Bruce Arians was planning on seeing recuperating QBs coach Freddie Kitchens in the hospital Thursday afternoon, as the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013 OTAs earlier in the day. Kitchens, of course, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday night to fix his aorta. Arians said he received a text from Kitchens’ wife Ginger that Freddie “took a lap down to X-ray and walked back and was breathing fine” Thursday morning. Doctors took the tube out of Kitchens last night, and while it was a rough night, Kitchens was doing much better today.
“Something just didn’t seem right,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, echoing the thoughts of fellow QB Drew Stanton. “Freddie is about a tough of a guy as you are going to meet. We had the trainers come and look at him. Freddie is lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.
“We’ve just been praying and thanking God that he’s doing better … The first thing I thought of was his wife Ginger. She had to fly across the continent and I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
– As for the team in the meantime, assistant head coach Tom Moore (talking to the quarterbacks, below, Wednesday) is taking Kitchens’ spot for now. Moore has been a integral part of the quarterbacks’ learning curve up until this point anyway. “He’ll keep the seat warm until Freddie gets back,” Arians said.
– OTAs are over. The Cardinals have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week (with Fan Fest at the outset on Tuesday) before the vets scatter for the summer. The rookies will stick around a little longer.
– Arians said next week’s goal is just to “continue” and “watching the little mistakes disappear.” The offense is “97, 98 percent done.” The defense “might add a blitz or two.” Arians joked that the Cards worked on taking a safety during today’s workout and “usually that’s the end of training camp.”
– Arians was asked if he had any concerns about the struggles of Levi Brown in the past. Once again, Arians backed up his left tackle.
“I don’t really care (of Brown’s past),” Arians said. “I don’t care about anybody. You start with a new slate. It’s what you do now.”
Arians reiterated he sees Brown as “elite” when he is playing well. And there is little question Arians doesn’t use the term lightly when you consider how important he sees the position.
“If you have to protect your left tackle all the time you’re really game planning with one hand behind your back,” Arians said. “You can find guys who can run and catch, you can find guys who can play in the middle. But left tackle and quarterback, God makes them.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Fan Fest, Freddie Kitchens, Levi Brown, Tom Moore
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With the Cardinals returning to the field today, a few quick notes after coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media:
– He was asked about the health of rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope, who was not out there practicing. Teammate Larry Fitzgerald had said in a Sirius NFL radio interview that Swope had been out because of concussion-related issues. Arians did not get specific. “There’s nothing really to report,” Arians said. “We don’t have injury reports this time of year.” Asked if he was concerned about Swope, Arians said “He’ll be fine.”
– Arians was happy with the work after the team had a week off. “I expected it to be sloppier,” Arians said.
– Cornerback Patrick Peterson has missed the last nine days because of family issues, Arians said. Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Antoine Cason were also working on the side. Tight end Jeff King was limited as he rehabs his knee.
– Tackle Levi Brown was taking part in the work for the first time as he returns from his triceps injury. Arians said he was limited but he looked good in his reps.
– Rookie guard Jonathan Cooper is working with the first unit, which isn’t a surprise. As for his progress, “he’s getting so many reps he can’t help but but improve,” Arians said.
– Special teams coach Amos Jones was absent because his father passed away.
– Rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu made an interception that Arians was willing to call a Pick-6. (Since no one can tackle, you never really know.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Antoine Cason, Jeff King, Jerraud Powers, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Patrick Peterson, Ryan Swope, Tyrann Mathieu
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This isn’t easy to absorb, since the Cardinals still have a full week of OTAs and a mandatory minicamp to go (and I still have a vacation to take), but today marks 100 days until the Cards open the regular season in St. Louis.
(To take a trip down memory lane of season openers past, check out this photo gallery. Remember Fitz’s first NFL catch on the flea-flicker in St. Louis in 2004, seen below?)
There is much left to do before that day of course. Not only do the Cardinals finish out the offseason work but there is still training camp to go. There’s too much time left to really know how this roster is going to break down, but there will be interesting battles for playing time coming. Has Lorenzo Alexander usurped O’Brien Schofield for good? How will all the inside linebackers fit together once Daryl Washington’s suspension ends (although that’s a story for well beyond the opener)? How will Levi Brown look once he is completely cleared to play?
Most importantly: How will the new-look Cardinals perform when the games count for real? In 100 days, we’ll find out.
