The conversation about having fewer than four preseason games for NFL teams (although the Hall of Fame game gave the Cardinals five this year) has been ongoing for a number of years. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently brought it up again. There are logistics to evaluate, whether it be three or two games. Obviously, fewer of them would hurt most the fringe guys trying to get themselves some decent tape so that if they were released by their current team someone else could see what they were worth.
But the other question is about training camp itself. Currently, teams are allowed to go to camp 15 days before their first preseason game. Would that still be the case if there were fewer games? Would they make it longer, with an extra long stretch of practice before the first game? (Vets would love that.) One way around things is to schedule more joint practices with other teams. That would provide some controlled scrimmage situations. The hope in the end is that there are less injuries, in a sport where injuries are inevitable.
But in an environment where coaches already lament less time to prepare their teams, how it plays out is something to watch.
Tags: preseason, Roger Goodell, training camp
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The Cardinals play in San Diego on Aug. 19 (a Friday) for their second preseason game. There’s a chance they will be in California a little longer than that. Coach Bruce Arians said today after the team’s first organized team activity of the offseason that the Cards are in discussions with the Chargers to practice in San Diego for the week of training camp leading into the game between the teams.
In the past, Arians has made it no secret he likes the idea of some camp work against another team. He said during camp last year the Cardinals had looked into the idea to no avail. We’ll see if it works out this year, but the Cards — who open the preseason Aug. 12 at home against Oakland — do have at least one day that week in between where they won’t be able to use University of Phoenix Stadium for practice. The band Guns N’ Roses have a concert in the building Aug. 15, which is that Monday.
The Cardinals have practiced in San Diego during camp before. That came way back in 2000, when Jake Plummer was behind center and Vince Tobin was coach.
— Arians also said the tempo was excellent for the first OTA. The Cardinals were off the field about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chargers, preseason, training camp
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Sean Weatherspoon as he noted the exact date when he had last played in an NFL game: Dec. 22, 2013. It took him a little longer to get back out there than he wanted – and the same goes for Chris Johnson – but there they were Thursday night. They didn’t play like superstars but they both played well, and that’s exactly what the Cardinals needed to see after aborted training camps for both.
Everyone can bag on preseason games if they want, but the two vets were exhibits 1 and 1A of why they are always a necessity for someone. Said Johnson, who hadn’t played in a game since last season and only had a handful of practices with the Cardinals with a bad hamstring, “I don’t think I needed to start the season not getting reps because I did it one time before and I just didn’t feel right the first game.”
Better yet, Bruce Arians said he expects both Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas to return to practice this week, so the feeling is that the Cardinals should have more tight ends available than just Darren Fells and Ifeanyi Momah. If Gresham does indeed return, it’ll turn out that those three vets signed on one-year deals – including Weatherspoon and Johnson – should be available for the opener against the Saints. And that’s what the Cardinals want to hear.
— Both Johnson and Weatherspoon said they need to work on their conditioning. “I’m just thankful to be part of the team and get a chance to go out there,” Weatherspoon said. “It’s good to make some hits, takes some hits.”
— Chandler Catanzaro missed two extra points but Arians didn’t even let the question come up. “No, I’m not concerned about Cat Man and the missed extra points,” Arians said in his opening remarks, saying the question didn’t even need to be asked. I’m sure Catanzaro knows it can’t happen again, but as Arians said, at least it was in a preseason game.
— There were two penalties called on rookie tackle D.J. Humphries on back to back drives, but both were iffy. The false start might not have even been that much of a move. And the holding given to him was apparently on No. 64, Cameron Bradfield, and the officials just messed up the number.
— I thought Earl Watford held up at right tackle, and I fully expect him to be the right tackle starter going into the regular season.
— Rookie wide receiver Jaxon Shipley had 11 targets and nine catches (for 58 yards) and continued to push the best he can. Still, I don’t see him as more than the practice squad right now. He’s not cracking the top five. Same goes for inside linebacker Gabe Martin, who was working hard on defense all night.
