The Cardinals are still looking for a young quarterback. So it made sense, said GM Steve Keim Tuesday, that the Cardinals pick up a couple of quarterbacks for the practice squad. The signings of Aaron Murray and Zac Dysert were officially announced Tuesday morning and Keim talked about bringing both in while on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. He said Murray and Dysert were the two highest-rated quarterbacks out there that were practice-squad eligible. It’ll be about taking a look at both over the next few weeks and see what they have.
“You can never tell, particularly at that position, until you spend time with them,” Keim said.
Keim added that the practice squad, like the bottom of the 53-man roster, will continue to be churned in an effort to find players who can help.
— As for Matt Barkley, Keim said “I’m not going to say the opportunity wasn’t there” for Barkley to return to the Cardinals practice squad. Barkley instead signed to be on the Bears’ practice squad. “He probably saw the opportunity in Chicago as a better fit, and we wish him well,” Keim said.
— Why keep nine defensive lineman? If there isn’t a great trade opportunity, Keim said, you don’t want to give away good players even if there are many at one position. Plus, he added, defensive line is one of those spots where injuries do crop up. Last but not least, Keim mentioned having young players under contract for the future (and it should be kept in mind that both Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker are unrestricted free agents after the season., so if they left, the Cards still have a nice group of D-linemen.)
— Keim said there were talks about trading a defensive lineman but the offers the Cards got were not in the Cards’ “best interest.”
Tags: Aaron Murray, Matt Barkley, Steve Keim, Zac Dysert
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The Cardinals have gotten down to the 53-man roster. Surprises? Perhaps a couple, although the way the wind was blowing over the last few days of the preseason, maybe not so much. Once we got to the end of the fourth preseason game, it was looking good for undrafted ILB Lamar Louis, and the knee injury of Kareem Martin might have helped ILB Gabe Martin on to the final roster (as well as his pick-6), although Martin has caught their collective eye for a while. I think cornerback Cariel Brooks had a good chance to make the team until he played so poorly against the Broncos.
The one legit surprise — in my eyes — was the Cardinals keeping Olsen Pierre, meaning there are nine defensive linemen on the final 53. Nine! That’s on a team with a 3-4 base defense that will use Chandler Jones as a defensive end in some passing situations. Then again, this could be partly for the future, not wanting to lose Pierre (and thinking he can play) when both Frostee Rucker and Calais Campbell are going into the last year of their contracts.
— The roster breakdown, right now, looks like this:
QB – 2
RB – 4
WR – 5
TE – 3
OL – 9
DL – 9
LB – 9 (counting Bucannon; sorry Deone)
CB – 4
S — 5
ST – 3
— So many wondered if Matt Barkley would stick, but as I have said many, many, many times, Drew Stanton was the No. 2 and Barkley simply didn’t show enough to pass him up. The Cardinals will have a QB on the practice squad — it could be Barkley — but it was clear listening to Bruce Arians over the time in camp he was disappointed Barkley didn’t come along faster.
— The trade for Marcus Cooper underscored the need for a veteran cornerback. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cards kept looking at that position.
— The same goes for backup tackle, although John Wetzel showed enough to stick for now.
— Only one draft pick wasn’t kept, cornerback Harlan Miller. I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller came back on the practice squad, but if you are Miller, knowing how much the Cards needed cornerbacks, you have to be disappointed you couldn’t make inroads in making the roster.
— When in doubt, teams go younger. That’s how you stay competitive.
— Teams will start making waiver claims tomorrow. There is still a (good) chance this 53 won’t be the 53 when the Cardinals return to practice Tuesday.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Drew Stanton, Frostee Rucker, Gabe Martin, Harlan Miller, John Wetzel, Lamar Louis, Marcus Cooper, Matt Barkley, Olsen Pierre, Roster
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The score ended up ugly, but this is the preseason, where scores matter little. (I won’t say they don’t matter at all, because sometimes, they do matter if, say, the third game is lopsided.) What the Cards got out of Friday night was safety for their players, especially their starters (always always always the most important thing), decent play from said starters, and a decent outing from a couple of key guys.
