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Some quick hits after practice

Posted by Darren Urban on October 18, 2012 – 2:13 pm

I had tweeted yesterday that tackle Chris Williams, released by the Bears this week, was on the Cardinals’ radar. Today they brought him in for a visit. He also visited the Eagles and so there’s no way to know if his signing is a slam dunk, or even if the Cards want him after seeing him live and in person. One report out of Chicago suggests he could be OK in the right environment. Clearly, with the Williams interest and the bringing back of Pat McQuistan, the Cards are considering options with struggling tackles D’Anthony Batiste and/or Bobby Massie.

— Darnell Dockett was back to practicing fully Thursday, the first time he has done so since hurting his hamstring against the Dolphins Eagles a few weeks ago. Linebacker O’Brien Schofield, who has been limited almost all season with his sore knee, was back at full for the first time Thursday as well.

— Vikings running back Adrian Peterson and defensive end Jared Allen sat out Thursday nursing ankle and groin issues, respectively, but both are expected to play against the Cardinals and reports are that some of the practice caution has to do with the fact the Vikings play the Buccaneers a week from today, so a short week is coming up.

— Running back William Powell gets some love from profootballfocus.com.

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Some work under the lights

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2012 – 7:56 pm

It was basically a walk-through tonight, which is what is expected a day after playing an NFL football game. The Cards will practice late afternoon tomorrow, and midday Wednesday before flying out for St. Louis.

The Cardinals did have an injury report, although as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted earlier today, the truth about how banged-up players like Darnell Dockett really are won’t be known until tomorrow at the earliest. And even then I am guessing Dockett and others will be game-day decisions whether they will play.

Monday’s list is long. CB Michael Adams (hamstring), TE Jim Dray (knee), TE Todd Heap (knee), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hip) and LB Quentin Groves (hamstring) did not practice. Dockett (hamstring) was limited, as was LB Paris Lenon (knee), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee), FB Anthony Sherman (hamstring), QB John Skelton (ankle), G Adam Snyder (elbow) and NT Dan Williams (foot).

For the Rams, among those on the injury report were RB Steven Jackson (groin) and T Rodger Saffold (knee), both of whom sat out.

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Eagles aftermath, with a Kolb topper

Posted by Darren Urban on September 23, 2012 – 7:46 pm

The defense is dominant. But before we get too far away from one of the key storylines from today’s game, here’s a nod to Kevin Kolb. The quarterback keeps downplaying what it meant today to beat the Eagles, but the man is human. You can only imagine, with everything he’s been through – the guy wasn’t even going to be playing two weeks ago.

“We wanted to come out and play hard for him because we knew what it meant for him,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “He made the throws, he scrambled when he needed to and he did a great job commanding the huddle. In the huddle, he was very demonstrative. He really wanted it. He was calling guys to reach down and dig deep and make plays. He really doesn’t talk all that much in the huddle, but today, you could tell he was actually trying to motivate.”

Someone wanted Kolb to reflect on the past three games. He wouldn’t bite. “I want to stay focused,” Kolb said. “Because I’ve done it in the past, you know, tried to foresee the future and every time it comes up and knocks my legs out from under me.”

The questions are going to be there and no, I don’t know what happens at quarterback. You’d have to think Kolb will stay as the starter even if John Skelton’s ankle is healthy. I don’t anticipate any big announcement – that’s not really coach Ken Whisenhunt’s style – but that’s my guess tonight.

— There was a lot of preseason concern about how much pressure the Cards could get with their outside linebackers. O’Brien Schofield and Quentin Groves each had a sack, Sam Acho had a play that would’ve been a sack if Michael Vick hadn’t decided to intentionally ground the ball, and the three totaled six QB hits. Not a bad day’s work.

— Safety Kerry Rhodes has had two excellent games in a row. Played well in New England, and then today he looked like, since Adrian Wilson was sitting out, he was going to suddenly take up the mantle as the guy who drilled everyone. He did it back-to-back plays on tight end Brent Celek, and later tagged Vick for the James Sanders fumble return.

“Everyone else is making plays, so why not me?” Rhodes said. “I have to make a couple myself.”.

— James Sanders and Rashad Johnson stepped up in Wilson’s absence. Reminded me of last year when Johnson and Richard Marshall filled in well for Rhodes

— Daryl Washington won’t win NFC defensive player of the week, I don’t think, because Calais Campbell won it last week. But he’d have an argument after his two sacks and the way he harassed Michael Vick all day. So I’ll say this: Has a team ever looked better in a two-week stretch of re-signing two players to big contract extensions. No worries about either one flaking out after getting paid.

— The PatCat got a snap Sunday. Four-yard Patrick Peterson running loss. It can’t always be productive, I guess.

— Kolb has played two games plus the end of the other without an interception. “With our defense and our style of play, not turning the ball over is a big key,” Kolb said. “It’s OK to punt. We don’t like it, it’s never been in my game, but to have that mentality, sometimes it’s OK.”

