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Blogs

Toler out for season; Komar among cuts

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2011 – 10:55 am

Cornerback Greg Toler was “praying” for a light ACL sprain when he went in to have an MRI of his left knee Sunday. His prayers weren’t answered. Toler — who tore his ACL on a non-contact play Saturday against the Chargers — was placed on injured reserve Monday, ending his season. The Toler move was one of 10 the Cards made to reduce the roster to the required 80 heading into the final week of the preseason. It’s a painful one too, since Toler was starting. It’s a good thing A.J. Jefferson has been playing so well, and it puts rookie Patrick Peterson — and veteran Richard Marshall — squarely in the spotlight as the Cards’ top three corners.

As expected, rookie running back Ryan Williams was also put on injured reserve. Wide receiver Max Komar (knee) and undrafted rookie safety Tommy Irvin (foot) were waived-injured. With the Komar situation, that takes one potential out of the mix as the Cards try to find six wideouts to keep.

Six other players were released: veterans FB Charles Ali and LB Curtis Gatewood, along with undrafted rookies WR Daiveun Curry-Chapman, LB Duke Lemmens, T Eric Mensik and T Jason Speredon.


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Whiz talks about developing receivers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2011 – 4:47 pm

The subject of wide receivers came up again today with coach Ken Whisenhunt. Obviously this has been a constant topic during camp, although it’s been clear the Cards want to look at their young receivers and have faith in them. In fact, if there was any uncertainty of that, the idea that veteran Chansi Stuckey might have a hard time making this team with Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Stephen Williams and right now, Max Komar and rookie DeMarco Sampson ahead of him speaks loudly to the situation.

Whisenhunt also spoke bluntly about it too.

“We ask our receivers to do so many different roles, and just to have guys that you can believe in to do it, that’s the purpose of building a team is,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s why you draft guys, that’s why you develop guys. At some point, they have to step in and play.

“It would be kind of counterproductive if we didn’t continue to try and bring in (young) receivers and develop them. I don’t understand what people think from the outside about how you build your football team. You don’t just go and get a receiver in free agency (every time) when you lose one. At some point, you’ve got to have young players that step in and play well.”

Whisenhunt pointed out Steve Breaston as an example of a receiver who showed promise in practice and the Cards leaned on him.

“At some point you have to put guys in the game and see if they can do it,” Whisenhunt said. “I have seen Andre make plays in games, I have seen Early make plays, Stephen Williams make plays. It’s not like it’s a complete unknown entity. Isaiah Williams (pictured below scoring against Oakland) has looked good, and I think we all know about Sampson and how he has performed. Everybody wants to beat the drum about a second receiver. I think we have some young receivers that I would like to see what they can do.”


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Conditioning Deuce, and after practice

Posted by Darren Urban on August 15, 2011 – 6:06 pm

Guard Deuce Lutui didn’t practice this afternoon. He spent the time with strength and conditioning coach John Lott, conditioning. That’s what coach Ken Whisenhunt said afterward. He didn’t once mention Lutui’s weight, but said it was an effort to get Deuce into proper condition to play football. Considering Lutui’s weight situation, however, it doesn’t seem to bode well for that battle. There is little question Lutui is a very good football player. But Whisenhunt just said when Lutui showed up the Cards wouldn’t have a lot of patience when it came to Deuce getting into shape. This may be a tangible example of that.

– The other thing noticeable at practice was a couple of nice throws by third-string quarterback Rich Bartel, passes out to the sideline that just cleared the linebacker but got to the receiver in front of the defensive back. Those are small windows. The race to make the team behind Kevin Kolb will be interesting this preseason.

– Linebacker Joey Porter looked pretty good pressuring the passer a few times, and showed up against Oakland too. He has to up his game after last season, and there have been signs of that.

– Both receiver Max Komar (groin) and tight end Todd Heap (thumb) were back doing some work.

– Don’t forget for anyone coming up Tuesday, there is a walk-through in the morning and then the full practice isn’t until 7 p.m. at Coconino High School — not NAU.


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The attitude works for Whiz

Posted by Darren Urban on August 15, 2011 – 12:21 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked about how intense the practice was yesterday afternoon. Earlier, during our newest podcast Ron Wolfley was talking about how he was impressed because normally the first practice back after a couple of days off can be sluggish or lethargic. Sunday was certainly anything but that. “The challenge is to maintain that intensity.” Quarterback Kevin Kolb echoed that, talking about how crisp the work was but that the Cards “have to keep pressing.”

Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett did note the difference between last year and this year. “We don’t complain about nothing,” Dockett said. “We run every day. First time ever we ran after the conditioning test. We had the conditioning test and then went to practice and still did conditioning. No one complained one time. We were like ‘Alright coach, whatever you want us to do’ That’s what it’s about. I feel like last year we worked hard to get to a certain level but I felt a lot of guys didn’t buy into the program and do everything that was (needed). Now we have the right attitude to go and work.”

Whisenhunt didn’t want to get into comparing any difference, however. “Let’s not color our judgment for last year based on a 5-11 season,” he said. “That’s the easy thing to do. Our guys worked hard last year in camp. We had some things not go the way we wanted to in season, but I’m not going to get into how we felt last year in camp compared to how we feel this year. When we get to the season, if we win football games, that’s the only thing that matters.”

– Whiz said WR Max Komar (groin) should be back at practice today. Tight end Todd Heap (thumb) is sore and won’t be rushed back. The rehab for CB Michael Adams (knee surgery) and S Adrian Wilson (biceps) is going well, but Whiz wasn’t putting any timetable on a return.


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No Komar for Raiders

Posted by Darren Urban on August 11, 2011 – 6:46 pm

The Cardinals will be basically healthy for the game tonight. Three players will be out, including WR Max Komar, who tweaked his groin and will sit. Also out, of course, are safety Adrian Wilson (biceps) and cornerback Michael Adams (knee). I expect QB Kevin Kolb to go 15 or 20 plays, and No. 2 QB John Skelton will get to play some with the first-string offensive line.

As usual, you can follow me tweeting live updates at Twitter.com/cardschatter. Bigger news will find its way to the blog, and we will have stories and video up after the game.


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Washington wants to look the part

Posted by Darren Urban on August 6, 2011 – 7:28 am

It was out of necessity, but inside linebacker Daryl Washington started as a rookie last season right away, pairing with Paris Lenon (pictured below, with No. 58 Washington) when Gerald Hayes couldn’t start the season. And by the end of the year, when Hayes fell out of favor, Washington and Lenon again were the starters.

Washington has speed. That you cannot miss. In one play earlier in camp during an 11-on-11 drill, there was a sweep to the right side. Washington, coming from the backside, was amazingly in the backfield in a flash in what would have been a tackle for loss. Drafted to ostensibly be the replacement for the departed Karlos Dansby, Washington’s physical gifts were evident.

But he certainly isn’t as big as Dansby was. That’s one of the reasons Washington felt — even though the offseason was spent away from the team facilities because of the lockout — he needed to bulk up at least a little. It’s noticeable too in the upper body, even though his playing weight has only gone from about 227 pounds last year to 230 this season.

“I put on some muscle,” Washington said. “That was the expectation for myself, actually looking like a linebacker and not just playing the linebacker position.”

(As a side note, one of the bigger concerns from the lockout was how the second-year guys — the ones who went through an offseason as rookies in 2010 — would handle themselves on their own. Most came back not only in shape, but physically built up from last year. Washington, Max Komar, Stephen Williams, Andre Roberts, O’Brien Schofield.)

For now, Washington and Lenon are running with the first unit, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see free-agent signee Stewart Bradley find his way into the strongside ILB spot (formally Hayes’ spot) and allow Lenon to become a rotational player backing up both Bradley and Washington. Washington just needs to make a normal progression from his rookie season, and changing his body was part of that. Last year, Washington said he was “too lean” and needed to gain strength. So that’s what he did.

“People have been noticing,” Washington said, “so that’s a good thing.”


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Not the fourth time, but the first

Posted by Darren Urban on August 5, 2011 – 12:23 pm

Here is the reality of camp: The Cardinals walked through their two-minute offense at the end of the morning workout, because they are going to work on the two-minute offense this afternoon at practice and coach Ken Whisenhunt realized they had yet to go over it on the field. Whiz wanted to make sure they went through the concept before trying it at full speed. In a normal year, with a normal offseason, this would be the fourth time the offense would have been going over the two-minute offense.

– Whisenhunt said there is an “ebb and flow” to practice right now, between the good and bad. It’s to be expected, and it’ll make that first preseason game in Oakland next week interesting to say the least.

– Asked about the No. 2 receiver job, Whisenhunt not only praised Andre Roberts but also mentioned holdovers like Early Doucet, Chansi Stuckey, Stephen Williams and Max Komar as players that continue to show signs of progress.

– RT Brandon Keith said he is still getting comfortable with football moves after his surgery last season to repair a bad knee and a torn hamstring. He was back training at his old high school and his college, Northern Iowa, in the offseason. “I’m 90, 95 percent right now,” Keith said, and feels confident about his ability to take another step forward this season. He knows he has yet to prove himself, but he felt he was playing much better when he got hurt in mid-November.

