Thursday, the Cardinals’ rookies arrive in Tempe. That’s the six-man draft class and the undrafted rookies (as well as a bunch of guys in on a tryout basis for the weekend. QB Philip Sims was among a few guys kept on last year after such a tryout.) We will see, as the offseason and training camp goes, who will make an impression. There has been a lot of talk about QB Jake Coker, but it’s much too early to assume he can supplant Matt Barkley as even a third-stringer much less anything else (and don’t forget, after the Logan Thomas-Sims battle all last year, neither one made the team).
There are guys that intrigue. Canadian cornerback Eli Bouka, who is coming off an Achilles injury, has the size (6-foot-1) and tape that has impressed from afar. We’ll see if punter Garrett Swanson can give Drew Butler a run. And it certainly seems like there will be one undrafted on the roster, since the Cardinals’ only current choices for a long snapper are undrafted rookies Kameron Canaday and Daniel Dillon.
Here is a list of the undrafted rookies to make the roster out of training camp since 2007 (many undrafted rookies have made it to the practice squad and were promoted at some point, but these are the guys from the 53 to start the season:
2015 LB Alani Fua, DT Xavier Williams
2014 K Chandler Catanzaro, LB Glenn Carson
2013 WR Jaron Brown, LB Kenny Demens, S Tony Jefferson
2012 WR LaRon Byrd
2010 QB Max Hall, CB A.J. Jefferson, WR Max Komar, WR Stephen Williams
2009 LB Reggie Walker
2008 LB Ali Highsmith
2007 FB Tim Castille, C Lyle Sendlein
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Alani Fua, Ali Highsmith, Chandler Catanzaro, Daniel Dillon, Drew Butler, Eli Bouka, Garrett Swanson, Glenn Carson, Jake Coker, Jaron Brown, Kameron Canaday, Kenny Demens, LaRon Byrd, Lyle Sendlein, Matt Barkley, Max Hall, Max Komar, Reggie Walker, Stephen Williams, Tim Castille, Tony Jefferson, undrafted rookie free agents, Xavier Williams
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The Cardinals made a pair of not-surprising moves Friday, cutting two players who missed all of 2013 because of injury: wide receiver LaRon Byrd and linebacker Dan Giordano. Byrd suffered a concussion in the preseason and was placed on injured reserve. Giordano, an undrafted rookie last year, suffered a toe injury during the offseason and was never able to come off the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Byrd had been waived-injured last season, but after he wasn’t picked up by anyone, he reverted back to injured reserve. He had been back at the facility working out recently. Giordano had been faithfully rehabbing daily since the season ended.
Both play positions that figure to be further addressed this offseason, either in the draft or otherwise. The Cards certainly will be adding some outside linebackers and seemingly are a lock to draft one at some point. Receiver is another spot where the Cards will add bodies, although with a top four right now of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn and Jaron Brown, it isn’t a pressing need.
Tags: Dan Giordano, Jaron Brown, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn
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The Cardinals signed three linemen today: A pair of centers in Deveric Gallington (mentioned earlier today) and Kyle Quinn (who happens to be a University of Arizona product) along with defensive tackle Jonathan Mathis, who is from Texas A&M. The Cards have been looking to upgrade their center depth, and Mathis is needed with all the defensive line injuries.
That means three players had to be released, and one — being waived-injured — was wide receiver LaRon Byrd, who suffered a concussion last week. Byrd had been in the mix to win a job after making the team as an undrafted player last year, but he didn’t flash as much as the coaches had been looking for over the summer and now has been dealing with the injury.
Also waived-injured was defensive end Everrette Thompson (shoulder), while wide receiver Tyler Shaw was cut.
The Cardinals now, behind Lyle Sendlein, have Gallington, Quinn, Adam Bice and Mike Gibson as reserve centers. Gibson can also play guard.
Tags: Deveric Gallington, Everrette Thompson, Jonathan Mathis, Kyle Quinn, LaRon Byrd, Tyler Shaw
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It’s hard not to notice Patrick Peterson on offense (I’ll have more tomorrow on the subject). Every day there seem to be more plays using the Pro Bowl cornerback on that side of the ball. Friday, he caught a long bomb from Carson Palmer over Tyrann Mathieu and later completed a pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer said the Cards actually have a “pretty big package” in for Peterson on offense, and it certainly looks that way. Why not? He’s that good.
“If he wasn’t playing corner he’d probably be just as good of a receiver, H-back or Percy Harvin-type player,” Palmer said.
