Brandon Carr went to the Ravens Thursday and Morris Claiborne to the Jets and the free-agent cornerback pool got a little smaller. But at this point, I’m not sure it makes a big difference to the Cardinals. Yes, with the defection of Marcus Cooper to the Bears, the Cardinals are going to have to find a new starter opposite Patrick Peterson. But it looks like that will be a slowly developing situation rather than an immediate fix.
There remain in-house candidates like Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams. Bethel did just take a paycut as he tries to rehab his cornerback stock (he did play well at the nickel late in the season and Bruce Arians noted that Bethel’s best spot was probably in the slot), while Williams struggled a lot as the raw, young cornerback that he is and he is far from a sure thing as a starter in this league.
But in a draft deep in cornerback talent, choosing one in the early rounds looks like the initial play. There are a few “name” cornerbacks still out there in free agency — Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, and yes, Darrelle Revis, for example — but there is a reason they are still on the market. (No, I don’t see any chance Revis would be a pickup, regardless.)
This seems headed for the same place it was last season, where Bethel and now Williams and a draft pick will get a chance to show what they have, and a veteran will be picked up at some point to be in the mix. Remember, the Cardinals added Mike Jenkins and Alan Ball in camp last year before injuries took them out (Jenkins was your starter before he hurt his knee) and the team traded for Cooper.
Tags: Alan Ball, Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Williams, Darrelle Revis, draft, free agency, Justin Bethel, Marcus Cooper, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson
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The first round of cuts are coming soon, but a few quick tidbits from Bruce Arians’ press conference today:
— CB Mike Jenkins tore his right ACL. He will go on injured reserve and is out for the season.
— WR Smokey Brown has had two days of being headache-free. That’s a step in the right direction, but it was without exercise. We’ll see how quickly he can return to full practice.
— Rookie Kam Canaday has won the long-snapper job over Danny Dillon, Arians said.
— RB Stepfan Taylor is out a week-to-10 days with a knee bruise.
— QB Jake Coker may need arthroscopic surgery on his knee, Arians said. The plan is for Matt Barkley to play the entire fourth preseason game if that happens. The Broncos have said the plan is for their No. 1 draft pick, Paxton Lynch, to play the entire game at quarterback against the Cardinals.
— Arians said he expects safety Tyrann Mathieu to be ready to go Sept. 11 against the Patriots, although he likely won’t play against the Broncos.
Tags: Jake Coker, John Brown, Kam Canaday, Mike Jenkins
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The preseason is over, essentially. The fourth preseason game is Thursday, but the main players will likely sit it out. So the Cardinals will go into the Patriots opener (assuming nothing happens bad in a practice) fairly healthy, with their quarterback ready. Did they accomplish everything they wanted in three preseason games? No. But I’m guessing, had Carson Palmer not thrown that last interception and the offense would have kept moving the ball as they were on that drive and they got at least a field goal, that would’ve been that.
Instead, there is concern with the fan base — as there has been — and little inside the team — as it has been.
Judgment is coming. Once the games count for real, we’ll see exactly how ready the Cardinals are. In the meantime:
— Nothing official on cornerback Mike Jenkins and his injury, but he was in a giant brace in the locker room and his mood hadn’t improved from when he was taken off the field. He had a chance to be a factor in the secondary configuration but that seems unlikely now. Bruce Arians said Justin Bethel was just rusty in his preseason debut but Bethel doesn’t have a lot of time to get up to speed either. Assuming Jenkins is down, the question is, will there be a cornerback the Cardinals want and can find after final cuts?
— The running backs all looked good. Every single one of them.
— Brittan Golden was down with his bad hamstring but he played well Sunday. The end of the wide receiver depth chart will be interesting. Golden probably would have an edge on Chris Hubert because of special teams. But will the Cards keep more than five receivers?
— D.J. Humphries seemed like he had his best overall game of the preseason. At least to someone who was watching out of the corner of his eye.
— The new thing to do is to complain about backup quarterback Drew Stanton, apparently. Not sure why. I thought he played better Sunday, and regardless, he’s not going anywhere.
— Bruce Arians insists that most of the tipped ball interceptions were more fluky than anything, and that Palmer is making the right reads.
— Chandler Jones got his first sack as a Cardinal, at least in the preseason. Stopped a potential TD drive when the Cards had been getting little pressure before that.
That’s all from Houston. Arians will speak to the media before practice tomorrow, and at some point, we’ll hear about the first cuts. The preseason is almost over. Thankfully.
Tags: Brandon Williams, Brittan Golden, Chandler Jones, D.J. Humphries, Drew Stanton, Justin Bethel, Mike Jenkins, Texans
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The No. 2 cornerback for the Cardinals remains a work in progress.
