This is when you feel the legacy, on the day in which Adrian Wilson officially retires and when he talks about the guys who helped him when he got into the league, Pat Tillman comes up. It’s fitting this time of year, when the anniversary of Tillman’s death draws near. It’s easy to forget how important Tillman was to Wilson that one season they played together, in 2001.
“I didn’t know the first thing about the playbook,” Wilson said of his rookie season. “(Defensive coordinator) Larry Marmie’s playbook was so complicated, I couldn’t understand it. Pat sat me down for hours upon hours just going through the playbook just to go to practice the next day. It was that complicated for me. I owe big dividend to Pat.”
To think, Wilson was there to essentially replace Tillman.
(Wilson thanked other “old-time” Cardinals Corey Chavous, Kwamie Lassiter, Rob Fredrickson and Ron McKinnon for their help when he was starting out too.)
— When Wilson was released back in 2013, I covered a lot of the instant emotions and thoughts I had of his career in this post. But his retirement Monday brought some closure and, perhaps sooner rather than later, maybe bring Wilson back into the building on a consistent basis. He shrugged off his future right now, saying he wanted to “take my time on that.” He’s got four young kids. That’s his focus now, although there is little question GM Steve Keim likes having him in the mix. Team president Michael Bidwill noted that before the press conference, Wilson had his mock draft around, drawing a grin from Wilson.
“He’s made some improvements from his first mock that he showed me,” Keim said. “I think I sent him back to the film room.”
— Not only was Wilson’s family there, but his two buddies from North Carolina from when he was 10 years old, Adrian Mack and Anthony Johnson, were there Monday and it took me back to 2010 when Wilson invited me back to High Point to cover his high school retiring his jersey number and I was able to meet Mack and Johnson and do a big story on who Wilson really was as a person. Looking back on that article, through the prism of today, this quote stands out, about Wilson desperately wanting to leave a legacy.
“Nobody in my family has one and I’ll be the first,” Wilson said. “That’s something I think is more important to me than anything – leaving that right mark. I want to lay a foundation down where it doesn’t matter what generation you come from, you’ve got to respect what I did.”
— Bidwill will have Wilson go in the Ring of Honor, but that date is TBD. The schedule comes out tomorrow, and then the team must figure out what home games have which events, like Breast Cancer Awareness or Salute to Service, for example.
— Wilson admits he thinks about the Hall of Fame. I’ll have a separate post on that tomorrow, but it’s been tough sledding for safeties in Canton.
— There was a good group of former teammates on hand for Wilson today: Fitz, Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, Calais Campbell, Bertrand Berry, Quentin Harris, Damien Anderson, Rolando Cantu. Peterson even took the mic during the press conference to deliver a statement in front of everyone. Wilson was an important part of this franchise. He still should be.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bertrand Berry, Calais Campbell, Damien Anderson, Hall of Fame, Justin Bethel, Michael Bidwill, Pat Tillman, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Harris, Rashad Johnson, Rolando Cantu
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During the season Bruce Arians had referred to a vague medical problem Patrick Peterson had dealt with, and then during the Scouting combine said it had to do with Peterson’s “blood issues.” Kent Somers, talking to Peterson over the weekend, had Peterson acknowledge “I am a diabetic.” Today, Peterson tweeted out a statement of his own.
I want to take a moment to address the media reports this morning regarding my health. While I did have (cont) http://t.co/2UvNHrO4pZ
— Patrick Peterson (@RealPeterson21) April 7, 2015
The important part of the statement is that Peterson said through diet and a doctor’s care, “I’m grateful that this has been reversible for me and my health is back to normal.”
Arians didn’t talk about the health issues at all at the recent NFL spring meetings when talking about the Pro Bowl cornerback. Asked if he felt Peterson was criticized too much last season, Arians said “it was probably warranted in September.” But he quickly added that Peterson bounced back strong (and perhaps not coincidentally, about the time Peterson would have figured out his health plan.)
“He’s on the number one guy from the other team every week, all over the field,” Arians said. “You’re going to lose a few battles. I don’t care who you are. Deion used to lose some battles.
“(Peterson) gets overly criticized because of his stature. There was not much to criticize from October to the rest of the way.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson
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When the strength and conditioning program begins for the Cardinals (and around most of the league) April 20, the tendency is to wonder, “Who isn’t there?” Then becomes the rash of “Remember, it’s only voluntary” answers.
(The teams with new head coaches can begin sooner.)
As the years have gone on and teams have hoped that their players would show up to such voluntary work, many contracts have been drawn up with workout bonuses attached. For a pretty good chunk of change, the players just have to come to a high percentage of the voluntary workout dates. The Cardinals are no different.
