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Arians cuts minicamp short

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2015 – 11:39 am

The offseason is just about over.

After the Cardinals finished their minicamp practice this morning, Bruce Arians declared it to be the last day of minicamp. The work had been good enough over the last month of OTAs and minicamp that he canceled Thursday’s final day (The Cardinals still had meetings and a walkthrough today.) Arians was confident the Cards accomplished what needed to be done, not the least of which was getting Carson Palmer back on the field. No reason to push it, or risk any more injuries.

Some quick notes now that it’s over:

— Tight end Troy Niklas is having a minor surgical procedure on his previously injured left ankle to remove what he described as the “tightrope” in his ankle, which had kept the area tight but also restricted his movement. He said he’ll move much better in training camp afterward. Niklas was sitting out Wednesday with his right ankle sore after rolling it Tuesday.

— Undrafted rookie inside linebacker Alani Fua got a couple of reps in seven-on-seven nickel work, which could be interesting down the line. Fua, at 6-foot-5 with long arms, could be a pain in a rear for opposing passing lanes.

— One defensive look had four safeties on the field: Rashad Johnson, Deone Bucannon, Tyrann Mathieu, Tony Jefferson. There was a reason Arians dismissed the idea of the depth chart regarding safety.

— Arians talked again about the Cardinals’ improved team speed and strength. “What the hell is it called now, Sports Science?” Arians said. “I know we’re bigger and stronger and faster.”

— Arians praised the final work of practice for rookie tackle D.J. Humphries, and also said Jonathan Cooper has looked very good all offseason.

— The last practice was spirited. The offense and defense wanted to “win” plays, which is why running back Andre Ellington couldn’t believe he dropped a wide-open TD pass (pictured below.)



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Minicamp opens with Palmer in the fray

Posted by Darren Urban on June 9, 2015 – 12:00 pm

Minicamp began Tuesday — the last three days of work before the players break for the offseason — with Carson Palmer right where he said he wanted to be when he first hurt his ACL last November: Playing on the field. Palmer had been taking part in OTAs but Tuesday was the first time he took part in full speed 11-on-11 work. Much more on that later, but it’s a great sign for Palmer and the Cardinals — especially since Bruce Arians said there are no limitations right now.

(That could change come training camp, but we will see.)

Other quick notes from the first day:

—  The weather couldn’t have been nicer — clouds, a few raindrops and a touch higher than 80 degrees — and so the longer time on the field wasn’t that brutally hot minicamp stuff the Cardinals usually deal with. The work followed. Arians was pleased with what his team did (and he’s a guy who will say so if he’s not.) Arians said the Cards finished early and still got about 30 extra reps.

— Arians said he’s pleased with the team speed, which is always something GM Steve Keim is looking to upgrade.

— Wide receiver Michael Floyd remains sidelined with a hamstring injury, which kept him out last week as well. Arians said there is no reason to risk Floyd’s health right now. On a good note, rookie inside linebacker Alani Fua (foot) took part in practice for the first time since getting hurt in rookie minicamp. Rookie linebacker Shaq Riddick (hamstring) remains sidelined.

— Running back David Johnson got more reps Tuesday (the Cards are down to one field of work as opposed to the two-field practices) in part because Kerwynn Williams and Stepfan Taylor are sitting out with minor injuries.

— Arians acknowledged he was hoping quarterback Logan Thomas would have made more progress by now. Thomas remains in a three-QB race for the third QB spot.


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“Best” to open minicamp, and Niklas hurt

Posted by Darren Urban on June 10, 2014 – 2:13 pm

Bruce Arians said Tuesday’s minicamp practice was the Cardinals’ “best practice so far,” which it notable from the standpoint a) it was pretty freaking hot out there and b) it went longer than an OTA because it’s minicamp and they can go longer. Some of the quick hit notes before I post a Patrick Peterson story later this afternoon:

— Rookie TE Troy Niklas is sidelined again. He had actually returned to the practice field following his hernia surgery that kept him out of the first few OTAs but then got a finger caught and twisted in a jersey last week and broke his hand. And so Niklas goes back to the mental reps, although Arians said Niklas should be ready for training camp.

