Bruce Arians was blunt. He isn’t concerned about getting the ball to any particular receiver, nor is he concerned that any receiver would be looking for that out of Arians’ offense.
To be clear, no wideout has made a peep about receptions or targets. Arians said that, and so did quarterback Carson Palmer, who added that if the Cardinals were throwing a bunch of incompletions, it could be an issue. But that’s not the case.
“As long as that ball’s in somebody’s hands and the chains are moving, our guys are happy and they’re blocking for each other and being used as a decoy for each other to get each other open,” Palmer said. “They’ve been very unselfish.”
The Cardinals’ leading receiver in terms of catches after six games is not Larry Fitzgerald or Michael Floyd. It’s running back Andre Ellington, who now has 25 receptions. Fitzgerald is next with 23, Floyd with 19. Floyd has been the one with big plays — he has 353 yards — but Fitzgerald has just 283 yards and no one is on pace to get 1,000 yards at this point. Fitzgerald in particular is far behind the totals to which he once was accustomed.
(Fitz, by the way, has never complained once publicly. I can’t believe he doesn’t want the ball more, but he knows the Cardinals are winning.)
But Palmer has been all about spreading the ball around. He threw completions to nine different players in Oakland. Both Arians and Palmer acknowledged that on Sunday’s TD pass to Floyd, Palmer could have hit John Brown or Fitz (although Fitz would have been well short of the first down.) Instead, Palmer decided to take the deep shot. On another play, Palmer had Fitz open in the end zone, but a low shotgun snap threw off the timing and Palmer instead dumped it over the blitz to running back Stepfan Taylor for the score.
Palmer, as he’s said many times, reiterated he wants to get the ball to Fitzgerald more often and knows Fitz needs his touches. But he doesn’t want to force it and he definitely doesn’t want to pass up another open receiver to do so.
“In this system, you’ve got running backs who can catch it and go the distance, you have receivers that can do that, tight ends that can do that, so there are a lot of guys you have to cover,” Palmer said.
Arians said the passing game is all very simple: “You have to check your ego at the door. It’s about eliminating interceptions and taking what defenses give you. When you have the number of tools we have, we put five guys out there who are more than capable of breaking a game open, don’t force feed anybody.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Caption contest, Michael Floyd, NFL
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Tony Jefferson had himself a game Sunday. The safety lead the Cardinals with 10 tackles, he had the huge second-down sack of Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers’ last true chance to score and, of course, he absorbed the headbutt that changed the game.
Former Cardinal Anquan Boldin, who has been known to let his emotions get away from him on the field, got angry at Jefferson after catching a pass for a first down on the Cardinals’ 6-yard line with the Cards nursing a 20-14 lead. Boldin headbutted Jefferson, and the 15 yards eventually derailed the drive into a field goal attempt that was blocked by Cardinals’ defensive end Tommy Kelly. The 49ers never did score again.
“People give him (Boldin) so much respect out on the field, and I respect him as a player, but anybody who is going to jaw at me, I’m going to jaw back,” Jefferson said. “I’m all about the action. I’ll jaw. But I won’t retaliate like he did.”
But the play was more than that for the Cardinals. Boldin ranted after the game Jefferson had been delivering cheap blows and he was simply fed up. After the game, however, the Cardinals were talking about finally standing up to bully in the 49ers that had knocked them around in recent years.
“I think they are kind of used to us backing down once the game gets started,” Jefferson said. “But we were in their face. We were going after it. We let them know, this is a different team.”
It seems like a different team. It’s definitely an undefeated team, and one that has earned that distinction.
– It was a big deal winning Sunday, not the least of which was with Drew Stanton behind center. Bruce Arians kept saying Stanton could get the job done, but he (rightfully) said Stanton had to show everyone else. He has. Stanton managed the game in New York. He won the game against the 49ers. B.A. clearly didn’t pull back the reins.
Stanton had a great press conference. He was happy, as he should be, and knows how to be funny. Someone asked him why he clicks with Arians. Stanton said he wasn’t sure. “To be honest with you, in Indianapolis, I didn’t even know if he liked me,” Stanton said.
I don’t think Drew needs to worry about that anymore.
- -That said, please don’t ask about a quarterback controversy. There isn’t one. When Palmer is ready, he’ll be back in there.
– As good as John “Smokey” Brown –and that’s what the Cards call him, Smoke or Smokey – was on his TD catches, the pass interference he drew on the game-clinching field goal drive was just as big a play. Without that, the Cardinals are punting with more than three minutes left.
