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Fitzgerald inactive again for Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on November 30, 2014 – 12:39 pm

It isn’t a big surprise but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will miss his second straight game with his knee sprain. It’s only the second time Fitz has missed back-to-back games in his career — the first coming in 2006. He wasn’t going to play if he couldn’t do everything, coach Bruce Arians said, and clearly, Fitz can’t do everything yet. New running back Michael Bush, still learning the system, is also inactive.

Today also marks the first NFL game for rookie undrafted linebacker Glenn Carson, who is needed on special teams with Kenny Demens (hamstring) out.

The full inactive list:

— WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee)

— RB Michael Bush

— LB Desmond Bishop

— LB Kenny Demens (hamstring)

— DT Alameda Ta’amu

— DT Ed Stinson (toe)

— TE Matthew Mulligan

The Falcons have their own high-end receiver sitting out: Roddy White will be inactive with an ankle injury.


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Friday before the Falcons

Posted by Darren Urban on November 28, 2014 – 3:54 pm

In all the seasons the Cardinals have been a franchise – and in this case, we’ll just go back to the Cards’ jumping into the fledgling NFL in 1920 – the team has won at least 10 games only seven times. Only twice has the team won 10 since the franchise moved to Arizona, last season and the 10-6 mark the team posted in 2009, the year after the Super Bowl.

The Cards would reach 10 wins Sunday with a win in Atlanta. They should win at least 10 this season at some point, but in so many ways, it’s crucial that it come this weekend, against this team. The Falcons are in first place. They do have Julio Jones and Roddy White this time around. But this is a game the Cardinals have to have, with the way the Seahawks are playing, with the way the Packers are playing, with the way the Eagles are playing.

Bruce Arians is constantly talking about how good teams don’t lose two in a row. His players parrot it. The only time the Cardinals have lost a second in a row since Arians showed up was to eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle on a short-week Thursday night. This is where we need to see that resilience show up again, against a lesser opponent.

— Larry Fitzgerald is officially questionable but I won’t be surprised to see him sit for a second straight game. It’d be only the second time Fitz would have missed back-to-back games in his career. I’m sure it’s eating up Fitz. He’s got a lot on the line here on a lot of levels, between his hot play before he got hurt, his presence that helps the offense and even his impending contract dilemma after the season. But if he can’t go, he can’t go.

— New running back Michael Bush seems unlikely to be active. Arians said this week he’s got to learn a lot and he’s here for the “long haul.” It may be a little soon to reach that point yet.

— The Cardinals are not unaware that the Falcons have Jones and White this time. Patrick Peterson said this week he and Antonio Cromartie are ready for that kind of upscale challenge. Last year, “it definitely minimized their shock plays and how they attacked our defense (having them out),” Peterson said.

— As rough as it was for the Cardinals’ offense in Seattle last week, Arians kept saying that defense was pretty good – and then the Seahawks’ D dismantled Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense on Thanksgiving night. So maybe that was more of a reflection of the Seahawks coming around than the Cards’ offense.

— Of course, the Cardinals do have something to prove offensively this weekend, at least that it was an outlier as Arians believed. This offense was fine shredding a good Lions’ D for a quarter. It’s possible. QB Drew Stanton and company just have to pull it off.

— Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Atlanta time. So the team, unlike previous Atlanta trips, doesn’t fly out until Saturday and the players will be able to play a game on a regular body-clock kickoff of 2 p.m. That hopefully will help.

— The post-Thanksgiving stretch is where divisions are won. This is where the Cards’ road begins.

flaconsbeforeUSEW


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Fitzgerald, now “limited,” is a game-day decision again

Posted by Darren Urban on November 28, 2014 – 12:54 pm

Officially, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was able to practice on a limited basis Friday, and coach Bruce Arians said he was “progressing nicely” as he heads into Sunday’s game in Atlanta as a game-day decision. Arians did say Fitzgerald’s lack of practice time does impact the situation, noting that even when Fitz was dealing with the hamstring issue last season he was at least able to practice some. “This is a little bit more severe than that,” Arians said.

If Fitzgerald does play, Arians said, it won’t be just as a decoy or in a partial role. “If he goes, he goes,” Arians said. “That’s the only reason he would play, because he can play.”

– LB Kenny Demens (hamstring) is out for the game. DT Ed Stinson had a setback with the toe and “probably will not play,” Arians said, but it will be TBD.

