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Honey Badger and Day 2 aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2013 – 10:30 pm

Well OK then.

So I was thinking it would have been interesting — very — had the Cardinals taken Manti Te’o in the second round. Instead, they traded out of the pick because they were looking at another inside linebacker in Kevin Minter, could get him later and get an extra pick, and it turned out they weren’t as close to seeking Te’o as I might’ve thought. But hey, the Cardinals made up for it by going with the NFL Draft’s other co-winner of the “huge story leading into the draft” player — Tyrann Mathieu.

There is little question Mathieu is a risk. And that’s probably an understatement. But the Cardinals know that. They have Mathieu’s mentor, Patrick Peterson, in the same locker room (and I would bet their lockers will be adjoining when all is said and done). Certainly, Mathieu can help. Bruce Arians talked about the ability for Mathieu to essentially be a secondary swingman, a free safety/nickel corner/cornerback that could stay on the field in all situations. It just feels like an all-or-nothing choice: He’s either going to be a dynamic star, or he’ll wash out because of his personal problems.

— It was fitting, I suppose, on the day LaRod Stephens-Howling officially found a new home with the Steelers, that his famous emotional conference call after he was drafted was surpassed by the tears flowing in Mathieu’s call. I mean, the Hyphen only got choked up for an answer or two. Mathieu was so emotional I wasn’t sure at first we were going to be able to understand him. I can’t blame him.

— The addition of Mathieu, with his skill set, may seal the end of the Josh Cribbs possibility. Arians at the owners meetings even talked about adding Cribbs and how great it would be to put him and Peterson back together on punt returns to mess with the opposition. Friday, Arians talked about Mathieu and Peterson doing it. I asked GM Steve Keim if Cribbs was now off the radar. “That’s something we have already explored,” Keim said. “At this point, I really can’t get any further into it, so I will leave it at that.” Watching Keim say it, it sure didn’t sound like Cribbs was coming.

— Kind of feel bad for Minter. His arrival got overshadowed quickly.

— Oh, we still have another day of the draft? Yes we do. And the Cards still have five players to take. Those first two picks in the fourth round are interesting. Now with two choices, I could see the Cards taking a flyer on one of the quarterbacks. Could they pull the trigger on Matt Barkley? I could see it. That extra pick is gravy; They were going to take Minter in the second anyway. So maybe Barkley or Ryan Nassib or Tyler Bray are in play. People loved matching Barkley and the Cardinals at No. 7 way back at the Scouting combine (which was foolish) but a fourth-round pick — one of two — could be palatable.

— The Cards likely will take a running back at some point. Johnathan Franklin is available. I know people bring up Marcus Lattimore and it is a great and inspirational story. But I know I wouldn’t touch a guy who already has blown out two ACLs, especially  a running back.

— I still expect the Cards to at least think about adding a pass rusher project tomorrow, and a pure speed deep threat receiver.

HoneyAftermathUSE


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Cribbs still in play

Posted by Darren Urban on April 17, 2013 – 9:17 am

Many have asked what is happening, if anything, on the Josh Cribbs front. Alex Marvez reported this morning that Cribbs is still on target to take another physical for the Cardinals “in a few weeks” and if Cribbs passes the physical, the Cards still plan to sign him. Cribbs is recovering from a torn meniscus.

It would be interesting to see if the Cards picked up anyone on draft weekend — with a pick or as an undrafted guy — who could fill a similar role as Cribbs. It’s clear at this point LaRod Stephens-Howling, who remains unsigned, isn’t part of the Cards’ plans going forward. (Could that change if Cribbs, for instance, fails his physical? Maybe. Also a maybe if the Cards don’t address running back on draft weekend. But right now, I don’t expect to see the Hyphen here.)

Bruce Arians talked a month ago about how Cribbs could fit with the Cardinals. First he has to prove himself healthy enough, however.

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Why Cribbs could fit

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2013 – 7:21 pm

When the notion first came up of the Cardinals possibly signing free agent Josh Cribbs, it also created the question, just exactly how did he fit? Ostensibly he would be a receiver; Cribbs’ desire to play more offense in Cleveland was not a secret.

But Cribbs’ market isn’t large. His knee surgery has delayed a deal in Arizona. But at least the possibility is out there enough for Bruce Arians to talk a little about it. It was clear that Arians still sees Cribbs as a special teamer first. There are other possibilities though — if he signs — as Arians sees it.

“Having tried to tackle him all these years on returns, that’s the first thing,” Arians said. “He could take it to the house at any point and time. To put him and Patrick (Peterson) back there together would be fun. The ability he brings as an offensive player is unique. It’d be a nice addition if it worked out.”

Cribbs (or Peterson, for that matter) won’t be used at QB in the wildcat formation — “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said — but Cribbs reminds Arians of the offensive versatility of a player he had in Pittsburgh, Antwaan Randle-El.