“Once I got past five yards, (I knew) if he got hands on me, it was an automatic pass interference,” Brown said. “Drew made a great throw and (cornerback Chris Cook) did what I wanted him to do.”
– Brown said the gameplan all week was to feature him, thinking the 49ers would focus on Fitz and Floyd. Brown was asked, was that because the 49ers don’t really know who you are? Brown smiled. “No one knows me.”
– Stanton became the first Cardinals’ QB to not throw an interception and not be sacked since 2010. So once again, Stanton has a link back to 2010.
– You can’t go sackless, especially with as many deep throws as the Cardinals tried, without very good pass protection. Yes, the Niners are without guys like Aldon Smith and NaVorro Bowman, but this upgraded line is doing very well (including that parting of the Red Sea to spring Andre Ellington for that last 20-yard gain.)
– The Palmer/Stanton quarterbacked-Cards have yet to throw an interception this season.
– Amazing. On Tommy Kelly’s blocked field goal for the Cards, the Cardinals only had nine men on the field.
– It was with a lot less in-game attention as the Cardinals rallied, but Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get his first catch Sunday until the fourth quarter again. Then it looked like he’d be the key factor in the game-clinching drive – and then he fumbled the ball at the San Francisco 5. It was shades of last year’s lost fumble in San Francisco that short-circuited a possible go-ahead drive. This time, the Cardinals weathered the turnover. I’m not sure Fitz talked to anyone after – I know I didn’t get a chance to see him – but I’m sure he breathed a sigh of relief the turnover turned out not to matter.
– Michael Floyd, two long (39 and 45 yards) catches among his 5-for-114 day. That’s two 100-yard games in three weeks.
– Is there a better defensive coordinator in the league at making halftime adjustments than Todd Bowles?
– I’m not sure how the defense went from being unsure how to handle Colin Kaepernick to shutting him down. This defense just keeps making it work. Losing Antonio Cromartie with a knee injury could have been a blow, but Bowles was already going to use Justin Bethel in this game. That’s foresight. I thought Patrick Peterson played pretty well too. The Cards started getting to Kaepernick with pressure, but the coverage was a big part of that.
So the Cards head into the bye. A short week of practice, needed time off and a 3-0 record. Can’t complain.
Tags: 49ers, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Cromartie, Drew Stanton, John Brown, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Todd Bowles, Tommy Kelly, Tony Jefferson
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The Cardinals moved up practice this week, starting at 10 a.m. on the field. That way, the players are “used” to playing football at 10 a.m., which is kickoff time for Sunday in New York against the Giants. Anything to be as prepared as possible for the earliest start time of the seasom.
“You do everything you can,” coach Bruce Arians said.
Larry Fitzgerald shrugged off the early-start-is-tough-on-the-Cardinals storyline this week – “That’s in the past, he said – and sometimes, there’s only so much you can do anyway. The Cardinals stayed in Florida all week last year after their road game in New Orleans to be properly adjusted for the game in Tampa Bay, and then they were terrible in the first half.
What the Cardinals didn’t have at that point last year was the confidence this group has these days. That makes a difference.
– There are plenty of injury questions for the Cardinals heading into the game, from Carson Palmer’s shoulder (he should be playing) to Andre Ellington’s foot (he thinks he’ll be playing) but maybe the most interesting thing at this point on the injury report is the fact Tyrann Mathieu is listed as probable. If he wasn’t likely to play, there’s no reason to not list him as questionable again. Food for thought as we wait the couple of days to see who is on the inactive list.
– The Giants’ passing game, under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, has been a mess. Eli Manning is trying to learn a new system after years under Kevin Gilbride, his weapons are questionable and his offensive line struggles. It’s a situation upon which the Cardinals can capitalize, especially if they continue to defend the run as well as they do.
That said, the Giants are already frustrated. Bruce Arians told the New York media this week it takes a half-season for a veteran QB to get comfortable in a new offense – paging 2013 Carson Palmer – but that’s not exactly the timeframe Giants coach Tom Coughlin was hoping for.
“I’m not patient,” Coughlin said. “I’m not one of those. I don’t have a real good handle on that maybe because we haven’t done that around here and I haven’t done that for a long time. I have to bite my tongue sometimes and kind of step back and realize it’s a process.”
– I want to see Chandler Catanzaro kick outside in a place that can have interesting weather. The Cat Man is off to a great start.