— It was so important for Ryan Williams to bounce back like he did. Not only did his 83 yards on 13 carries look good, but it softens the blow if Beanie Wells is out. We’ll see how Wells’ toe is this week. Williams does, as Whisenhunt noted, need to grab that 3rd-and-1 pitch and just drive upfield and make sure he gets the one yard, rather than look for a big play and get stuffed.

— Speaking of stuffed, I felt back for LaRod Stephens-Howling. He was in the game with Wells down and Williams suffering from cramps, and the Eagles knew the Cards just wanted to run it into the line late and burn clock, and the Hyphen’s stats took a beating. Eight carries, minus-14 yards. Talk about taking one for the team.

— Darnell Dockett said his hamstring will be OK, but jeez, that would be a tough loss if he were to miss a game. Dockett shrugged. “Every now and then, even the Hulk gets wounded.”

— Long snapper Mike Leach recovered the Eagles’ fumble punt today, which is why you need someone athletic enough to get down in coverage at that position. It’s not just about putting your head between your legs and throwing.

— Michael Floyd, welcome to the NFL. A highlight-worthy TD catch and drawing a 15-yard penalty on DRC? Nice production.

— Fitz had a good game, but what does he tell Andre Roberts about the 50 yards Roberts lost on Fitz’s block in the back penalty that Roberts may not have even needed. Roberts ended up with a 29-yard reception instead. “I cost my closest friend on the team a 70-yard play,” Fitz lamented. Ah, after all that time Roberts spent with Fitz’s jet skis on the lake this summer, I’m sure Roberts will forgive him.

I had just turned 4 the last time the Cards were 3-0. I wasn’t living in Arizona yet, even though I’ve lived here most of my life, and their move to the Valley was a long way away. At some point, the Cardinals were going to get to 3-0 again. Raise your hand if, on Sept. 8, you thought it was going to be this season.

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A guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2012 – 4:59 pm

Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.

Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.

But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.

QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)

RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.

FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”

WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.

TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.

OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.

DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.

LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.

DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.

ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.

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Housler, Schofield sitting, Beanie starts

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2012 – 3:29 pm

Running back Beanie Wells is getting the start tonight in his preseason debut at running back, while tight end Jeff King will also get the start tonight as he returns. King’s appearance offsets the missing Rob Housler, who is sitting out with a bad hamstring. It’s a big night for Beanie, who is expected to get the same kind of work Ryan Williams had last week — which was eight snaps and five carries.

Also sitting out tonight are:

— CB Greg Toler (knee)

— FB Jared Crank (neck)

— S Rashad Johnson (abdomen)

— LB O’Brien Schofield (knee)

— LB Daryl Washington (death in the family)

— T Levi Brown (triceps)

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Training camp aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 21, 2012 – 11:46 am

Another year in Flagstaff over. The Cardinals closed out with a lengthy morning session – going about 30 minutes over the scheduled end time prepping for the Titans. As usual, the team had their annual rookie show the last night. In what could have been predicted, receiver LaRon Byrd imitated Larry Fitzgerald in a skit, an impersonation Fitz insisted “it was not an accurate depiction of me at all.”

No one went after coach Ken Whisenhunt this year – Whiz surmised with a smile it was because after pushing the team so hard last week the rookies might have been a little gun shy to take him on – but then he added, “if you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t have fun.”

“It was a good way to end.”

— The Cardinals will indeed have Beanie Wells Thursday against the Titans. Whisenhunt said he liked how Wells did in practice this week – brief as it was – and will be treated in the game much like Ryan Williams was last week against the Raiders.

“I’m excited to see him in a game,” Whisenhunt said. “There’s no concern with him at all with his health.”

— Linebacker O’Brien Schofield sat out practice again because of his sore knee. Whisenhunt said the Cards will be conservative with Schofield and make sure it doesn’t become a bigger problem. I’d guess Schofield wouldn’t play Thursday. Safety Rashad Johnson (abdomen), cornerback Greg Toler (knee) and fullback Jared Crank (neck) also sat out. Guys like Early Doucet and Todd Heap, who missed practice yesterday, were back.

— Linebacker Daryl Washington will miss the game because of the death of his grandmother.

— The Cards aren’t going to miss dorm life or dorm beds, but they will miss the mild temperatures. Practicing in Tempe is a whole different world this time of year.

“When we come down the hill after this time I know they are in good shape because of the altitude,” Whisenhunt said. “Getting adjusted to the heat takes a little bit. We’ll make sure we go through our routine with the tents and the fans and hopefully they’ll adjust quickly.”

— Whisenhunt praised the big crowds during camp. “It seems like there were more people,” Whisenhunt said.

— A lot happened over the last month, between the ongoing QB battle to the Hall of Fame game to a side trip to Missouri to Levi Brown’s injury. That’s all in the rear view. The team goes to Tennessee tomorrow and the regular season will be here soon.

“It was a good camp,” Whisenhunt said. “But now we have to take the next step.”

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Quarterbacks staying patient

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2012 – 6:53 pm

The wait for a quarterback is going to continue. And the quarterbacks know this.

