The Cardinals made their first “big” free-agent signing Friday, getting tight end John Carlson to sign a two-year contract. Given the uncertainty at the position — Jeff King, Jim Dray, Jake Ballard and Kory Sperry all have expiring contracts — someone was going to have to sign to fill the spots.
Tags: Arizona State, free agency, Jake Ballard, Jeff King, Jim Dray, John Carlson, Kory Sperry, Will Sutton
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The other day, Bruce Arians was saying he was hoping Jonathan Cooper could come back this season. He didn’t want his first-round draft pick to be a rookie again next season. Turns out, that won’t be the case. The guard was put on the season-ending version of injured reserve Friday. Each team gets just one spot for the IR-to-return list each season, and Arians said the Cards felt it was smarter to hold it open than save it for the possibility of Cooper.
But either way, Cooper was going to be out the majority of the season. And as for the cuts Friday — the Cards still have seven moves to make, because linebacker Daryl Washington won’t count toward the 53 during his suspension — there were a couple of minor surprises. Defensive lineman David Carter was one, but he lost out in a battle with Ronald Talley. As I had noted a couple of times, Arians had turned up the compliments on Talley and his being “country strong.” It was tough not to notice. And indeed, when asked today about Carter, Arians said the strength was the difference.
“Talley’s strength at the point of attack and ability to play nose was better,” Arians said. “David has a lot of hustle, a lot of effort, but was struggling to hold the point.”
— The Cardinals still have seven defensive lineman, and there have been reports they are looking to find a nose tackle still. If that’s true, rookie Padric Scott still could be released and put on practice squad, for instance.
— Safety Tony Jefferson has been doing well in both games and practices, and the release of Jonathon Amaya probably means he’s going to stay, although Arians said Jefferson is “not through the woods yet.”
— Arians said he was “not totally, 90 percent sure” of the decision he is going to make on QB Ryan Lindley. I’ve said all along I thought he would stay, so I’m not going to change now. We’ll see.
— I found it interesting, after a training camp of talking about how inconsistent the young receivers are, Arians called both Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor consistent. If there is a pecking order, I’d still put Brown over Taylor, and we will see what happens on the waiver wire.
— No word on Jeff King, but having knee surgery again certainly seems like King could be an IR candidate. If that came to pass, then the Cards only have six cuts to make.
— No draft picks cut yet, and with Rachal being cut it means Earl Watford is your top backup guard.
— The roster is built as of now like this: 7 DL, 11 LB, 7 CB, 4 S, 3 specialists, 11 OL, 5 TE, 5 RB, 5 WR, 3 QB. Obviously, a couple of positions seem out of balance — DL, LB, CB, OL for sure — and are places to look for the rest of the cuts. Which, according to Arians, should be done by noon Saturday.
And then we wait to see if/when/who the Cards pick up from other teams.
UPDATE: Later Friday, linebacker Reggie Walker tweeted out what sounds like his goodbye after being cut (nothing official yet):
— Reggie Walker (@Rwalk56) August 30, 2013
Tags: Bruce Arians, cuts, David Carter, Earl Watford, Jaron Brown, Jeff King, Jonathan Cooper, Kerry Taylor, Padric Scott, Reggie Walker, Ronald Talley, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Tony Jefferson
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Tony Jefferson still had his uniform on, his shoulder pads pushing out his grass-stained jersey. After his last showing of the preseason, getting five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and a special teams tackle while battling for a roster spot, he was left to … do nothing.
“I’m just going to leave that up to the coaches, whether I am a fit for the team or not,” the undrafted rookie safety said, noting he would be going back to watch his former University of Oklahoma teammates in their opener this weekend.
“I’m going to try and keep my mind off it,” Jefferson said. “Just wait. It’s a waiting game. Just like draft day.”
The wait won’t take long (which is why this aftermath is going to be pretty short and sweet.) Steve Keim said the initial 53-man roster will be set by noon Friday, and Bruce Arians will make it public at 1 p.m. No reason to overly analyze Thursday night, which will be old news soon enough.