– Many have asked about the Larry Fitzgerald comments regarding the health of Ryan Swope. As I have indicated to some, I frankly hadn’t been looking for Swope one way or the other of late. On-field work resumes next week, and at some point, coach Bruce Arians will be available to talk again. I’d guess it will be addressed then.
– An NFL.com story talking about Ken Whisenhunt, now the Chargers offensive coordinator, working with QB Philip Rivers. “It always starts with the quarterback,” Whiz says, and we all know not only is that true, but that Whiz lived with the consequences of it.
– Speaking of Whiz and one of his former signal-callers, wondering where Max Hall is these days? Trying to QB in Canada.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, Levi Brown, Lorenzo Alexander, Max Hall, O'Brien Schofield, Rams, Ryan Swope
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Bruce Arians was talking about his situational work in practice for his offense and it was the natural question: If you only have so much time in every OTA and you are trying to install a new system, how do you have time to work on specific situations? “You’ve got to make an emphasis on your priorities,” Arians said, but there was a caveat to that. “We can’t run the ball right now. We can (only) put the runs in and go through the motions of running.”
That isn’t a surprise. The running game especially is about the physical part of football, and that’s basically against the rules during the summer. But it also makes another key part of the Cardinals’ offseason clear: There has to be a wait-and-see about how this offensive line rebounds under new management.
As it stands, the offensive line will look like this, from left tackle to right tackle: Levi Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Daryn Colledge, Bobby Massie. Cooper is still getting worked into the first unit, but he will be there. Brown is limited anyway right now as he continues to come back from his triceps injury. More importantly, there is only so much an offensive line can do in the offseason to prepare. The techniques are worked on daily in smaller groups — often, OC Harold Goodwin takes the interior guys while assistant O-line coach Larry Zierlein (below) works with the tackles — and that part will be well covered. But it’s impossible to replicate the smashmouth play that will happen when the pads go on.
(On a somewhat side note, I am very intrigued about the future of fourth-round guard Earl Watford. No idea if he will be able to play yet, but he reminds me of Massie in the sense that the man just looks constructed to be an offensive lineman. Like Massie, he’s just big. Not sloppy big, but strong big. He looks the part.)
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Daryn Colledge, Earl Watford, Harold Goodwin, Jonathan Cooper, Larry Zierlein, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line
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So profootballfocus.com has a series they call “Secret Superstar” in which they try to highlight players who are under the radar or are poised for breakout seasons. This week, they named Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie a Secret Superstar. You know who noticed? Bobby Massie.
“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Massie said.
Then again, he was also reading with a grain of salt.
“It doesn’t mean nothing to me, because the same people that wrote that were the same people that were talking bad about me (early last year),” Massie said.
There is no question Massie has rebounded from his rough rookie start. He was plugged in at right tackle from jump last season and for half-a-season, struggled mightily. It wasn’t hard to see, and PFF graded him among the worst in the league. Then, things changed for Massie. PFF noted that had Massie performed all season like he did in the final nine games, they would have graded him as the third-best offensive tackle — right or left — in the entire NFL. It’s that kind of performance that the Cardinals noticed, why he likely wouldn’t be moved inside to guard. Why when you already have a solid tackle?
“Last year was my rookie year,” Massie said. “I’m not using it as an excuse, but sometimes it takes some players longer to get adjusted than others. It took me eight or nine games to get everything down, and as Pro Football Focus said, I was one of the top three tackles in the league.”
(So clearly, Massie is reading what is being written.)
“I’m a lot more comfortable, even as I am learning this offense,” Massie said.
Massie will be the right tackle, barring something unforeseen. Levi Brown continues to be the left tackle option, with, by the start of the season, rookie Jonathan Cooper figuring to start at left guard next to center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Daryn Colledge (Right now, Chilo Rachal is holding down the first-strong LG spot). With Massie, the Cards would love to have a homegrown superstar on the offensive line, secret or not.
– Many have been asking, so here you go: Fan Fest 2013 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. That’s a Tuesday during minicamp. Save the date. Further details TBA.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chilo Rachal, Daryn Colledge, Fan Fest, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, offensive line, Pro Football Focus
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The Cardinals began OTAs today and coach Bruce Arians tried something new with his 90-man roster: A dual practice. For a good chunk of the time on the field, the main first- and second-units worked on the front field, while the younger players — including almost every rookie — went to the second field with a mirror type of workout.