— On the flip side, the way Alani Fua was used, I’m guessing he’ll make the 53 at inside linebacker.
— Markus Golden played well at outside linebacker and if Golden isn’t starting early in the season, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get to the starting lineup at some point this year.
— He only had three carries, but Stepfan Taylor’s powerful run for 12 yards up the middle made an impression. Maybe he can be the Cards’ short-yardage guy over Robert Hughes, which could open a roster spot if the Cards only want to keep four running backs.
— I thought Phillip Sims came around. I thought Logan Thomas played better. I still think we are talking about the likelihood of carrying two quarterbacks, meaning Sims or Thomas would have to be practice squad. But we’ll see if, after the Cards watch the tape, they are convinced to do otherwise.
— Arians was asked if he was happy the preseason was over.
“Extremely,” he said, as a grin crept over his face.
You can’t see it, but I have a similar grin. Let’s get to the regular season.
Tags: Alani Fua, Broncos, Chandler Catanzaro, Chris Johnson, D.J. Humphries, Earl Watford, Jaxon Shipley, Jermaine Gresham, Logan Thomas, Markus Golden, Phillip Sims, preseason, Sean Weatherspoon, Stepfan Taylor, Troy Niklas
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The questions are constant, as soon as a veteran player with any kind of reputation is released or becomes available: Would the Cardinals be interested? Well, for one, those questions are asked within seconds of the news happening, so usually, it’s a little soon for a feeling (GM Steve Keim admitted when CB Antonio Cromartie was first released, for instance, the Cards hadn’t anticipated it and had to do some extra legwork to figure out whether to chase him or not.)
It isn’t hard to get a sense of where the Cards land on many such players, however. Keim wants his team to get younger. And at this point, he certainly isn’t paying a lot. That should always be the prism from which any player should be viewed when it comes to this team. There are always exceptions. John Abraham, it was determined by the front office, still could play the game even at his age. Now, the Cards had to wait him out last year until his price was worth it (and never underestimate a veteran willing to wait out the offseason so he can wait to go back to work until training camp), but they got their bargain. Same with Karlos Dansby. Eric Winston was even cheaper, and that should probably provide guidance of where his market was — and where it might be this offseason.
The key element to all this is not just about whether a vet is available and is willing to work for cheap. It’s mostly about if he can still play — or more importantly, play to the level that the Cardinals, in this case, need him to play. Just because a guy is on the market isn’t enough. There is a reason veteran players remain unsigned, especially after the draft. Yes, once in a while it’s about the asking price and circumstances can change if it drops. But there are guys out there who are willing to play for little just to get a job, and it’s been determined they aren’t good enough anymore, whether because of age or cumulative injuries or both.
The Cards likely will sign another veteran or two at some point. It’ll be after the draft, because there is no reason to make any more moves right now until you know what you’ve filled with your picks. But whoever Keim signs, it’ll be for someone that makes sense on a football-level in 2014. Remember, past results don’t necessarily indicate future performance. It’s the slogan by which every GM should live.
— I’ve never been to a Pro Bowl. I’m going to get to one now, although I was really hoping to get a trip to Hawaii when I finally attended. I’ll be curious to know where the teams practice; those workouts have always been fan-friendly events.
— Not a surprise that there is a “Sunday Night Football” telecast in the preseason against the Bengals at University of Phoenix Stadium. NBC is also televising the Super Bowl. Not a bad time to get a lay of the land. What I am curious about is whether “SNF” will pick a Cardinals’ game in the regular season.
Tags: Bengals, Eric Winston, free agency, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, preseason, Pro Bowl
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It’s an early entry for the “Before” version of the Broncos game, because later today I’ll put out my best guess at what the 53-man roster will look like on Friday. I know — I’m sure you are all waiting with bated breath. There isn’t much to say before the final preseason game. We can talk about the final 53 and fighting for spots, but there are only a couple of roster holes you figure are still being determined (and really, it might not even be that many.)