A list of the players on the active roster that have workout bonuses. (NT Alameda Ta’amu has a workout-like bonus, but that money is tied to making weight, not just showing up to work):
P Dave Zastudil $270,000
DE Calais Campbell $250,000
QB Drew Stanton $250,000
LB Sean Weatherspoon $250,000
S Rashad Johnson $150,000
DT Corey Peters $150,000
LB Matt Shaughnessy $125,000
CB Patrick Peterson $100,000
LB Lorenzo Alexander $100,000
S Tyrann Mathieu $50,000
C/G A.Q. Shipley $25,000
C/G Ted Larsen $25,000
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Calais Campbell, Corey Peters, Dave Zastudil, Drew Stanton, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, offseason, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Sean Weatherspoon, Ted Larsen, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals have signed cornerback Damond Smith, a move that likely has more to do with building up to the 90-man roster, you’d think. Smith, who was in camp with Kansas City last season, also has played in the Canadian Football League. He has not appeared in an NFL game.
Until the Cards find out what will happen with free agent-to-be Antonio Cromartie, it’s hard to know exactly where the Cardinals need to go at the position this offseason. Cromartie figures to have a market, and it’s long felt he could be this offseason’s Karlos Dansby — the Cardinals want him back and have a price, and the player might just be money-whipped to go elsewhere. Cromartie also has made it clear he misses living back East, so that also could play a major role (the defensive coordinator he liked is now the head coach of the team he long played for, so you can connect some potential dots there.)
If Cromartie leaves, then with no additions you figure Justin Bethel is in probable line to get to play cornerback, with Jerraud Powers — whom Arians loved in 2014 — playing the slot and Patrick Peterson being the anchor, perhaps going back to following the No. 1 receiver all over the field. If Cro goes, though, it makes sense the Cardinals made an addition at the position at some point.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Damond Smith, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson
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There were a couple of times coach Bruce Arians noted this season that the cornerback had dealt with some health issues aside from the badly sprained ankle Peterson played through after the Denver game. Peterson never talked about it specifically. Then Arians mentioned it during an appearance on Pro Football Talk that Peterson had some “blood issues” early in 2014.
“(Patrick) needs to have a great offseason which he is determined to have,” Arians said. “But to me, he had a bad September and he was battling some blood issues at the time that no one would be aware of …”
Arians was cut off by host Mike Florio to ask about the blood issues at that point. Arians said it was a “blood sugar issue” and that Peterson is fine now.
“It was cleared up in October,” Arians said. “He played four of the greatest games I’ve seen (later in 2014).”
Arians said the issue was “borderline” diabetes and Peterson had to learn how to manage the situation, which he did. He praised both the Cardinals’ medical staff and Peterson for finding a solution, as well as Peterson’s wife, who is studying to be a doctor.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson
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Free-agent-to-be cornerback Antonio Cromartie said the Cardinals have yet to talk to him about a new contract. That isn’t that surprising. Cromartie said he never expected any talks until after the Super Bowl anyway.
“I would like to (return),” Cromartie said. “But like I said before I am always going to keep the door open. It’s my 10th year, I want to make sure, not only for me but for my family, that (a decision) is understandable for them and reasonable for my family.”
Cromartie said if talks do start, “we’ll see what happens.” His cornerback cohort doesn’t seem like he has a ton of optimism Cromartie will return.
“I’m definitely trying to keep him here,” Peterson said. “It’s going to be tough, especially with Todd (Bowles) being in New York. That’s all he talks about is freakin’ New York. I’m definitely trying to get him to stay. We’ll see what happens.”
(There’s that phrase again.)
Cromartie never wanted to leave the Jets in the first place — he was a salary cap casualty by a now-dismissed GM — so staying with Bowles and going back makes some sense. Regardless, Peterson and defensive end Calais Campbell see themselves as de facto recruiters for the Cardinals, and given that both guys are committed to long-term contracts here, trying to lure talent here naturally follows.
“I’m always scanning the free agent list,” Peterson said after Friday’s Pro Bowl practice. “I haven’t talked to any of these (Pro Bowlers) yet and I definitely didn’t scan the free agent list yet, but I’m always scanning the free agent list. I always find a way to get guys’ numbers. That won’t be a problem to talk to them.”
Peterson said he doesn’t have to do a lot of selling these days. The area and the Cardinals’ recent success under coach Bruce Arians are pretty straightforward facts in the free-agent game.
