The Cardinals did a lot more on their final OTA day than they had in a long time — in years previous, the team would often get excused after the opening special teams period (or, under Ken Whisenhunt, after a stretch). There was full work today, although a Chandler Catanzaro field goal clipped the end about 30 minutes earlier than normal. The Cards had also eschewed the two-practice-field work the last few days of OTAs. Next week is the last work of the offseason — mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
— Bruce Arians said he was happy with the competition, although again, with no pads, it’s hard to know exactly where anyone is. That won’t change next week, because the rules are exactly the same for minicamp.
— In particular, Arians said the final roster for both the defensive line and outside linebackers will be “interesting” in terms of the numbers kept. “We are going to keep the best 53.
— Arians passed over the chance to say Bobby Massie has a strong hold on the right tackle job right now, instead pointing out how good of an offseason Earl Watford has been having at multiple positions — including right tackle. (We’ll have more on Watford later on the homepage.)
— Michael Floyd has been sitting out this week with an undisclosed ailment and Larry Fitzgerald missed the last couple days of the voluntary work, leaving lots of reps for John Brown — who Arians said has been “great” in OTAs.
— Arians said rookie running back David Johnson looks very good as a receiver. As for being a running back, that evaluation can only come when the pads are on, Arians said.
— Quarterback Carson Palmer briefly appeared in 11-on-11 work although it was in a walk-through drill. Palmer could get more no-huddle work in minimcamp, Arians said, “depending who’s on defense.” That means Arians has to trust the defenders to stay well away from Palmer and his knee. The vets know what’s what.
— The final OTA opened with the big boys of the offensive and defensive lines catching kickoffs. It’s always a sight to behold (and yes, there should be video on it later today.)
Tags: Bobby Massie, Chandler Catanzaro, Earl Watford, John Brown, OTAs
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The Cardinals started their second week of OTAs today after the long weekend, a session that coach Bruce Arians said started a little slowly in mental and communication terms before the Cardinals straightened things out. Quarterback Carson Palmer continues to sit out 11-on-11 work but in 7-on-7, on a play where coverage was good, he even took off on a scramble. Now, obviously there is no contact anyway and in 7-on-7, there are really no defenders matched up with the QB anyway, but still, a scramble.
“I’ve watched him run all over this place for the last month,” Arians said. “That part doesn’t bother me at all.”
Now for a couple of offensive line tidbits, with the caveat that, in the offseason, little can be determined about the offensive or defensive line.
— Arians, for that reason, didn’t have much to say about how new guard Mike Iupati looks. “Mike’s not a soccer player,” Arians said. “He’s a physical guy and now’s not a time to be physical.”
It doesn’t mean the Cardinals don’t have high hopes for Iupati. But that’s a discussion for training camp.
— As for the battle at center between Ted Larsen and A.Q. Shipley, there is a little more to that because the center can at least snap the ball. “It’s been back and forth every day,” Arians said. “Teddy had some problems snapping the ball in shotgun the first couple of days. ‘Q’ knows the offense inside and out. It’ll be a battle until the end.”
— As for first-round pick D.J. Humphries, Arians said the tackle “needs to mature a little bit” and that his progress has been slow.
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Carson Palmer, D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati, offseason, OTAs, Ted Larsen
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During a portion of today’s OTA when position groups were working on their own, each of the three lines of defense — the defensive line, the linebackers and the defensive backs — went to work with coaches. Except the coaches were not their own. The linebackers headed over to pass rush coach Tom Pratt. The defensive backs were with linebackers coaches Bob Sanders and Larry Foote. And the defensive line was working with secondary coaches Nick Rapone and Kevin Ross.
It’s part of the “tackling circuit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. For instance, he said the defensive backs were working with Sanders on how to come off a cut block to make a play. “It’s just to work on all that,” Peterson said. “Get different looks.” The players rotate daily.
There is only so much tackling work you can ever do at practice. Getting after a tackling dummy and/or sliding off a blocking sled to get in the right position to tackle is about the extent. Added benefit of this sequence: All the defensive coaches get time with all the different players on that side of the ball.
Tags: Bob Sanders, Kevin Ross, Larry Foote, Nick Rapone, OTAs, Patrick Peterson, tackling, Tom Pratt
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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.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, OTAs, quarterbacks, Tom Moore
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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.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Deone Bucannon, Earl Watford, Jake Ballard, John Abraham, John Carlson, Kevin Minter, Larry Foote, Matt Shaughnessy, OTAs, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Tony Jefferson
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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.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, CBA, offseason, OTAs, Paul Fanaika
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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.
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.”
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, Earl Watford, OTAs, Tony Jefferson
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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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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.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Chilo Rachal, Daryl Washington, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Joe Caprioglio, Jonathan Cooper, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, OTAs, Paul Fanaika, Ryan Swope
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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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