The Cardinals are bringing back seven of their eight practice squad players, signing them to “futures” contracts today (meaning they will be on the offseason roster once current deals expire March 4). The seven are:
- T Cliff Louis
- DL Jeremy Navarre
- G Tom Pestock
- LB Brandon Sharpe
- RB Alfonso Smith
- LB Pago Togafau
- WR Isaiah Williams
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Brandon Sharpe, Cliff Louis, Isaiah Williams, Jeremy Navarre, Pago Togafau, practice squad, Tom Pestock
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The Cardinals haven’t been releasing any info officially today, but as the NFL churns after final cuts, the Cards have apparently done a couple of things, like cut CB Marshay Green, LB Pago Togafau and FB Reagan Maui’a and claim three players who were released: former Giants FB/LB Jerome Johnson, former Browns CB Brandon McDonald, and former Packers LB Cyril Obiozor.
It looks like Johnson was a college linebacker who the Rams (last year) and the Giants converted to fullback. It will be interesting to see if that’s where the Cards want to go with veteran free agent fullback Tony Richardson (cut by Jets) out there and also fullback Owen Schmitt (cut by Seahawks). I could see them thinking about putting a claim in on Schmitt. McDonald had eight interceptions the past three seasons — which included 27 starts — and is the veteran cornerback the Cards were long expected to grab about this time. Obiozor was an undrafted guy last year who went from college defensive end to 3-4 linebacker on the Green Bay practice squad. He is a work in progress.
I am surprised about Green, if for no other reason, I thought he was ahead of fellow undrafted CB A.J. Jefferson, who remains on the team. Of course, Green is sub-5-foot-10 and Jefferson is 6-foot, and you always wonder if that impacts. I could see Green coming back to the practice squad.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Brandon McDonald, Cyril Obiozor, Jerome Johnson, Marshay Green, Owen Schmitt, Pago Togafau, Reagan Maui'a, Tony Richardson
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It seemingly came out of nowhere, coach Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to cancel Friday morning’s practice (he surprised the team with the news at their 7 p.m. meetings last night). But it was done with careful thought.
“One of the things I learned from coach (Bill) Cowher in Pittsburgh is you have to have a feel for your team,” Whisenhunt said. “There were many times with my time during my time with him and I thought after the fact how that was the right decision.
“I just sensed after Wednesday night, we ran 67 offensive snaps plus another 15 snaps of 7-on-7, so over 80 plays on that (artificial) turf, I knew it was going to be tough coming back out (Thursday) for the guys to get up for an afternoon practice, especially one in pads. They fought through it. It wasn’t our best practice but they did fight through it. That’s when I though, ‘It’ll be good to rest their legs, heal up their bodies, get some treatment, do some weightlifting.’ I just thought this was the right time.”
It was the last two-a-day scheduled day of camp. The Cards finish up their time in Flagstaff tomorrow with a lone morning workout, and fly to Tennessee Sunday morning. When it was all said and done, the Cards had just five days of two-a-day practices in Flag. The Cards will be in pads this afternoon.
– Whisenhunt said he has been pleased with the play of both Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride at the cornerback spot opposite DRC, and “we obviously feel a lot better about that position three weeks into camp than we did four months ago.” Whiz also said he likes “some of the young guys.” It’d be hard to think Whiz isn’t talking about undrafted rookie Marshay Green.
– As for inside linebacker, Whisenhunt clearly wants to see what Reggie Walker — who suffered a setback with his hamstring injury — can do. In my opinion, Walker still has a shot to start over Pago Togafau, if Walker can show some things. Then Whisenhunt gave veteran Paris Lenon a pretty nice endorsement: “Paris has been, I don’t want to say a surprise, but has performed very well and I am as pleased with Paris as anyone on our team, just from the standpoint of what he brings to the table. I thought from having played against him a couple of times that he was a good player, but I didn’t realize all the intangibles he brings to the table that makes him such a great fit for us.”
– Whisenhunt reiterated that he hoped quarterback Max Hall will play in Tennessee, adding “I intended to play Max last week.” But given what they are trying to do with Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson, I won’t be shocked if Hall doesn’t play again, or if John Skelton sits after his big first game.
Tags: Greg Toler, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Marshay Green, Max Hall, Pago Togafau, Paris Lenon, training camp, Trumaine McBride
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Larry Fitzgerald can’t practice, so he was out there coaching up the young receivers during this afternoon’s workout, which once again was in Walkup Skydome because of the rain. Even afterward, he was throwing passes to safety Hamza Abdullah on the sideline (in the picture below) as Abdullah worked on his interceptions. Fitz was reminding his teammates he was a quarterback once upon a time (not sure when, he had already broken out as gifted wideout in high school).
– The injury list remained the same. WR Ed Gant did practice, but WR Early Doucet (abdominal) is still out. So too were TE Ben Patrick (knee), LB Reggie Walker (hamstring, although Walker was running pretty good on the side), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP) and S Aaron Rouse (neck). Rouse is banged up from the car accident; the Cards may have to figure out if they can hang on to him while he recovers.