“It’ll be good to market some of these guys, try to see if we can talk some of them into coming to Arizona,” Campbell said. “The guys in the cold cities, I’m like, ‘Yeah, man, you’ll love it here. Trust me.’ ”
Of course, usually, it’s the money that wins out. Those purse strings are held by GM Steve Keim, and so much goes into who the Cards try to sign. There is a cap budget and analytics to factor into the equation. Which, coming full circle, is how the Cardinals plan to approach Cromartie in the first place.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Calais Campbell, free agency, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
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The wind was blowing pretty good Thursday at Luke Air Force Base — Patrick Peterson was estimating the wind chill at 45 degrees, which might have been a tad overstated but the man was in a T-shirt and shorts, after all — when Peterson’s interview session was briefly taken over by a celebrity interviewer.
“Mr. Peterson, we just wanted to come ask you, would you rather be in Hawaii or in Phoenix?” teammate and fellow Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie asked.
Peterson’s answer? Hawaii.
No disrespect, of course. But Hawaii is Hawaii.
“In Hawaii, it probably rains today,” Cromartie said later. “But I take the rain and then it clears up and then it’s 82 degrees. I’m not used to this, the wind. I’ll take it for what it’s worth and hopefully we get it back to Hawaii.”
That was about the only thing to complain about as the players had a 45-minute walk through and then signed autographs for the military fans on hand. Peterson gave good-natured grief for Calais Campbell talking about studying the play book on social media — “He’s a newbie,” Peterson said — and smiled about the workload.
“We don’t need any practice,” Peterson said. “This stuff is pointless. You saw how long we were out here for.
“We still want to play hard, but have fun and make sure we put on a great show for the fans.”
And make sure they pack long pants just in case for Friday’s practice.
“I’m coming prepared,” Peterson said.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
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Do the Cardinals have a Pro Bowl player?
I’m not saying the Cardinals don’t have any players talented enough to make it. But usually, in seasons where your team is 11-3, there are at least a couple of locks. You would be hard-pressed to come up with any locks for the Cardinals. Offensively, the production hasn’t been consistent enough to see anyone getting a major push. Defensively, there are possibilities, but it’ll be interesting to see how many can find a way in, at least before guys start dropping out.
In the latest Pro Bowl voting numbers this week, it was interesting to see that safety Rashad Johnson — who I do agree has had a very good season for this team — has found his way into the top 10 among safeties. Johnson is eighth, and judging by those who keep tweeting that they want him to get even more votes, maybe Johnson can climb the ladder.
In fact, it’s only the secondary that is represented for the Cardinals right now, at least among the top 10 vote-getters at their positions. Patrick Peterson is eighth and Antonio Cromartie 10th among cornerbacks, while cornerback Justin Bethel is ninth among special teamers.
If you want to vote for the Pro Bowl, click here.
Now for some housekeeping items as the week comes to a close and the Cards get a mini-bye:
— Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali was fined $16,357 for hitting Cardinals QB Drew Stanton low in last week’s game. You remember the play, the one where it looked then for a split-second Stanton was lost for a long time. There have been a couple of those. Cardinals defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was fined the same amount for roughing Chiefs QB Alex Smith.
Chiefs safety Kurt Coleman, who decked wide receiver Smokey Brown by what looked like it might have been a possible helmet-to-helmet, was not fined. He wasn’t flagged for that play either.
— Bruce Arians wasn’t backing down from his comment after Thursday’s game, when he said “I love it when nobody says you’re going to have a chance to win. There’s an 11-3 team and a team that is always 8-8. You figure it out.” Many took it as a shot to the Rams — and obviously, it wasn’t a compliment — but I took it more as a jab against the media picking against the Cardinals in the game rather than the Rams themselves.
Not that it really matters. Asked why he made such a comment, Arians responded simply, “I just tried to state the facts.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bruce Arians, Drew Stanton, John Brown, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl, Rashad Johnson, Tommy Kelly
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You know the story at this point: Last week, on a conference call with Atlanta reporters, Patrick Peterson talked about matching up with Falcons receiver Julio Jones. During the game, Jones — covered almost always by Peterson — had 10 catches for a career-high 189 yards.
To Peterson’s credit, he talked about it afterward. Bruce Arians said he didn’t have an issue with Peterson saying things ahead of time, but that Peterson has to back it up.
Peterson’s key quotes from last week: “He won a couple battles, I won a couple battles. But I think for the most part I won the majority of those battles. (Jones is) an incredible athlete. Love the battle and the competition between us. It just brings out the best in both of us.”