Some thoughts on what is coming, in light on what happened in Denver with context through my initial 53-man guess:
— Obviously strong games for QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ryan Williams. Enough to be on the 53? It would make sense, yet you could easily see a scenario where they wouldn’t be. Williams, I suppose, still could be traded, although I don’t see him being simply released. Personally I’d like Williams to stay, but we’ll see. “We’re not cutting good football players,” Bruce Arians said. (Although he didn’t say he wouldn’t trade them.)
— Teams don’t have to be to 53 until Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. So they might still keep 54 or 55 tomorrow if a deal is percolating.
— Lindley is “light years” ahead of where he was, Arians said. “Early on he had trouble processing as the play was happening. Now he has a quarterback rating of (104) and that was with guys busting routes on him. I thought he played extremely well. He was very comfortable out there.”
— All that said, Arians still wouldn’t say if Lindley had made the team for sure yet.
— Speaking of trades, will a defensive back be dealt? I’ve said since the offseason I wouldn’t be surprised in a deal like the A.J. Jefferson trade of 2012.
— I thought rookie wideout Jaron Brown was already on this team. I feel even more confident in that now.
— Beyond Brown? Mike Thomas did catch a touchdown late but he probably should have caught a bomb from Lindley earlier. It would have been a tough catch but it was makeable – and it was the kind of catch that helps you make rosters. Kerry Taylor had a quiet night.
— Arians said TE Jeff King is headed for knee surgery. Not sure if that’s significant enough for injured reserve or not. With Rob Housler still trying to come back from an ankle issue, I’m thinking King won’t be on the roster.
— To my untrained eye, I think Jefferson flashed enough to make them want to keep him. Would it be in lieu of Jonathon Amaya? Other than Jefferson, I didn’t really think any of the defensive backs battling for the roster played particularly well Thursday.
— The lone injury was a shoulder problem for defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, unfortunate for a guy trying to make the roster. Ronald Talley, the man Arians has been talking up, seemed to make a couple plays. Wondering what that might mean for David Carter, who is on the bubble. Arians said he’d need to see the tape to really give decent analysis on the defensive line play in the game.
— In the locker room, Larry Fitzgerald pointed out the Cardinals logo rookie seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson has tattooed on his abdomen. Now that’s confidence in your ability to make the roster.
— I thought before the entire draft class still here (Ryan Swope already having retired of course) makes the 53. I haven’t changed my mind on that.
We’ll see. We’ll know in a little more than 12 hours.
Tags: Broncos, Bruce Arians, D.C. Jefferson, David Carter, Jaron Brown, Jeff King, Jonathon Amaya, Kerry Taylor, Mike Thomas, Ricky Lumpkin, Ronald Talley, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Tony Jefferson
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The Cardinals are down to one preseason game. And by now, there probably isn’t much to determine. In fact, it’s tough to get past the words of Darnell Dockett going into this one: “You always want to play preseason games and make sure everyone gets out healthy,” Dockett said, and obviously, with Jonathan Cooper, that didn’t happen. “I’ve never been a fan of preseason games. I understand the games because young guys are trying to get on rosters and this might be their big chance, so I’m all for it. But guys who have to play 16 regular-season games … my biggest thing is getting out healthy.”
That’s why quarterback Carson Palmer may not play, and why I’m sure the Cards will be careful with what they do tomorrow night.
All that said, Bruce Arians did say there was still “four or five” roster spots still up for debate. The positions he named were the back end of wide receiver, safety, cornerback, tight end and offensive line. He didn’t name names, and that’s where the speculation comes in. At receiver, for instance, Kerry Taylor has worked hard for this team and is a smart guy. But Mike Thomas, the newbie vet, has the speed Arians so covets. At safety, can special teamer Jonathon Amaya hold off Tony Jefferson or big Curtis Taylor? Tight end is a very interesting spot too. Veteran Jeff King hasn’t been able to get on the field much, and Arians wants to see him play. When the offseason started I assumed he would be here, but with his balky knee, I’m not so sure anymore — not that the Cards have overwhelming options elsewhere.