“It kind of sucks I’m missing out of the reps,” Niklas said. “It’s frustrating. … I feel like I know the offense and I know what to do. Now it’s about teaching my body how to do it.”

— Some good news from the injury front: First-round pick Deone Bucannon was on the field after missing some time with a turf toe. “He needs it psychologically and just to get out and play,” Arians said.

— A couple of high-profile guys out: LB John Abraham, who has sat out almost every OTA so as to not overextend his aging body, reported for minicamp, “threw up a few times,” Arians said, and was sent home. The Cards hope to have him back Wednesday. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald worked out on the side with strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris to protect a hamstring that had been giving him some issues.

— Big praise from Arians about safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Justin Bethel. He even said Bethel could become the Cardinals’ best cornerback at some point given his skill set. We’ll see with Peterson there, but it’s nice to have the confidence of the head coach.

— Who emerges as the starters at right tackle, right guard and tight end can only be determined when the pads go on, Arians reiterated, although he did say Bobby Massie has been “much better” with mental mistakes at right tackle.

— Arians said the reason the Cardinals tried out vet RT Tyson Clabo is because the team is going to look at available bodies, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would sign someone with the sole reason to be the starter.

— Asked to assess what he had seen out of newly signed linebacker Ernie Sims, Arians had a five-second or so pause before saying “OK. OK.” A ringing endorsement it was not.

— The Cardinals have two more days of minicamp before the veterans are released until training camp.


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Photo day, Clabo, and a minor move

Posted by Darren Urban on June 9, 2014 – 2:20 pm

On a day in which the Cardinals took their physicals ahead of this week’s mandatory minicamp (with many top players shooting special pictures and video for various forms of TV for the upcoming season, like Fitz below), the Cardinals are still roster shuffling. The team made a change Monday by releasing guard Christian Johnson and re-signing center John Estes. Estes was just cut by the team a couple of weeks ago after the Cards signed tryout players following rookie minicamp.

Of potentially more impactful news is the report the Cardinals tried out veteran right tackle Tyson Clabo Monday. Clabo, 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, could end up being this year’s Eric Winston (at this point, no, I do not expect Winston to return.) Clabo played with Miami last season, but he spent the vast majority of his career with the Falcons and made a Pro Bowl at one point. If he were to sign, it’d throw another potential starter in the mix and would make a cluttered right tackle competition (already with Bradley Sowell, Bobby Massie and Nate Potter) even more chaotic. At some point, someone isn’t going to get many reps, even with training camp coming. We’ll see if Clabo ends up with a deal, or if that becomes a waiting game closer to training camp.

UPDATE: Clabo and the Cardinals did not come to an agreement.

Regardless, minicamp starts tomorrow. And by Thursday afternoon, the veterans will have scattered for the rest of the offseason, returning in late July for training camp.




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One more OTA week, one more minicamp

Posted by Darren Urban on June 3, 2013 – 10:28 am

The Cardinals are out to start their final week of organized team activities today. Unlike the previous two weeks of OTAs, this week features four workouts — today through Thursday — instead of three, bringing the team to their maximum 10 OTAs total. After the weekend, the Cards will then wrap up their 2013 offseason work — with the veterans at least — with their mandatory three-day minicamp next week beginning Tuesday.

(Tuesday’s second workout will be the night practice at University of Phoenix Stadium for Fan Fest. Details are coming — I expect the full info page on the event to be posted on azcardinals.com on Wednesday.)

The rookies will remain around after the veterans leave to get in a little more work on their own. That’s always valuable time, as that group can catch their breath a little bit. But with the simultaneous practices going on for OTAs, this rookie group is ostensibly the most prepared at this point than any Cards’ group before them.

This will clearly be the warmest week of OTAs yet. The bubble construction continues, but that was never going to be available this offseason. That will change next offseason.

I’ll have more this afternoon after the workout is over.

