Blogs

Broncos aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2013 – 11:46 pm

Tony Jefferson still had his uniform on, his shoulder pads pushing out his grass-stained jersey. After his last showing of the preseason, getting five tackles, a sack, two tackles TJusefor loss, a fumble recovery and a special teams tackle while battling for a roster spot, he was left to … do nothing.

“I’m just going to leave that up to the coaches, whether I am a fit for the team or not,” the undrafted rookie safety said, noting he would be going back to watch his former University of Oklahoma teammates in their opener this weekend.

“I’m going to try and keep my mind off it,” Jefferson said. “Just wait. It’s a waiting game. Just like draft day.”

The wait won’t take long (which is why this aftermath is going to be pretty short and sweet.) Steve Keim said the initial 53-man roster will be set by noon Friday, and Bruce Arians will make it public at 1 p.m. No reason to overly analyze Thursday night, which will be old news soon enough.

Some thoughts on what is coming, in light on what happened in Denver with context through my initial 53-man guess:

— Obviously strong games for QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ryan Williams. Enough to be on the 53? It would make sense, yet you could easily see a scenario where they wouldn’t be. Williams, I suppose, still could be traded, although I don’t see him being simply released. Personally I’d like Williams to stay, but we’ll see. “We’re not cutting good football players,” Bruce Arians said. (Although he didn’t say he wouldn’t trade them.)

— Teams don’t have to be to 53 until Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. So they might still keep 54 or 55 tomorrow if a deal is percolating.

— Lindley is “light years” ahead of where he was, Arians said. “Early on he had trouble processing as the play was happening. Now he has a quarterback rating of (104) and that was with guys busting routes on him. I thought he played extremely well. He was very comfortable out there.”

— All that said, Arians still wouldn’t say if Lindley had made the team for sure yet.

— Speaking of trades, will a defensive back be dealt? I’ve said since the offseason I wouldn’t be surprised in a deal like the A.J. Jefferson trade of 2012.

— I thought rookie wideout Jaron Brown was already on this team. I feel even more confident in that now.

— Beyond Brown? Mike Thomas did catch a touchdown late but he probably should have caught a bomb from Lindley earlier. It would have been a tough catch but it was makeable – and it was the kind of catch that helps you make rosters. Kerry Taylor had a quiet night.

— Arians said TE Jeff King is headed for knee surgery. Not sure if that’s significant enough for injured reserve or not. With Rob Housler still trying to come back from an ankle issue, I’m thinking King won’t be on the roster.

— To my untrained eye, I think Jefferson flashed enough to make them want to keep him. Would it be in lieu of Jonathon Amaya? Other than Jefferson, I didn’t really think any of the defensive backs battling for the roster played particularly well Thursday.

— The lone injury was a shoulder problem for defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, unfortunate for a guy trying to make the roster. Ronald Talley, the man Arians has been talking up, seemed to make a couple plays. Wondering what that might mean for David Carter, who is on the bubble. Arians said he’d need to see the tape to really give decent analysis on the defensive line play in the game.

— In the locker room, Larry Fitzgerald pointed out the Cardinals logo rookie seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson has tattooed on his abdomen. Now that’s confidence in your ability to make the roster.

— I thought before the entire draft class still here (Ryan Swope already having retired of course) makes the 53. I haven’t changed my mind on that.

We’ll see. We’ll know in a little more than 12 hours.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

Wednesday before the Broncos

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2013 – 10:57 am

The Cardinals are down to one preseason game. And by now, there probably isn’t much to determine. In fact, it’s tough to get past the words of Darnell Dockett going into this one: “You always want to play preseason games and make sure everyone gets out healthy,” Dockett said, and obviously, with Jonathan Cooper, that didn’t happen. “I’ve never been a fan of preseason games. I understand the games because young guys are trying to get on rosters and this might be their big chance, so I’m all for it. But guys who have to play 16 regular-season games … my biggest thing is getting out healthy.”

That’s why quarterback Carson Palmer may not play, and why I’m sure the Cards will be careful with what they do tomorrow night.