– Kent Somers reports the Cards don’t have interest in FA DE/LB Matt Roth. And heads up, WR Malcom Floyd went back to San Diego.

– For those asking, here is a picture of Fitz’s one-handed TD grab past Patrick Peterson, courtesy of fan Alex Lowry.


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Waiting on CBA, and other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on August 3, 2011 – 12:44 pm

Everyone has been waiting for Thursday, because practice  begins for all the players who just signed contracts.

Probably.

The Thursday deadline was based on the idea the new collective bargaining agreement would be ratified. It has not been yet.

“Everybody wants to get out there and everyone is chomping at the bit,” said kicker Jay Feely, the Cardinals’ union representative. “No one wants to sit on the sidelines. But they can’t get out there until it is done. We’ve been shooting for tomorrow all along and as of (Tuesday) I was still being told it would be tomorrow hopefully. But we don’t have anything definitive yet.”

There were issues left that couldn’t be bargained until the union recertified, like drug policies, benefits and player conduct policies. That is what is still being dealt with. One thing is for certain — no one wants to wait.

– Rookie CB Patrick Peterson is changing his jersey number to 21, with safety Hamza Abdullah switching from 21 to 23. A couple other holdovers are also switching, with WR Max Komar going from 18 to 10 and Stephen Williams from 14 to 18.

– Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn’t questions the toughness of RB Beanie Wells. But when it came to dealing with the knee injury last season and the aftereffects, “quite frankly, he didn’t handle it as well as he could have.”

– I know a lot of people keep asking about the backup nose tackle behind Dan Williams. Having looked at new defensive lineman Nick Eason, he definitely could fill in at the spot if needed. He’s a wide-body. And again, rookie David Carter is taking snaps there.


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Undrafted limbo

Posted by Darren Urban on April 24, 2011 – 5:00 pm

The draft comes in a matter of days — 5 p.m. Thursday night in Arizona — and every year, hundreds of draft hopefuls wait to get a phone call. This year, because of the current lockout and the uncertainty of when it will be resolved, there might be a little more stress come Saturday in those last couple of rounds.

Everything during the draft will be normal, generally. Players will be picked, players will  be interviewed. Assuming a player is still game, a first-rounder will still do some sort of press conference. Once Mr. Irrelevant is selected, however, and the draft ends, all the players drafted fall into the same spot as all the current NFL players, and contact with teams ends until a new labor agreement is reached. That has, of course, included new contracts (which is why free agency hasn’t begun). That means no rookies can sign a contract either. That doesn’t mean much for draftees — I mean, they already know what teams they will play for.

The post-draft stampede for undrafted rookies, however, won’t be happening. At least for now.

Last year, the Cards ended up keeping a bunch of their undrafted signees. Think of all the guys who made the team in one way or another last season who were undrafted: receivers Stephen Williams and Max Komar, cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson and Marshay Green and quarterback Max Hall. All left big enough marks in the offseason work to gain a foothold for training camp. Will such guys get that chance this offseason? They won’t even know what team they are playing for for the time being.

“Once the draft is over, that’s when it becomes very strange,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “Not signing guys, not being able to coach these guys, having them in for OTAs, getting them accustomed to the playbook, that will hurt all these rookies and all these teams counting on these rookies contributing. The undrafted free agents, not even being  able to sign those guys until it is over … it hurts the percentages of those players coming in and making an impact.”

Again, we don’t know what the summer will hold, or when things are resolved. If a labor agreement is reached soon enough, things might not end up that different, other than adjusting what month things happen. In the meantime, this year’s Stephen Williams, whomever it may be, will have to wait and see. That can’t be easy.


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March madness

Posted by Darren Urban on March 11, 2011 – 9:30 am

A couple of days ago, I saw wide receiver Max Komar down in the weight room. “Just trying to get in a workout while I can,” Komar said.

We’ll see where the NFL labor talks take us today (today’s expiration of the CBA, negotiated last week as an extension, is 5 p.m. EST, or 3 p.m. Arizona time still 9:59 p.m. Az time, but 3 p.m. Az time is expected to be important when it comes to the union possibly decertifying). We’ll see if Komar will be around next week, or offensive linemen Levi Brown and Lyle Sendlein, who were working out together a couple of times this week too. But what makes someone stir crazy — like me — is the inability to talk about what we’re normally talking about right now. Free agent speculation (and, obviously, trades would be a bigger part of it too) that fuel March. Who is visiting? Who might sign? What are the pros and cons? These are the things that fill up a blog this month and, in a lot of ways, is what makes the offseason fun.

That’s all in a holding pattern, regardless of what happens in a few hours.


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