Both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb were unfazed today when it was relayed that coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn’t see “any reason” to make a decision on the starting quarterback before the final preseason game. It makes sense, because in the past, Whisenhunt waited too, whether it was Leinart-Warner or Anderson-Leinart. But Whiz insisted the past had nothing to do with the present.

“As superstitious everyone thinks I am, I’m not doing it because that’s what we did before,” Whisenhunt said. “I just want to make sure we have enough situational evaluations of these players to make that decision.”

Both quarterbacks insist they aren’t anxious. That’s what they are saying. “I take it day by day,” Kolb said. That’s all they can do. It was pointed out by Kent Somers that the QBs have had a similar number of snaps (33 for Skelton, 32 for Kolb) and I’d think that would continue. So the debate will rage on for at least another week, in all probability.

— Tight end Todd Heap left afternoon practice early with a stinger. Linebacker Daryl Washington was absent with a death in the family. Sitting out practice were cornerback Greg Toler (knee), tight end Steve Skelton (back), linebacker O’Brien Schofield (knee), safety Rashad Johnson (abdomen strain), fullback Jared Crank (neck) and wide receiver Early Doucet (back).

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Roberts, Schofield to sit; Williams to start

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2012 – 5:28 pm

The Cardinals won’t have a handful of players tonight, most of whom were expected. RB Beanie Wells (knee) still isn’t ready to go, and guys who got hurt this week — CB Greg Toler (knee) and LB O’Brien Schofield (knee) most notably — are also sitting. WR Andre Roberts is not playing, but I don’t know why that is. Roberts was practicing all week. Rookie receiver LaRon Byrd unfortunately also won’t play with his bad shoulder.

The rest of the sitting list:

— CB Michael Adams (hamstring)

— RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin)

— FB Jared Crank (neck)

— LB Paris Lenon (ankle)

— TE Jeff King (quad)

RB Ryan Williams will indeed get his first chance to play since last season’s patella tendon rupture, 364 days since he got hurt. Williams is expected to start. That’d be a fun way to get going tonight.

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A possibility of Quentin Groves

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2012 – 9:52 am

Starting linebacker O’Brien Schofield missed practice Wednesday with a left knee injury. Yes, that’s the same knee he had reconstructed after an ACL tear coming out of college. But Schofield was working on the side with everyone else, and while I’m not sure he’ll play Friday against the Raiders, it didn’t look like a serious thing.

(Tight end Steve Skelton was also sitting with a back issue, along with LB Paris Lenon (ankle), CB Michael Adams (hamstring), FB Jared Crank (neck) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin) still out yesterday.)

If Schofield doesn’t go, the depth chart gets shifted for the Raiders. Veteran Clark Haggans would start, presumably. But at some point, you’d figure to see one of the more intriguing names in camp: Quentin Groves. Groves is the former second-round pick who didn’t really make it as a defensive end in this league — he has just two career sacks and is going into his fifth season — but seems to make sense in the Cards’ 3-4 scheme. He flashed against the Saints in the Hall of Fame game as he tries to escape the disappointing years with both the Jaguars and Raiders.

“He had a good workout for us (in the offseason) and we felt like this was a chance for us to check a guy out,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It seemed like a good fit for his physical ability. He’s worked hard at it.”

Sometimes, he’s worked a little too hard (he was asked to take, well, let’s call it a break, at a recent practice after touching the quarterback in some work, which is always a practice no-no.) But the Cards are still in search of backup linebackers and if — and that’s definitely still an if –a former second-round pick can play anywhere near that potential, the Cards could wind up with a hidden gem.



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The first depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2012 – 9:22 am

The Cardinals put out their first official depth chart of the season today. This stuff is fluid given certain competitions, but they have to make someone No. 1 and No. 2 and so on. There are no shocking developments, but:

— Kevin Kolb is listed as the No. 1 QB right now. John Skelton is the No. 2.

— Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.

— With Jeff King still rehabbing his quad, Todd Heap is the No. 1 tight end, Rob Housler No. 2.

— Behind Fitz is DeMarco Sampson and then Stephen Williams. At the other receiver spot, it officially goes Andre Roberts, then Early Doucet, then Michael Floyd.

— William Gay is the No. 1 right cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. Greg Toler is listed as Gay’s backup, with Michael Adams listed as Peterson’s backup.

— Brandon Williams is Sam Acho’s backup, with Clark Haggans as O’Brien Schofield’s backup at OLB. Quentin Groves is behind Haggans.

— With the large roster, the only second team rookies (no starters) are LG Senio Kelemete, FB Jared Crank and Massie. (And the Cards are incredibly unlikely to keep two fullbacks.) T Nate Potter is third-string, Floyd is third-string, S Justin Bethel is third-string and, with the large amount of veteran cornerbacks, Jamell Fleming is technically fourth-string behind Gay, Toler and A.J. Jefferson (although he will be on this roster, no doubt.)

Here is the entire depth chart.

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