– The Giants got some pass rush on Matthew Stafford Monday. Their secondary seemed a little out of sorts (covering Calvin Johnson can do that). But I think the Cards’ offensive line held up well enough in the opener. That must continue.
– Don’t remember a game in which both starting punters might be sidelined with injuries, but Dave Zastudil is questionable with his bad groin and the Giants’ Steve Weatherford is questionable after hurting his ankle. The difference is the Cardinals already have a backup punter on the roster with Drew Butler. The Giants haven’t made such a move yet.
– There is always emotion at play during an NFL game. At the end of the Cardinals’ win – when running back Jonathan Dwyer was about to get a third straight handoff on third-and-5 trying to seal the win – offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said “a couple of choice words for him to keep the ball inside.”
“As big as he is, you saw the last run, he kept it inside and ran full speed, that’s what we’ve got to do,” Goodwin said.
Dwyer slammed up into the line for seven yards and a game-clinching first down.
“He was yelling, he said something, and it kinda pissed me off,” Dwyer said. “But I knew what he was talking about. I wanted to get the first down for my team. That’s what they brought me in to do.”
– If you missed this week’s Cardinals Underground podcast – and it was easy to miss – here’s a link.
– Lost in the will-Fitzgerald-get-more-targets stories of the week was the fantastic start to the season of Michael Floyd. Five catches, 119 yards, proof he’s a dangerous deep threat and the continuing uptick of his growth. He doesn’t get the spotlight, although that’s just how he likes it. That’ll change if he keeps playing this way.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Dave Zastudil, Drew Butler, Eli Manning, Giants, Jonathan Dwyer, Michael Floyd, Tom Coughlin, Tyrann Mathieu
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GM Steve Keim said on his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports’ “Doug and Wolf” show that the Cardinals expect linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral) and guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) to return to practice today. That is good news, although it should probably come with a caveat: Because the Cards just played last night, I am guessing practice will be very light today. But it’s a start. Bruce Arians had said this is a big week for both if they have any hope of playing in the opener. We’ll see how it plays out.
– Keim confirmed what I thought I had seen, that wide receiver Michael Floyd did hesitate in his route on the play where Carson Palmer overthrew him despite no defender in the area. “Michael slowed down in his ‘go’ route and the fact is if he would have kept running Carson would have hit him in stride for a touchdown. I expect that to be cleaned up.” Keim said he checked with Bruce Arians to see if Floyd was actually running a double move, but that Arians told him it was a straight fly pattern.
Overall, “it just didn’t seem like our quarterback and our receivers were in sync last night,” Keim said.
– He said after watching video, he was even more impressed with the offensive line play, especially the protection.
– Keim said a big concern of his coming into camp was right tackle but said that no longer is an issue. “Bobby Massie played very well last night,” he said.
– He said he thought DT Dan Williams had his best game of the preseason. In light of Darnell Dockett’s absence, that’s a good thing.
– Keim was very high on the play of rookie safety Deone Bucannon, and said he hopes Bucannon gets more playing time.
– Asked if the Cardinals were going to take one kicker or two kickers to San Diego, Keim said they would make that decision “later today.” UPDATE: The Cardinals cut Jay Feely.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Deone Bucannon, Jay Feely, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Michael Floyd, Steve Keim
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No reason to overanalyze here tonight, not with Bruce Arians talking to the media again just 14 hours from now and a short week ahead. This is going to go quickly, from the 13 cuts that are coming in the next day or so (officially, they must be done by Tuesday at 1 p.m. Arizona time) to the “practices” the Cardinals will try and hold Monday and Tuesday even though everyone is beat up from Sunday night’s game and more football is on the horizon Thursday.
The big concern/talking point again was Carson Palmer. He deserved praise the first two games. He was not nearly as good against the Bengals, and even he would admit that. But watching the game, while Palmer wasn’t good enough for this team to keep up in the NFC West I did not think he was terrible. Arians backed that up afterward. “Carson is going to take the blame and the heat for his quarterback rating but there are two drops that are wide open,” Arians said. “I don’t put a lot of stock in that one.”
Arians said Palmer made the right read on his interception and that it was the receiver (who was Larry Fitzgerald) who made the mistake but not cutting across the face of the defender. Fitz owned up to it as well. Truth be told, it looked like there were so many defenders in the area maybe the throw was ill-advised, but it’s got zero chance if the receiver isn’t where the QB thinks he’ll be. Palmer can’t miss a wide-open Michael Floyd either — and when we say wide open, it is literal. The Bengals just forgot to cover him deep. That said, I saw a replay where Floyd stopped near his defender and then started running again, and if Floyd runs full out the whole time, maybe the ball is in the right place for the TD.
