There will be frustration of missing tackles and poor plays from Saturday night, but there is a reason teams have 90 men on the roster now and when the games count there are 53 — many of those guys who were playing and struggling won’t be play this time next month. That’s why you look at what the Cards did at the start, both with their offense and defense, and if you are Bruce Arians, you have to be generally pleased. That and there were no serious injuries, and in the end, that might be the most important thing to come out of any preseason game.
Before it gets too late, a few thoughts after the opener — understanding there are still two week of training camp left. And three preseason games. We’re still a long way from anything counting.
— Carson Palmer was sharp, smart and altogether untouched. “I could’ve hitched three or four times on any of the passes we threw tonight,” he said. “Very clean pocket.” This gets repeated often yet can’t be understated: If Palmer is healthy and performs like this, the Cards will be in good shape.
— It didn’t take long for Andre Ellington to show what he can do, even after the hamstring issues kept him out of practice. No, he shouldn’t have been caught — “I just need to get my cardio back up” — but again, he’ll be the main guy in the backfield because of what he showed.
— Who will join him back there is still up in the air. Chris Johnson is coming in Sunday for his physical/tryout. Again, he’d have to be signed and he’d have to show well, but he could still be Ellington’s mate back there. The run game still only produced 2.8 yards a carry Saturday.
— The Chiefs went after Justin Bethel, starting for Jerraud Powers, on the very first play. Bethel was there to break it up. The Cards need Bethel to play well at cornerback. They are very thin there beyond Patrick Peterson and Powers. Jimmy Legree, the one who looked like he might have an inside track at a roster spot this summer, struggled.
— In the first salvo of the punting battle, Dave Zastudil’s night was four punts, 40.5 average, 35.3 net. I’d guess Drew Butler will punt next week against the Chargers.
— I thought Logan Thomas looked better in the game than he has at practice. Which is a good thing.
— The Chiefs’ lineman turned the wrong way to let Rodney Gunter blow past him, but Gunter showed impressive quickness to blaze into the backfield for that safety. Gunter is going to be someone to watch.
— That said, while I’d need to watch the replay of the game, there weren’t any of the non-draftees that really stood out to me as guys that popped, other than maybe Jaxon Shipley on his returns and one catch — and it’s hard to see Shipley as anything more that a practice squad guy given who is in front of him.
— The Cardinals are off until Monday, and like last Monday, do not have a morning walkthrough. The next time Arians will address the media is Monday afternoon. We’ll see if the Cards have a new running back by then.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Chiefs, Chris Johnson, Dave Zastudil, Drew Butler, Jaxon Shipley, Jimmy Legree, Justin Bethel, Logan Thomas, Rodney Gunter
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The Cardinals are going through rookie minicamp this weekend. They started Friday, it goes through Sunday, and it’s a chance for the draft class and the undrafted rookies to get some work on their own before being thrown in with the veterans. That’s a good thing — it was hard to go through two consecutive plays Friday without having a coach at some position verbally blister a player for a mistake. The Cards will come together as an entire team next week. There is one more week of Phase 2 work, and then OTAs start May 18.
— There are a lot of questions about Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly. Kelly is here as one of the quarterbacks (as is Phillip Sims of Winston-Salem State) because to have a practice you have to have quarterbacks. But both are only here on a tryout basis and I do not expect Kelly to be with the Cards beyond this rookie weekend.
— Click here for the entire rookie minicamp roster. You can see who is here on a tryout basis.
— It was interesting to hear Bruce Arians say first-round draft pick D.J. Humphries would be a backup as a rookie “in a perfect world.” It’s certainly a possibility with veteran Bobby Massie around at right tackle. We’ll see how this plays out.
— Arians praised cornerback Jimmy Legree on the first day. For those who don’t know Legree, he actually spent last season on the practice squad after making the roster through just this process — he was a tryout player at the 2014 rookie minicamp. So it can happen. Arians even thinks Legree has a chance to be in the mix at cornerback, although we’ll see what opportunity is there once the Cards figure out where, how and if Alfonzo Dennard fits.