We all know Peterson doesn’t mind. The only concern would have to be Peterson getting tired playing so much offense when he’s needed on defense. Who knows, maybe that’s why GM Steve Keim collected so many experienced cornerbacks in the offseason — he wanted to give Peterson some leeway to get a blow if needed.
— OK, maybe I don’t think that’s why the Cards have their cornerbacks. Peterson is going to be on the field on defense, don’t worry.
— Palmer reiterated he’s still learning a good chunk of the offense, but it will come. He wanted to come to Arizona in part to learn Bruce Arians’ offense (check out this story here) and embraces the challenge of learning yet another new scheme after going through a couple between Cincinnati and Oakland the past few years.
“I’m very comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Palmer said.
— Along with Darnell Dockett, K Jay Feely was also absent from practice because of a personal reason.
— RB Rashard Mendenhall was fully dressed out for practice but for a second straight day was very limited, spending much of the time on a bike. The rest of the injury list remained static: G Daryn Colledge (calf), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), LB Alex Okafor (ankle), NT Dan Williams (ankle/knee), TE Alex Gottlieb (hamstring), WR Robert Gill (hamstring) and TE Jeff King (knee.) (My mistake, I forgot LaRon Byrd, out with a concussion.)
Tags: Alex Gottleib, Alex Okafor, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Kory Sperry, LaRon Byrd, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Robert Gill, Ryan Williams
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The Cardinals have the day off, so the NFL did us a favor and threw out a little news: The Pro Bowl is changing. The biggest news of these changes is that, instead of AFC-NFC, the Pro Bowlers will be picked and then “drafted” on to two separate teams. Could that mean Patrick Peterson covering Larry Fitzgerald in the Pro Bowl? Yes. Then again, we see this all the time in camp. (It’s been suggested this won’t work, that say Terrell Suggs can’t be asked to sack Joe Flacco, or Aldon Smith to Colin Kaepernick. Maybe. Seems like, in general, a good idea for a game looking for good ideas.)
There will be other changes too. From the NFL release:
- Game within the Game – A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct “two-minute drills,” which are especially exciting for fans.
- No Kickoffs – The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
- Rosters – The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
- Cover Two and Press Coverage – The defense will be permitted to play “cover two” and “press” coverage. In previous years, only “man” coverage was permitted, except for goal line situations.
- Stopping of the Game Clock – Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
- Game Timing – The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
- Play Clock – A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
- Sacks – The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.
We’ll see how it works.
— The Cardinals are off today. They resume meetings tonight and have practice outside at the team’s Tempe facility tomorrow. I’ll be curious to see how many of the injuries can be cleared up by then. (The team goes back to University of Phoenix Stadium Friday and Saturday, with Saturday being the Red-White practice.) Here’s the list of players who were still out yesterday: G Daryn Colledge (calf), WR Robert Gill (hamstring), TE Alex Gottlieb (hamstring), TE Jeff King (knee), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), WR LaRon Byrd (concussion).
— With six days of camp and five practices in the books, it’s a good time to recap. So here’s the first mashup of camp. Truth be told, it’s very cool.
Tags: Alex Gottlieb, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jeff King, Kory Sperry, LaRon Byrd, Pro Bowl, Robert Gill, Ryan Williams, training camp
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Bruce Arians likes the depth he’s built in the defensive line, and it’s necessary. “We want to be able to tap out and play fast,” Arians said, and staying fresh is important to production. Can guys balk at coming out? Maybe. But “the guy knows when to come out,” Arians said. “Some guys won’t come out. Other guys like to play fresh.”
Then sometimes there is the issue Arians had last season with the Colts. “I had a problem last year in Indy,” he said. “(Pro Bowlers Robert) Mathis and (Dwight) Freeney tapped out in the same time, I was , ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t both come out. I just learned the two guys’ names behind you. One has to stay in there.’ ”
— It turned out RB Ryan Williams did not have the precautionary second opinion he planned on yesterday. Arians said he was feeling better and decided just to rehab at the stadium. He will sit out today, but with the off day tomorrow, Williams is hoping to return to practice Thursday.
— The new injuries are TE Kory Sperry (ankle) and CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring). That’s a tough one for Fleming, who is battling in a very competitive secondary. Sperry, way under the radar after signing late last year, is playing well enough that Arians is bummed out he is out. “I’m a little ticked because Kory is having a heck of a camp.” Sperry can play in the backfield too, which is key.
— TE Jeff King is sitting because of fluid on the knee, which after offseason surgery isn’t surprising. Arians said the Cards just want to be cautious.
— G Daryn Colledge is still out. Arians said it is an unknown with the nerve issue. He could be back Thursday, he could be out another week. No way to know.
— Arians said he wants to play David Carter at nose tackle, not end.