Also: “Me feeling I’m the best corner in the league, I want the team’s No. 1 receiver, period. That’s where you get the opportunity to gain the respect from your peers and be recognized as one of the best and one of the greats after you are done with the game. That’s the kind of pressure I like to have for myself and as a team.”
Peterson wasn’t thrilled with how the game turned out. He clearly wasn’t happy with how his comments were portrayed when he talked about it Monday.
“Honestly, I say that every single week so I don’t know how they took it out of context,” Peterson said. “All I said was, by me considering myself the best, you want to go against the other’s team’s best receiver. My answer is not going to change week in, week out, because I am a competitor. That’s what I want. But if they took it out of context that I called him out, so be it. They wanted a little, I guess, George Foreman-Ali type thing going on but it was nothing like that. I respect Julio. I’ve been going against Julio since college so I would never call him out. I have that respect for him. For them to say I called him out, that’s totally baloney, but it is what it is.”
There are a couple of points to be made here. One, Peterson isn’t wrong. He consistently will talk about battling the other team’s best guy. He just did it with Calvin Johnson — “We’ll give the fans a great show and hopefully they’ll have their popcorn ready.” And he isn’t wrong in saying that earning respect from peers and being recognized as a good player comes from such matchups.
But he also has to know that everything he says and does, which was already dissected at a high level given his draft status and subsequent Pro Bowls, only carries more scrutiny once he signed his new contract. Bruce Arians even talked about it when Peterson inked the deal: “When you are a five-star player, you better play five-star. … He wants to be the best. And he’s going to be covering the best every week so he could get embarrassed real quick.”
Peterson could stop talking, but that isn’t Peterson either — he wants to be challenged, and that’s one way he does it, by challenging himself. Peterson is often on an island out on the field. He’s on an island off it too, that island where Richard Sherman lives, where people are paying attention. There’s no getting away from that.
Tags: Julio Jones, Patrick Peterson
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Sunday’s game in a microcosm, said General Manager Steve Keim, came down to that 55-yard Steven Jackson run just a couple of plays into the game. It should have been for about five or six yards. Instead, Jackson rumbled all the way inside the Arizona 5-yard line, and Keim wasn’t thrilled to see how he got there.
“The 55-yard run says it all, particularly the way we played all day,” Keim said during his weekly appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. “A combination of poor fundamentals and bottom line, want-to. It should have been a six-yard run, and you had a couple guys come up, bounce off him, not wrap up and use proper fundamentals, and you had a couple guys who didn’t look like they wanted any part of it. Which is disappointing.
“We have two options. We can feel sorry for ourselves and make excuses about being decimated by injuries, or we can come out swinging.”
— Keim didn’t have any injury updates. To recap: Running back Andre Ellington suffered a hip injury (Bruce Arians called it a hip pointer) but didn’t think it was serious. Safety Tyrann Mathieu broke his left thumb and was wearing a cast after the game. Right guard Paul Fanaika suffered a high-ankle sprain.
— Keim thought the run game wasn’t good enough (no surprise). He thought the pass protection was above average, but he reiterated a familiar refrain on quarterback Drew Stanton, that ball placement and accuracy must improve (although he noted receivers don’t always run the right routes or run to the right depth, which impacts passing woes as well.) The Cards definitely can’t afford a play such as Michael Floyd’s fumble when the offense looks like it’s moving.
As for waiting for Stanton, the Cardinals need him to play better. They can’t afford to wait for Stanton to gain experience. There is also the reality of the situation and a reason Carson Palmer is the normal starter. “He’s got to make throws when he has to,” Keim said. “In the NFL, some of these tight-window throws not many guys can make. That’s exactly why there is a supply-and-demand at the position. It’s hard to find elite quarterbacks. … But it’s not just Drew.”
— Keim called the play of guard Jonathan Cooper a “bright spot.” “He knocked some rust off,” Keim said, and while Cooper still needs to tighten up technically, “he finally looks like the guy we drafted in terms of quickness and movement. He looked, compared to the other four offensive linemen we had out there, like he was playing at a different speed. He looked very explosive.”
Not surprisingly, Keim said he expects to see a lot more of Cooper, but with Fanaika’s injury, that may have been a given anyway.
— Keim said Patrick Peterson’s issues covering Julio Jones came down to the same issues of making sure he was technically sound, an area that Keim has previously talked about wanting to be more consistent from his cornerback. As for Peterson’s talk earlier in the week about winning a matchup with Jones, “You hate to take away a guy’s swagger,” Keim said, “but at the same time he’s got to compete and he’s got to produce.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Drew Stanton, Jonathan Cooper, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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