Doesn’t really matter. No one will remember this in a few days. The Cardinals will fix some things. It wasn’t a terrible game. It wasn’t what they wanted, but it wasn’t unforgivable.
– The run defense was impressive. Arians did say he is worried about the pass rush when it’s only four players, and that’s been an issue for a long time. LB John Abraham played for the first time and Arians said he actually played more than expected. Abraham also drew a holding penalty. But it can’t be all about Abraham when the Cards are trying to get non-blitz pass rush.
– It certainly looks like rookie John Brown is this team’s third wide receiver. And if a fourth is needed, it looks like Jaron Brown will get the call more often than Ted Ginn. There will be plays for Ginn in three-receiver sets I am sure, but right now, if I had to put together a depth chart, I’d peg Ginn as behind the Brown boys. Ginn is the return man and the “get deep” threat.
– Other notable spots on the live depth chart watching the game. UDFA Glenn Carson was with Desmond Bishop as second-unit ILBs, with Larry Foote and Kenny Demens starting. Kevin Minter is still out; Carson could be a practice squad candidate. Jonathan Dwyer is pretty clearly the No. 2 running back. Bradley Sowell was the second-unit right tackle, and Max Starks worked third team. Arians said Sowell had been doing better the last couple of weeks. It’ll be interesting to see if Starks or Sowell are kept, because the swing tackle backup job is between those two.
– No injuries Sunday night? That’s the best news of all.
– The offensive line played well. In protection and the run game. That’s an excellent development.
That’s good for now. I’ll make a stab at guessing the 53-man roster in the next couple of days. Time to go home. Back to work in a few hours.
Tags: Bengals, Bradley Sowell, Carson Palmer, Glenn Carson, Jaron Brown, John Abraham, John Brown, Jonathan Dwyer, Kenny Demens, Larry Fitzgerald, Larry Foote, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn
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The question was about how well Ted Larsen was playing on the offensive line, and Bruce Arians used it as a jumping-off point to mention that Larsen, when Lyle Sendlein came back this week, would have a “good chance” to be the starting left guard. That, of course, raised eyebrows given that Jonathan Cooper plays left guard. So someone asked, “What about Cooper?”
“He’s in the training room,” Arians replied. “He can’t do anything.”
Later, Arians was talking about Jaron Brown when he mentioned “he’s playing better than some of our starters. There are some guys who need to get out of the training room.”
And just like that, shots across the bow. It’s that time of camp when nerves are frayed and games that count are what everyone is looking forward to seeing. But now the head coach has clearly noticed guys who aren’t able to practice, and if you aren’t practicing, it’s hard not to notice. Some context here: For instance, the two receivers that have been sidelined are Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn and both guys are going to be on this roster. Ginn actually played in Saturday’s game. He’s your return man at the very least, and Floyd is Floyd. But there is little question Arians wants his guys back on the field (and if you remember, Arians has pushed Floyd to get back to practice before.)
In Coop’s case, this could be a goose to get him back, or maybe Larsen is doing well enough to usurp his spot. There is no question the Cardinals want the Cooper who was explosive and athletic in training camp last year, before he broke his leg. He is the long-term vision. But he’s got to show he deserves to be out there, and he can’t do that until he’s out there in the first place. He remains sidelined with his turf toe injury.
“Unfortunately you can’t make the team in the training room,” Floyd said, and making the team isn’t necessarily the problem for some.
Floyd is supposed to practice Wednesday, Arians said. Said Floyd with a smile, “What he says goes.”
– Arians said the starters will play no more than a half against Cincinnati Sunday night. Drew Stanton will play behind Carson Palmer and “we’ll see” if other quarterbacks are used.
– The hope is that LB John Abraham will practice at least some this week. Arians was pleased with the jump-in-with-no-practice performance for new ILB Desmond Bishop, who played 15 plays. “Not as much rust as I thought.” You listen to Arians and Steve Keim and you think Bishop has a good chance to make this team.
