So, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, what is a video worth?
In the case of Patrick Peterson’s beautiful one-handed interception Tuesday, well, you can see for yourself. Peterson still is a work in progress as a cornerback, but you understand with ability like that why he’s already got a a Pro Bowl as a corner under his belt.
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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The Cardinals’ rookies are in the middle of reporting to the team for the first time — they are in the process of getting physicals as I write this — with rookie minicamp starting tomorrow. Ahead of that, the Cards’ second- and third-round picks, LB Kevin Minter and S Tyrann Mathieu, held their first press conferences. In Mathieu’s case, it made sense. Otherwise, he’d be surrounded tomorrow after the lone practice open to the media.
Mathieu’s intro locally was the big story, of course. (Not that I want to discount the intense Minter, who had this solid line when describing himself: “I’m not a hoo-rah type of guy, I’m more of a speak-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick guy.”) Mathieu handled himself well. I’ll have more in a story on the homepage in a bit (and here it is), but for now, some of the quick highlights:
– The only way to stop the questions about his past problems, Mathieu said, was “just letting my actions speak for itself. … I definitely have a long journey in front of me.”
– More Mathieu on what lies ahead: “It’s not going to be easy, there will be challenges. But it’s something I’m ready for.”
– Patrick Peterson is going to be very important to this process, Mathieu said. “He’s probably going to be everywhere with me,” Mathieu said with a chuckle. We’ll see how Peterson feels about that notion.
– Mathieu called playing safety was “a challenge” but he’s ready. “I won’t say I’m comfortable with it,” he added.
– It’s time to move on from the ‘Honey Badger” nickname, he said. The nickname itself is fine, but “it’s from a dark time in my life.” That said, he’s OK if little kids want to call him that.
– His name is pronounced TY-run (rhymes with “Byron”) Matthew.
Tags: Kevin Minter, Patrick Peterson, rookies, Tyrann Mathieu
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The trade earlier this week for cornerback Javier Arenas provided the Cardinals their 10th cornerback on the roster. That isn’t a surprise, but when seven of them have NFL experience already, the numbers alone will make for a very interesting battle heading into training camp. It doesn’t matter who the coaches have been that I have covered over the years, every single one — when asked about a situation like this — likes to say, “You can never have too many cornerbacks.” True, but you can’t keep too many cornerbacks either.
The quick lineup, aside from Arenas: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann and three UDFAs in Josh Hill, Prentiss Waggner and Ronnie Yell.
(And as a quick aside: I think the Cards didn’t mind adding another corner, but realize that they were going to get rid of fullback Anthony Sherman regardless, and if the only option coming back was a corner like Arenas, it’s better than just cutting Sherman loose.)
Here are the facts thus far when it comes to this cornerback situation:
– In minicamp, Powers was with the first unit opposite Peterson. Now, Cason seemed to be nursing some kind of leg injury that may have limited him, but again, it was Powers who signed the three-year contract. He might be getting the first shot there.
– Bethel was told he’d be playing corner rather than safety when the coaches first got a chance to talk to him. But who knows, given the cornerback/safety situation (the Cards have seven safeties and much less experience there) maybe Bethel ends up a swing guy again.
– This math of course counts Tyrann Mathieu as a safety because that’s what Bruce Arians said he’d be at first, but Mathieu also could be a nickel corner.
– Arenas’ size (5-9) seems to dictate he’d be a slot cover guy only.
– The numbers and influx of guys will make the second offseason for Fleming very, very interesting and very important. Third-round picks usually are locks to stay a second season. But with a new staff, you never know.
– Usually, teams keep nine or 10 defensive backs. With nine, you could see four cornerbacks and five safeties or, given this roster, probably five and four.
– It does open up trade possibilities, like when the Cards dealt A.J. Jefferson at the end of the preseason last year given their glut at the position.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Josh Hill, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Prentiss Waggner, Ronnie Yell, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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So Anthony Sherman is gone, a victim of a regime change more than anything else, with his trade to K.C. today in exchange for cornerback Javier Arenas. This is what happens when new coaches come in (and obviously, both the Chiefs and Cards have new coaches) and existing players are deemed expendable. In Sherman’s case, he plays a position that isn’t used in Bruce Arians’ offense. In Arenas’ case, the Chiefs had brought on a bunch of cornerbacks and he was looking to be moved, although he comes to a team with a ton of potential cornerbacks as well — in addition to a safety (Tyrann Mathieu) who could end up playing slot receivers like Arenas is best suited for. Arenas came into the league in the 2010 draft.
ESPN scout Matt Williamson tweeted this about Arenas: “Pure slot CB-Size hurts him, but fiesty & big time asset on special teams.” It’s a crowded secondary now. Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming and Bryan McCann all have experience in the league and now Arenas comes aboard. Someone isn’t making it to September (unless the Cards end up sliding Bethel back to safety to ease the logjam.)
