It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The former was 2009, with Kurt Warner, or 2013 when Carson Palmer took every snap at quarterback for the Cardinals. The Cards had quarterback stability because they stayed (pretty) healthy and because Warner and Palmer were good. It’s what you need in the NFL to win. The worst of times, well, the Cardinals have done that too. When you are on a merry-go-round of quarterbacks in a season, it turns painful. The Cards did that in 2010, when Derek Anderson was backed up by rookies Max Hall and John Skelton (with a sprinkling of Rich Bartel at the end of the season). They did it in 2012, when Skelton and Kevin Kolb traded starts and injuries and then ineffectiveness leading to then-rookie Ryan Lindley (and a sprinkling of Brian Hoyer at the end of the season.)
Those years were totally different than this one, of course. The Cardinals struggled in those years. They weren’t battling for a division title going into the final regular-season game and they certainly weren’t playoff bound regardless. The Cards have only played four quarterbacks this season because of injury, not because of choice. That’s good, but it’s bad too. As offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said Christmas afternoon, “Week-to-week different quarterback, do you like it? No.” It certainly isn’t a present you want to find under your tree.
Monday Bruce Arians said he was leaning toward starting Logan Thomas unless he saw something in practice that made him change his mind, and then Thursday came the Kent Somers report that the Cards would instead start Lindley again. Either way, the Cardinals are trying to find the best option — especially if Drew Stanton can’t come back from his knee injury for the first playoff game.
UPDATE: Ian Rapoport is reporting Stanton had to have arthroscopic surgery because of an infection and could be done for the season.
“All our quarterbacks looked good, even the kid (Jeff Mathews) we have on practice squad now,” Goodwin said after practice (which is closed to the media) Thursday. “We’ll be OK no matter what.”
The Cardinals don’t really have a choice at looking at it any other way. Lindley or Thomas, Nos. 3 and 4, are the options — perhaps even as the Cards play in the playoffs.
“If they both go out this week and throw for 300 (yards), that’d be great,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Derek Anderson, Drew Stanton, Harold Goodwin, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Logan Thomas, Max Hall, Rich Bartel, Ryan Lindley
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When the Cardinals beat the Seahawks last season, they took a quarterback who at times had looked like an MVP candidate with his efficiency and made him look very, very bad. Russell Wilson’s stats that day: 11-for-27, 108 yards, one touchdown, one interception. More importantly, he had just two rushing attempts (for 32 yards, including one outlier 27-yard scramble).
There aren’t many quarterbacks who throw on the run as well as Wilson. Aaron Rodgers, maybe, but his is a different style. With Wilson there is the constant fear he will take off. And he’s done that a lot this season – already Wilson has rushed for at least 100 yards in three different games – or triple the amount he had in his first two seasons.
The Cardinals would love to make sure Wilson has the same kind of game Sunday as he had against the Cards last year, but “I don’t think there is a blueprint,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “It’s catch ’em if you can.”
The top priority will be to slow Marshawn Lynch, because it always is. The Seahawks, without any real dynamic receivers, don’t have a scary passing game. If there is a way to slow Lynch and not let Wilson go off on broken plays, the Cardinals will have gone a long way toward winning another one in the Pacific Northwest.
— A player to watch in this regard: Rookie Deone Bucannon, the safety who is playing linebacker in in nickel and who has essentially replaced Wilson antidote Daryl Washington this season.
— This game, even if the Cardinals win, does not clinch the NFC West. But it goes a long way in doing so, as long as there isn’t an epic collapse down the stretch. And teams that win in Seattle and are 9-1 before that don’t collapse. A loss, and things could get interesting, especially with another game left to play with the Seahawks. The tough games do not end yet.
— As I mentioned, my gut here on a Friday is that Larry Fitzgerald doesn’t play, and as I mentioned, I’ve been wrong on Fitz before. It’s hard not to remember the obvious confidence OC Harold Goodwin showed in the rest of the receiving corps though. They want Fitz to play, of course. But if Jaron Brown and John Brown and Michael Floyd are the top three guys, the Cardinals can live with that. They are better suited to survive a short-term injury at receiver perhaps more than anywhere else.