Those would be Brandon Williams and D.J. Humphries, and while neither were spectacular, they held up fine. Humphries didn’t fare well against Khalil Mack, but in reality, many do not anyway. He admitted he messed up against Mack, but believes it was mostly from him being overly hyped up to play. Time will tell, but he did play better as time went on (and admittedly, after Mack went out.) Humphries hasn’t answered all the questions yet. And there is probably still a need to consider bringing in a veteran backup tackle. But I still think Humphries will be OK.
At this point, same goes for Williams. He competed again against the Raiders. He thought he was going to be tested and he most certainly was. He gave up a TD. But he battled and the kid is going to learn. We still have almost a month before the Cards play for real. If Justin Bethel gets back soon, he still has a chance to take back the starting job. But Williams will play and he will get better, and even if he is the third cornerback, the Cards will be better for it.
— We barely saw the starters. I couldn’t tell you really what Chandler Jones had. Carson Palmer had a near-pick early with pressure in his face, but he led a scoring drive. The Cardinals have to get the ball in the end zone after getting a first down inside the 10, but that should come.
— David Johnson looked like he was in midseason form already. Midseason form during a really good season.
— Andre Ellington showed again why the Cards have liked him so much. Health makes a big difference.
— If the Cards can get that out of tight end Troy Niklas, he’ll be the guy they expected with a second-round pick. Again, health matters.
— Drew Stanton was high on some throws, and hopefully that was just first-game issues. I’m sure Arians was hoping to see more from Matt Barkley. I would expect Stanton and then Palmer to eat up most of the QB playing time the next two games, so we’ll see how many more opportunities Barkley gets in game situations.
— The Cards are off Saturday, and get back to practice Sunday morning. Remember, no open practice at University of Phoenix Stadium until after the Chargers game.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Brandon Williams, Carson Palmer, Chandler Jones, D.J. Humphries, David Johnson, Drew Stanton, Matt Barkley, Raiders, Troy Niklas
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The Cardinals finally have a game to play.
The preseason opener will start a week that will feature two games and a week in San Diego, plus a couple of practices against the Chargers. First though come the Raiders, which will be a typical preseason matchup — a handful of snaps for the main vets, and then a training ground for the inexperienced.
Some thoughts as we head into the first game:
— Yes, you are going to watch D.J. Humphries at right tackle, which is how it should be. But I think I’m more interested in Brandon Williams at cornerback. Humphries is important, but he at least already played four preseason games a year ago. He’s done this. Williams not only is a rookie but he’s still only about a year into playing the position. Plus, it just feels — at least to me — that his performance will end up playing a larger role in the outcome of this team than Humphries.
— That doesn’t mean Humphries isn’t one to watch (or isn’t important for the outcome of this season.) He’s already a pretty good run blocker, and he’s shown a want-to that was missing a year ago. I’m not saying Humphries is ready to be an all-pro, but I think as a replacement for Bobby Massie, he will be fine.
— Some other new (and returning) players I’ll be watching: CB Alan Ball, CB Harlan Miller, G Antoine McClain, all the ILBs not named Kevin Minter — that’s a wide-open battle — TEs Troy Niklas and Ifeanyi Momah, and WR Chris Hubert.
— Matt Barkley is going to get a lot of playing time. We’ll see if he can leave an impression.
— And as always, let’s just not have anyone get too banged up.
Tags: Alan Ball, Antoine McClain, Brandon Williams, Chargers, Chris Hubert, D.J. Humphries, Harlan Miller, Ifeanyi Momah, Matt Barkley, Raiders, Troy Niklas
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The injury bug didn’t take long to find the Cardinals in camp. Veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins, signed in part because Justin Bethel was going to miss time with a linger foot injury and who is on the PUP list, broke a bone in his hand Friday and is out indefinitely for now.
Arians also revealed that the ankle sprain of rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is of the high variety, meaning Nkemdiche will be out at least a couple of weeks.
