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The black stripes are not a band

Posted by Darren Urban on June 3, 2014 – 7:32 am

Those looking at the photos from yesterday’s OTA or the video seemed to notice the black stripe on the Cardinals’ helmets. OK, it wasn’t on all their helmets. It was only on the helmet of the quarterbacks. That alone should give you a hint that it was something else besides some interesting new tweak to the team’s headgear. So no, the Cardinals aren’t going for a new look (although it is kind of catchy, no?)

In fact, it’s a simple way for the coaching staff to have an easier time to see what way the quarterback’s eyes are pointed when watching some of the videoed-from-high-above practice footage every day. The shots that include all 22 players on the field can make everyone look a little small on the screen. This is just another tool to make sure Bruce Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens have all the information they can in their work with the QBs.

BlackStripeBlog


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CAPTION THIS – 2014 OTAs Edition

Posted by since1898 on May 21, 2014 – 11:14 am

Carson Palmer, John Brown

BACK TO #since1898


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Lining up to begin OTAs

Posted by Darren Urban on May 20, 2014 – 10:05 am

There are, in the end, few starting spots that will truly be up for grabs as the Cardinals move toward the regular season. That’s reality. But as the Cards begin organized team activities today, there are some things to watch for. Through the Phase 2 work, there have been certain people running with the first unit. For instance, on the offensive line, Bradley Sowell is the first-team right tackle and Paul Fanaika remains the starting right guard. Bobby Massie and Earl Watford are with the second team. I don’t know if that is going to change before we get to training camp — I’d be a little surprised if it did — and camp will be when Massie and Watford will have to make their push.

At tight end, there’s been a lot of work for John Carlson and Jake Ballard and I think Rob Housler is going to have to work hard to stay up on the depth chart, although with his skill set and Bruce Arians’ love for multiple tight ends there will be plenty of work to go around. On defense, Kevin Minter and Daryl Washington are your inside linebackers, although Larry Foote is there to step in if Washington can’t be there. On the outside, Matt Shaughnessy and Sam Acho are getting reps although I’d expect John Abraham to be the starter when he’s around (remember, all this work is voluntary right now).

The rookies, meanwhile, will be worked in slowly. It was interesting to see first-round pick Deone Bucannon basically shadow Tony Jefferson at strong safety during the Phase 2 run-throughs of defensive plays. That’s one way to learn on the job. I anticipate a two-field system like last summer for the young players, although we’ll see if Arians sticks with that. I’ll have more after today’s workout.

DefesnivehikeUSE


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Cardinals get back on the field

Posted by Darren Urban on May 5, 2014 – 1:26 pm

It’s a holiday. Kind of. And not Cinco de Mayo, but instead that day in the offseason when the players officially return to the field for football. It’s called Phase 2 in the parlance of the collective bargaining agreement. The rules are simple: Coaches can finally talk to players on the field. Offense can work with offense, defense with defense. No mixing. No helmets. The hour allowed on the field looks a lot like the first chunk of a regular practice, with individual drills and walkthrough-type situations with each unit.

There will be two weeks of this before organized team activities — the ones with the helmets and portions that are offense versus defense — begin May 20. Had the draft happened 10 days ago as usual, the rookies could have been out here but instead, they must wait. It also remains a voluntary situation, so while there was good participation, some players were not here. Interestingly — and not surprisingly — it was Paul Fanaika at first-unit right guard and Bradley Sowell at first-team right tackle to open things up.

We’ll have a photo gallery and a video up later today.

Phase2Blog


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Rookies get to show — good and bad

Posted by Darren Urban on June 4, 2013 – 6:22 pm

At some point, as I watched Earl Watford and Alex Okafor sign their first contracts Tuesday, it was tough not to picture them — at some point — getting their chance to play. That would have been true anyway, and even moreso under a regime that clearly values the idea of playing young players.