– There was almost another injury of the freak variety when LB Pago Togafau was undercut by WR Onrea Jones as Jones tried to come up with a catch. Togafau was slow to get up, but he turned out to be OK.
– WR Stephen Williams had another fine showing. He was open deep on one play although the ball by Matt Leinart was slightly underthrown, allowing CB Tru McBride to knock it away. Williams also caught a nice 42-yard bomb from Leinart in the back of the end zone during the two-minute drill that looked close to good (although McBride informed me via Twitter after practice Williams was out).
– CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came in to break up what looked like a sure long gainer from Steve Breaston from Leinart a couple plays earlier.
– There were two tussles between LB Stevie Baggs and TE Stephen Spach. The first was a little more intense — facemask-grabbing and all that. At this point, it can’t be a surprise Spach gets in the middle of such things. It’s what he does (although he must do other things better too, because he started in the Texans’ game).
– Don’t forget I will be hosting a live chat tomorrow — Wednesday — at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time (4:30 p.m. EST).
Tags: Aaron Rouse, Ben Patrick, DRC, Early Doucet, Ed Gant, Gerald Hayes, Hamza Abdullah, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, O'Brien Schofield, Pago Togafau, Reggie Walker, Stephen Spach, Stephen Williams, Stevie Baggs, Trumaine McBride
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At some point, the Cardinals will release linebacker Pago Togafau and not bring him back. But the Cards aren’t at that point yet.
Instead, they brought back Togafau last week to replace the underachieving Ali Highsmith. It is the third time he has been with the Cardinals and, because of that and his familiarity with the system (and the Cards’ lack of depth at inside linebacker), Togafau is already practicing with the first unit, alongside inside ‘backer Paris Lenon.
“I can’t complain,” Togafau said. “If they are shuffling it up, I got the right cards. I am with the ‘ones.’ I’m not going to say anything, I’m just going to keep working with the ‘ones’ and when you play with the ‘ones’ we have out here, they make you better.”
Linebackers coach Matt Raich said Togafau’s depth chart status is just part of “shuffling guys around” and he wanted to see how Togafau does as the Mike linebacker. “We liked him last year and he was pushing to make the squad until he got hurt,” Raich said. “He’s doing the same now.”
Togafau was in coach Ken Whisenhunt’s first training camp in 2007. He was cut in camp and picked up by Philadelphia and played briefly for the Eagles before being released again. The Saints picked him up and then cut him, when the Cardinals decided to bring him back. He was on the practice squad at the end of the 2008 season — including the Super Bowl run — and was with the team in Flagstaff last August when a foot injury derailed his chances. He was let go, only to be brought back to the practice squad in late November. A month later, Togafau was promoted to the Cards’ active roster — and lasted two games before being cut once again.
He was claimed off waivers by Tennessee and re-signed with the Titans at the beginning of the offseason. But he broke his foot, and the Titans cut ties with him before training camp. So the Cardinals came calling again just a few days later — for a fourth time.
“So close but yet so far is the best I can put it,” Togafau said. “It’s always nice to have a chance, to have an opportunity. I can’t complain, man. I keep getting a shot and the Cardinals keep blessing me with these shots. Hopefully it works out this time.”
Tags: Ken Whisenhunt, Matt Raich, Pago Togafau, training camp
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Running back Beanie Wells was out and practicing (he did skip a couple of things) with his bad ribs today, although he did run in 11-on-11, breaking one away and getting thumped on another play that let everyone know he was OK. He is sore and he wants to play Saturday but that’ll be wait-and-see, both with Beanie’s injury and coach Ken Whisenhunt’s comfort that Wells won’t be further banged up.
– Vets day for guard Alan Faneca, so he sat. Wide receiver Steve Breaston came down briefly to the area where injured players rehab but then he went back to practice and took part. Not sure what that meant. Wide receiver Early Doucet was in practice gear but I don’t remember seeing him do too much.
– Cornerback Greg Toler hurt his ankle. Hopefully it isn’t a big deal. He needs some game time.
– At least for today, Pago Togafau replaced Monty Beisel alongside Paris Lenon as starting inside linebackers. Beisel was with the second unit. I still think that’s a spot they will be looking at.
– At lunchtime, Whisenhunt was praising linebacker Cody Brown. At practice, Brown was in at the quarterback a couple of times. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on Saturday.
– There were a couple of nice plays in the two-minute drill. A Matt Leinart pass went right through the hands of Andre Roberts, but Breaston was there to grab it anyway for a completion. And a play later, safety Adrian Wilson tried to jump an out route, and Larry Fitzgerald snagged the pass one-handed.
– Finally, we are using James Morris for fantasy football articles this season. Just go to the Fan Zone page and in the upper right hand corner you’ll see “Fantasy News.” Morris breaks down the upcoming drafts.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Alan Faneca, Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, Cody Brown, Early Doucet, fantasy football, Greg Toler, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Leinart, Monty Beisel, Pago Togafau, Paris Lenon, Steve Breaston
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So much to talk about from this morning and lunch time. Let’s get to it, shall we?
– Practice was light this morning. That’s what happens when you have practiced heavy the previous two afternoons and you have a heavy practice planned in the evening, which the Cards do under the lights at Coconino High School.
