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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The first day was quiet. Today, not so much.
In come a host of free agents (many necessary after the recent purge of veterans): a quarterback in Drew Stanton, a running back in Rashard Mendenhall, a linebacker/special teamer in Lorenzo Alexander, a cornerback in Jerraud Powers and a safety in Yeremiah Bell. The Bell thing came out of left field a bit, but so too did the release of safety Kerry Rhodes. Dropping both starting safeties in less than a week’s time.
A quick note on Rhodes. The team saves $6 million in both cap space and cash outlay by letting him go in 2013. There was no way that was ever going to stand. The plan late in the season last year was to extend Rhodes’ deal and lower that 2013 number. I don’t know what happened exactly, but I still think there was talk in that regard even after the regime change. Rhodes hits an open market with a secondary glut, and he’ll be fighting Charles Woodson, Ed Reed and Adrian Wilson, among others, for a job. I do not think Bell is to be Rhodes’ long-term solution. For 2013? Maybe. Let’s see how the rest of free agency goes and how the draft plays out. The draft is deep in safeties, and remember, GM Steve Keim said one of the things he wanted to do this year was take a big picture view of how the draft and free agency fit together based on available players in both areas.
As for the players the Cardinals signed, we will see how it plays out. I’m not going to sit here and say they are saviors. But we don’t know how they will fit. I found it interesting, when Stanton was talking about the offensive line, that he mentioned that a change in scheme could change the way a unit or player played. We usually look at the downside of that, but there can be upside too. I don’t know how they will fit.
If Powers stays healthy, I think that can be a good signing, and if the Cardinals manage to nab Antoine Cason too — he will visit soon — to go with Patrick Peterson, all the better. There are still young players like Jamell Fleming and Justin Bethel to add in the mix, and that factors in too. Bell in the end could just be this year’s James Sanders. Mendenhall said he is healthy and has been since about the middle of last season, which is good for a player who could end up being the main back — depending how Ryan Williams responds.
There are more moves to come. Stanton’s arrival, as I keep repeating, doesn’t bode well for the future of Kevin Kolb and that decision has to be made probably by Friday anyway, since his roster bonus is due over the weekend. Linebacker Rey Maualuga left Wednesday without a deal, but reportedly Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley is coming in for a visit. Then there is the Josh Cribbs watch, with multiple reports still have him in conversations with the Cards.
There’s a whole offseason to analyze the moves. And I’m sure we all will.
Tags: Drew Stanton, free agency, Jamell Fleming, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, Josh Cribbs, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Lorenzo Alexander, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Ryan Williams, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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The first afternoon of free agency is winding down. Twitter and the constant flow of information around the league is pushed everyone to the edge, it seems. To this I’m just making the point — it’s just March, and it’s just the first few hours.
(Here’s a post that’s sure to get everyone riled up at the end of the day.)
“Winning” March doesn’t mean you will win later. Can it help? Sure. But there’s no way to know now and certainly no reason to grade it out, good or bad, right now. Other than a couple of spots — like say, quarterback — what players will be the main ones talked about at the outset of camp? The ones who will have the heaviest influence on the season? Patrick Peterson. Larry Fitzgerald. Calais Campbell. Daryl Washington. The team’s best players, and the ones who are already here.
Every single player on the market has flaws. That’s why they are on the market. That too often seems to get lost in this discussion. I’m happy for Greg Toler if the reports are true he got $15 million for three years. He went to tiny Saint Paul’s, he worked a JC Penney’s for a while, for goodness sake. Today’s payday is the American dream on HGH. But with all due respect to Greg, a good person and a hard worker, did I see him as a $5M a year cornerback? No. And when Peterson’s deal has to be extended in a year or so, if Toler is making $5M, what would Peterson need to get?
The ebb and flow of emotions about this player and that player seem to happen in a vacuum too often. These are intricate puzzles being put together with talent, personalities, money and age all factored in. Every team must do it. They have to do it in the way they think is best. I have no idea how the team of Steve Keim and Bruce Arians will fare putting together this team. I’m not saying the Cards — like every team — haven’t made mistakes. But goodness, we are, as of this writing, less than five hours into free agency, weeks before the draft, and some insist Keim is a terrible GM. After, what, 63 days on the job? Not sure how you make that leap.
Heck, I’m writing this at 5:30 and by 7, there could be all kinds of news breaking about the Cards agreeing to deals. Who knows. If the Cards win in the fall, no one will remember or care about March. If they lose, no one will talk about March either. There will be other pressing business.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Daryl Washington, free agency, Greg Toler, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim
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Already, Bruce Arians said Patrick Peterson would still return punts. Peterson is too dangerous with the ball to stop doing that. And who knows — it might even go beyond that. Offensive snaps aren’t out of the question, Arians said.
“We have a group of receivers that are pretty dang good and I’m not sure which one of them I would sit on the bench,” Arians said. “The more he can touch the ball, that’s why he will be the punt returner. We’ll look at that.”
That idea works for Peterson, who isn’t going to turn down any chances to have the ball and make something happen. Last season, Peterson caught three passes when lined up as a receiver. That was under former coach Ken Whisenhunt, of course, but Arians is clearly open to it.