All that said, Bruce Arians did say there was still “four or five” roster spots still up for debate. The positions he named were the back end of wide receiver, safety, cornerback, tight end and offensive line. He didn’t name names, and that’s where the speculation comes in. At receiver, for instance, Kerry Taylor has worked hard for this team and is a smart guy. But Mike Thomas, the newbie vet, has the speed Arians so covets. At safety, can special teamer Jonathon Amaya hold off Tony Jefferson or big Curtis Taylor? Tight end is a very interesting spot too. Veteran Jeff King hasn’t been able to get on the field much, and Arians wants to see him play. When the offseason started I assumed he would be here, but with his balky knee, I’m not so sure anymore — not that the Cards have overwhelming options elsewhere.

That’s the thing about guessing about the 53-man roster (which I will attempt to do later today). It’s hard to know what a new GM and a new coach really like to do. It’s hard to know what they think about raw players like G Earl Watford and TE D.C. Jefferson, guys who probably aren’t ready to help right away but guys who may not make it through waivers to put on the practice squad.

— With RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and TE Rob Housler (ankle) sitting out practice yesterday, I’m sure that would basically rule them out. I am guessing there might be a couple other guys sitting as precautionary, but it did seem like the Cards are fairly healthy right now, all things considered.

— I don’t expect to see major Broncos players, like Peyton Manning. Doesn’t matter whether it was Mike Shanahan or John Fox as coach in Denver, the QB never seems to play that last preseason game.

— Arians has a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. Not sure if cuts will come by then or not (teams must be to 53 by Saturday afternoon) but regardless, whatever this 53-man roster is on Saturday, I will be surprised if it is still the 53-man roster on Tuesday, after waiver claims and the like. Arians said he would probably warn “two or three” players that their spot on the 53 could change into a practice squad spot by Thursday. It’s the reality of the business.

— And as we have said many times, this team is is going to churn the roster. Director of media relations Chris Melvin is going to be a busy man putting out new bio after new bio this season, methinks.

UPDATE: The game, no matter what your TV guide says, will be live on Ch. 15 ABC Thursday. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m.

— It’s good to know Tyrann Mathieu’s eyebrow is coming back. Time to end the preseason.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »

Cuts begin with Carpenter

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2013 – 5:42 pm

The Cardinals have been making a few cuts here and there as camp has been going on so it’s not like they just started Sunday. But teams must get down to the 75-man limit by Tuesday and so this weekend came the first wave of massive roster changes. With it was one surprise, not so much that he was released but when. Kicker Dan Carpenter is out less than a week after arriving, solidifying Jay Feely’s spot on the team. Bruce Arians had said the kicking battle would go through the end of the preseason, but Carpenter had a field goal blocked and Kent Somers reported the Cards didn’t think Carpenter kicked well in practice.

The rest of the moves aren’t unexpected. Again, with the rosters expanding by 10 beginning with the 2011 season, most of these guys wouldn’t have even been on a team just a few years ago. The harder cuts are coming in a week, when the trim must go to 53.

The younger players will get a lot more playing time against the Broncos Thursday. The Chargers’ game was the “important” one to the starters. So it is interesting to note the play totals from Saturday. A total of 25 offensive players got at least 10 offensive plays in the game. A total of 27 defensive players did the same. Some of the names getting significant playing time are interesting. Defensive end Kenny Rowe got 19 plays. Defensive line swingman Ronald Talley, whom Arians has talked up quite a bit later, got 37 snaps. Rookie OLB Alex Okafor, who has had a quiet camp, got 27 snaps.

New wide receiver Mike Thomas only got two plays; I’d expect him to get much more time in Denver as the Cards try to decide if they should keep him. Safety Tony Jefferson, after playing well in the second preseason game, didn’t get a defensive snap Saturday.

My guess is that Arians and Steve Keim have a pretty good idea who the 53 will be (or at least, say 50 or 51 at this point).

— Oh, and because I know somebody will ask, nothing else has been said on Jonathan Cooper aside from what Arians said yesterday about the leg being broken. I’m sure we will get an update tomorrow when Arians talks before practice. That includes all the other injured players. Not sure how much starters will play Thursday in Denver, if at all.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

Friday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2013 – 2:27 pm

Darnell Dockett was asked if he would say hi to Ken Whisenhunt before Saturday’s game against the Chargers.