— That battle for fourth and fifth receiver is open. LaRon Byrd is dealing with the concussion. But it should be noted that when Arians was asked about undrafted guys who have caught his eye, he said Jaron Brown and Charles Hawkins have “done really well. Really well.” Something to keep in mind.
— And here are some highlights from yesterday:
Tags: Bruce Arians, Charles Hawkins, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jaron Brown, Jeff King, Kory Sperry, LaRon Byrd, Ryan Williams
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Every year, Larry Fitzgerald holds about a month’s worth of work at home in Minnesota. There is a little bit of throwing and mostly hardcore conditioning and weightlifting, all designed to help in the “downtime” an NFL player has right before training camp. I was fortunate enough to take a trip up to visit last year (here is the story and the resulting video of that trip.) The time there is great for these guys. Hard work through noon or 1, and then everyone is usually invited daily back to Fitz’s house to hang out or go jet-skiing on the lake. I’d take that life this time of year. This year, both Fitz and new quarterback Carson Palmer talked a few times how they were going to hook up during the workouts, and Palmer, a man of his word, is indeed up in Minnesota right now.
Apparently, most of the throwers and catchers are, for that matter. Fitz will take anyone across the league who wants to come — last year, Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts and Seahawks running back Leon Washington were among the guys there when I was there — but it’s never bad when Cardinals come. This year, there are a ton of Cardinals there. Fitz put out the picture below earlier today on social media (thanks for letting me “borrow” it, Fitz). From left to right, starting in the back, it is Michael Rios, Jaron Brown, Dan Buckner (I hope, always tougher with the undrafted rookies), Tyler Shaw, QB Ryan Lindley, LaRon Byrd, Kerry Taylor, QB Carson Palmer, Michael Floyd and QB Drew Stanton. In the front, it’s Andre Roberts, Charles Hawkins, Fitz and Robert Gill. (Here is a story from a local TV station with a little video.)
It’s a huge turnout, and seems to bode well. Then again, if you are a QB and Palmer is going to be there, or you are a receiver and Fitz, Floyd and Roberts are going to be there, it’s tough to say no. Either way, I think of Bruce Arians saying when the Cards come back for camp there can’t be regression — that at worst the Cards have to come in where they left off after offseason work, and maybe even a little ahead.
It’s hard not to think that the QBs and receivers will accomplish that goal after working in Fitz’s backyard.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Carson Palmer, Cecil Shorts, Charles Hawkins, Dan Buckner, Drew Stanton, Jaron Brown, Kerry Taylor, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Leon Washington, Michael Floyd, Michael Rios, Robert Gill, Ryan Lindley, Tyler Shaw
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With the building half-empty with players scattered around the country and coaches on vacation, it seems to be a good time to talk about hair. In part, that’s because Darnell Dockett just shaved off his long-time locks, only furthering a trend of late. I mean, it’s not like Bruce Arians sat in a team meeting and said, “We need to turn this around, we need to play better, and oh, by the way, I can’t stand the long hair.” But it was hard not to notice when running back Ryan Williams and wide receiver LaRon Byrd clipped their dreadlocks and then safety Rashad Johnson did the same, asking his followers on Twitter first if they thought it was a good idea. (Those are the three in the photo to the right.)
Johnson was going to do it anyway — he just felt like it was time for a change. That was some of Williams’ thought too, and as you can see below, that’s what Dockett was thinking too. Time for a fresh start. Maybe Arians’ arrival didn’t bring with it an express message of necessary haircuts but instead just a vibe that reached out to players that said “Snip it!” (Or, more likely, I am just overanalyzing something on a dead day in the offseason.) Heck, I’m not even including guard Daryn Colledge, who didn’t have dreadlocks but had his own long hair that he chose to shear off this offseason.
Dock talked about what a big year it is for him, so this is a type of rebirth. Actually, you look at that list of names — Williams, Byrd, Johnson, Colledge, Dockett — and it could be a big year for all of them to prove their value here with a new staff and new front office (yes, Johnson did just get an extension.) It is the NFL of course, and you know what that makes possible for many players: Hair today, gone tomorrow.
UPDATE: I texted Larry Fitzgerald to see if, you know, he might be following suit with his dreads. His response, expected as it was, was blunt: “No shot.” It shouldn’t be a surprise, but I had forgotten that Fitz has a reason for his long hair — his mother, who passed away from cancer when Fitz was in college.
“I grow my hair in honor of my late mother,” Fitz said in a follow-up text. “It’s a reminder of her great strength and courage in time of doubt and uncertainty. It’s a consistent reminder to keep living and never to give up. It’s not a fad like it is for other guys. My hair has a purpose to me.”