“I think Coach understands what type of player he has in me,” Peterson said. “I think he knows I have the determination to make something special happen when I have my hands on the ball. I’m excited to see what would happen, if he decided to do something like that.”
More work, besides defense and punt returns, can take the starch out of a player, especially one who is going to cover the opponent’s top receiver every game. Peterson said that didn’t matter. His offseason training is to prepare him for heavy workloads.
“I’m the type of guy that wants to do whatever it takes,” Peterson said. “I think I have the ability to play all three (facets) of the game, defense, special teams, and offense. I prepare myself. I prepare all offseason, get in all the running, to make sure my legs can handle all that needs to be done in a 16-game season. I put my body through hell and back to be prepared. I would be ready if Coach were to want to take it in whatever direction he might take it.”
Arians said he would have “some fun” with Peterson-on-offense concept. “I’ve got to see him throw too,” Arians said.
That notion drew a chuckle from Peterson. “I definitely can throw it,” Peterson said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson
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The Cardinals may have a new coach, but Bruce Arians will be sticking with the old way of how the team was returning punts – Patrick Peterson will remain that guy.
“He can’t get his hands on the ball enough for me,” Arians said, chuckling. “As long as the other team is punting, he’s going to be back there. And hopefully they will be punting a lot.”
Peterson’s sophomore campaign as a punt returner didn’t come close to measuring up to his Pro Bowl-earning rookie season, even as his play as a cornerback elevated to Pro Bowl status. Teams were much more leery of kicking to Peterson in 2012, and it probably didn’t help that one of his key blockers — defensive back Richard Marshall — wasn’t around after leaving as a free agent to go to the Dolphins.
On 51 returns in 2012, Peterson averaged 8.4 yards. He didn’t score a touchdown and his longest return was 26 yards, which he did twice. Compare that to 2011, when he had four touchdowns and averaged 15.9 yards on 44 returns and he had seven returns of at least 29 yards. Inevitably, teams were going to shy away from him.
Not that it matters to Arians.
Peterson will return “until he waves me off and says, ‘Coach, can I take a blow?’ ” Arians said. “That’s a scoring opportunity every time.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson, Richard Marshall
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New defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said he doesn’t expect a dramatic change with the defense and that he will stay with the 3-4 base alignment as he takes over for Ray Horton, which makes a lot of sense on a couple of levels — not the least of which being personnel. And while he didn’t address Darnell Dockett specifically, I’d think the Cards may move Dockett around a little more to play to Dockett’s strengths.
Bowles didn’t come out with any predictions, a la Horton in 2011. As for his stint as interim Eagles defensive coordinator this past season — one that did not go well as Philadelphia struggled as a team — Bowles wasn’t fazed. “I don’t think one year makes you a bad coach or a good coach.”
Head coach Bruce Arians also made it plain Bowles was always going to be his guy as defensive coordinator if he ever was a head coach, so Horton being in Arizona was likely irrelevant.
Bowles hasn’t had time yet to watch much video, so his evaluation of his players is scarce at this point (although Arians did say that cornerback Patrick Peterson will most definitely remain the punt returner, since he is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.) Bowles isn’t going to provide the sound bites his predecessor did, but Arians is clearly confident in Bowles to continue the trend as a solid defense. Rankings don’t matter to Arians — He called yardage rankings “bogus” — but wins and losses do, so Bowles is charged with coming up with a defense that helps make victories happen. Sounds like the stat goals the defense had will be a thing of the past.
More coming soon on a story on azcardinals.com. (And here you go.)
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Patrick Peterson, Todd Bowles
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If you were watching the Super Bowl (you were watching, right?) and you were watching the commercials, hopefully you noticed the NFL’s spot during halftime that was a thank you to fans, highlighting four teams that went out and surprised specific fans with a huge present – a present that happened to contain real NFL players.
The Cardinals were one of the teams, with Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson the hidden surprises in the box. Our video team was on hand as the NFL shot the Cards’ part of the commercial, and put together this great behind the scenes video.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Patrick Peterson
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It wasn’t Larry Fitzgerald’s finest year in the NFL — not with 71 catches, 798 yards and four touchdowns, all well below his regular output — but his reputation around the league has always been good. So it wasn’t a shock to see that Fitzgerald was still an alternate for the Pro Bowl when those announcements came out at the end of the season. And, with the many players who end up missing the Pro Bowl, it wasn’t a shock to see Tuesday that Fitz will once again be a Pro Bowler, replacing Chicago’s Brandon Marshall. Marshall reportedly needs hip surgery, and he becomes the second Pro Bowl wideout to have to give up his spot because of health reasons (Detroit’s Calvin Johnson is the other.) Tampa’s Vincent Jackson replaced Johnson. The other NFC receivers are Atlanta’s Julio Jones and the Giants’ Victor Cruz.
It will be Fitzgerald’s seventh Pro Bowl in nine NFL seasons. He joins fellow Cardinals Patrick Peterson and Daryl Washington in Hawaii.