FitzBlog1


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Fitzgerald remains DNP-wait-and-see

Posted by Darren Urban on November 26, 2014 – 1:53 pm

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald isn’t practicing again today because of his knee sprain. He has made some progress, coach Bruce Arians said, and Fitzgerald did jog across the field when he came out this afternoon headed to the bikes and athletic trainers. But a sore knee is a sore knee, and there is artificial turf in Atlanta, and getting him back on the field again could be tough. We’ll see how the week plays out. Fitzgerald is wearing a brace (seen below, talking with assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom, running back Michael Bush (29) and running back Andre Ellington (38).

Linebacker Kenny Demens (hamstring) was the only other guy supposed to miss practice today. Defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) was going to try and work on a limited basis.

FitzBraceUSE


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Seahawks aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2014 – 10:17 pm

Drew Stanton said after Sunday’s game the Cardinals knew it would be difficult. I’m not sure it was supposed to be quite that difficult. The game played out as an ugly, smash-em-up affair, and that was OK. The Cards can do that. But the Cards can’t make mistakes while doing that, because those are the things that swing a close game. Whether it was the dropped TD pass or the punt block or just the inability of the offense to do anything of real substance save for the end-of-the-half drive (that closed with the TD drop), the Cardinals didn’t do the basic things. The Seahawks did.

Russell Wilson was special in the second half, escaping a few times when he really didn’t have the right to escape. But the Seahawks won because they patiently waited for the Cards to hand over field position, and simply kicked field goals when they did.

It has not been a particularly good offensive stretch to be sure. No touchdowns over the last seven quarters is not going to win any games, much less divisions or championships. These are the defenses you figure to see in the playoffs, too. It makes the game against the Falcons critical next week, especially for that side of the ball. Bruce Arians has to find something that works. Quickly.

— The Cards handled Marshawn Lynch. They couldn’t handle Wilson. In the second half especially, he made some magical plays. In an offense that really doesn’t have the right to be very effective, Wilson made it enough so on Sunday.

— Not having Larry Fitzgerald didn’t help. He couldn’t run, and the question is, how soon will he be able to run? Is another week off going to be enough? It might not be.

— More importantly, you’d think Michael Floyd would step to the forefront with Fitz down, but he was only targeted a couple of times and his one catch was negated by a penalty.

— Stanton hurt his left ankle late in the game, but he said was fine. He walked off the field without any issue and said he would’ve come back in the game. “It’s not anything major,” Stanton said.

— The Cardinals had eight sacks in the first eight games. After seven Sunday – including a career-best three from defensive end Calais Campbell – the Cards have 17 in their last three games. That thing when coaches are always saying sacks come in bunches? Yeah, that.

— It wasn’t the best special teams day for the Cardinals, but their field-goal block unit got another one thanks to Tommy Kelly (his second of the season) and Justin Bethel was irritated he didn’t get a piece of the first two Seattle field goals when he thought he had near misses.

— Arians gave Jaron Brown a pat on the back after his TD drop. Realistically, Arians said, the Cardinals at halftime were “where we’re at every week, within a score, up a score or down a score. We were right were we wanted to be.”

Then came the punt block, and the Cardinals never could get things right.

— The 204 yards of offense was the lowest total of the Arians era and the lowest amount of yards in a game since the Cards had 196 in a Ryan Lindley-started 38-10 win over the Lions Dec. 16, 2012.

— Newcomer Josh Mauro added some things on the defensive line at end, I thought. And further pushed the inactive-again Alameda Ta’amu down the depth chart.

— It was the best game of linebacker Kevin Minter’s year-plus: Five tackles, a first NFL sack, two tackles for loss.

— It’s about perspective. As someone mentioned on plane home, if someone would have said before the season the Cardinals were going to be 9-2 after the Seattle trip, no one would have turned it down. The Cards need to get it back quickly, though. Atlanta awaits.

Seablog1use


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Fitzgerald out, streak ends at 110

Posted by Darren Urban on November 23, 2014 – 12:28 pm

It’s not a surprise since he didn’t practice all week, but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is inactive today against the Seahawks, snapping his consecutive games played streak at 110. It is the first game Fitzgerald has missed since Dec. 2, 2007. Fitzgerald was still limping late in the week and with the depth the Cardinals have at receiver — and the need for him later in the season to be healthy — helped make the decision, I’d think, but the most important reason is that Fitz just wasn’t going to be able to help much if at all in his current state.

