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Released into the reality of the business

Posted by Darren Urban on May 27, 2014 – 5:42 pm

LeQuan Lewis was in the weight room lifting with teammates, wearing his trademark glasses, when one of the front office men came to get him following Tuesday’s OTA. The Cardinals were signing four players who had been in on a tryout basis from rookie minicamp. Lewis was one of the four who were going to be let go in order to make that happen, since the Cardinals already had maxed out their 90-man roster.

This is the reality.

Lewis was on my radar because my cohort Kyle Odegard had chronicled his nomadic NFL story for an upcoming azcardinals.com piece. That plan obviously has now changed. We probably should have seen it coming, since the reason Lewis’ story was so intriguing is precisely because he continues to be the guy who can’t quite stick. When you have a team willing to churn the roster like the Cardinals, long-term story plans about guys lower on the roster is probably a red flag.

Lewis, in fact, has been with eight teams since 2011 and officially released more times than that, with jumps on and off practice squads. “After the first three times (being released), it’s like, ‘Aww, that contract ain’t sh–,” Lewis told Kyle recently. “I know what the deal is. I know where this is going and what to expect.”

Does that make today any easier?

“Everyone’s like, ‘What team are you with now?’” Lewis told Kyle. “People are in my ear like, ‘What are you going to do now? Are you going to (get a regular job)?’ It’s like, ‘No. I’m going to keep working out and get back to where I want to go.’ I have that mindset. No one knows what this business is like until they’re in it, and I think I’ve been in every scenario there is.”

I’m guessing LeQuan Lewis surfaces again in the NFL. Heck, he might end up coming back here at some point, although he was cut for an undrafted rookie in Jimmy Legree who stands 6-foot-1 and fits the body type for what Todd Bowles wants on defense. The roster is back to 90 players. This is how it works for so many of these guys in the offseason. Another reality is that of the 53-man roster, it’s probably pretty easy to get a good handle on, say, 40-45 of those spots already. The other guys are just hoping to reach training camp and get a chance, however slim it might be.

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Friday before the Falcons (and Ryan Williams?)

Posted by Darren Urban on October 25, 2013 – 4:05 pm

What is it about Ryan Williams and his story that is so intriguing? The Cardinals go into an important game against the Falcons Sunday, and even if Williams – because of the toe injury of Rashard Mendenhall – is active, he might not even play much. Yet many are waiting to see if Williams is active and what he would do if he played, and I am one of them.

Williams (smartly) hasn’t said much about his situation, but you can tell he’s frustrated. “I’m probably the freshest guy on the team right now,” Williams said. “I’m ready to play. I’m just waiting.” Practices are closed so it’s impossible to know exactly what Williams has done, and since he is so far down the depth chart, he’s likely getting what work he is getting on scout team and not the regular offense. But Bruce Arians has said a couple of times he has been happy with the work Williams has done. Now Sunday, if the Cards, for instance, are going to have newcomer Teddy Williams active to play special teams, who sits instead? Would that be Ryan Williams’ potential spot?

In a lot of ways, Williams might be in a type of limbo. Clearly he isn’t ahead of the others on the depth chart. But Mendenhall’s injury potential is high enough that the Cards might not want to let him go. If Mendenhall goes down with a major injury, do the Cards really want to lean just on two rookies in Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor? (There is still a chance I suppose he could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline, but I don’t expect it.)

I guess I’m looking forward to seeing that inactive list at 11:55 a.m. Sunday.

— Lot of talk about Ellington, and people keep trying to send me comparative measurements between the 5-foot-9, 199-pound Ellington and other backs, like Jamaal Charles, etc. Look, I can’t speak to those guys. And I don’t know if Ellington could absorb more. But I think what Bruce Arians is thinking about limited reps is the idea that a lot of punishment would take away the best thing about Ellington — his explosion and ability to get outside. I’m sure he’ll touch the ball plenty Sunday.

— The Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite coming into the season. Now, the defense is much more leaky, the offense doesn’t have Julio Jones and Roddy White has been hurt so much he’s a non-factor. Steven Jackson has barely played. Now, it’s not like Atlanta hasn’t been close – their four losses have been by a total of 19 points – but they aren’t as daunting of an opponent as they once might have been.

— Matt Ryan was miserable in last year’s meeting. Ray Horton’s defense made him look terrible. Horton isn’t here anymore, obviously, but Todd Bowles is, and the Cards got after Russell Wilson pretty good. I wouldn’t expect five interceptions again, but the Cards are going to pressure him. “We got in his face early, rattled him up a little bit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “This is a new team. With them not necessarily having their top guys … we can’t fall into that they aren’t 100 percent. They still have guys who can get the ball in the end zone. But I believe if we do the same recipe as last year, we will have good success.”

— Profootballfocus.com noted that there have been two receivers targeted a league-high six times when an interception has been thrown. One was Giants wideout Reuben Randle. The other? Larry Fitzgerald. Something to consider when Carson Palmer talks about being leery when forcing the ball to Fitz.

— Speaking of Fitz, he hammered Walter Thurmond on a blind-side block last week against Seattle and did it again later to Richard Sherman. They were blows – but they could have been much harder and destructive. Fitz downplayed them, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll came out and praised Fitzgerald for playing football the “new” way – those Seahawks still got hit pretty good, but it didn’t go over the top. You can say what you want about what that means for football, but I have to admit I agree with Carroll. You can walk that line.

— Be sure to welcome our new writer at azcardinals.com when he starts next week: Kyle Odegard. I think you’ll find him a quality addition.

— Arians talks about starting fast and you wonder about the coin flip. Arians has said he will always take the ball if he is given the choice, so the Cards end up with the ball first almost every time. That makes getting off to a quick start even more important in my eyes.

— Arians reiterated what offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said yesterday, that the Cardinals are “hoping” to play Bobby Massie some at right tackle. It will depend on how the game plays out, Arians said, but it would be for a series or two.

— Defensive end Calais Campbell took left tackle Bradley Sowell aside earlier this week to try and give him some advice. “I felt like the offensive linemen, the younger ones, they need to learn what we are trying to do to beat them,” Campbell said on the Big Red Rage radio show. “We just went over how I play the game and what I’m looking for. I gave him my advice. I think he has potential and we need him to win.”

— The Cards do need better play from Sowell at left tackle. And from the offense in general.


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