The berth will give Fitzgerald a chance to extend his NFL record of career touchdown receptions in the league’s all-star game. Fitzgerald already has seven TD catches. Last year, he had six catches for 111 yards and three scores.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
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We know that linebacker Daryl Washington was named second-team all-pro by the Associated Press — that’s the “big” one — but the Cardinals, at least defensively, did OK on a couple of recent all-NFC West teams that came out.
Defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback Patrick Peterson and safety Kerry Rhodes were all named to profootballfocus.com’s team, which isn’t a surprise. They had been pointing out the years of Campbell and Rhodes all season, pushing them for Pro Bowl status. And they had good things to say about Peterson, even if they didn’t see him as one of the top two corners in the conference. They acknowledged Daryl Washington’s big year, but didn’t pick him.
Mike Sando over at ESPN had the Peterson, Campbell and Washington, leaving off Rhodes. The play of that young trio is why people have such enthusiasm for the Cards’ defense, even as older vets like Adrian Wilson and Darnell Dockett move toward passing the torch.
– Ken Whisenhunt’s head coaching interview tour continued Monday. He had already talked to Buffalo, Cleveland (twice), San Diego and then Philadelphia on Monday.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson
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Here’s one benefit of playing the Lions and Bears in back-to-back weeks: The blueprint was already there for the defense, after covering Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, to deal with the Bears’ Brandon Marshall. Johnson has been a beast this season, no question, but Marshall has been fairly beastly himself, with 107 catches, 1,398 yards and 10 touchdowns already himself.
Now, that doesn’t mean the Cards will necessarily give Marshall the “vice” look they gave Johnson at times last week – when Johnson was in the slot, safety Kerry Rhodes and cornerback William Gay would basically double-team him at the line, like Johnson was a gunner on punt coverage. But who knows? We could see it again. It’ll be fun to watch this defense regardless, against a struggling offensive line and against a quarterback who has shown he can be harassed into bad decisions.
– We do know we’ll see Patrick Peterson on Marshall , as Peterson keeps making his late-season push. I don’t think he’s getting double-digit picks, but he’s closer than I thought he’d get earlier in the season. He also talked a little this week about his confidence which is obvious.
“All the good corners have confidence in their ability to go out and make plays for their team,” Peterson said. “I believe the confidence started in high school. It was something my Dad always instilled in me growing up – ‘Always be confident in your ability, confident in what you are doing at all times.’ Not cocky. There is definitely a difference.
“I’m not a guy who’s going to go out and boast and brag about my ability, but if I feel like I am doing something better than another guy or doing something at the top level, I’ll definitely let you guys know.”
Peterson added, in a question about whether he was the best in the game, “I believe I am playing at a top level right now.”
– Both Rashad Johnson (hamstring) and James Sanders (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis Friday for the first time this week. Both are questionable. I would guess at least one will play Sunday, if not both, but starter Adrian Wilson could get more playing time, defensive coordinator Ray Horton said.
“There’s never been a question of Adrian’s ability,” said Horton, although Wilson has lost snaps since the bye. Horton said Friday part of the reason for that was to reward the good play of Johnson and Sanders.
Nevertheless, Wilson understands – as do many – there is a chance this could be Wilson’s final home game Sunday, with his future with the team murky right now. Horton was asked about calling the blitz last weekend that got Wilson the sack he needed to reach the 25-25 club.
“I was aware of where he was in the (historical rankings) in the league and it was a perfect opportunity to do it,” Horton said. “It was kind of called for him.”
– If the Cardinals win Sunday, it will be Ken Whisenhunt’s 50th victory as Cardinals’ head coach including playoffs.
– Given the problems with the Bears’ offensive line and the way the 49ers play offense, this might be the week linebacker Daryl Washington wants to get that elusive 10th sack of the season. Time is running out for him to his double-digits.
– Nothing official, but yes, I expect the roof open Sunday.
– Don’t know what’s going to happen with quarterback Brian Hoyer. I still think he ends up active in one of the final two games, if not both. Does that mean he plays? Not necessarily. Whisenhunt made it plain he wouldn’t change things up and jeopardize winning just to look at Hoyer, so my guess would be if a game got out of hand, then he might be willing to test-drive the new guy. But again, he’s got to be active for that to happen. Which likely means John Skelton would be made inactive.
– While Sunday’s game doesn’t kick off until 2:25 p.m., the plaza at University of Phoenix Stadium will open early, at 10:45 a.m., so fans can get through screening. The stadium still does not open until 90 minutes prior to kickoff for non-premium seat holders, but food and beverage options will be available on the plaza, in addition to entertainment at Gate 2. Anyone with food or beverage purchased on the plaza can bring it into the stadium when the doors open.
We come to the end of another home schedule. Seems like we were just showing up for that Seahawks game in early September. Back then, Ryan Williams, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein were still around (playing, I mean) and so were hopes for the season. Now the Cards just want to finish above .500 at UoP.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bears, Brandon Marshall, Brian Hoyer, Calvin Johnson, Daryl Washington, James Sanders, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Kerry Rhodes, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, William Gay
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