The full inactive list:

— WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee)

— DT Ed Stinson (toe)

— RB Kerwynn Williams

— LB Desmond Bishop

— LB Glenn Carson

— DT Alameda Ta’amu

— TE Matthew Mulligan


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Watching Wilson and Friday before the Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2014 – 3:52 pm

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?

BeforeSeahawksBlogUSE


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Fitzgerald to be game-day decision

Posted by Darren Urban on November 21, 2014 – 1:32 pm

It was probably inevitable, but Bruce Arians made it official Friday: WR Larry Fitzgerald, who didn’t practice for a third straight day, will be a game-day decision for the Cardinals in Seattle. There is still 48 hours to get Fitz’s knee right (or at least right enough) and the Cards will take it to the last moment to see what they can do with Fitz. On a purely statistical level, Fitz’s 110-consecutive game streak is on the line. The Cards do not fear Fitz not playing; they are confident in what Jaron Brown can do (as well as Ted Ginn and maybe more Smokey Brown) in Fitzgerald’s absence. Maybe it will be smarter to keep Fitz out. Arians said missing practice is not a big deal for a vet like Fitzgerald, so the door is open there.

If I had to guess right now, I’d think Fitzgerald wouldn’t play, but with Fitz, I’ve been burned there before. He’s going to want to get out there even if he can’t do everything. Maybe the Cards will want him out there just so the Seahawks have to think about him. Maybe the next 36 hours does wonders and he’s better than anyone can anticipate. We’ll see.

Arians did rule defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) out. So there’s that.

FitzPrayUSE

 


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Fitzgerald MCL sprain, but still could play

Posted by Darren Urban on November 17, 2014 – 1:27 pm

Bruce Arians is optimistic that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain Sunday on his left knee, will still be able to play Sunday. Fitzgerald hurt the knee near the end of the first half, but he came back in the second half to play and made the game-clinching first-down catch. He still played 56 of a possible 62 offensive snaps. Fitz is the type of guy who doesn’t miss — he’s played through knee injuries before. At the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season, Fitz was dealing with a sprain in his right knee. He hasn’t missed a game since Dec. 2, 2007. That’s 110 straight regular-season games.

The news wasn’t nearly as optimistic for tight end Troy Niklas. He had the same ankle that kept him out a few games earlier this season get rolled up again, and Arians said he’s doubtful for this week and that the team will monitor the injury. There is a possibility he could end up being done for the season. Darren Fells becomes the third tight end behind John Carlson and Rob Housler for now.

FitzMCLuse


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Keim: It’s about being proactive and aggressive

Posted by Darren Urban on November 17, 2014 – 8:09 am

General Manager Steve Keim didn’t have a whole lot of newsy things to say during his weekly appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7, but that’s probably a good thing. He did talk a little bit about giving the contract extension to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles — who just happened to have his unit play excellent in the first game since signing.

Keim said Bowles had obviously earned it. But bigger picture, Keim said the mindset he and the new football staff had when being hired was that with every decision “we wanted to be proactive and we wanted to be aggressive, to change the culture.” That means locking up quality assistants. Keim reiterated that it won’t (and can’t) stop Bowles from taking a head coaching job after the season. But, Keim added, in talking with Bowles on the subject, “I know it will take a special opportunity for him to leave us.”

Other quick hits from Keim:

— Asked to pick one player who stood out against the Lions, Keim didn’t hesitate in naming cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson’s play has no doubt jumped over the past three games. Now we get Richard Sherman week!

— Keim raved about the physical nature of safety Deone Bucannon’s play. I know there was one early running play, when the Cards were in nickel and Bucannon just shot the gap to make a tackle for loss. An excellent effort.

— With two more sacks, linebacker Alex Okafor has “brought a pass rush we’re desperately seeking,” Keim said. Keim added Okafor has “probably missed four or five” more sacks the last few games on technique errors that he should clean up.

— The pass protection was excellent, Keim said, and he praised the interior of the offensive line for their play against a stellar defensive front. That was a big deal after the microscope was on the interior for the last week.

— Keim noted Larry Fitzgerald was able to come back and play after his knee was “dinged up” and said overall injury-wise, “on the surface it seemed like we came out OK.”


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