— DT Red Bryant (Achilles soreness) and TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring tightness) also aren’t expected to practice today.
— Arians said cornerback Brandon Williams “had a hell of a day” in his first practice. “He got beat by Smoke (Brown for a TD) but he was there, just turned the wrong way and got off balance. But he broke up some good balls. Nice thing was after the touchdown he came back and competed his ass off. Some guys would go in the tank.”
— Quarterback Matt Barkley has made steady improvement, Arians said, but there are things like seeing hots and sights that aren’t good enough. “As much as he’s grown, he’s still not making the progress I’d like to see him make,” Arians said. (An aside: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cards carry two QBs on the active roster either.)
— At one point in the first practice, QB Carson Palmer got partially rolled from behind by offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Arians admitted he held his breath after that play, and a couple others. “There was a lot of ‘phew’ yesterday,” Arians said.
Tags: Brandon Williams, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Jermaine Gresham, Justin Bethel, Matt Barkley, Mike Jenkins, Red Bryant, Robert Nkemdiche
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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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Is there an urgency for the Cardinals to develop a young quarterback, given that starter Carson Palmer is 36 years old? That’s not even a question that needs to be asked at this point. It’s not like the Cards haven’t been talking and thinking about this since Steve Keim and Bruce Arians came into power, though. There was a reason they drafted Logan Thomas in 2014.
So Thomas didn’t work out, and the team traded for Matt Barkley, and at this point, Barkley too is mostly an unknown. He didn’t get any significant practice time in the Cardinals’ offense, and they haven’t seen him in a preseason game. Pinning their hopes on his development — at least, pinning them only on his development — wouldn’t be prudent. The Cardinals probably need to draft a quarterback, and as I sit here in Indianapolis for the current version of the Scouting combine, long before the Cards have had any draft meetings, I will guess they will take one at some point in April.
But it’s not a guarantee. Both Keim and Arians acknowledge the need and importance to obtain a young QB. But both left the door cracked that the Cardinals might not. Keim insists he does not want to force a pick, especially at quarterback. The Cards will scour the background of these second-tier QB hopefuls — like Michigan State’s Connor Cook (pictured below) — knowing the top guys will be gone by the time they draft, and see if one makes sense. If you don’t feel a guy has a legitimate chance to play in the league, it doesn’t make much sense to draft one.
But the search is important. Someone has to play QB when Palmer is done. You’d rather make that decision pro-actively, rather than having it made for you when the time comes.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Connor Cook, draft, Logan Thomas, Matt Barkley, Steve Keim
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On Fridays, the Cardinals quarterbacks (and cornerback Patrick Peterson) take part in a bucket competition — heaving passes at a trash can from about 15 yards away. It’s a friendly way to battle. But there are very real consequences. Here, let’s let Carson Palmer explain.
“It depends,” Palmer said. “If it’s a home game, and you lose that Friday bucket competition, it’s pregame dress out on the field for warmups. If it’s an away game, it’s an outfit you have to wear from here to the state we’re going to play in.”
Wearing it on the road trip isn’t too rough, since the number of people outside the organization that see it is limited (although there is a chance social media will have it go viral.) Home games, during early warmups, there are some fans and definitely media who will take notice — which is what happened when third-stringer Matt Barkley had to run out to midfield wearing what Palmer called “Gatorade chaps” prior to the Cincinnati game.
“You never know what the guys are going to think of,” Barkley said of the Drew Stanton creation. “We’ve gone through almost every iteration that we can that’s legal. I feel like mine was almost illegal.”
Peterson was stuck wearing a kid’s cowboy hat once, and he had to parade out at University of Phoenix Stadium before the Monday night game. But Peterson, who asks for and receives no advantage despite the fact he isn’t a quarterback, proudly points out he has won the past two weeks (click here for video), and the week the team stayed in West Virginia.
As for the outfits, “often, it’s a collaborative effort, all of us pulling something off,” Palmer said.
“It’s all fun,” Barkley said. “As long as we are winning, I think these guys will wear whatever. I think we’ll have to tone it back, not be so racy.”