Tags: Bengals, Bruce Arians, Desmond Bishop, John Abraham, Jonathan Cooper, Michael Floyd
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When your head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators and many of the main players are the same as last season, and after the team has a whole looked pretty good in the preseason opener, the thought process for the preseason sometimes with be adjusted. That sounds like it might be true for coach Bruce Arians, who said today that he might “buck the trend” and not play starters as much as he might normally in the preseason. It’s obviously on his mind. He mentioned running back Andre Ellington in particular, who should play a little more Saturday in Minnesota but “Andre is not going to see a whole lot of action this preseason.” Arians wants to keep Ellington healthy. (I know. Stunner.)
– Speaking of healthy, the Cardinals didn’t suffer any major injuries in the preseason opener. A handful of guys will miss practice today and Arians said they are all day-to-day: G Jonathan Cooper (toe), T Max Starks (ankle), G Anthony Steen (neck), T Nate Potter (back) and LB Kevin Minter (pectoral). Arians said C Lyle Sendlein (calf) will miss the Vikings game and it’s possible WRs Ted Ginn (knee) and Michael Floyd (groin) will too, but all three are expected back next week at the latest.
– Arians on his running game, which had Ellington with only two carries and a total of three kneeldown plays: “I am not concerned. We ran the ball effectively even with some mental errors from some young guys.” The Cardinals had a total of 81 yards rushing on 37 official attempts.
– The fight for positions in the backfield, tight end, wide receiver, defensive line and secondary are all intense, Arians said. “You better not have a bad day,” he said. “One bad day could cost you your job.”
– As for the idea the Cardinals could keep six receivers, Arians said the roster makeup isn’t locked into certain numbers. “We won’t cut a player at one position to keep someone just for depth,” he said. “If he is a better player, we want the best players on the team. There are some great battles from 45 to 53. Knock on wood, hopefully injuries won’t deplete us.”
– No sign yet of linebacker John Abraham. Asked if he still expected Abraham to arrive this week, Arians said “we’re hoping.” As for what the Cardinals can expect from Abraham when he does get here, Arians said he isn’t worried. “He was in great shape when he showed up (last year) and I’d think he’d come back in just as good of shape,” Arians said. “Knocking that rust off and getting up to playing speed in a lot of the new stuff on defense (that) he hasn’t been exposed to. There will be a learning curve but he will hopefully have more than 20 days to be ready.”
Tags: Anthony Steen, Bruce Arians, John Abraham, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Lyle Sendlein, Max Starks, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, Ted Ginn, training camp
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Earlier in the week, Bruce Arians said he expected all but center Lyle Sendlein (and the PUP guys) to be available tonight against the Texans in the preseason opener. Turns out it wasn’t quite the case. Wide receivers Michael Floyd (groin) and Ted Ginn (knee) ended up scratches for the game for what I can only expect are minor issues. Sendlein’s bad calf will keep him out, and obviously LB John Abraham (still awaiting to have him show at camp) and PUPers Tyrann Mathieu and Alameda Ta’amu are out.
I don’t think Larry Fitzgerald will play a ton either. I do expect to see a lot of John Brown, Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden.
The Texans did not announce the players they are not expecting to dress tonight.
Tags: inactives, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, Texans
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The Cardinals got a day off today from practice before doing two more workouts Friday and Saturday, which is the Fan Fest workout. After slamming into each other for three straight days, it’s good to get a reprieve. And to think, with practice just across town at University of Phoenix Stadium, it’s easy to pop home for the day. I know I appreciate it.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “Get your mind away from football for a day. Guys who have family can spend time with their young ones, like myself. Just rest our bodies and come back to work the next day.”
– Speaking of Fan Fest, click here for all the details of the practice.
– What stood out through the first five days of practice? WR John Brown, obviously. Confidence in CB Justin Bethel’s progress. Thinking that TE John Carlson, if he can stay off the injury report, could have a very nice year catching the ball. Kareem Martin is going to have a key role on the defensive line, I think. Michael Floyd is destined to improve on his season a year ago.
– I’m off to Canton tomorrow to cover the induction of cornerback Aeneas Williams into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. I’ll still have stuff on the blog from both Canton and training camp, and my cohort Kyle Odegard will be the boots on the ground at University of Phoenix Stadium. He did a nice piece on Bobby Massie today. Speaking of Aeneas, I hope you’ve been checking out all the content on the special Aeneas Williams page (azcardinals.com/aeneas). I’ll have a big story on Williams posted tomorrow first thing.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame, John Brown, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer, Justin Bethel, Kareem Martin, Michael Floyd, training camp
Posted in Blog | 7 Comments »