“Of course,” Dockett said of his former head coach, now San Diego’s offensive coordinator. “I have nothing against Coach Whiz. Wish him much success at San Diego. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field.”

Dockett and Whiz had butted heads at the end of last season, but time goes on. If Saturday’s game was in the regular season, if it meant something in the standings, Whisenhunt’s return to University of Phoenix Stadium would be a bigger story. It probably would help if there were some time and distance between his firing and now, too. But it’s tough not to notice too.

Patrick Peterson hasn’t forgotten he scored a touchdown on an interception in his first University of Phoenix Stadium game against the Chargers in the preseason of 2011. Reminded of that, Peterson said “hopefully I can get another pick-6 — especially on coach Whisenhunt.”

Peterson smiled. “It was a great two years with him. I’m happy for him he got another job. We miss him around here but we have a bunch of new faces that will help us turn the corner.”

Whisenhunt spoke to a couple of outlets in Arizona this week about his return trip, both with Kent Somers and Mike Jurecki. On Jurecki’s show (on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix), Whiz mostly talked about the support the fans gave him and the friends he made in the organization and said he wasn’t sure what response he will get in the stadium Saturday.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there are a lot of great memories,” Whisenhunt said. “I really don’t know. It will be different for me because it’ll be the first time I will be in the stadium where I am not a Cardinal.”

The holdover players will likely move over and greet Whiz before the game. That’s to be expected. From there, well, it is just preseason. Right?

“There will be a ceremonial dap or two, say hi,” guard Daryn Colledge said, “but then again I know he’ll have a mindset in making a point.”

As for the rest of the game – and the fact it is the “important” third preseason game on the slate:

— The starters are supposed to go into the third quarter against the Chargers. I don’t expect any surprises in the starting lineup and I’m not sure we’re going to get any changes before the opener, although Bruce Arians has not said for sure he’s settled on anything.

— Given the red-zone issues last week, that will be something very important to watch. The team worked on it again in practice Thursday and methinks the head coach needs to see progress in that area.

— The Cards were into practicing-like-it’s-regular-season-game-week mode this week, which makes sense going into the game where the starters will play the most. That included dressing linebacker Kenny Rowe in a red “93” jersey much of the week (the rest of the defense was wearing white) to know where pass rusher Dwight Freeney would be.

— Curious to see how much time Mike Thomas gets at receiver. He just showed up so he probably isn’t familiar with a ton yet. And Arians, earlier in the week, noted Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor are next up beyond the “big three” receivers for playing time. Does Thomas have to wait to get much time, at least until Denver?

— Big game for Karlos Dansby, just in terms of seeing him on the field. Didn’t play the first two weeks, probably won’t play a lot against the Broncos. But he practiced all week and this will be a good tune-up.

— If this is the game in which the main players are going to get a lot of time, does that mean Patrick Peterson gets a few offensive reps? It’s going to be very interesting to see how much time on the offensive side of the ball he does get when games begin to count.

— Ryan Williams will likely be suited up. But again, if this is about the guys in the main rotation, Williams is going to have to cut in line to get much work. And you still have to wonder how much work he can handle with one practice in three weeks.

— Don’t forget about the bag policy if you are going to the game. Remember, the bag policy.

— Larry Fitzgerald turns 30 next week and is feeling the pinch of Father Time. If you didn’t see it, here’s my story.

— The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster. They must trim to 75 by Tuesday (although I’d guess their cuts will be before then. There will be practice Monday.) If you wonder about who is getting cut, keep an eye on the players who do not get a snap against the Chargers. If you are going to release someone, you don’t want them getting hurt.

— Once, as noted by Bob Glauber deep in this piece about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, reigning Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms not only played in the fourth preseason game, but he played the whole game. As he noted, he’s not sure when the third game became the important one.