Palmer hasn’t lost yet — he warned reporters not to jinx him — and Barkley said however Palmer might have to dress, it wouldn’t be Gatorade chaps.
“He couldn’t pull that off the way I did anyway,” Barkley said with a smile.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Matt Barkley, Patrick Peterson
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Matt Barkley isn’t going anywhere. The trade that brought him to the Cardinals from the Eagles said he had to be on the Cardinals’ roster for six weeks in order for the Cards to surrender their seventh-round pick and that deadline passed a couple of weeks ago. It only made sense, because the Cardinals hadn’t even had a chance to see Barkley do anything in their own system by that point. In-season, the third-string quarterback works the scout team when everyone is healthy.
Finally, that changed with the Cardinals’ lone practice of the bye week. Bruce Arians worked mostly those players who don’t get much game-time work. That included Barkley at quarterback for the first time in the Cards’ scheme.
“(It) was fun, for the first time to get some real live offensive reps as opposed to just the surface reps we’ve been doing,” Barkley said. “It’ll take some time to get that muscle memory of the footwork and where (the ball) needs to go, but a lot of these concepts are similar to what I did in college. You don’t want to think back to the terminology and what you did in former offenses, but a lot of it does have similarities that I’ve been used to. So I’ve just got to get back trained like that as opposed to being in the gun and doing zone-read all the time (like in Philadelphia).”
The only downside? Most of the vets weren’t going to relish the bye week practices.
“They all want to get out of here,” Barkley said. “They were yelling at me to get the huddle in and out. But no, it was a good day.”
Barkley remains an unknown for the Cardinals, someone whose play in the offseason work likely will determine his future more than what scraps he gets now. But with backup Drew Stanton a free agent after the season and the Cards still looking for what they might do post-Carson Palmer, it’s worth kicking the tires on Barkley.
Tags: Matt Barkley
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We’ve delved into why the Cardinals took Matt Barkley at quarterback already, but General Manager Steve Keim — during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 Tuesday morning — got into a little more detail.
“When you are looking at a quarterback … and you’re saying, ‘What are the traits you look for,’ the first thing you don’t say is arm strength, or foot speed or mobility,” Keim said. “To me, when you look at quarterbacks, the first thing you want is mental toughness, the second thing is the ability to process and learn.
“Those are the things that excited us about Matt Barkley. When he came out of college we spent a lot of time with him. We liked him coming out. We know he is a football junkie. The mental part of the game is not too fast for him. Now, we bring him in, not a lot of risk involved, and you see what he’s got physically. To me, that’s how you have to approach that position because they are so hard to find.”
Other Keim’s points:
— The roster is “always in flux.” Keim wouldn’t even say the current 53 would stay static through Sunday’s opener against the Saints. Something to watch, although I’d be surprised if there was a move at this point just given what is out there (and assuming no one gets hurt in practice.)
— The fact the Cardinals have only three cornerbacks on the roster isn’t lost on Keim. Having safety Tyrann Mathieu there is a bit reason the Cards were comfortable with the move, but Keim did point out there is a reason the team has three cornerbacks on the practice squad. Any one of them could be pulled up in a given week.
— Once Bobby Massie is reinstated from his two-game suspension, then Keim and Bruce Arians will figure out who might be released to make room on the roster. No reason to talk names now, Keim said, because no one knows what injuries may happen, if any, over the first two games. Keim was pleased with the way Earl Watford played right tackle in the final preseason game.
— That said, Keim deferred to Arians on any starting lineup announcements, including center. He also said he had nothing concrete to report on injury updates of G Mike Iupati and WR Michael Floyd. Arians already said Iupati wouldn’t be playing this week.
— Keim said it was “good to see” both RB Chris Johnson and LB Sean Weatherspoon play “extremely well” in the final preseason game. Keim reiterated the Cards were excited for both additions when they signed and the team is counting on their contributions.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chris Johnson, Earl Watford, Matt Barkley, Michael Floyd, Mike Iupati, Roster, Saints, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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