— I wouldn’t want to have a post without mentioning the quarterback decision. I had one of those crazy thoughts as I was drifting off to sleep last night, a “What if” – as in, “What if coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to announce his QB in the postgame presser after the Denver game?” It won’t happen, I know, but that’d be one heck of a way to do it. Instead, I expect a press conference Friday since final cuts have to be made that day. That makes sense as a time he could do it. (Maybe I’m just wishing and hoping so I get a weekend off.) Either way, the decision is coming, which is good. I’m sure everyone is tired of talking about it. I know I’m ready for it to be over.
— There are three areas where you really wonder if this game will determine some spots. One is reserve offensive line – specifically, whether draft picks Senio Kelemete and/or Nate Potter have shown enough to nudge out a veteran. Another is defensive back, where you have a lot of choices and not a ton of spots. The other is running back, where William Powell gets his shot to play early, and we see if that is enough to unseat Alfonso Smith for a place on the roster.
— Peyton Manning is not expected to play against the Cardinals Thursday night. But the Broncos do have another quarterback that will generate interest, with rookie Brock Osweiler slated to come in after starter Caleb Hanie.
— With Dave Pasch off to be ESPN’s voice for the first game of the rest of Penn State’s life, Paul Calvisi will team with Ron Wolfley for the TV broadcast tomorrow night on ABC 15. It’s like Cardinals Underground, without me.
— The Cards are taking part in a backpack drive again this year, collecting new or gently used backpacks for needy kids. The program benefits the “Hope Endures” organization. Backpacks can be dropped off at UoP Stadium gates before the Broncos game.
OK. I’m off to the annual Kickoff Luncheon with the team. I’ll opine on the roster later. The preseason is almost over.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Brock Osweiler, Broncos, Dave Pasch, Ken Whisenhunt, Nate Potter, Paul Calvisi, Peyton Manning, preseason, Ron Wolfley, Senio Kelemete, William Powell
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The Cards have set their preseason schedule, with the home finale against the Broncos the most notable, with it coming at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30. The team was limited regarding the Denver game because, by rule, Wednesday was not at option since Denver plays the previous Sunday and a later kickoff was necessary to avoid conflicting with network TV coverage of the Republican National Convention’s final night and the nominee’s acceptance speech.
The full Cards’ preseason sked (all times Arizona):
- Sunday, Aug. 5 vs New Orleans Saints at 5 p.m. in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio.
- Friday, Aug. 10 at Kansas City at 5 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 17 home against Oakland at 7 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 23 at Tennessee at 5 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 30 home against Denver at 8 p.m.
The full regular-season schedule will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday) at 4 p.m. Arizona time.
Tags: preseason, schedule
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For everyone asking, the Cardinals will wear their new black third jerseys for the first time against the Redskins in the preseason finale Sept. 2 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Still no official word what two regular-season games the Cards will wear their alternate jerseys, but this way, it provides a little spark for that normally ho-hum final preseason game.
Tags: preseason, Redskins, training camp
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The offseason workout program is only two days old and with 61 players officially on the roster, 57 of them have shown up for at least one of the two voluntary days (and most have been here both days). Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been in India, but he’s a guy who’ll show up as soon as he is back in town. And I am hearing that defensive tackle Darnell Dockett may also show up next week (the only others who have yet to make an appearance are tight end Anthony Becht and defensive tackle Alan Branch, but I am sure both will be here sooner rather than later). Obviously, that doesn’t include guard Deuce Lutui, the restricted free agent who cannot participate until he signs his tender offer.
On another subject, the NFL is set to announce the full preseason schedule tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon Arizona time. The regular schedule is still another couple weeks away as usual, but at least there will be a taste of what is to come (my bet: The Cards finish the preseason with a home game against the Broncos. I’m not going out on too far of a limb, am I?)
Tags: Alan Branch, Anthony Becht, Darnell Dockett, Deuce Lutui, Larry Fitzgerald, offseason, preseason, Roster, voluntary workouts
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