“I like having those types of guys,” Arians said.

Cribbs had just four catches last season as he fell out of favor with Browns coach Pat Shurmur.

“I’d be anxious to look at his skill set as a receiver,” Arians said. “What could he do to get into our receiver mix?”

Peterson would still be a return man, Arians emphasized. And first Cribbs has to heal, pass a physical and the Cards still have to have interest by then.

But, Arians said, “it would be fun having them both back there. Patrick is dynamic and maybe put them back together and say, ‘Where are you going to kick it?’ ”

WhyCribbsFitsUSE


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Arians talks QBs, Cribbs and other stuff over breakfast

Posted by Darren Urban on March 20, 2013 – 9:05 am

The NFC coaches breakfast was this morning — bright and early at 7:15 a.m. — here at the NFL coaches meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. That meant an hour hanging out with Cardinals coach Bruce Arians. There will be plenty more in-depth of what was said, but for now a few of the main highlights — the biggest being that the reality of Drew Stanton being the 2013 starting quarterback feels very close right now.

— Asked if this was a tough year to be going into the draft needing a quarterback, Arians didn’t blink. “I don’t feel we need one.”

— Along those lines (and again, I will have an article up later today on the subject) Arians said he wasn’t worried about the quarterback situation. He doesn’t know enough about Brian Hoyer, Ryan Lindley or John Skelton yet, because he hasn’t had a chance to go over video and ask “why” on various plays. He obviously has done that with Stanton. But he said he thinks he can win with Stanton, and he said he won’t have a problem if things stay status quo starting Stanton this season.

— Yes, such QB talk is possiblely a smokescreen. Or just hard driving optimism so players (and fans) don’t want to write off 2013. But Arians sure sounded genuine.

— He wants to name a starting QB before training camp. That’s best for the team, he said, making sure the locker room knows who “The Man” will be.

— It hurt Kevin Kolb that Arians couldn’t sit down with him and talk about his play last season and again, figuring out the whys and why nots of decision-making. Without that information, moving on (given the contract) was the best decision, Arians said.

— He talked a little bit about the possibility of adding free agent Josh Cribbs, assuming at some point Cribbs is healthy and the Cards still have interest by that point. He wouldn’t mind having both Cribbs and Patrick Peterson back for a kick or two. “It’d be a nice addition if it works out.” One thing Cribbs won’t do is be QB in a wildcat formation. “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said.

— Not only will Lorenzo Alexander play outside linebacker, new defensive end Matt Shaughnessy can also stand up and play OLB. That could make for an interesting pass rush situation.

— Asked about the tight ends, he was blunt: “I’m not a fullback guy, never have been.” Not great news for Anthony Sherman, at least on the surface. Arians wants two tight ends when one can maneuver into the backfield, making it much harder for the defense to know what’s coming. Having a fullback restricts that flexibility, he said.

— He said the speed at receiver with Fitz, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd is “plenty fast enough.” He added with a chuckle, wide receiver “is not the position I’ve worried about.”

— Rehab has gone well for center Lyle Sendlein, tackle Levi Brown and running back Ryan Williams, but Arians isn’t sure how much they will do in the early on-field work.

— It’ll be wait-and-see where second-year offensive linemen Nate Potter and Bobby Massie play, either guard or tackle. But Arians is confident they each can do both.

— Levi Brown could play right tackle. But Arians right now sure sounds like a guy expecting to have Brown at left tackle.

— The coaching staff are still trying to figure out what position Justin Bethel will play, cornerback or safety. They will pick one and let him learn it well.

— The Cardinals color Kangol was on display again Wednesday morning. Could we see something similar on Sundays? Arians is talking with with New Era and the NFL on that subject. “I’m not getting fined,” Arians joked. “There’s got to be more than baseball caps, know what I mean?”

AriansBreak3USE


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No Cribbs — at least for now

Posted by Darren Urban on March 19, 2013 – 9:06 am

Well, apparently the Josh Cribbs physical didn’t go as well as it could have, which probably isn’t a surprise by now since there was still no news about the Cardinals making a contract offer. This morning, there was a Will Burge report that he failed his physical.(Another report said he didn’t “fail” the physical, but we may be talking semantics here.)

Then Mike Garafalo got in touch with Cribbs’ agent, who said the free agent wide receiver/special teamer had just had an arthroscopic procedure to repair the meniscus in his knee and it wasn’t yet healed. More interestingly was Garafalo’s tweet of the agent saying that the Cardinals are expected to give Cribbs another physical “in a few weeks” and if he is healthy then, Cribbs should sign with the team.

A few weeks in the NFL is a long time. That will be after offseason work has started. Is it after the draft? Could the Cardinals make a move in the meantime to fill that role, making Cribbs the odd man out? Would that open the door wider for LaRod Stephens-Howling to return? (And for the record, I’m not saying Cribbs and the Hyphen are absolutely tied together. I’m trying to connect dots with skill sets.)