Justin Bethel came off the PUP list this week but still isn’t ready to practice. Mike Jenkins finally returned to practice this week, although the surgery for a broken bone in his hand means he has to wear a cast. Meanwhile, rookie Brandon Williams remains the starter and still figures to be the best bet to be starting Sept. 11 even with his growing pains.
That’s why Williams should’ve benefited big from a couple of practices against the Chargers, to work against different receivers than just the Cardinals and to see different looks. Williams got a healthy dose of Amari Cooper last week and now Keenan Allen — who has been a tough cover in practice — was this week.
“(Brandon) is a guy who were are going to lean on in the season so we want to see how he was living, how he was going to respond when the ball is coming his way,” all-pro cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “Not to toot my own horn, but after the year I had last year, if there is a rookie defensive back, nine times out of 10 they’re going to pick on the young pup. So (cornerbacks) coach (Kevin) Ross wanted to throw him into the fire and to see how he would respond.”
Peterson is right, of course. Whomever is playing across from Peterson will be targeted often. Look at what happened to Bethel late last season. That’s not going to change in 2016, whether it is Williams or Bethel or someone else.
“I can only imagine how tough it is getting 13, 14 targets a game,” Peterson said. “That’s tough for anyone. biggest thing is keeping the confidence up and relying on the technique. You are prepared for the moment, it’s just about taking what you learned on the practice field to the game. That’s the biggest thing for young cornerbacks.”
Tags: Amari Cooper, Brandon Williams, Chargers, Justin Bethel, Keenan Allen, Kevin Ross, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, training camp
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Turns out wide receiver John Brown banged his head in his collision with cornerback Patrick Peterson during practice Sunday, which is why Brown left. Brown will now be out as he goes through concussion protocol. We’ll see how long it takes to have him get back on the field. Guard Evan Mathis also left practice early Sunday, and Arians said it was leg fatigue where he had ankle surgery in the offseason and not a big deal.
Still, Mathis will get a veterans’ day off Monday, as will running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Drew Stanton. Arians had already said he would rotate some vets off practice during camp, so others will be sitting out as we go forward.
— Arians also said cornerback Mike Jenkins, who broke a bone in his hand over the weekend, was having surgery Monday. The hope is that Jenkins will be back on the field playing in a cast in two or three weeks, Arians said.
— Arians was happy with the first padded practice, saying there weren’t conclusions really to be drawn from it. “This is the time of year you have all those bad habits playing in shorts, and you’ve got to break them,” Arians said.
It is that shorts-to-pads transition that he watches very closely.
“It shows up real fast,” Arians said. “Guys who look like All-americans in shorts fade away, the guys who look like (expletive) in shorts, they’re football players. they show up.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, John Brown, Mike Jenkins, training camp
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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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So, with training camp starting in a little more than a week, the Cardinals have signed a veteran cornerback. (With Steve Keim, did you expect anything else?) Mike Jenkins, with whom the Cardinals flirted before as a free agent back in 2014, is the one now in the defensive back mix.
You knew they would get a vet. Early in offseason there were talks with Bengals vet Leon Hall (who is still unsigned) and Jerraud Powers (who eventually signed with Baltimore). Jenkins has spent the last two years in Tampa, where he signed after nothing materialized with the Cards two years ago. At the time, the Cardinals instead signed Antonio Cromartie (who made the Pro Bowl.)
Jenkins joins a crowded secondary. There is no set starter across from Patrick Peterson. Justin Bethel has a slight edge, and Jenkins — who has started just five games the past two years in his 15 appearances — has a chance to get in the lineup. But he isn’t a lock to win a spot necessarily, either. Third-round pick Brandon Williams will join Peterson and Bethel on the roster. Draft pick Harlan Miller has a chance. Former undrafted corner Cariel Brooks has a chance. There are also a couple of guys who have been around — Asa Jackson and Shaun Prater — who have had an offseason to show themselves.
However it plays out, Keim has made sure there is that veteran security blanket heading into camp. Maybe the Cardinals already in place will show it was unnecessary. But usually, that vet who signs now not only ends up necessary but an integral part of the upcoming season.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Asa Jackson, Brandon Williams, Cariel Brooks, Chris Culliver, Harlan Miller, Justin Bethel, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, Shaun Prater
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This year’s Super Bowl is going to be at University of Phoenix Stadium, in case you hadn’t heard. And in the days leading up to the game, there will be a multitude of NFL busy-ness going on in downtown Phoenix, including the NFL Experience — essentially the league’s football theme park. For those interested, there is a map below of how it will unfold early in 2015. Click on the picture for a full-size version.
— A good story by Kyle Odegard about new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris and his philosophy resides on the homepage. One thing that struck me was this Morris quote: “From my perspective, we can do all this stuff to improve their physical performance – bigger, stronger, faster, blah, blah, blah – but the bottom line is, can we keep them from injuries so they can play every weekend? That’s where my payoff is.” That’s obviously important for every strength coach, but rarely do you hear it communicated as so much more important than the other stuff.