— The Cards have to find a way to run the ball with some success, and it can’t be all Andre Ellington, Rashard Mendenhall had 21 carries in the Seahawks game in Seattle last year, Ellington 15 as the Cards had the most rushing attempts in a game in more than a decade. Yes, it was Jamaal Charles, but the Chiefs were able to run a lot and well against the Seahawks last week. Ellington plus, Step Taylor? Marion Grice? They just need to give Drew Stanton a chance.
— Stanton needs to be smart, but the Cards can’t be too cautious either. So far, the Cardinals, with Stanton, have moved the ball immediately in all his starts. It speaks to the Arians/Goodwin plans, and how much Stanton understands the offense. They just have to have it carry through the game.
— Great note pointed out to me on Twitter by @DylanCarey11. Stanton will be the sixth different starter at quarterback the Cardinals have used in Seattle the last six trips there:
2014 – Stanton
2013 – Palmer
2012 – John Skelton
2011 – Kevin Kolb
2010 – Max Hall
2009 – Kurt Warner
— As an additional note to that, the Cardinals will have used eight QBs in those six games, because Ryan Lindley played in relief of Skelton in 2012 and Derek Anderson came in for Hall in 2010. Neither time it was injury related. Just bad football.
— If you haven’t seen it, Michael Silver did a great piece on Bruce Arians and his path to Cardinals’ head coach. Some of it goes over familiar territory, but there is some good stuff, like the just-fired Ken Whisenhunt telling Arians good things about the franchise and encouraging Arians to interview for the job.
— There is also this great story by David Fleming covering the family of the donor woman who gave Carson Palmer his original ACL replacement – and the feeling after it gave out against the Rams, sidelining Palmer.
— There is also this story on the rise to GM by Steve Keim. It happens to be my work, so if you haven’t read it, just sayin’ …
— Matt Shaughnessy was back on the field this week for practice for the first time since a knee injury forced him to the IR-designated to return list. He can’t play the next two games, but he will be back for the Dec. 7 game against the Chiefs. Arians wasn’t definitive in how Shaughnessy will fit in the lineup; Shaughnessy’s replacement, Alex Okafor, is playing the best of the outside linebackers. Could it be Shaughnessy and Okafor, with Sam Acho as a reserve? Possible. Arians said he wants to see where Shaughnessy is first; there’s going to be rust that must be knocked off.
— Last year at the end of the Seahawks’ upset, a handful of defensive linemen had a snack of Skittles on the sidelines in the waning moments. Skittles, for the uninitiated, are famously the favorite treat of Lynch. There won’t be any this year, alledgedly.
“Naw,” defensive tackle Dan Williams said. “I got to cut back on calories.”
— Last year, the win in Seattle was the Cards’ 10th win of the season. Can they do that two years in a row?
Tags: Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Deone Bucannon, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Shaughnessy, Max Hall, Russell Wilson, Seahawks
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It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.
“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”
So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?
Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.
(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)
The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.
Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, draft, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley, Steve Keim
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A few odds and ends on a Monday morning during the second week of voluntary workouts:
— The Cardinals signed punter Will Batson Monday. Batson also can kick field goals and kick off, so he’ll fill the role of Ricky Schmitt for this offseason and preseason, I’d think — which means he’s a major long shot. Ultimately, Dave Zastudil (who was very good last year) will be the punter and Jay Feely the kicker. This just gives the Cards an extra helper with a 90-man roster. Batson was with the Titans in preseason last year.
— There will be a special edition of the Big Red Rage this Thursday night at 6 p.m. at the regular spot, Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. Exact details are still being firmed up, but it will be live on Arizona Sports 620 and one of the guests will be General Manager Steve Keim.
— The 2013 Cardinals Cheerleaders will be announced on the site Friday. We will have a series of videos posted this week (1 p.m. so don’t miss them) detailing the audition process.
— I find it interesting that Kevin Kolb signs with the Bills after it could be argued that, had he not gotten hurt against the Bills last season, he might still be a Cardinal. (Then again, following that logic, there might not have been a coaching change at all. But I digress.) He’s got big plans for Buffalo.