— Yet we do know, thanks to Denny Green, this game doesn’t count, but it matters. After all, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »

Never forget — skill wins out

Posted by Darren Urban on August 21, 2013 – 2:14 pm

Bruce Arians was talking at lunch about some of the moves the team has been making and noted that new wide receiver Mike Thomas had a résumé none of the other young receivers did. He also noted Thomas had speed, something the Cards are always looking for at wideout. Arians was asked again later how important that résumé was. Arians didn’t hesitate.

“That should help him, (but) the deciding factor though was speed,” Arians said. “He does have the résumé, But if he were slow and had that résumé, he probably wouldn’t be here.”

You need a total package. The Cards had undrafted rookie Robby Toma, who seemed to catch everything thrown his way. But he didn’t have the speed, he didn’t have the size and he definitely didn’t have the experience. Robert Gill had the speed but he didn’t have the experience, he struggled catching the ball of late and before that, he was battling a bad hamstring too often. Those were the reasons those guys were cut Wednesday. And it’s a reminder you need to total package to stick around.

Besides, at 87 players, the Cards have to slice 35 more guys before the regular season, not including anyone else they claim/sign. A lot of the current guys are going to have to go.

— WR Andre Roberts (ankle) was back at practice Tuesday. Arians said the Cards will take it slow with him.

— Arians still has hope TE Jeff King (knee) will be able to practice some this week and maybe play in Saturday’s game.

— If Roberts is down, it is Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor the next in line — not Thomas — to get the bulk of the work in the game. With Patrick Peterson and Rob Housler as receiving options, I think the Cards keep at most five receivers. There’s a lot on the line for Brown/Taylor/Thomas. The other young guys will get more work in the preseason finale.

— Arians won’t have a lot of time to evaluate Thomas, but that’s a reality of the situation. “There are guys you claim off the waiver wire where you get one day and they have to play on Sunday sometimes,” Arians said. “That’s the hardest part of coaching, get a guy on Tuesday and have to play him Sunday.”

— Arians said he hopes to play Daryn Colledge about 10 snaps at center against the Chargers. “Ten to 12, all in one good long drive for a touchdown,” Arians added.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 15 Comments »

Signs the Cards are ready to wrap

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2013 – 6:12 pm

The Cardinals ran their conditioning test back on July 25. With training camp ending later this week, there might have been a couple of signs the players are ready to wrap up here at University of Phoenix Stadium. In the morning locker room session, I asked Darnell Dockett if he was ready for camp to end. “I’ve been wanting camp over,” Dockett said. “I’ve wanted camp over from the second day. I just want to lay in my own bed. I have no problem with the two-a-day schedule. That’s football. It’s living in the hotel. I just don’t like that.”

Then, at the beginning of practice, there was a sight unseen since camp began — a true scrap. In a one-on-one special teams drill, wide receiver Charles Hawkins was a gunner and cornerback Bryan McCann was jammer, and McCann knocked Hawkins down with a powerful jam down the field. Hawkins took exception, to the points swings were taken and the two had to be separated.

“Towards the end of camp, tempers are flaring, people’s jobs are on the line, emotions run high,” McCann said. “You always can (feel the urgency) this time of camp. It’s just part of football.”

— The addition of Mike Thomas at receiver isn’t a surprise. The Cards were going to be looking at receivers. The inexperience is obvious, and when there is a chance to grab a guy with experience, you take it. It’s not like it’s a risk. One-year deal, and I’d guess the Cards can easily release him in two weeks if he doesn’t make sense. But he’s proven himself in this league. And Bruce Arians has been middle-of-the-road enough on his young receiver evaluations that bringing in one isn’t a shock.

— At the same time, there should be no shock when this team makes moves or adds guys even at positions you might think are set. Steve Keim and Co. have made crystal clear they will bring in guys who they think will help. Could that cost someone surprising a job? Sure. That’s the NFL. There are still two open roster spots. Things can happen.

— The injury list shrinks. TE Jeff King (knee), RB Ryan Williams (knee), WR Andre Roberts (ankle), WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion), T Joe Caprioglio (foot). LB Dan Giordano (toe) remains on the PUP list.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 15 Comments »