— The addition of Roger Kingdom as a speed coach is also intriguing. I, like some have said to me, am curious on how it will impact guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd — neither of whom are slow by any means, but are not known for their speed.
— Other than the Mike Jenkins visit, it’s quiet on the Cardinals’ free agency front. Players are hoping they will still drum up the contracts they want, teams like the Cards figure it’s moving to a buyer’s market. We will see if anything comes about by the end of the week, before GM Steve Keim heads to the owners meetings next week.
— Cornerback/kickoff return man Javier Arenas, who didn’t figure to come back, agreed to a one-year deal with the Falcons. The Panthers reportedly have interest in the Cards’ other veteran free-agent cornerback, Antoine Cason.
— Big congrats to media relations coordinator/king of great notes Mike Helm, who, along with wife Marika became a parent this morning to new son Landon David Helm.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Buddy Morris, Javier Arenas, Mike Helm, Mike Jenkins, Roger Kingdom, Super Bowl
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Running back Alfonso Smith — who had been a restricted free agent to whom the Cards did not tender an offer — tweeted out this morning the Cardinals had told him they would not be bringing him back. It’s the other side of the fluctuating roster of March.
The long anticipated visit of free agent cornerback Mike Jenkins is happening (Kent Somers noted the visit, and Mike Jurecki was the first to report interest in Jenkins before free agency even started). Nothing new has come about with free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and as we all know, GM Steve Keim usually puts an offer out there and if it is rejected, he is prepared to move on to the next option. Cromartie obviously hasn’t been amendable to the deal the Cards offered, so Jenkins is now up. He’s not Cromartie, but he’d provide depth.
Meanwhile, I’d guess Smith isn’t the only ex-Card to be told he’s definitely an ex-Card. Every year at this time there are a handful of players from the previous year’s team that have a chance to return until they don’t. As needs and circumstances change, so do the possibility they could come back. The Jonathan Dwyer signing probably ended any possibility of a Smith return. That’s why some unsigned players remain on the roster, at least for now, and sooner rather than later, that will change.
In the meantime, free agency is an ongoing process. As of this morning, the NFLPA lists the Cardinals with
$5.13 million (UPDATE: NFLPA now has the Cards with $8.1 million and one less contract, so I am guessing they mistakenly added in a non-Cardinal, like the other day) in cap space for their top 51 of the offseason. That should include everyone’s contracts that have signed as of now, including cornerback Bryan McCann yesterday. That’s not a ton of room. But there are some points to make when it comes to that.
— The Cardinals do need space to sign the rookie class. But remember, half the draft class — which for the Cards need about $4.2M total cap space to sign — won’t count on the cap until the regular season, because the players who aren’t in the top two or three rounds won’t have a first-year cap hit big enough to qualify for the top 51. The Cards will likely need about half that.
— And that rookie cap money will come available June 1 anyway when half of the released Daryn Colledge’s cap number comes off the books as a June 1 cut.
— Any player can usually be fit under the cap, for those worried about signing more free agents. It’s all about how you structure the deal. So yes, the shrinking cap doesn’t mean Cromartie isn’t coming here. It doesn’t mean he is, either, but the point is, a team can make a lot of things work if they want to enough.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jonathan Dwyer, Mike Jenkins, Roster
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It’s been well reported by now former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is visiting the Cardinals. Kent Somers reported Cromartie will stay until Friday, which was the original plan. Negotiations are ongoing. Will he sign? I don’t know. I’m guessing there is a chance the Cards have at last set parameters about what they want to offer, and Cromartie has to decide if that is good enough. GM Steve Keim and his group spend a lot of time breaking down their free agent targets and what they are worth. They go into every negotiation with a player with a number in mind. I don’t see why Cromartie is any different.
The Cardinals need and want to add a cornerback. Cromartie might be at or near the top of the list, but I’m sure he’s not the only one on the list. As Keim has said a few times, they will extend offers they think make sense. If the player decides it doesn’t work, the Cards move on. Sometimes it can be revisited — I think Karlos Dansby was in that boat last offseason — but the Cards and Keim won’t be rash and they won’t panic into spending more than they should or want to.
If he did sign, you’d think he’d drop right into the other starting spot with Patrick Peterson. Reserves would be Tyrann Mathieu, Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers, and there is still the draft and guys you could look at later in free agency. If he doesn’t sign, there are others on Keim’s board. (No, other than the much speculated upon Mike Jenkins, I have not heard any names.) Cromartie would be a nice addition, but it’ll be on the Cards’ terms if it happens.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Mike Jenkins, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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