For the short term, though, the Cribbs questions can stop.

CribbsBlogUSeThis


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Center of NFL universe comes to Phoenix

Posted by Darren Urban on March 18, 2013 – 9:22 am

The NFL owners meetings are underway at the Arizona Biltmore for the next few days, with the power brokers of the league coming together to talk about various topics and the league’s media stalking them on sidewalks and lobbies. From a Cardinals’ perspective, the last three owners meetings to come to town have coincided with two coach hires (Arians this year, Whisenhunt in 2007) and the splashy Emmitt Smith signing in 2003.

Comissioner Roger Goodell will have a press conference today, but we’ll see if there is more local news beyond that. I know the question keeps coming up — over and over — about Josh Cribbs, and there is again another report out of Cleveland today that Cribbs and the Cardinals are talking. To have it termed that he will “possibly” sign does leave the door wide open for nothing to go down. I don’t see the Cards taking on Cribbs unless it was totally on their terms. They don’t need a receiver per se, although I am sure they could fit Cribbs in in a role similar to LaRod Stephens-Howling if they wanted. At this point, when it’s done — if it’s done — is when it’s done.

And for those who still wonder, Rey Maualuga re-signed with the Bengals today. His door closed in Arizona once they signed Jasper Brinkley.


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The market and the Cards’ newest additions

Posted by Darren Urban on March 15, 2013 – 4:52 pm

The Cardinals not only let Kevin Kolb go today, but they added a couple of defensive pieces needed: Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, who provides depth behind Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, and Antoine Cason, who will join Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers as the Cards’ top three cornerbacks in all probability.

Both men are coming in on one-year deals. As did Rashard Mendenhall and Yeremiah Bell earlier in the week. Bell isn’t a shock, because as an older veteran, he’s probably in a year-to-year status in his career. The rest just speaks to where we are in the NFL marketplace. Look around the league. There are a ton of one- and two-year deals being signed. The big money just isn’t there and it’s a buyer’s market. So Mendenhall, Shaughnessy and Cason will come in, hope to play well and then test out free agency again next offseason. The Cardinals get decent parts at the right price, with no hiccups to future salary caps if the players don’t work out.

Obviously, the downside is that if they play well, trying to re-sign them could get harder. But it’s a price the Cardinals will pay for flexibility.

I do think it’s going to get a little more quiet out there for the Cards. Owners’ meetings are at the beginning of next week. Are the Cards done? Maybe not. But it will be slow. Then again, there are still a lot of players out there looking for work and I think the money is drying up.

And no, I haven’t heard anything more on Josh Cribbs.

— On a separate note, Adrian Wilson signed with the Patriots on a three-year contract Friday, a not unexpected turn of events. Happy for Wilson, who will get his chance to chase a ring. Mike Jurecki, who broke the news, also said Wilson heard from 10 teams once he was released. Good luck to A-Dub. I’ll try not to call him Rodney (Harrison) the next time I see him.


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Odds and ends as Cards maneuver free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on March 14, 2013 – 9:05 pm

A few kibbles and bits while we all wait for the Kevin Kolb decision to come down (and if you want to have a chuckle and are on Twitter, check out the hashtag #whilewaiting4jake, which Rams fans have come up with some pretty funny quips as they wonder why they haven’t heard about Jake Long signing there yet.)

— Some kind of Kolb decision will have to come by 1 p.m. Friday, which is 4 p.m. at the league office in New York and close of business until Monday. Kolb’s $2 million bonus is due over the weekend, which is why it has to happen now. As I’ve mentioned before, the arrival of Drew Stanton pointed to the release of Kolb. The roster numbers — figuring Hoyer, Stanton and a draft pick, not to mention either Lindley or Skelton, if not both — don’t work as much as Kolb’s $9 million salary. With so much salary cap space that can be saved (at least $7.5 million and as much as $11.5 million if Kolb is designated a “June 1” cut) that’s the reality.

— The addition of inside linebacker Jasper Brinkley seems to fit perfectly with the Cardinals’ 3-4 scheme. He played well in Minnesota but the Cards should be able to drop him right next Daryl Washington. The book on Brinkley is that he is a two-down linebacker, but with Washington out there and assuming the Cards collect more defensive backs, Brinkley won’t be needed on passing downs anyway.

— Adrian Wilson is making his first free agent visit to the Patriots. I won’t be surprised if that’s where he lands. The Patriots have done a similar move in the past, in 2003 with Rodney Harrison. That worked out pretty good for New England. If anyone would know how to get the best out of Wilson 12 years in, it’d be Bill Belichick.

— Didn’t hear one thing about Josh Cribbs today. Because I know someone will want to ask.