More importantly, it’s yet another move as General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster with Arians’ vision of what he needs. The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster and 45 of them are new. Now, 25 of them are rookies so they were going to be new regardless. But the number of veterans — veterans that played large roles on the team last year — that have been cut or traded continues to move up. The transactions list has a ton of action, and May just started. I count 31 moves where the Cards either made a trade, signed a veteran from outside the team or released a player.
(And to think, when Arenas lined up against Larry Fitzgerald during the Cards-Chiefs joint practice last August, you think either one contemplated being teammates?)
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Roster, Steve Keim, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals have a couple of players now that know very well who Tyrann Mathieu is — former and new teammates Patrick Peterson and Kevin Minter. But another man who knows Mathieu pretty well talked Tuesday about how much he believes in the kid: LSU coach Les Miles.
During an interview with Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 620, Miles was plain in his Honey Badger backing: “He’s a guy who is really meant to play football,” Miles said, adding, “the key is to make sure he keeps his focus on the things important to him. As long as he doesn’t allow a social life to draw him into things, he’ll be a tremendous player for Arizona for years.”
Miles said that Mathieu actually was very good following team rules and coaching direction. His issues, the coach said, came off the field and away from the team. Miles called Mathieu a “pleaser,” which gets him into trouble when he can’t say no to the wrong people. Now he’s got Peterson and Minter to help him along.
“I think he’ll fall right into those two guys and the opportunity to make great decisions can be made routinely there,” Miles said. “Now it’s time for him to realize his dream.”
Miles also said Peterson wouldn’t have wanted to bring Mathieu in if he was a bad teammate. This much is true, the Cardinals got intel from Peterson while vetting Mathieu and there would have been plenty of chances for Peterson to steer the team away from such a possibility. Miles isn’t naive, of course. “You need to surround him with the right structure and the right style of guys, but like I said, I’d bet on him.”
“They got a guy who sees himself as the biggest, baddest dude on the field,” Miles said. “He anticipates big plays. He’s a team guy. He’ll accept the coaches culture and fit in. He will be a tremendous contributor.”
Now, would I expect Miles to say differently? Perhaps not, although we are talking about a coach who had to be disappointed Mathieu got himself into the bad position and was forced to kick the guy off his team. But he could’ve declined the interview in the first place. He’s clearly a believer. The Cardinals clearly are too.
Tags: Kevin Minter, Les Miles, Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals may have been high on Jonathan Cooper the whole time but his name really didn’t get linked to the Cardinals in a strong sense until the last few days. His name popped up in the mocks more often, and even Cooper admitted he had noticed. Even if he didn’t really want to.
“I really tried not to look at the mock drafts and things of that nature,” Cooper said after the Cards took the guard seventh overall. “When people would say that, I’d be like, ‘It doesn’t mean anything, that’s just the media.’ So I was shocked when they called me.”
Avoiding mocks in this day and age? Not so much. “For the most part I did, but my dad was kind of big on it, so he’d send me the links every now and then.”
It’s probably a good idea, to be honest. Skip the noise and wait to see what happens on draft day.
– Cooper is going to start. Who does he replace? On the left side is Daryn Colledge, who could make the case he was the Cards’ best offensive lineman last year (although in context that may not mean as much given the line’s struggles as a whole.) On the right side is Adam Snyder, who played with injuries last season but had his issues. If I had to guess, Cooper will replace Snyder. And there is a chance someone can still be released, with the cap hit designated as a “June 1″ cut and spread over two seasons. We’ll see how it plays out.
– Cooper is familiar with the area, at least. He spent the last three months training at Athletes Performance Institute in Phoenix.
– GM Steve Keim must’ve really loved Cooper. Keim is, after all, an North Carolina State alum and Cooper went to North Carolina. “The hardest part of the selection was taking a Tar Heel,” Keim said. Said Cooper, “He made sure he let me know that on the phone call when he was telling me I was drafted.”
– Where to next? The Cardinals have the seventh pick of the second round, and with their two picks Friday they obviously could go in a lot of different directions. When we look at need, safety and pass rusher remain at the top of the list. Inside linebacker? Yes, I could see that too. The Cards did sign free agents like Alexander and Brinkley, but again, the idea was to avoid being forced into a pick.
– That said, going on Mike Mayock’s positional rankings, here’s what could be there for the Cards in the second round: Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien (wow, two Jonathans in two picks?), LSU inside linebacker Kevin Minter and Texas A&M DE-who-could-be-OLB Demontre Moore. There are others too, and frankly, most years, it seems like the Cards’ second-round pick comes as a surprise. I have no idea how the grades go, and like Thursday, it’s all going to come down to who goes in those top
six five picks.
– Yes, Geno Smith, Mike Glennon and Matt Barkley remain on the board. Well, since E.J. Manuel is the only QB gone the Cards could have a lot of QB options. I do not see the Cards going QB in the second round. The third? Maybe. They won’t waste a pick just to take a QB. If you don’t see some sliver of special in a QB, I don’t know why you’d burn a pick. Especially with Carson Palmer in place.
