game, maybe two games, but I definitely need it.”
– Whisenhunt reiterated the starters will play a lot Friday. “As of now there’s no reason to save anybody.” Whiz said he told young players there is no guarantee they will play. “I’m not going to be crazy, but I’m not concerned with the number of snaps this week.
– It was important to bring in a new fullback in Reagan Maui’a to be able to run some of the offense. The injured Jared Crank (neck) is still stiff and sore, Whisenhunt said. Wide receiver LaRon Byrd is day-to-day with a sore shoulder, but the hope is that Byrd will be back this week and play Friday.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Jeff King, Reagan Maui'a, Ryan Williams
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There is no inactive list technically for the preseason because there doesn’t have to be any inactives, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be guys who will not dress. Most are injury related. Some we knew about, some we didn’t.
Don’t Didn’t know the details on every injury, but I’ll try to track them down when I can know I do. Don’t expect any to be serious:
– CB Crezdon Butler (hip)
– DT Darnell Dockett (hamstring)
– DE Nick Eason (He isn’t here; His mother has been very ill, as he has pointed out on Twitter)
– CB Marshay Green (hamstring)
– RB Javarris James (abductor strain)
– TE Jeff King (PUP — quad)
– LB Zach Nash (ankle)
– RB Beanie Wells (PUP — knee)
– RB Ryan Williams (patella)
– WR Stephen Williams (hamstring)
– S Adrian Wilson (calf)
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Crezdon Butler, Darnell Dockett, Hall of Fame game, Javarris James, Jeff King, Marshay Green, Nick Eason, Ryan Williams, Stephen Williams, Zach Nash
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Some notes and quotes from Ken Whisenhunt’s lunchtime presser in advance of the lone night practice of camp:
– Quarterback Kevin Kolb took part in the morning walk-through and he will practice tonight in the Cards’ lone night practice at Lumberjack Stadium, although he will be limited. “The issue is it tightens up a little bit standing around, so I have to keep it warm,” Kolb said. “I did the best I could today and we’ll see what happens, keep progressing every day.”
– Whether running back Ryan Williams plays Sunday will likely be determined that day. Williams said he’ll tell the team how he feels, and Whisenhunt said Williams and head athletic trainer Tom Reed have developed a good enough relationship during rehab that it works that way. “I’d like for him to get in for a couple of plays, but he may not feel that way,” Whisenhunt said. Because there are no inactives in the preseason, Williams could dress and then they can make a call on the fly if they wanted to.
– We already knew running back Beanie Wells could come off the PUP list next week in Kansas City, but Whiz said tight end Jeff King — on the PUP list with his quad injury — could also be back soon. King could start practicing next week as well, Whisenhunt said, and if not then, then the week of the Oakland game.
– A reminder that because newly refurbished Lumberjack Stadium only has seating for 1,000 fans, admission into the stadium for tonight’s practice (starts at 7:15 p.m.) will be limited to those 1,000. Fans will still be welcome to watch in the areas surrounding the field outside of the chain-link fence at the stadium, although fans are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or portable seats.
Tags: Jeff King, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Williams, training camp
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The Cardinals put out their first official depth chart of the season today. This stuff is fluid given certain competitions, but they have to make someone No. 1 and No. 2 and so on. There are no shocking developments, but:
– Kevin Kolb is listed as the No. 1 QB right now. John Skelton is the No. 2.
– Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.
– With Jeff King still rehabbing his quad, Todd Heap is the No. 1 tight end, Rob Housler No. 2.
– Behind Fitz is DeMarco Sampson and then Stephen Williams. At the other receiver spot, it officially goes Andre Roberts, then Early Doucet, then Michael Floyd.
– William Gay is the No. 1 right cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. Greg Toler is listed as Gay’s backup, with Michael Adams listed as Peterson’s backup.
– Brandon Williams is Sam Acho’s backup, with Clark Haggans as O’Brien Schofield’s backup at OLB. Quentin Groves is behind Haggans.
– With the large roster, the only second team rookies (no starters) are LG Senio Kelemete, FB Jared Crank and Massie. (And the Cards are incredibly unlikely to keep two fullbacks.) T Nate Potter is third-string, Floyd is third-string, S Justin Bethel is third-string and, with the large amount of veteran cornerbacks, Jamell Fleming is technically fourth-string behind Gay, Toler and A.J. Jefferson (although he will be on this roster, no doubt.)
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Andre Roberts, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Clark Haggans, DeMarco Sampson, depth chart, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, Jared Crank, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kevin Kolb, Michael Adams, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Groves, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stephen Williams, Todd Heap, William Gay
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