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Williams
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The fact Bruce Arians mentioned undrafted rookie receiver Jaron Brown the other day (and Charles Hawkins, for that matter) may in the end mean nothing. Impressing in June is not the same thing as impressing in August, when, as Arians has brought up time and time again, the lights go on and players can change. But it was tough not to notice that Brown got a lot of work in multi-receiver sets, especially late in the offseason work when Michael Floyd was protecting a testy hamstring. With Ryan Swope absent with his head issues, the door is open for some unknown receivers to make a push for a roster spot.
(The fact Arians bluntly said LaRon Byrd wasn’t exactly lighting it up also creates some possibilities at the back end of the wideout depth chart.)
The Cardinals have had a recent history of finding some receivers from nowhere this time of year. This was the time when Steve Breaston first turned some heads in 2008, and while Breaston was a fifth-round draft pick in his second season, he was never thought of as a guy with that potential before that summer. There was Stephen Williams in 2010. And Byrd last year. This time, it was No. 13 — Brown — who seemed to be everywhere.
“There is always room to improve, come out and get better every day,” Brown said, who said he didn’t know anything about the Cards and their history of undrafted receivers. “I know I’m undrafted and a rookie and I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”
Brown isn’t the only young candidate. Arians mentioned Hawkins and Robert Gill (who as an arena veteran isn’t exactly a rookie, but falls into the same kind of category) as guys who have stood out. Those guys have some speed, which is a component Arians seeks in the receiving corps. Brown, by the way, ran a 4.4 himself at his pro day, so he’s not exactly slow. The caveat that always comes with the receivers who flash in the offseason? It’s easy to flash in shorts, knowing you won’t get hit going over the middle.
“I know how good they play soccer right now,” Arians said. “Football is a noise-level game and the noise-level scares some guys. Other guys love it. That’s what we’ve got to find.”
Brown has made a good impression. So far.
Tags: Charles Hawkins, Jaron Brown, LaRon Byrd, Michael Floyd, Robert Gill, Ryan Swope, Stephen Williams, Steve Breaston
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Already, Larry Fitzgerald mentioned that the receivers and quarterbacks would work together, in part in Minnesota where Fitz holds his annual July work. Quarterback Carson Palmer confirmed he plans on getting that work done, because the work must continue even though officially, the Cards will be done tomorrow.
“I’m not going to get away from anything,” Palmer said, noting he’ll spend some time at home in California but not too much time. “I won’t be taking any time off and I don’t think guys will be, or should be, taking time off.”
And with that, some other notes after the penultimate practice of the offseason:
— The defense got interceptions from Patrick Peterson and Javier Arenas during the final two-minute drill sequence. Good for the defense, bad for the offense. Coach Bruce Arians will live with it.
“Cardinals win,” Arians said with a smile. “Shoot, I can’t lose. You get to cuss out one and cheer for the other. It’s fun.”
Palmer praised his teammates on the other side of the ball. “I’m excited about what we are seeing on defense because they are putting together packages that are really confusing, especially if you are playing against young quarterbacks,” he said.
— Rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope remains out with the reported concussion symptoms (Arians has never addresses Swope’s issues directly.) Asked if he planned to have Swope for training camp, Arians said “I’m hopeful.”
— Speaking of receivers, Arians was asked if he had seen strides forward of late from second-year wideout LaRon Byrd. Arians was blunt. “Not really, to be honest,” Arians said. “He had a couple nice catches that were unbelievable throws. (But) he’s too inconsistent right now. He has talent and a good future, but he’s got to get more consistent.”
Byrd said he is feeling more comfortable, but with guys like Jaron Brown, Robert Gill and Charles Hawkins playing well this summer, Byrd will have to make strides in camp.
— Nate Potter is getting extensive work at right tackle. And Bobby Massie was getting a lot of work as second-string left tackle. It may mean little — Arians said it was going to be a rotation through camp — but it would be an interesting turn of events if it stayed that way.
— Arians said he isn’t worried about running back Stepfan Taylor, who missed all of the offseason because of school (Taylor is expected back next week for the rookies’ final week, without veterans). Arians watched Andrew Luck, like Taylor a Stanford product, perform just fine last season after an offseason away.
“(Stepfan) has got a whole lot easier of a position,” Arians said. “His thing will be picking up the blitzes but he is a bright young man and he’s already had exposure to to it all. He knows what the rules are.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Charles Hawkins, Jaron Brown, Javier Arenas, LaRon Byrd, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Robert Gill, Ryan Swope, Stepfan Taylor
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