The trade when it was made was one of necessity — the Cardinals were not going to need nor keep fullback Anthony Sherman, and at that point, they wanted to get anything they could. The Chiefs, with new coach Andy Reid — a guy who likes bigger cornerbacks — wasn’t going to keep 5-foot-9 Javier Arenas around. So the teams swapped. And even though the Cards have a glut of cornerbacks right now, Arenas (wearing 35 below) sure seems to be making his mark. He has made some plays, and while it’s only May, most of the time it’s only the receivers and defensive backs that you can get at least a little flavor for while these guys are in shorts.
Now, would you stand Arenas on the edge starting across from Patrick Peterson? Probably not. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s clear that Jerraud Powers and then Antoine Cason are running as the top two corners after Peterson right now. But in a passing league where you hoard cornerbacks, Arenas can play inside and has experience on the outside if needed. As it stands right now, I think he’ll make a strong push to be here.
What else is noticeable is the current spot of 2012 third-round pick Jamell Fleming. Much has been made of the ability of the Cardinals to split their roster into two different OTA workouts for much of every practice day. It gives the younger players many more reps than they would ever get normally (and allows the vets learning a new system plenty of work too.) But that means some guys who were on the 53-man roster last season are practicing over on the second field. Fleming is one of them. Again, it allows him to get reps he wouldn’t be getting on the main field. But when the numbers come down, Fleming looks like he’s down the depth chart (especially with fellow second-year man Justin Bethel, now working at cornerback, has been on the main field.)
Tags: Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson
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The trade earlier this week for cornerback Javier Arenas provided the Cardinals their 10th cornerback on the roster. That isn’t a surprise, but when seven of them have NFL experience already, the numbers alone will make for a very interesting battle heading into training camp. It doesn’t matter who the coaches have been that I have covered over the years, every single one — when asked about a situation like this — likes to say, “You can never have too many cornerbacks.” True, but you can’t keep too many cornerbacks either.
The quick lineup, aside from Arenas: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann and three UDFAs in Josh Hill, Prentiss Waggner and Ronnie Yell.
(And as a quick aside: I think the Cards didn’t mind adding another corner, but realize that they were going to get rid of fullback Anthony Sherman regardless, and if the only option coming back was a corner like Arenas, it’s better than just cutting Sherman loose.)
Here are the facts thus far when it comes to this cornerback situation:
– In minicamp, Powers was with the first unit opposite Peterson. Now, Cason seemed to be nursing some kind of leg injury that may have limited him, but again, it was Powers who signed the three-year contract. He might be getting the first shot there.
– Bethel was told he’d be playing corner rather than safety when the coaches first got a chance to talk to him. But who knows, given the cornerback/safety situation (the Cards have seven safeties and much less experience there) maybe Bethel ends up a swing guy again.
– This math of course counts Tyrann Mathieu as a safety because that’s what Bruce Arians said he’d be at first, but Mathieu also could be a nickel corner.
– Arenas’ size (5-9) seems to dictate he’d be a slot cover guy only.
– The numbers and influx of guys will make the second offseason for Fleming very, very interesting and very important. Third-round picks usually are locks to stay a second season. But with a new staff, you never know.
– Usually, teams keep nine or 10 defensive backs. With nine, you could see four cornerbacks and five safeties or, given this roster, probably five and four.
– It does open up trade possibilities, like when the Cards dealt A.J. Jefferson at the end of the preseason last year given their glut at the position.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Josh Hill, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Prentiss Waggner, Ronnie Yell, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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So Anthony Sherman is gone, a victim of a regime change more than anything else, with his trade to K.C. today in exchange for cornerback Javier Arenas. This is what happens when new coaches come in (and obviously, both the Chiefs and Cards have new coaches) and existing players are deemed expendable. In Sherman’s case, he plays a position that isn’t used in Bruce Arians’ offense. In Arenas’ case, the Chiefs had brought on a bunch of cornerbacks and he was looking to be moved, although he comes to a team with a ton of potential cornerbacks as well — in addition to a safety (Tyrann Mathieu) who could end up playing slot receivers like Arenas is best suited for. Arenas came into the league in the 2010 draft.
ESPN scout Matt Williamson tweeted this about Arenas: “Pure slot CB-Size hurts him, but fiesty & big time asset on special teams.” It’s a crowded secondary now. Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming and Bryan McCann all have experience in the league and now Arenas comes aboard. Someone isn’t making it to September (unless the Cards end up sliding Bethel back to safety to ease the logjam.)