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School rules dictate Taylor will have to wait

Posted by Darren Urban on May 8, 2013 – 4:08 pm

Fifth-round pick Stepfan Taylor will be at the Cardinals’ rookie minicamp this weekend. All the rookies will. But the NFL rule that prohibits rookies from taking part in addition offseason work until their school has held final exams — regardless of whether the player is actually attending school or not (because many players leave school to prep for the NFL) — means Taylor, a Stanford product, won’t be around for much else.

Stanford isn’t scheduled to have final exams end until June 12. That happens to be the second day of the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp at the end of the full team offseason work. There will be a final practice the next day. Rookies will likely stay around the facility beyond that (they usually do as the vets disperse for the rest of their offseason) but it’s not the same as the OTAs and minicamp.

The Cards do have a couple other rookies that could miss some time after rookie minicamp, but we’re talking one to three days in the other cases. The first OTAs are May 14-16, and there will be 10 total OTA days through June 6, before the June 11-13 minicamp.

Taylor does have a few things going for him. One, he’s from Stanford. I’m betting he’s pretty smart. Two, he’s a running back, and I’m guessing there isn’t as much needed to grasp to still be able to make an impact (and he still has all of training camp.) Finally, it’s not like he’s the first to ever go through this. Stanford products have to deal with this every year. Andrew Luck (below, handing off to Taylor in college) was gone from the Colts for more than a month, and that worked out pretty well for him and his team.

And who was there first-hand in Indy to see that play out? Bruce Arians.

— The rookies report tomorrow for physicals and other stuff. Draft picks Kevin Minter and Tyrann Mathieu will have a co-press conference at 2 p.m.

— No, as of now, nothing new to report on the Karlos Dansby situation. He did visit today and saw some of his old teammates. We’ll see if a contract can be worked out.


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Rookies on their way this week

Posted by Darren Urban on May 6, 2013 – 4:28 pm

The majority of rookies (i.e. everyone but No. 1 pick Jonathan Cooper) have yet to come to the Tempe facility yet. That changes later this week. They will show up Thursday for physicals, and then the first rookie minicamp will be held Friday through Sunday (and before you ask, no, it’s not open to the public.)

That begins a couple straight weeks of on-field work, with the first of six organized team activities on May 14-16 and then May 21-23. Strength and conditioning work remains through the on-field time. After a week off after Memorial Day of on the field, the final four voluntary OTAs come June 3-6. Mandatory minicamp is June 11-13.

— A couple of ex-Cardinal notes from today. Ex-tackle Brandon Keith, allowed to walk away as a free agent after the 2011 season and who didn’t hook on with anyone in 2012, signed with the Vikings today.

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Adam Snyder, cut last week by the Cards, signed a new two-year deal with the 49ers Monday. If you remember, Snyder was allowed to leave as a free agent last year by the Niners and he signed a five-year contract with the Cardinals. He was cut and now goes back to his original team, although if he makes it now, it’ll be as a backup.

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Delving into the first Arians minicamp

Posted by Darren Urban on April 23, 2013 – 4:42 pm

The Cardinals are done with the first day of their three-day voluntary minicamp. The tempo for the almost two-hour work in the afternoon was crisp. Coach Bruce Arians said there were fewer mistakes than might have been anticipated. The only player not there was Larry Fitzgerald, but Arians knew that he wouldn’t be and said Fitz would be back on Wednesday. A couple other tidbits:

— T Levi Brown and LB O’Brien Schofield weren’t taking part as they continue their rehab from 2012 injuries. Arians said there was no reason to push it. Schofield should be back soon. Arians just wants to make sure Brown is available by the Fall. Arians said he might consider putting Nate Potter at guard at some point, but there is plenty of time to figure that out. Arians said a player should be able to play either guard or tackle on the same side.

— QB Carson Palmer said 75 percent of the offense has been introduced to the players, although there is a long way to go to make it work in practice. This is the teaching/learning phase, clearly, although the pace of the workout was noticeably quick.

— With Schofield out (and for all we know, even if Schofield was available) it was free agent linebacker Lorenzo Alexander lining up on the outside with Sam Acho. Daryl Washington and Jasper Brinkley were the inside linebackers. The first string secondary was Jerraud Powers with Patrick Peterson at cornerback and Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell at safety.

