The play was controversial when it happened, and while a week later it’s fairly anticlimatic (and moot when it comes to the result of the game), Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden was not fined for what was called a helmet-to-helmet hit on Mike Vick in Pittsburgh. There isn’t any explanation that comes with that, but usually, no fine for a play like that means the league office didn’t feel a penalty should have been called. (Plenty of you out there made sure to show me at the time, in still photos off the TV and Vines of video, that Golden’s hit was to Vick’s shoulder.)
In fact, even with all the 15-yard penalties flagged in Cardinals-Steelers, there was only one fine handed out: Cardinals running back Chris Johnson was fined $8,681 for a chop block.
But tackle Bobby Massie and linebacker Kevin Minter were not fined for their unnecessary roughness penalties called after the play (although in both cases, I would have also thrown a flag). Not surprisingly, Steelers linebacker James Harrison was not fined for his crushing, helmet-knocked-off hit of wide receiver John Brown that caused Brown’s fumble. Brown was a runner by then, and Harrison’s hit, while vicious, was clean. Now, Harrison wasn’t fined for his unnecessary roughness call when he drilled Brown just after Carson Palmer’s last interception, it’s possible they decided Harrison should’ve been allowed to “block” Brown since Brown was going to touch safety Mike Mitchell down.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chris Johnson, James Harrison, John Brown, Kevin Minter, Markus Golden, Mike Vick, Steelers
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When the game was over in Detroit last Sunday, cornerback Jerraud Powers had taken part in, officially, 104 plays against the Lions. Ten on special teams, and 94 of the 95 snaps the Cardinals’ defense was on the field. He didn’t know the exact number but “I felt it. I feel it.”
“I knew we played a lot,” Powers said. “But when I saw the stat they threw 70 times, and I was like, ‘OK, I’m supposed to feel this way.’ In the secondary, we only have a limited number of guys. We’re each other’s subs, so you can’t really take us all out. It’s one of those things we just accept it. We don’t have much room to complain.”
It made this week in West Virginia even more important in prep for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. Seven defenders played at least 72 snaps, four played at least 92.
“Coach did a good job of taking care of us earlier this week,” safety Rashad Johnson said. “We’re going to be fine.”
If there was a tangible reason for staying out at The Greenbrier instead of flying back to Arizona, the snap-happy secondary was it. No one could’ve predicted it when the plans were made, but that’s why you do this kind of thing – to have shorter flights (a little over an hour from Detroit to West Virginia, a little over a half-hour from here to Pittsburgh) so players don’t get dehydrated and swell, which happens on flights. Their bodies have been taken care of.
It doesn’t hurt the weather has been spectacular this week too, in complete contrast to the rainy swamps the Cards had to practice in in Florida in 2013.
It was still a tough week to rally from, but the Cardinals insist they are ready for the Steelers.
“Makes you want to go upstairs and be like, ‘Y’all should pay us more if we’re all going to play this much,’ ” Powers said with a grin. “But it’s something we all accept. We know what it is.”
— Mike Vick will be playing quarterback for the Steelers Sunday. Without Ben Roethlisberger, the Cardinals will put their defensive focus on running back Le’Veon Bell – arguably the best back in the league these days. Bell’s ability to wait for the right time to hit a hole – and then shoot through it – is unparalleled.
“You have Bell, who is the most patient runner we have seen as a defense,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “He creates holes himself by how patient he is and how he jumps out and jumps back in to get guys out of their gap.”
— Larry Fitzgerald is one of the few guys who has been on all three of the Cardinals’ week-long, practice-away-from-home excursions. His power rankings: 1. Greenbrier. (now). 2. Bradenton, Fla. (2013). 3. Tyson’s Corner, Virginia (2008). Of course, Fitz noted that the Cards were 0-2 on the ends of the Virginia trip, and 1-1 on the ends of the Florida trip.
“Hopefully we can get to 2-0 on this trip,” Fitz said. “That’d be nice.”
Of course, the 2008 season ended not too bad, with a trip to the Super Bowl. Not that this will end that way, but you never know.
— Bruce Arians ended the week the way he began – downplaying his return to play the Steelers for the first time in a game that counts since he was let go by the organization. “It’s all about the players on the field,” he said Friday.
Still, he hasn’t convinced his own players he doesn’t want to, in the words of Steelers wideout Antonio Brown, “put on a show.” That’s another piece of motivation for this team this week.
— Todd Haley is the former Cardinals offensive coordinator who is now the Steelers offensive coordinator. James Harrison is the long-time Steelers linebacker who nearly became a Cardinal last August (he visited Tempe even) before declining and going back to Pittsburgh.
So, if you can handle it … there is this.
— Arians, who loves golf, spent Thursday evening talking with golfing greats Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Gary Player. All were here to talk Friday about a new golf course being built at The Greenbrier. Trevino is The Greenbrier’s club pro.
“It was on the bucket list for me to have a cocktail with Arnold Palmer,” Arians said, grinning about being able to talk about the sport with such luminaries.
Did he think about ordering an Arnold Palmer, he was asked? “Not without anything in it,” Arians said.
— The Cardinals are happy guard Mike Iupati will be healthy enough to play after his back tightened up Thursday. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin also said Iupati is getting better because he lost some weight. You figure Iupati was going to gain some because of his knee surgery and his limited work while he rehabbed. But also …
“Earlier in training camp I was harping on him,” Goodwin said. “He had Oreos hidden in his bag. We took his Oreos, whipped him into shape. Buddy (Morris, the strength coach) has done a good job with him. Lost a ton of weight.”
— Dwight Freeney will play Sunday. We’ll see what kind of impact he can make, but it was interesting to hear Arians when he was asked about Freeney and what the Cardinals got out of another veteran pass rusher, John Abraham.
“It’s very comparable,” Arians said.
If Freeney can come anywhere close to the 11½ sacks Abraham had that year – granted, Freeney already has missed five games – it’d be a big deal. If Freeney can be a five-sack man, I think it turns into a great pickup.
— Time to wrap this up from West Virginia. Almost time to fly to Pittsburgh. The Steelers await.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Dwight Freeney, Greenbrier, Jerraud Powers, Larry Fitzgerald, Le'Veon Bell, Mike Iupati, Mike Vick, Rashad Johnson, Steelers, Todd Haley
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