— Presented without comment: Former Cardinals QB Max Hall has signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.
Tags: Big Red Rage, cheerleaders, Kevin Kolb, Max Hall, Senio Kelemete, Steve Keim, Will Batson
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The NFL Players Association tweeted out a document this afternoon listing every NFL team’s cap space, and, with everything fluid this time of year (cap space changes as soon as players are added or subtracted) the Cardinals have about $8.2 million in salary cap space for their top 51. That’s not a bad situation to be in after trading for Carson Palmer. (UPDATE: There seems to be some question if that is before the Palmer deal factored in.
Obviously if it hasn’t been, that will make a big difference It included Palmer already.)
The Cards did add a small piece today in former 49ers safety Curtis Taylor (the team has yet to officially announce it). I’d expect a few more similar signings over the next couple of weeks as the Cards prep for their first (voluntary) minicamp beginning April 23.
The Cards still only have 57 players after adding Palmer (and before Taylor) and they need to grow that number. There will be seven draft picks and a bunch of undrafted rookies, but again, the Cards eventually want to get to 90 players
— The Bengals claimed quarterback John Skelton, cut by the Cards Monday, off waivers Wednesday. Here’s hoping Skelton catches on as a backup. I still believe he’d already have a win in Cincinnati if Early Doucet hadn’t fallen down.
— I never wrote anything because of when it happened (and in case you were living under a rock) ex-Cards QB Kevin Kolb agreed to a deal with the Bills a few days ago. He has a chance to start there, at least as of right now.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, NFLPA, Roster, salary cap
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There is nothing new on the burgeoning Carson Palmer trade front at the moment, but it seems a lock to be completed at some point after the Cardinals officially released quarterback John Skelton Monday. So ends Skelton’s wild ride since arriving as a fifth-round rookie in 2010, getting a couple of starts in that year and then having an amazing way of playing poorly yet rallying the Cards to wins in 2011. Then he beat out Kevin Kolb to start the 2012 season before spraining an ankle in the opener, struggling mightily as the starter after Kolb got hurt. Clearly the relationship between he and former coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t good at the end, but even a coaching change couldn’t save Skelton’s roster spot.
Skelton tweeted out his goodbye:
The release wasn’t a big surprise after the team signed Drew Stanton, brought Brian Hoyer back and now are close to getting Palmer. All along it looked unlikely that Skelton would survive into May on the roster if this didn’t come sooner. Now it has. Not that it would’ve helped him, but recalling how Bruce Arians lamented the inability to talk to Kolb while watching video — to ask why and why not of certain plays — maybe Skelton lost out too. Then again, Skelton’s troubles were seen first-hand by general manager Steve Keim. Keim had a good sense of what he had in both Kolb and Skelton, and Skelton ended up — even with an 8-9 starting record — with 12 touchdown passes, 22 interceptions and a 61.9 passer rating in 17 starts.
— The Cardinals also announced that tendered free agents William Powell, Hoyer and Ronald Talley officially signed their contracts. The Hoyer and Talley news had already been out there.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ronald Talley, William Powell
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As the draft approaches and people speculate on (or fret about) what the Cardinals will do at quarterback, one of the storylines that could play out is the availability of Carson Palmer. Palmer is currently with the Raiders, due $13 million for 2013 which — like the situation with Kevin Kolb and the Cardinals — he probably was never going to see. If he were cut, it makes a lot of sense that the Cardinals would consider him, and the Adam Schefter report now is that is “unlikely” Palmer is willing to take a cut.
Yes, Bruce Arians says he is “comfortable” with Drew Stanton. Yes, he could start. But here was the key phrase last week when Arians was asked directly if he was going to name Stanton his starter.
“Once we get the roster set, if that (QB meeting) room hasn’t changed, he’s our starter,” Arians said.
That is one heck of a lot of wiggle room.