That’s the thing about guessing about the 53-man roster (which I will attempt to do later today). It’s hard to know what a new GM and a new coach really like to do. It’s hard to know what they think about raw players like G Earl Watford and TE D.C. Jefferson, guys who probably aren’t ready to help right away but guys who may not make it through waivers to put on the practice squad.
— With RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and TE Rob Housler (ankle) sitting out practice yesterday, I’m sure that would basically rule them out. I am guessing there might be a couple other guys sitting as precautionary, but it did seem like the Cards are fairly healthy right now, all things considered.
— I don’t expect to see major Broncos players, like Peyton Manning. Doesn’t matter whether it was Mike Shanahan or John Fox as coach in Denver, the QB never seems to play that last preseason game.
— Arians has a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. Not sure if cuts will come by then or not (teams must be to 53 by Saturday afternoon) but regardless, whatever this 53-man roster is on Saturday, I will be surprised if it is still the 53-man roster on Tuesday, after waiver claims and the like. Arians said he would probably warn “two or three” players that their spot on the 53 could change into a practice squad spot by Thursday. It’s the reality of the business.
— And as we have said many times, this team is is going to churn the roster. Director of media relations Chris Melvin is going to be a busy man putting out new bio after new bio this season, methinks.
— UPDATE: The game, no matter what your TV guide says, will be live on Ch. 15 ABC Thursday. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m.
— It’s good to know Tyrann Mathieu’s eyebrow is coming back. Time to end the preseason.
Tags: Broncos, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Melvin, Curtis Taylor, D.C. Jefferson, Earl Watford, Jeff King, Jonathon Amaya, Kerry Taylor, Mike Thomas, Rashard Mendenhall, Rob Housler, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Tight end Jeff King (knee) is not going to play tonight after going through a limited practice Thursday. But running back Ryan Williams will play tonight — we’ll see how many snaps he’ll get. Actually, almost everyone will be available for the Cardinals, an impressive feat this deep in the preseason and perhaps indicative of the importance of the third preseason game. Here is the very short list of players not going tonight besides King:
— QB Caleb TerBush (undisclosed)
— WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion – there was a report earlier he has reached an injury settlement with the team, nothing official yet)
— LB Dan Giordano (PUP – toe)
— T Joe Caprioglio (foot)
Tags: Jeff King, Ryan Williams
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Patrick Peterson has talked about playing offense before. At this point, it’s no secret. But the Pro Bowl cornerback revealed Thursday the number of plays in the Peterson offensive playbook has grown to 60.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this many,” Peterson said with a smile. “I am definitely getting my workload.”
But Peterson said he was on board with all the offensive work and relishes the chance. “The thing that intrigues me about the plays I am in there, I don’t go in just to get the ball. I can be in there as a decoy,” Peterson said. “I can be there to open up the field for other guys, to take the top off the coverage. That’s what I love about it most.”
Peterson knows the first concern would be that extra offense would take away from his defensive play. He insisted — multiple times — that wouldn’t be the case. “I’m positive,” he said. He referenced playing against St. Louis as a rookie, when the Rams ran a receiver on a go route three straight plays on him. On the fourth play, Peterson took back his famous 99-yard punt return.
Offensively, Peterson is “getting very comfortable. There are definitely things I can still learn. Playing offense on this level is very difficult from college and high school. There is a lot more terminology, a lot more reading, a lot more alignments, especially in this offense.”
— Coach Bruce Arians said RB Ryan Williams (knee) and TE Jeff King (knee) will both practice today. Obviously, it’s big news for Williams, who has been out since coming off the field with a sore knee July 28, the first Sunday of camp. Arians said both Williams and King could play against the Chargers Saturday depending on their practice, but it both cases it would seem like a long shot.