More importantly, it’s yet another move as General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster with Arians’ vision of what he needs. The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster and 45 of them are new. Now, 25 of them are rookies so they were going to be new regardless. But the number of veterans — veterans that played large roles on the team last year — that have been cut or traded continues to move up. The transactions list has a ton of action, and May just started. I count 31 moves where the Cards either made a trade, signed a veteran from outside the team or released a player.
(And to think, when Arenas lined up against Larry Fitzgerald during the Cards-Chiefs joint practice last August, you think either one contemplated being teammates?)
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Roster, Steve Keim, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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Sometimes, a blog post is just simple. We all remember Justin Bethel’s video box jump coming to light when he was drafted last year. Well, it was apparently time to get a new jump in at the Cardinals’ facility. Sorry, no video, but there are pictures. Click the image below to see it much larger. That’s Jamell Fleming (who is 5-foot-11) holding the extra pad to increase the height. And Scott Wedige off to the side.
It actually looks a little like Adrian Wilson this way.
Tags: Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel
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It’s inevitable, really, the physical strides a player makes in the time after his rookie season to his second NFL season. It’s not always in-your-face, but guys usually understand what it takes to prep their body for the NFL rigors after being in it a season. For a guy from a smaller school, it does become apparent. I remember that’s what happened with Greg Toler, and now that he’s been back a few days, the same can be said for second-year defensive back Justin Bethel.
Bethel came into the week looking pretty powerful. He said at week’s outset he wanted to be bigger if he was going to have to play safety. Then Bethel found out in the initial meetings with the coaches they want to work him at cornerback. Bethel weighed in at 201 pounds Thursday and said he’s in a much better place taking care of his body.
“I had to learn,” Bethel said. “I didn’t eat well at all. I’d eat here, go home, watch TV, come back the next day. If I wasn’t getting it (at the facility) I wasn’t eating. That messed me up weight-wise.”
Bethel wanted to be beefed up a bit to be physical at safety, but he said he doesn’t feel it has affected his speed, which already has made him a special teams demon. He plans to see how he feels on the field first before trying to figure out the right playing weight — “If I lose, I lose,” he said — but wants to keep his speed. Bethel (below, between Andre Roberts and Patrick Peterson) wouldn’t even credit himself for his bigger upper body, saying it was hereditary, and acknowledged it is work to keep weight on.
“It’s easy for me to drop weight,” Bethel said. “I go to sleep and drop like three pounds.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson
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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?”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Drew Stanton, Josh Cribbs, Justin Bethel, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, quarterbacks, Ryan Williams
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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.
Tags: Drew Stanton, free agency, Jamell Fleming, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Josh Cribbs, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Lorenzo Alexander, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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One more to go. No more at home. And as I write this the 49ers-Seahawks game is on in the background, and the Seahawks continue to look like the real deal –while the Niners are, one way or the other, going to need that game next week against the Cardinals. Once there was thought it could be about resting. Not anymore. That’s going to make it even more of a difficult finale for the Cards.
Who will coach Ken Whisenhunt go with at quarterback? My money is on Brian Hoyer but since it’s not really my money, who knows. I thought Hoyer looked decent and surprisingly comfortable out there, although he didn’t produce any points and still threw an interception. No one is sitting there saying he’s the answer and the likelihood he’s a long-term solution is small, but again, it’s about looking at every option because, well, why wouldn’t you?
– Seems like forever ago the Cards last blocked a field goal, and then Adrian Wilson got one that Justin Bethel turned into points (below). Fitting that it came at the end of Wilson’s game, which could be his final one at UoP? Well, Wilson wasn’t in the mood to go there. Not really.
Wilson was asked about that final game. “I haven’t thought about it one bit, until (the media) continuously bring it up,” Wilson said. “If they make a decision, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be pretty quick. If they don’t, OK. Either way I go, I’m a good player. We’ll see what happens.”
– Whisenhunt noted that the pick-6s are really hurting the Cards. After Sunday’s TD by the Bears’ Charles Tillman, the Cards have given up five of them this season – way too many. As for trying to find a QB, “it’s not fun, but we keep working at it,” Whisenhunt said.
– The relationship between Whiz and running back Beanie Wells probably wasn’t helped by Beanie’s fumble on his own 1-yard line, which was recovered by the Bears for a touchdown. Beanie slipped – that happens – but he dropped the ball as he slipped without being hit. He got a talking-to by Whisenhunt afterward.