– I don’t know if Eddie Lacy will be there in seven picks. Would I take the running back? Yes, but with a caveat. If I have guys graded high at those other positions (safety, pass rusher) I am passing on the running back. If Lacy is standing out on the board, OK. But I’d rather not spend on a back that, by many accounts, isn’t necessarily special. It’s possible you could have run for 700 yards behind that Alabama offensive line. I’m not saying Lacy won’t be good. I’m just saying I would have other priorities.
– Before anyone asks again about Tyrann Mathieu, is he a third-round possibility? I could see it. His relationship with Patrick Peterson helps. The Cards could use a playmaker in the secondary like that. But I don’t know if I’d say it’s likely. Especially with an early third-rounder.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Jonathan Cooper, Kevin Minter, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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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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It’s inevitable, really, the physical strides a player makes in the time after his rookie season to his second NFL season. It’s not always in-your-face, but guys usually understand what it takes to prep their body for the NFL rigors after being in it a season. For a guy from a smaller school, it does become apparent. I remember that’s what happened with Greg Toler, and now that he’s been back a few days, the same can be said for second-year defensive back Justin Bethel.
Bethel came into the week looking pretty powerful. He said at week’s outset he wanted to be bigger if he was going to have to play safety. Then Bethel found out in the initial meetings with the coaches they want to work him at cornerback. Bethel weighed in at 201 pounds Thursday and said he’s in a much better place taking care of his body.
“I had to learn,” Bethel said. “I didn’t eat well at all. I’d eat here, go home, watch TV, come back the next day. If I wasn’t getting it (at the facility) I wasn’t eating. That messed me up weight-wise.”
Bethel wanted to be beefed up a bit to be physical at safety, but he said he doesn’t feel it has affected his speed, which already has made him a special teams demon. He plans to see how he feels on the field first before trying to figure out the right playing weight — “If I lose, I lose,” he said — but wants to keep his speed. Bethel (below, between Andre Roberts and Patrick Peterson) wouldn’t even credit himself for his bigger upper body, saying it was hereditary, and acknowledged it is work to keep weight on.
“It’s easy for me to drop weight,” Bethel said. “I go to sleep and drop like three pounds.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson
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Some quick tidbits as I try to sneak in a day off (because I just can’t leave you hanging):
– As painful as the decision to move on with Adrian Wilson was for the Cardinals, obviously the team was not alone. The perfect story is for the star player to come in and play his entire career with one franchise. Wilson wanted to do that with the Cardinals. You know Ed Reed and Brian Urlacher wanted to do the same and yet, Reed is now a Texan and Urlacher is looking for work unsure what options might come about. Wilson is now a Patriot. It just drives home what happens in the NFL. Those Ray Lewis storybook endings just aren’t realistic.
– In case you missed it yesterday, reserve center/guard Rich Ohrnberger signed a one-year contract with the Chargers to reunite with Ken Whisenhunt, who is San Diego’s offensive coordinator.
– Josh Weinfuss did a good piece on Honey Badger and how Patrick Peterson has taken Tyrann Mathieu under his wing as Mathieu tries to re-start his football career in the NFL. It’s been said a few times, but Peterson’s maturity at such a young age is amazing.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Brian Urlacher, Ed Reed, Patrick Peterson, Patriots, Ray Lewis, Rich Ohrnberger, Tyrann Mathieu
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When the notion first came up of the Cardinals possibly signing free agent Josh Cribbs, it also created the question, just exactly how did he fit? Ostensibly he would be a receiver; Cribbs’ desire to play more offense in Cleveland was not a secret.
But Cribbs’ market isn’t large. His knee surgery has delayed a deal in Arizona. But at least the possibility is out there enough for Bruce Arians to talk a little about it. It was clear that Arians still sees Cribbs as a special teamer first. There are other possibilities though – if he signs – as Arians sees it.
“Having tried to tackle him all these years on returns, that’s the first thing,” Arians said. “He could take it to the house at any point and time. To put him and Patrick (Peterson) back there together would be fun. The ability he brings as an offensive player is unique. It’d be a nice addition if it worked out.”
Cribbs (or Peterson, for that matter) won’t be used at QB in the wildcat formation — “I’m not a wildcat dude,” Arians said — but Cribbs reminds Arians of the offensive versatility of a player he had in Pittsburgh, Antwaan Randle-El.
“I like having those types of guys,” Arians said.
Cribbs had just four catches last season as he fell out of favor with Browns coach Pat Shurmur.
“I’d be anxious to look at his skill set as a receiver,” Arians said. “What could he do to get into our receiver mix?”
Peterson would still be a return man, Arians emphasized. And first Cribbs has to heal, pass a physical and the Cards still have to have interest by then.
But, Arians said, “it would be fun having them both back there. Patrick is dynamic and maybe put them back together and say, ‘Where are you going to kick it?’ “
Tags: free agency, Josh Cribbs, Patrick Peterson
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