— Washington obviously won’t be able to play the first four games because of his suspension. Arians said it was too early to know who will be the starter in Washington’s absence. “We will get Daryl ready to start just like I did with Ben Roethlisberger (before his suspension in 2010) and whoever was taking his place in September was more than ready to,” Arians said.


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Rules of the offseason

Posted by Darren Urban on February 8, 2013 – 10:06 am

With new coach Bruce Arians taking over, there have been some questions about when they can get started working with players — the collective bargaining agreement makes it plain they can’t do it right now, and all the coaches who have talked the last couple of days have mentioned how they have been careful to work within the CBA rules in that regard. There has been no official schedule released yet about how the offseason will proceed. Key fact to note: The Cardinals — as you can see below — can’t begin before the first Monday in April. Here’s a quick look at the CBA language about what is to come.

(And yes, a new staff like the Cardinals have are allowed to have an extra minicamp for veterans — as you will see — but it must be regarded as voluntary as opposed to the one mandatory minicamp.)

Current offseasons are broken into three parts. Phase One is two weeks long, and is only strength and conditioning along with rehab. Only John Lott and Pete Alosi — the strength and conditioning coaches — are allowed on the field with players, and players can’t use actual footballs if they are on the field at the facility. In Phase Two, over the next three weeks, coaches can get on the field and run individual drills or unit drills alone — offense or defense, but offense can’t go against defense.

Phase Three, over the next four weeks, includes the minicamp and OTAs, and is the only time players can wear helmets. Live contact isn’t permitted.

As for having a new staff, here are the relevant parts of the CBA:

Article 21, Section 2: If a Club hires a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, that Club may schedule or conduct an offseason workout program for no more than nine total weeks, with eight of the weeks required to be consecutive and subject to Article 22, Section 3, to be completed over a twelve-week period. All other Clubs may schedule or conduct offseason workout programs for no more than nine consecutive total weeks, to be completed over a ten-week period. In either case, Clubs may schedule no more than four workouts per week for any individual player. Such workout programs shall not be permitted on weekends.

Article 21, Section 2, Subsection C: Each year offseason workout programs cannot begin prior to the first Monday in April for Clubs that have hired a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, and cannot begin prior to the third Monday in April for all other Clubs.

Article 22, Section 3: Voluntary Veteran Minicamp: Any voluntary minicamp for veteran players must be conducted prior to the College Draft, but no earlier than week three of the Club’s offseason workout program and after at least one week of the two weeks of Phase One activities that the Clubs may hold pursuant to Article 21. 

A couple of key points: The Cards aren’t allowed to get started in the offseason this year before April, and the CBA pretty much spells out that players aren’t allowed to do much of anything with coaches before the start of the offseason program. Players can start working out in the weight room on their own, but coaches can’t do anything but supervise to prevent injury and misuse of equipment.

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“Feast or famine”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 12, 2012 – 1:26 pm

As Larry Fitzgerald came off the field after the first minicamp practice of the week, he shook his head. “Feast or famine for me today,” he said, not happily. It seemed like any other summer workday for Fitz, even with the one obvious drop that left him less than thrilled. But that’s Fitz, the guy who caught a pass downfield and then sprinted all the way to the end zone just to finish, even as everyone else had moved back toward the opposite 20-yard line.

In a world where everyone has highs and lows, Fitz doesn’t want any lows. Don’t know if that’s possible, but he’s clearly efforting.

— Only one guy was missing from the mandatory work, and that was defensive lineman Nick Eason, excused to tend to family issues. Offensive linemen D.J. Young (knee) and Blake DeChristopher (back) are out, and running back Beanie Wells (knee) sat too. Everyone else worked at least some.

— Rookie guard Senio Kelemete (below) returned after missing all the OTAs. He couldn’t come because school was still in session. He kept his head in his playbook while he was absent. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he’s still far behind right now, no shock as a rookie.

The Cards go back on the field this afternoon.

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