Whiz said he couldn’t explain it. “From what I saw, obviously you can’t put the ball on the ground, especially not there,” Whisenhunt said. Beanie said he didn’t get hurt on the play, and as for what Whiz told him, “It is what it is,” Wells said. “Who knows how it’s going to turn out from here.”
– How it turned out Sunday was that Wells got exactly one more carry the rest of the game as the Cards instead used LaRod Stephens-Howling and William Powell at running back. Beanie noted that everyone on the Cards is “fighting for jobs, whether it’s going to be here or somewhere else.” Wells is under contract for 2013 and with a lot of uncertainty (Ryan Williams health, Stephens-Howling free agency) the Cards wouldn’t just let him go even if they wanted to make a change. But it’s fair to wonder about Wells’ future.
– Given the Cards’ offense, I really didn’t have an issue trying a fake punt. Not sure I’d be comfortable with Feely rolling left, but really, with that offense, you aren’t expecting many points. Field goals weren’t going to do it.
– I know ultimately it came too little too late, but it was nice to see Fitz get more than 100 yards, and it was nice to see some accurate passes thrown in his direction.
– Dave Zastudil, current NFL record holder. Can he hold on to his two-punts-downed-inside-the-20 lead over Kansas City’s Dustin Colquitt and keep that record? Who says there won’t be Week 17 suspense?
OK. A normal Monday coming up, even if it is Christmas Eve. We’ll be working it, and then enjoying the holiday. Hope you all do too. One more to go in the 2012 season.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Bears, Brian Hoyer, Charles Tillman, Dave Zastudil, Justin Bethel, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRod Stephens-Howling, 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: Larry Fitzgerald, Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Darnell Dockett, Early Doucet, Lyle Sendlein, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, Reggie Walker, Adrian Wilson, Greg Toler, Rashad Johnson, Mike Leach, Jeremy Bridges, Roster, Kerry Rhodes, Nick Eason, Paris Lenon, Jay Feely, Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Andre Roberts, O'Brien Schofield, John Skelton, Jim Dray, A.J. Jefferson, Kevin Kolb, D'Anthony Batiste, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Williams, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Anthony Sherman, David Carter, DeMarco Sampson, Jeff King, Daryn Colledge, Stewart Bradley, William Powell, Todd Heap, Vonnie Holliday, Dave Zastudil, Brandon Williams, Adam Snyder, William Gay, James Sanders, Michael Floyd, Jamell Fleming, Bobby Massie, Senio Kelemete, Justin Bethel, Ryan Lindley, LaRon Byrd, Rich Ohrnberger
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Rookie Jamell Fleming isn’t going to go into a bunch of detail about his work at cornerback.
“I want to keep working hard I take pride in what I do,” Fleming said. “I want to be the best.”
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton had said he thought Fleming had hit a bit of a wall in camp. Fleming had looked good in OTAs and minicamp, so maybe a bit of a plateau was going to come. Fleming shrugged it off – “All rookies get a little wall in the way” he said. “You’ve got to push through it.” – and he certainly wasn’t bothered by the two questionable calls against him last game, one for hitting a defenseless receiver and the other for pass interference. Both calls certainly could have gone the other other way.
“Stuff is going to happen like that in the NFL, especially at corner,” Fleming said.
There is little question the third-round pick will be counted upon this season. The battle at defensive back has turned into the interesting story as expected, although I think the Cards would have liked more dynamic plays at this point to help separate people. I think right now, barring something odd, William Gay will stay as the other cornerback starter alongside Patrick Peterson. Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are your safeties.
At safety, veterans James Sanders and Rashad Johnson have been running as backups and special teamers, but now the Justin Bethel factor comes in. Bethel is getting some work at cornerback now as well as safety, but he will be on the roster because of special teams. Do they keep five safeties because of that? Could the Cards keep 10 instead of nine defensive backs? If so, that leaves five cornerbacks, or three to join Peterson and Gay. Fleming is on this team. So that leaves Greg Toler, Michael Adams, A.J. Jefferson and Crezdon Butler vying for two spots.
Fleming isn’t ready to step in across from Peterson, but he could end up as the nickel back.
“I think he is learning and growing, especially playing the nickel inside and playing this level of competition,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’ll ramp up quite a bit in the regular season. He has done a nice job from when he first came in as far as what was expected of him. He has been told he needs to get better at some things but I’ve been pleased with how he has progressed.”
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Crezdon Butler, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Justin Bethel, Michael Adams, Rashad Johnson, Roster
Posted in Blog | 20 Comments »