That also is underscored by the decision by Bruce Arians to hold virtually two separate practices this summer. It makes a ton of sense given that Arians walked in preaching that his staff would be teaching and then hiring a ton of coaches to do just that (Arians talked about smaller class sizes, something every school teacher wishes for every day.) Undrafted rookie safety Tony Jefferson also said that to me the other day, that Arians gives everyone a chance to show what they can do — which is a great thing for the young guys.

Maybe.

Arians noted Monday that in the last period of Monday’s OTA, the final period was done on one field with everyone together. That meant about two reps for the young players who are usually on the second field.

“This last period, all they did was stand and watch,” Arians said. “That’s how it is most places.”

There’s a lot more to see on the tape each day when Arians and the staff who spend their time with the first two units on the main field break down field two. Players doing well can catch the eye. But what if a player struggles? Certainly, the staff is going to see that a lot sooner than they would have most years. You wonder if it could cost a guy a chance at getting to training camp.

“On the other field, you get 30 to 40 (reps),” Arians said. “They are weeding themselves out quickly. It’s easy for us as coaches to evaluate, to see if there are things worth salvaging.”


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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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In the first OTA, breaking up the team (and other notes)

Posted by Darren Urban on May 14, 2013 – 1:12 pm

The Cardinals began OTAs today and coach Bruce Arians tried something new with his 90-man roster: A dual practice. For a good chunk of the time on the field, the main first- and second-units worked on the front field, while the younger players — including almost every rookie — went to the second field with a mirror type of workout.

“We wanted to make sure we maximized the opportunities our rookies got, to get repetitions,” Arians said. “You can’t find a diamond in the rough if he’s standing on the sideline watching. You can find one if he’s out there working. That’s our goal. Get every single guy here an opportunity to make the ballclub.”

Arians said he’s never seen it done in his time in the NFL. Usually there aren’t enough players. “Our offensive tackles got a good workout,” Arians said. “There’s only four of them.” (That’s Nate Potter, Bobby Massie, Jamaal Johnson-Webb and Paul Fanaika today. Levi Brown was limited in his rehab and UDFA Joe Caprioglio isn’t here yet because Colorado State hasn’t finished up the spring semester.)

– Arians noted the full participation and thanked his players for the voluntary work. That included Daryl Washington (who has been here the whole time, not that it is new). Washington did address the media. Here is the story right here.

– Karlos Dansby was running with the first unit with Jasper Brinkley at inside linebacker. Washington was with Kevin Minter with the second unit. That was tough not to notice. We’ll see how it progresses as we go. Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho are working as the first-unit outside linebackers. Jerraud Powers continues to work first unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson.

– Jonathan Cooper was running second-team left guard behind Chilo Rachal. All the other draftees — save for Ryan Swope, who was pulled up after LaRon Byrd had a neck spasm — were working in the second practice.

– It was weird seeing Dansby wearing No. 55. It was more weird seeing him in Miami Dolphin blue cleats. I’m sure that’ll be fixed soon. “I told him he could have my red shoes tomorrow,” Arians said. “He looked good. He looked spry.”

LosBlueUSE


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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.

LuckTaylorUSE


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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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Being careful in OTA work

Posted by Darren Urban on June 8, 2012 – 9:39 am

The Seahawks lost a pair of organized team activities this week after the league and the Players Association deemed a previous OTA too rough. The league and the NFLPA are always on the lookout for such things. Over the years, various teams have been docked for similar violations. It even happened to the Cardinals and Dennis Green back in 2004, although the Cards lost a week of the strength and conditioning program by the time they were punished because OTAs had ended by then.

Nevertheless, staying vigilant is important for each team. The new rules say anytime players are on the field at the facility their time must be taped, just in cases the league wants/needs to review something — the Cards even had to trim trees to create better sight lines — although coach Ken Whisenhunt said he feels like his players understand how practices have to go to make sure nothing crosses the line.

“I think our guys have a good understanding of the tempo,” Whisenhunt said. “They go hard but they know when to pull off. You get competitive situations, like line stunts, when you are trying to get timing, but they know they have to pull off and no one has gotten in a position where it has gone over the top. They understand how to practice. It’s not pads, so you can’t really turn it loose like in training camp.”


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