Williams is running out of time to show he deserves to be on the roster, which he has spoken about before (he was not available this morning.) Today would seem to be a big deal. King is in the same boat. King said the hardest part for him has been sitting out practice and watching his teammates because he misses the game. But he added he understands the livelihood component too.
“Anytime you miss time or a play … when I was a rookie (in Carolina) I had (offensive coordinator) Dan Henning, and he was cut from the same mold as Bill Parcells,” King said. “If you missed any time, you knew about it. Bruce has been great, but believe me, I know time is ticking.”
— The only other main injured guy right now is DE Frostee Rucker (toe).
— Arians said the kicking plan for the game is to have Dan Carpenter kick the first half and Jay Feely the second, “depending on the opportunities.” The kicking competition will go through the end of the preseason, Arians added.
— The game Saturday is officially a sellout. It will be broadcast live on ABC-15 locally.
Tags: Dan Carpenter, Jeff King, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Williams
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When Bruce Arians walked in the door, one of the first things he emphasized was that he was a two-tight end man.
The tight end was a key in his offense. Fullbacks were unnecessary (and in this case, a surprising bargaining chip of the offseason, after Anthony Sherman was traded for the impressive cornerback Javier Arenas.) The roster was shaped, a (seventh-round) draft pick was spent on a tight end and Arians went about building his offense. As training camp comes to a close, tight end remains important to the Cardinals. But questions swirl around the position, especially since they are so important.
Tight end starts with Rob Housler. He’s had a quiet preseason, but Arians said that is because he wanted to look at other players. “It’s more blocking and I think he’s improved tremendously,” Arians said. “He’s had some he could have finished better, but I think he’s improved in his all-around. We know he can run and catch. We’ve got a bunch of packages where we can feature him. He’s a given to me. I don’t need to see that part.”
Housler will be a given as receiver (and in my opinion, he has improved as a blocker.) Beyond him? Right now, factoring in practice reps, health, production, the under-the-radar Jim Dray is No. 2. Dray is fascinating in some regards. The one-time seventh-rounder keeps sticking around, an excellent special teams player under Ken Whisenhunt and now the kind of guy drawn up perfectly for Arians — with the ability to drop into the backfield as an H-back/fullback if needed. Veteran Jeff King was supposed to be in the mix, but continuing knee troubles have kept him sidelined a ton, and you have to wonder about his future. Kory Sperry was impressing Arians early and he’ll need to be around.
D.C. Jefferson, the seventh-round rookie, looks the part and seems like he has promise. But he is so raw he may be better suited to the practice squad, if he can clear waivers. I’m not sure Mickey Shuler has made enough in-roads to stick around.
You figure the Cards need at least four tight ends on the active roster. Tight end remains, in my mind, the number one position Steve Keim will watch as cuts are made across the league. While it’s no lock the Cards claim/sign another tight end, it wouldn’t be surprising at all. It’s too important to Arians not to keep searching.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Bruce Arians, D.C. Jefferson, Javier Arenas, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Kory Sperry, Mickey Shuler, Rob Housler
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Bruce Arians was talking at lunch about some of the moves the team has been making and noted that new wide receiver Mike Thomas had a résumé none of the other young receivers did. He also noted Thomas had speed, something the Cards are always looking for at wideout. Arians was asked again later how important that résumé was. Arians didn’t hesitate.
“That should help him, (but) the deciding factor though was speed,” Arians said. “He does have the résumé, But if he were slow and had that résumé, he probably wouldn’t be here.”
You need a total package. The Cards had undrafted rookie Robby Toma, who seemed to catch everything thrown his way. But he didn’t have the speed, he didn’t have the size and he definitely didn’t have the experience. Robert Gill had the speed but he didn’t have the experience, he struggled catching the ball of late and before that, he was battling a bad hamstring too often. Those were the reasons those guys were cut Wednesday. And it’s a reminder you need to total package to stick around.