— He may not have made any official decisions on his future, but Adrian Wilson was at practice Friday helping coach the safeties.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Alfonzo Dennard, D.J. Humphries, Jimmy Legree, rookie minicamp, Taylor Kelly
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The Wes Welker suspension bomb dropped yesterday, and that’s a great example of why all these game-by-game results guesses never made any sense to me. The Broncos wide receiver is gone for four games, and since the Broncos have a Week 4 bye (as do the Cardinals), the fourth and final game Welker will have to sit out will be the Cardinals’ visit to Denver. Will that impact the outcome? Maybe, maybe not. But you can’t predict because this game doesn’t allow that. Last year, when the schedule game out, the Cardinals were facing two tough playoff teams coming to Arizona in Houston and Atlanta. By the time the Texans and Falcons arrived, injuries had shredded them and they were bad teams. This year, the Broncos won’t have Welker (or kicker Matt Prater, who has also been suspended the first four games), the 49ers won’t have linebacker Aldon Smith in the first meeting with the Cards, and again, you just don’t know how these things will play out.
Random aside: That Oct. 5 game will be only the second time in Payton Manning’s career he will play an entire game against the Cardinals. He did so in a Sunday night game in 2009, but he sat out virtually all off the 2005 season finale. That is, of course, assuming Manning is healthy by that point. Because you just don’t know what will happen.
— The Cardinals picked captains and the results weren’t really surprising when you think of it. The biggest one, noted by many fans, is that Larry Fitzgerald is not a captain. This year’s offensive captain is Carson Palmer. But this should not shock. Palmer has really been the biggest offensive leader since he arrived, although there is something to be said about taking a bit of a backseat in the first year. Palmer did that, and Fitz was a 2013 captain. But Palmer is unquestionably the guy out front. Fitz has always been more of a lead-by-example guy. It was interesting that Calais Campbell is the defensive captain, but then again, maybe that shouldn’t be that surprising either. It’s hard to think of Campbell as a veteran leader — sometimes, it still feels like he just got here, especially since Darnell Dockett’s experience always overshadowed him on the line. But he’s a guy the defense can get behind.
— The Cardinals finished off their 10-man practice squad today by signing cornerback Anthony Gaitor. The 5-foot-10 Gaitor was among the Bucs’ final cuts. He was a seventh-round pick of Tampa in 2011, and missed all of last season with a knee injury. He joins rookie Jimmy Legree as the defensive backs on the practice squad, which gives the Cards some in-house possibilities for help if there are injuries with the eight men on the active roster.
Tags: Aldon Smith, Anthony Gaitor, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Jimmy Legree, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Prater, Peyton Manning, Wes Welker
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The Cardinals got a player on waivers, claiming outside linebacker Thomas Keiser. Keiser was just released by San Diego – a team that just happens to be the Cards’ opponent for the opening game. To make room for Keiser, the Cardinals cut wide receiver Walt Powell. Powell now becomes a likely practice-squad addition.
It takes the Cards down to five wide receivers, but they now have 11 linebackers on the roster. That’s a healthy amount. That may be the only waiver addition by now. It doesn’t mean the Cardinals didn’t try to claim others, but right now, the waiver claim order is based on draft order, and at 20, there are a lot of teams players must get past before the Cardinals would be able to get them.
Keiser came in as an undrafted free agent with the Panthers in 2011 and has nine sacks in his career. The Stanford product (6-4, 260) forced a Logan Thomas fumble in Thursday’s preseason game.
The Cardinals also signed six to their 10-man practice squad: C/G Anthony Steen, T Kelvin Palmer, CB Jimmy Legree, LB Jonathan Brown, WR Brittan Golden and TE Andre Hardy.
UPDATE: In terms of ex-Cardinals, defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, who was a player the Cardinals would have liked on the practice squad, was claimed by the Patriots, where he will go right on to the 53-man roster. Quarterback Ryan Lindley landed on the Chargers’ practice squad, thanks to the new “veteran” exceptions.
Tags: Andre Hardy, Anthony Steen, Brittan Golden, Jimmy Legree, Jonathan Brown, Kelvin Palmer, practice squad, Thomas Keiser, Walt Powell
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