– Remember the bad day rookie receiver Andre Roberts had a couple of days ago? Apparently Roberts doesn’t. Today he made a nice catch at the back of the end zone on a pass from Max Hall, snagging it while keeping his feet inbounds.
– On the injury list, linebacker Reggie Walker was back to work. Cornerback Rashad Barksdale has a left foot injury, and tight end Anthony Becht is nursing a mild back issue. Tight end Jim Dray (quad) is still sidelined. Safety Hamza Abdullah remains out with a bad hamstring, which is why the Cards brought in safety Aaron Rouse. The other day, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, starting safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes actually had to take reps with the third-string defense because the Cards were short at the position.
– Former Cardinal defensive end Bertrand Berry was back at camp. He’s a media member now, trying to get started in the business. He came up to do a series of web pieces for FOXsportsarizona.com about camp, beginning with a story on Clark Haggans and Joey Porter. “I’m just trying to learn the other side,” Berry said. Berry’s first video will be posted Aug. 6.
– Whisenhunt said the Cardinals were happy to get another chance at linebacker Pago Togafau, whom they lost off the practice squad last season. But it meant releasing Ali Highsmith because Whiz felt the team couldn’t get too heavy at the position. It hurts the Cards that two of the players hurt right now but counting against the 80-man roster are linebackers: Gerald Hayes and O’Brien Schofield.
– Speaking of inside linebacker, Whisenhunt has no thoughts right now on where they all stand. “I have to see more and get more information,” Whisenhunt said. “A lot will play out in the preseason games.”
– Finally, Adrian Wilson, once again, was sporting a new jersey number out at practice. The man who has made getting a different jersey number at practice a habit didn’t have the No. 9 (his high school number) on for the first time. Instead, he was wearing 5/53 — as in, a No. 53, but with the “3” blocked out on the front and back with trainers’ tape.
“Camp is monotonous,” Wilson deadpanned. “You gotta do something. I can’t grow a (expletive) beard.” He laughed when it was pointed out he did have some serious chin hairs, retorting, “I’ve had this for 30 years.”
Why a 53 with the 3 covered up? “Just wanted to feel like I was still a DB,” Wilson said. “Had the ‘5’ showing, but I had the ’53’ on the shoulder because I hit like a linebacker and cover like a safety. Know what I am saying?”
Indeed we do.
Tags: Aaron Rouse, Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Anthony Becht, Bertrand Berry, Clark Haggans, Gerald Hayes, Hamza Abdullah, Jim Dray, Joey Porter, Kerry Rhodes, Max Hall, O'Brien Schofield, Pago Togafau, Rashad Barksdale, Reggie Walker, training camp
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Hurting your calf on the first step of the conditioning test of training camp is never a good thing. So it’s probably not a shock the Cardinals waived-injured defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi Tuesday, the man known as the “Iron Sheik” to his teammates and the happiest man in the NFL to me. The Cardinals also cut inside linebacker Ali Highsmith, who had been running second team, and brought back yet again linebacker Pago Togafau, who has been with the Cards a few times. Finally, the team released wide receiver Deryn Bowser to sign safety Aaron Rouse, a veteran who played with the Packers and Giants last season.
The Highsmith move is a bit surprising, given the Cards’ questions at the position. But he struggled last season and apparently isn’t working out. Interesting on the signing of Rouse — who struggled a lot for the Giants, which is why they chased Antrel Rolle — but there are injuries in the secondary. Safety Hamza Abdullah was sitting out with a bad hamstring, and cornerback Rashad Barksdale has some sort of leg injury too.
Tags: Aaron Rouse, Ali Highsmith, Antrel Rolle, Dean Muhtadi, Deryn Bowser, Hamza Abdullah, Pago Togafau, Rashad Barksdale
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The Cardinals have made a couple of moves to bolster themselves for the playoffs, signing fullback Nehemiah Broughton and defensive end Jeremy Clark to the roster from the practice squad of the New York Giants. To make room for the players, the Cards released linebacker Pago Togafau and put defensive end Jason Banks on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
Broughton spend the season with the Giants after the Vikings cut him after the preseason. He’s played in six regular-season games since 2005 and serves as a backup in case the neck issues with starter Dan Kreider persist. Clark was on the practice squad of the Falcons and then the Giants this season and appeared in four games for the Giants in 2008.
The Cards also added defensive end Ryan Kees to the open practice squad spot after Banks was elevated last weekend.
Tags: Jason Banks, Jeremy Clark, Nehemiah Broughton, Pago Togafau, Ryan Kees
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The Cardinals officially put tackle Mike Gandy on injured reserve today after he had surgery to repair a sports hernia Friday, and with the open roster spot, the team promoted linebacker Pago Togafau to the active roster. That open spot on the practice squad allowed the Cards to bring linebacker Ali Highsmith back to the practice squad.
The move with Gandy isn’t a surprise. It was going to be difficult to carry him and then, should he actually make it back to the field, play in a game that, by then would likely be a divisional round or NFC championship game after being off a month or so.
Tags: Ali Highsmith, Mike Gandy, Pago Togafau
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