“We wanted to make sure we maximized the opportunities our rookies got, to get repetitions,” Arians said. “You can’t find a diamond in the rough if he’s standing on the sideline watching. You can find one if he’s out there working. That’s our goal. Get every single guy here an opportunity to make the ballclub.”
Arians said he’s never seen it done in his time in the NFL. Usually there aren’t enough players. “Our offensive tackles got a good workout,” Arians said. “There’s only four of them.” (That’s Nate Potter, Bobby Massie, Jamaal Johnson-Webb and Paul Fanaika today. Levi Brown was limited in his rehab and UDFA Joe Caprioglio isn’t here yet because Colorado State hasn’t finished up the spring semester.)
– Arians noted the full participation and thanked his players for the voluntary work. That included Daryl Washington (who has been here the whole time, not that it is new). Washington did address the media. Here is the story right here.
– Karlos Dansby was running with the first unit with Jasper Brinkley at inside linebacker. Washington was with Kevin Minter with the second unit. That was tough not to notice. We’ll see how it progresses as we go. Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho are working as the first-unit outside linebackers. Jerraud Powers continues to work first unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson.
– Jonathan Cooper was running second-team left guard behind Chilo Rachal. All the other draftees — save for Ryan Swope, who was pulled up after LaRon Byrd had a neck spasm — were working in the second practice.
– It was weird seeing Dansby wearing No. 55. It was more weird seeing him in Miami Dolphin blue cleats. I’m sure that’ll be fixed soon. “I told him he could have my red shoes tomorrow,” Arians said. “He looked good. He looked spry.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Chilo Rachal, Daryl Washington, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Joe Caprioglio, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, OTAs, Paul Fanaika, Ryan Swope
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A few days before Karlos Dansby made his first appearance at University of Phoenix Stadium after leaving the Cardinals – this past season when the Miami Dolphins visited – the veteran linebacker was asked his opinion of the man the Cards had drafted to replace him: Daryl Washington. Dansby replied in classic Dansby fashion.
“He’s a dynamic player, what more can I say about him,” Dansby said. “He’s very athletic, very fast. He reminds me of myself. They did a great job of getting the guy to fill that void.”
It was that moment when there was a little Dansby-envy swirling for those of us listening who had covered Los when he was in Arizona. He was always energetic and always could give a good quote. (One of the all-time favorites was when I was doing a story on teammate Sean Morey agreeing to donate his brain to science right at the beginning of the concussion talks first exploded. I asked Karlos what he thought: “That’s huge, man.” That was always one of his go-to expressions. Trust me, you had to be there.)
The man could play some football too. The Cards never wanted to let him go — they thought they had an extension ironed out before the 2009 season but that fizzled when Dansby changed agents — and his price tag got too high. His price tag might’ve been too high again (there was a reason he wasn’t signed yet) but Dansby’s chance to return home where he still has a home was too important. “I told my agent to bring (the salary) down,” Dansby said to me this morning, motioning his hands down like he was doing a version of his old dirty bird celebration. Dansby couldn’t stop smiling. Regardless of what the contract is, he is happy.
– He doesn’t have a jersey number yet. He won’t get 58. That’s Daryl Washington’s.
– No, his return doesn’t mean Washington is on his way out. Actually, you have to think the Cards have some decent plans to play them together. That would make sense, and Los could be a rusher from the outside if needed. He is versatile.
– DC Todd Bowles knows Dansby, because Bowles was in Miami in 2010 when Dansby was there. Bowles understands what Dansby can do.
– Between the addition of Kevin Minter in the draft and Jasper Brinkley and Dansby, the linebacker corps looks pretty decent right now, when it was a huge question mark back in early March.
– Only eight players remain on the roster that played with Dansby the first time around: Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Leach, Reggie Walker, Rashad Johnson, Calais Campbell, Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein.
– It’d be great if Dansby comes full circle and could end his career here, but let’s remember this is a one-year contract. Right now, he’s in the same boat as guys like Rashard Mendenhall, Antoine Cason and Matt Shaughnessy. They all want to be getting paid more money, and are counting on good years to improve their stock and earn them that kind of contract. Dansby will be trying to do the same. We’ll see if Dansby-the-sequel has a long run in Arizona the second time around.
– That said, did I mention he was pretty happy?
