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Broncos aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2013 – 11:46 pm

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 TJusefor 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.


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Wednesday before the Broncos

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2013 – 10:57 am

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.


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Arians after further review

Posted by Darren Urban on August 11, 2013 – 10:13 am

The Cardinals are back at practice this morning at the team’s Tempe facility for the first time since playing Friday night. A few notes and thoughts from coach Bruce Arians in his first media session since the game.

— The running back situation isn’t cleared up right now, starting with the fact running back Ryan Williams (knee), who insisted last week he’d be back for the Cowboys game, might not be back yet. “I don’t know if he’ll play this week,” Arians said. Andre Ellington is still being handled with kid gloves with his neck issue (he is sitting today) and Arians said Rashard Mendenhall is still trying to get the stiffness out of his knee.

— Safety/special teamer Jonathon Amaya suffered a slight MCL sprain in the game. Arians said he’d be out a couple of days,

— Arians liked the job of the offensive line and specifically praised LT Levi Brown for his work on Clay Matthews, although he noted Brown will have to deal with DeMarcus Ware this week. All four tackles played pretty well.

— G Daryn Colledge (leg) is close to coming back, but it’s clear Arians is looking at Paul Fanaika at right guard too. “We’re solidifying (the line) without (Colledge) pretty good right now,” Arians said. “Paul played really well. Hoppefully Daryn can get back out there. There’s competition now.”

— The Cards will practice half outside and half in their new bubble today. Long-term, it’s a big deal to have the bubble, Arians said. “We’ll be able to stay on a normal practice schedule,” he said. “It will show dividends I think throughout September. We’ll have normal teaching routine as opposed to having to bus over to ASU or morning practices or things that are different.”


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Search for depth in free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2013 – 5:18 pm

Each free agent signing brings with it immediate reaction, and that’s understandable. But the proper context isn’t always immediately there for the player and what will turn out to be his eventual role (see Stanton, Drew.) And even at the time, a signee was always seen as a reserve, and that is by design from General Manager Steve Keim.

“We not only got some starters but some key role players, guys who can come in and play 15 to 20 snaps, help keep fresh legs, and in a 60-minute game, to me, it’s extremely important to have quality depth,” Keim said.

He particularly noted the defensive line, to help with guys like nose tackle Dan Williams or defensive tackle Darnell Dockett if they get gassed. Keim likes the idea of bringing in Matt Shaughnessy and Frostee Rucker without having much of a dropoff. Looking at the veteran free agents the team has signed there definitely seems to be a mix:

— RB Rashard Mendenhall, starter

— QB Drew Stanton, reserve

— S Yeremiah Bell, TBD

— CB Jerraud Powers, TBD

— LB Lorenzo Alexander, TBD

— LB Jasper Brinkley, starter

— CB Antoine Cason, TBD

— DE Matt Shaughnessy, reserve

— DE Frostee Rucker, reserve

— S Jonathan Amaya, reserve

— G Chilo Rachal, reserve

Obviously either Powers or Cason will be a backup/nickel guy, because Patrick Peterson will be in there. I’d guess Alexander will be a reserve but he’ll get snaps on defense. Bell could end up as a backup if a high-end safety is drafted, but he’s slated to start for now and Rachal’s spot could be impacted with the draft too depending on how the offensive line ends up shaking out.

Ultimately, not every name signed in free agency draws the “Wow” response, nor is it intended to. That famous board Keim built for free agency had more than star(ter) power in mind.

Two.ShaugnessyUSE


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Cards sign special teams cog in Amaya

Posted by Darren Urban on March 27, 2013 – 10:57 am

Free agency might slow down, but it doesn’t really stop. Wednesday, the Cardinals signed former Dolphin safety Jonathon Amaya to a one-year contract. Amaya has made his way through three NFL seasons as a special teams player. Last season, he played 12 games for Miami, compiling seven special teams tackles. It was Amaya’s second stint in Miami, after signing there as an undrafted rookie in 2010. His claim to fame was that he — along with a draft choice — was traded to New Orleans in 2011 in exchange for running back Reggie Bush. He played for the Saints in 2011 before being cut by New Orleans following the 2012 preseason, when he went back to Miami in late September.

In his career, Amaya has appeared in 38 games and has recorded 31 special teams tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in addition to 10 tackles on defense. He played for new Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles when Bowles was in Miami.

The team needed another body in the secondary, but obviously, this doesn’t change a ton. The Cardinals are still expected to draft a safety at some point. The Cardinals also have to make sure they replenish a special teams unit that looks like it will not have Michael Adams and LaRod Stephens-Howling, among others.

AmayaShot2USEBLOG


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