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.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Deone Bucannon, Ernie Sims, John Abraham, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, minicamp, Tony Jefferson, Troy Niklas, Tyson Clabo
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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.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Christian Johnson, John Estes, minicamp, Nate Potter, offensive line, Tyson Clabo
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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.
Tags: minicamp, OTAs
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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.
Tags: Andrew Luck, minicamp, OTAs, rookies, Stepfan Taylor
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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.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Brandon Keith, minicamp, rookies
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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.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, minicamp, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Ssam Acho, Yeremiah Bell
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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.
Tags: Bruce Arians, John Lott, minicamp, offseason, OTAs, Pete Alosi
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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.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Blake DeChristopher, D.J. Young, Larry Fitzgerald, minicamp, Nick Eason, Senio Kelemete
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The final rookie minicamp practice of the weekend just ended. As usual, it’s too early to tell much.
“It’s hard,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Everybody looks good in shorts. You don’t want to get too excited. (At first glance), you like what you see. We had a number of guys look good. Everyone is on the same playing level today. We’ll have a better sense when they go against the veterans. But the first stage of the test, they passed.”
Whisenhunt said there was something missing without veterans, where a coach could grab a vet and have the vet show the newcomer how to execute something. But no veterans also meant more reps for the players who need it most. “It was a new experience with just rookies,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ll judge how productive it was once we get to OTAs and see how they respond.”
As for a final message for the group, Whisenhunt kept it simple. “I thanked them for their effort and their work,” Whisenhunt said. “I think for three days and five practices, we kind of knew what we were doing, so that was impressive. The credit goes to our coaches and the players. … For the guys who are going to be here, (I told them) ‘Be ready to work.’ “
– As Whisenhunt said, the draft class was noticed. Quarterback Ryan Lindley and wide receiver Michael Floyd hooked up on a nice downfield pass Friday, and both clearly looked more comfortable as the weekend went on. Cornerback Jamell Fleming had some impressive pass breakups over the days. Tackle Bobby Massie looks right, but again, so hard to tell how a lineman will really be when it counts. It’s the same for all of them really.
– You’d expect the guys who have already been in the league to stand out at least a little. A couple did, at least from my perspective. Linebacker Quan Sturdivant looked comfortable out there in his first offseason, while new tight end Martell Webb made impressions on a couple of catches, including a nice one-handed grab down the seam Sunday.
– The Cards officially have 85 on the roster. The remaining five spots should be filled before OTAs start a week from Tuesday. Linebacker Clark Haggans and defensive end Vonnie Holliday remain viable options for two of those spots.
– Whisenhunt did offer blanket Happy Mother’s Day wishes to everyone. “When you get into these camps, you can lose sight of the real world, you can forget today is Mother’s Day,” He said. “We were sure to tell the guys, ‘Be sure to call and thank your Mom.’ We wouldn’t be out here if it weren’t for our moms.’ “
Tags: Bobby Massie, Clark Haggans, Jamell Fleming, Ken Whisenhunt, Martell Webb, Michael Floyd, minicamp, Quan Sturdivant, Ryan Lindley, Vonnie Holliday
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The Quan was in the Cardinals’ locker room long before the 2011 draft, thanks to Rod Tidwell and “Jerry Maguire.” But then the Cardinals refreshed their supply last year when they took linebacker Quan Sturdivant in the sixth round of the draft, a prospect for the inside of the 3-4 alignment that seemed promising.
But Sturdivant never was able to make a serious run at the roster. He was put on the practice squad, and while he stuck around there, he was the lone member of the 2011 draft class to not make the opening day roster (running back Ryan Williams was on injured reserve, but would have been on the team) and couldn’t even get a late-season promotion. Now he’s taking part as one of nine veterans at rookie minicamp, trying to get the work he didn’t get with the lost (to lockout) 2011 offseason.
“I know I’m just as young as (the rookies),” Sturdivant said, laughing, “but I do feel kind of old.”
Once the Cards signed Stewart Bradley, the need for Sturdivant wasn’t as urgent given the Cards’ rotation of starters Daryl Washington and Paris Lenon along with Bradley (who struggled himself) on the inside. It may not have mattered. Sturdivant acknowledged he had a tough time and a “big learning curve” trying to figure out the defense of Ray Horton.
It was also hard watching the rest of the draft class make the team without him. Only Williams, because of the injury, and seventh-round receiver DeMarco Sampson didn’t receive significant playing time. Sturdivant’s fellow sixth-round pick, nose tackle David Carter, actually was a key component of the defense as a rookie.
“It was hard, because I have always been able to play,” Sturdivant said. “Even when I was a freshman in college, I played. (Last year) was a learning experience, and hopefully I have learned enough that this year, I can make the team.”
There is a long way to go before that can happen (Sturdivant is also battling key special teamer Reggie Walker at inside linebacker, in addition to the top three guys.) He has embraced the need to be in minicamp this weekend, and came up with an interception in each of the first two practices Friday.
“I just compete and try and get better,” Sturdivant said. “I want to learn the defense even more and compete. That’s all you can do to get a roster spot.
“The defense, I think I am adjusted to it now. To not have an offseason (last year) … this offseason, I think it’ll help a lot.”
Tags: minicamp, Quan Sturdivant, Reggie Walker, Stewart Bradley
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