Besides, at 87 players, the Cards have to slice 35 more guys before the regular season, not including anyone else they claim/sign. A lot of the current guys are going to have to go.
— WR Andre Roberts (ankle) was back at practice Tuesday. Arians said the Cards will take it slow with him.
— Arians still has hope TE Jeff King (knee) will be able to practice some this week and maybe play in Saturday’s game.
— If Roberts is down, it is Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor the next in line — not Thomas — to get the bulk of the work in the game. With Patrick Peterson and Rob Housler as receiving options, I think the Cards keep at most five receivers. There’s a lot on the line for Brown/Taylor/Thomas. The other young guys will get more work in the preseason finale.
— Arians won’t have a lot of time to evaluate Thomas, but that’s a reality of the situation. “There are guys you claim off the waiver wire where you get one day and they have to play on Sunday sometimes,” Arians said. “That’s the hardest part of coaching, get a guy on Tuesday and have to play him Sunday.”
— Arians said he hopes to play Daryn Colledge about 10 snaps at center against the Chargers. “Ten to 12, all in one good long drive for a touchdown,” Arians added.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Daryn Colledge, Jaron Brown, Jeff King, Kerry Taylor, Mike Thomas, Robby Toma, Robert Gill
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The Cardinals are getting healthier, although the main subject for Bruce Arians once again as his team starts a new week was the status of running back Ryan WIlliams. It’s only Monday, but already Arians said Williams “probably” will not play against the Chargers Saturday because of the knee. Answers are few and far between, but Arians was asked about Williams anyway.
About evaluating WIlliams, Arians said, “He needs to start playing. Can’t evaluate him unless you play.” Arians isn’t sure yet what it means for Williams’ chances at a roster spot, and there is still an opportunity for Williams to “play a bunch” against Denver in the preseason finale. That would mean Williams would actually have to come back first though.
“You can’t get these reps back,” Arians said. “He had an excellent OTAs, started with an excellent camp, running and cutting. Then just put the brakes on. You can’t get this back.” Asked if he thought it was more mental than physical with Williams, Arians said “I can’t answer that. He’s the only one who can answer that.”
UPDATE: Williams said it’s still the irritation under the “fatty pad” in his knee causing him sharp pain. He said he doesn’t even call it an injury. He also wasn’t willing to say he was nervous about his spot on the roster, mostly because he figures worrying about it wouldn’t help.
“I wouldn’t say nervous about my spot, I just don’t like taking time off,” Williams said. “But things like this happen. There was nothing more I could have done to prevent this from happening. I really not nervous, because I feel when I go out there, I’ll be able to erase the time that I’ve missed.”
Would there be enough time to convince the organization to keep him if he didn’t return until next week? “I don’t know,” Williams said. “We’ll have to see. I’d have to make a lot of big plays to erase the time that I’ve missed. I really don’t worry about things like that, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
Williams added he was “pretty sure” the coaches are frustrated because he is too.
“I wouldn’t doubt that they were,” Williams said. “Can I sense it? No. If they are they are doing a good (job) of hiding it. I’m pretty sure they are, but it’s not to the point where they are mad at me. They are more mad at the situation like I am.”
— The good news is that Arians expects a handful of players to return to practice today. He didn’t name any particulars other than cornerback Javier Arenas, although he said last week he thought LB Karlos Dansby would be back on the field today. Those players may still be limited, but they will have a chance to play Saturday. TE Jeff King (knee) and WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion) remain out, although Arians said he thought King could play against San Diego.
— Backup tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie got extended playing time against the Cowboys because they needed extra work, Arians said, and he added he liked they way they played. They will get less work this week as the starters go longer, and while Arians said the depth chart at the position has not changed he still sees a competition not only between Massie/Eric Winston and Potter/Levi Brown but also at right guard between Daryn Colledge and Paul Fanaika.