— Kerry Rhodes, released Wednesday, released a statement Thursday saying goodbye. “Playing with the Cardinals has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I want to thank my coaches, teammates and Arizona fans everywhere for making the last three years truly remarkable. Change is always exciting and I’m optimistic about what the future holds. Wherever I go or whatever I do, I look forward to working hard and giving 110%, as always.”

— The Cardinals hosted free agent cornerback Antoine Cason Thursday and reportedly will host defensive end Matt Shaughnessy of the Raiders tomorrow. I don’t think the Cards are done in free agency yet. Shaughnessy is in demand.


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From quiet to crazy in free agency

Posted by Darren Urban on March 13, 2013 – 4:45 pm

The first day was quiet. Today, not so much.

In come a host of free agents (many necessary after the recent purge of veterans): a quarterback in Drew Stanton, a running back in Rashard Mendenhall, a linebacker/special teamer in Lorenzo Alexander, a cornerback in Jerraud Powers and a safety in Yeremiah Bell. The Bell thing came out of left field a bit, but so too did the release of safety Kerry Rhodes. Dropping both starting safeties in less than a week’s time.

A quick note on Rhodes. The team saves $6 million in both cap space and cash outlay by letting him go in 2013. There was no way that was ever going to stand. The plan late in the season last year was to extend Rhodes’ deal and lower that 2013 number. I don’t know what happened exactly, but I still think there was talk in that regard even after the regime change. Rhodes hits an open market with a secondary glut, and he’ll be fighting Charles Woodson, Ed Reed and Adrian Wilson, among others, for a job. I do not think Bell is to be Rhodes’ long-term solution. For 2013? Maybe. Let’s see how the rest of free agency goes and how the draft plays out. The draft is deep in safeties, and remember, GM Steve Keim said one of the things he wanted to do this year was take a big picture view of how the draft and free agency fit together based on available players in both areas.

As for the players the Cardinals signed, we will see how it plays out. I’m not going to sit here and say they are saviors. But we don’t know how they will fit. I found it interesting, when Stanton was talking about the offensive line, that he mentioned that a change in scheme could change the way a unit or player played. We usually look at the downside of that, but there can be upside too. I don’t know how they will fit.

If Powers stays healthy, I think that can be a good signing, and if the Cardinals manage to nab Antoine Cason too — he will visit soon — to go with Patrick Peterson, all the better. There are still young players like Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel to add in the mix, and that factors in too. Bell in the end could just be this year’s James Sanders. Mendenhall said he is healthy and has been since about the middle of last season, which is good for a player who could end up being the main back — depending how Ryan Williams responds.

There are more moves to come. Stanton’s arrival, as I keep repeating, doesn’t bode well for the future of Kevin Kolb and that decision has to be made probably by Friday anyway, since his roster bonus is due over the weekend. Linebacker Rey Maualuga left Wednesday without a deal, but reportedly Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is coming in for a visit. Then there is the Josh Cribbs watch, with multiple reports still have him in conversations with the Cards.

There’s a whole offseason to analyze the moves. And I’m sure we all will.

StantonBlogCrazyUSE


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Toler headed to Indy and FA chatter

Posted by Darren Urban on March 12, 2013 – 2:48 pm

The Cardinals wanted to keep cornerback Greg Toler, but that didn’t happen. Toler agreed to a deal with the Colts Tuesday within 90 minutes of free agency, taking away a possible starter for the Cards and leaving them low at the position after cutting William Gay and with the team not expected to bring Michael Adams back. Only 2012 rookies Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel joing Patrick Peterson on the roster for now.

The Cards are bringing in former Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers for a visit, according to multiple reports. Powers has started everyone of the 42 games in which he has played in the NFL, but that was over four seasons. He has never played 16 games in a season and finished the last three seasons on IR, although his experience trumps what Toler was bringing to the table.

Multiple other names have been linked to the Cards in these early hours of free agency, with varying reports of interest. Running back Rashard Mendenhall, who played for head coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh, has reportedly already scheduled a visit to come to Arizona while Denver also has interest. The Cards are talking to Pro Bowl special teamer/linebacker Lorenzo Alexander of the Redskins and receiver/special teamer Josh Cribbs of the Browns, too. One report had both “leaning” toward coming to Arizona but another report said the Patriots were ahead on the Cribbs front, so again, nothing is done until it’s done.

There is still talk about quarterback Drew Stanton too. I believe that, if Stanton lands in Arizona, that probably signals the end for Kevin Kolb in Arizona. If the team is keeping Brian Hoyer and drafting a quarterback — which they will at some point — signing Stanton and keeping Kolb doesn’t fit.

Finally, Kent Somers said that free agent linebacker Quentin Groves will visit Cleveland (and DC Ray Horton) but that the Cards are still trying to bring Groves back.


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