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Todd Bowles
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It didn’t take long before Bruce Arians made it known he was going to be comfortable playing young players after doing it last season in Indianapolis. Then, as March played out, the Cardinals either didn’t bring back older players who were free agents and released others who were on the wrong side of 30. Now, with the offseason roster nearly set, the numbers emphasize just how much younger General Manager Steve Keim has made his team.
The team’s 53-man roster by the end of last season — and that means younger players were on it in place of IR’d vets like Levi Brown, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein — had an average age of 29.7 years. The Cardinals’ current extended offseason roster (subtracting the 16 long-shot undrafted rookies who would obviously bring down the average age by their sheer numbers) features an average age of 25.8 years.
The Cards had 12 players 30 and older on their final 53. As of today, they have eight: Carson Palmer (33), Yeremiah Bell (35, pictured below), Daryn Colledge (31), Darnell Dockett (31), Jeff King (30), Jay Feely (36), Mike Leach (36) and Dave Zastudil (34). Take out those three specialists and the Cardinals’ current average age is 25.4.
The age could rise depending on how the roster is shaped going into the season, because of those 30-year-olds, I don’t right now see any of them being let go. But while Keim’s overhaul was in part about clearing salary cap room this offseason, it was also about an infusion of youth after a Ken Whisenhunt era that relied heavily on veterans.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Roster, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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Levi Brown has never been the sort to talk much of himself or even give in to the emotions of his draft position opposite Adrian Peterson. He knows of the criticism leveled against him and he knows now of the compliments his new coach, Bruce Arians, has been giving him almost from the day Arians was hired. Brown is still getting stronger rehabbing from his triceps injury a year ago, so while he did work some during the easygoing on-field work the last couple of weeks (pictured below) he is sitting out the minicamp work. He will be back at some point. His job will probably be determined on what happens in the draft — if the Cards take a left tackle in the second round, would Levi move? — but he will be out there.
Levi has his faults. No one is arguing that. But it hurt the Cards last year when he went down. Is there a new appreciation for him? As usual, Levi wasn’t going to get into that.
“I haven’t been back on the field,” Brown said. “Things can change. You never know what happens.”
As for the idea fans might’ve missed him, Brown wouldn’t bite on that either. “It is what it is. This game is one of opinions and opinions are always out there. I have no problem with what people think. I just go out there and do my job.”
Arians believes the offensive line will be fine, and that’s before they add anyone in the draft. Brown, who had a chance to go elsewhere as a free agent last year and chose not to, obviously hasn’t decided to let whatever is said about him — or the line — affect his decisions.
“We probably had one year without criticism and even then we were the worst team in the playoffs (in 2008),” Brown said. “Criticism comes. We can deal with that. We’re going to continue to go out here and do what we have to do.”
Tags: Levi Brown
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The Cardinals are done with the first day of their three-day voluntary minicamp. The tempo for the almost two-hour work in the afternoon was crisp. Coach Bruce Arians said there were fewer mistakes than might have been anticipated. The only player not there was Larry Fitzgerald, but Arians knew that he wouldn’t be and said Fitz would be back on Wednesday. A couple other tidbits:
– T Levi Brown and LB O’Brien Schofield weren’t taking part as they continue their rehab from 2012 injuries. Arians said there was no reason to push it. Schofield should be back soon. Arians just wants to make sure Brown is available by the Fall. Arians said he might consider putting Nate Potter at guard at some point, but there is plenty of time to figure that out. Arians said a player should be able to play either guard or tackle on the same side.
– QB Carson Palmer said 75 percent of the offense has been introduced to the players, although there is a long way to go to make it work in practice. This is the teaching/learning phase, clearly, although the pace of the workout was noticeably quick.
– With Schofield out (and for all we know, even if Schofield was available) it was free agent linebacker Lorenzo Alexander lining up on the outside with Sam Acho. Daryl Washington and Jasper Brinkley were the inside linebackers. The first string secondary was Jerraud Powers with Patrick Peterson at cornerback and Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell at safety.
– Washington obviously won’t be able to play the first four games because of his suspension. Arians said it was too early to know who will be the starter in Washington’s absence. “We will get Daryl ready to start just like I did with Ben Roethlisberger (before his suspension in 2010) and whoever was taking his place in September was more than ready to,” Arians said.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, minicamp, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Ssam Acho, Yeremiah Bell
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