— Colledge will get some snaps as center this week. Colledge said he has never played center in a game, but with only seven linemen that dress Sundays, having Colledge be proficient at the skill would mean the Cards wouldn’t need a specific backup center active on game days.
— Arians has mentioned a couple of times that Kerry Taylor dropped a touchdown pass against Dallas, as he did with tight end D.C. Jefferson in the first preseason game. In both cases, it looked like the pass from QB Drew Stanton was slightly off-target and would have made a grab difficult. Arians was asked if he ever thought about giving his receivers more slack. “No,” he deadpanned, before a smile crept over his face. “This is the NFL. When you get both hands on the ball, you’ve got to catch it.”
— The play of QB Carson Palmer was “average,” Arians said. “He’d probably say he was terrible,” Arians said. “He knows he can play better.”
— In the department of Ryan Lindley seems to have a good shot to stick, Arians said the third QB has done “extremely well” and his decision-making in games has been good. Lindley will get extensive time in the fourth preseason game, which will be important in his evaluation.
— Arians, asked to assess the camp of kicker Jay Feely, paused before calling it “solid.” But he said he made it clear to Feely missing a 30-yard field goal was unacceptable.
— Colledge, whose fractured leg was revealed last week by General Manager Steve Keim, said he was shaking off the rust. “A lesser man would have quit football,” Colledge quipped. As for the talk of the injury being a nerve problem and not a broken leg, Colledge said “What we tell people and what needs to be said are two different things.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, D.C. Jefferson, Daryn Colledge, Javier Arenas, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Karlos Dansby, Kerry Taylor, Nate Potter, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams
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The running back health is improving. Rashard Mendenhall is back to practicing fully and Andre Ellington (concussion) has been cleared but will be worked back in slowly. Ryan Williams, said Bruce Arians, remains day-to-day with his knee issues. One thing is for certain: Arians said the Cardinals are not considering bringing in another running back, so the concern for numbers there (Alfonso Smith and Stepfan Taylor are the only ones to have avoided dings) can’t be that great.
Other stuff from Arians’ presser:
— WR Jarrett Dillard has a concussion. He’s out until he’s cleared. G Daryn Colledge (leg) will practice limited today and is expected to practice fully starting Tuesday. He is champing at the bit to return after serving as Twitter analyst watching the Green Bay game from home. “That was a tough spot to be in,” Colledge said. “It was hard. I want to be out there next week against Dallas.”
— Arians said he expects DT Dan WIlliams (ankle) and TE Kory Sperry (ankle) back next week, so neither sounds possible for the game against Dallas. TE Jeff King (knee) is day-to-day.
— Is the 5-foot-9 Tyrann Mathieu big enough to play free safety in the base defense? “No doubt,” Arians said. “He plays bigger than he is and plays faster than he is.”
— Arians said rookie linebacker Kevin Minter played “extremely well.” “Sideline to sideline he was better than I anticipated,” Arians said. “He’s a thumper, exactly what we are looking for as a middle linebacker. Really bright.”
— The young receivers made mistakes about 50 percent of the time, Arians estimated. Because of that, nothing has been sorted out yet there.
— Arians had the same thoughts on the close cornerback battle, even mentioning solid play not only from Justin Bethel but Bryan McCann. It’s why Jamell Fleming, who was finally back at practice Sunday following a hamstring injury, needs to get on the field, he said.
— Arians wants to play his starters at least 20 plays against the Cowboys, but he doesn’t want them to go the full first half. He also is happy to have the Cardinals going up against a 4-3 defense for the first time after spending an offseason and a first preseason game against mostly 3-4 looks.
— As for the many mental errors, Arians admitted he was disappointed in part because he thought many would be avoided after the Cardinals essentially had the young players with their second-field practice during the offseason just so they’d get reps. “I would have bought into some of these mental errors had they not got all that practice time,” Arians said.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington, Cowboys, Dan Williams, Daryn Colledge, Jarrett Dillard, Jeff King, Kevin Minter, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
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