It brings us back to Palmer. Palmer isn’t in his salad days anymore, not the quarterback who was starring for the Bengals once upon a time. But he still did throw for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season for the Raiders, pretty decent numbers for a team that wasn’t very good. Depending on the cost, he might make a lot of sense to at least compete with Stanton, or maybe even just slide in ahead of him. Would he be a long-term solution? No. But the long-term solution might not be there this year. There has been a ton of talk about the Cardinals and a draft pick, and as has been stated — and after Arians talked about not forcing a QB pick high — a quarterback might not be the No. 1 pick.
The best part for the Cardinals is that they have a ton of flexibility at the position right now. Stanton is going to be here. He’s the one lock, but if he ended up as the backup, I think Arians would be happy with that (I’m not sure Stanton would be thrilled, but that’s a different blog post.) Brian Hoyer is under a $2M deal but he could be traded or cut with no salary cap implications — tough for Hoyer, but flexible for the team. Plus there is the probable draft pick somewhere and John Skelton and Ryan Lindley to plug in the equation if needed.
Palmer needs to be careful, of course. I have no idea what kind of restructure/pay cut the Raiders would be offering, but the market is thin. Kolb I think was hoping to have popped up somewhere already but that hasn’t happened. Then again, Palmer may figure — and he could be right — that hitting the market when the Cards, Bills, Jaguars, Browns or even the Jets could still be considering a different QB could make him in demand. (UPDATE: Palmer doesn’t have any bonuses due soon and the Raiders are under the cap, so this could very well go up until the draft so the Raiders can see if/when they draft a QB. This might hinge on that.)
We’ll see how the Palmer situation plays out in Oakland first and then go from there. We’ll see if the Cardinals’ “room” has a chance to change.
Tags: Brian Hoyer, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, quarterbacks, Ryan Lindley
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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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I was standing on the sideline next to the end zone last season when Kevin Kolb rifled a laser to the pylon and Andre Roberts made the improbable fourth-down catch to rescue overtime from what looked like a loss against Miami. The Cardinals later won that game, were 4-0, and life was very very good, for both the Cardinals and Kolb.
That was both Kolb’s apex with the team and the beginning of the end. The next week, the Cards couldn’t block the Rams and Kolb was sacked what seemed like a million times in the team’s first loss, and the following week, Kolb hurt his ribs in what ended up being an overtime loss to the Bills. Kolb didn’t play for the team again.
There’s no way to paint Kolb’s two-year tenure with the Cards as good. Everyone knows that. Not with the money paid, the price surrendered, the natural expectations. The offensive line issues were a problem, but Kolb had issues with the offense in 2011 and still wasn’t going to be a prolific passer last year even when things went right. Let me say this though: I do think Kolb, if he could have stayed healthy, could have won games. He did so at the beginning of last year. I didn’t ever see him being one of the top 10 passers in the league, but the Cards could have made it work. He couldn’t stay healthy, though, and as the cliche goes, availability is as important as ability (I keep thinking about that in the Patriots move to dump Wes Welker for the oft-injured Danny Amendola. But I digress.)
With the new regime, moving on makes sense. We’ve all known for a long, long time Kolb wasn’t going to be back at $11 million this season. I have no idea what kind of paycut the Cards were asking for, but it sounds like the Cards made an effort to do something. Maybe he ends up in New York with the Jets, or Buffalo. There might be other better options, especially considering Drew Stanton has a history with Bruce Arians and his ability to throw deep fits better in what Arians wants to do. The door is reportedly still open, but I will be surprised if Kolb returns.
(A quick aside: I know the Cardinals ended up paying $20.5 million to Kolb. It turned out to be too much. But I don’t understand the people that get so mad at that aspect of this. It’s not your money. They spent because they had to spend. It didn’t work out. Move on.)
The Cardinals needed a quarterback in 2011. Really bad. They felt Kolb was the best choice. It didn’t work but they made the effort.
Kolb too was a stand-up guy. He answered the questions, he understood the criticism. It didn’t work out. And the Cardinals move on.
Tags: Kevin Kolb
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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.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Antoine Cason, free agency, Jasper Brinkley, Josh Cribbs, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Matt Shaughnessy
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