Little NFL team business is going to be announced right now, since Super Bowl week is upon us and nobody wants to take the spotlight away from the league’s most important time. The Cardinals still have not made any announcements in terms of their defensive coordinator — it’s still expected to be an internal hire — but whatever role ex-Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau might have had, multiple reports say that collaboration isn’t going to happen. Given the idea that LeBeau didn’t want to be far away from family in Ohio, it’s not a surprise. What direction the Cardinals go now to fill their vacancies is yet to be determined, although the team has talked to more than just LeBeau outside of the team. (Not every name has emerged publicly.)
— Defensive end Calais Campbell said he will have to have surgery post-Pro Bowl to fix a sports hernia that was bothering him the last few weeks of the season. “It’s an easy recovery,” Campbell said.
— The Seahawks players who were named to the Pro Bowl but obviously aren’t playing — because of their game next week — were on hand at University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday night to be interviewed and announced to the crowd. The crowd, definitely pro-Cardinals here in the Valley, delivered a pretty good round of boos.
Tags: Calais Campbell, coaching staff, Dick LeBeau, Pro Bowl
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 51 Comments »
In the most recent results of the ongoing Pro Bowl voting, both of the Cardinals’ starting cornerbacks show up among the top 10 for their position. Patrick Peterson is seventh among cornerbacks, while Antonio Cromartie appears 10th on the list. It is good to see Cromartie there because he has played at a high level all season.
Peterson and Cro aren’t the only Cardinals in the top 10. Andre Ellington is eighth among running backs. Chandler Catanzaro is ninth among kickers. And Justin Bethel is eighth among special teamers.
Alas, Calais Campbell is still not in the top 10, despite having a Pro Bowl-type season (although as he said previously, he’d rather not play if it means the Cards are preparing for the Super Bowl.)
You can vote for the Pro Bowl here.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Antonio Cromartie, Calais Campbell, Chandler Catanzaro, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »
Four Cardinals have appeared among the top 10 at their positions in the first release of Pro Bowl voting this season. Andre Ellington is ninth among running backs (ahead of LeSean McCoy at No. 10), Patrick Peterson is sixth among cornerbacks, Justin Bethel is seventh for special teamers, and rookie Chandler Catanzaro is fifth among kickers.
No Fitz, although he’s just now starting to round into form, and no Antonio Cromartie, who is playing well. And no Calais Campbell.
I know Campbell missed two games and doesn’t have eye-popping numbers. But he was a star against the Rams last week, and at this point in his career, it would be a shame if he didn’t get more attention as a Pro Bowl candidate. Not that Campbell really is thinking about it.
“This time of year I don’t pay too much attention to it,” Campbell said. “I just want to do what it takes to win the game, and typically that means (I) play well. Pro Bowl comes with playing well. … I hope I get to avoid playing in the Pro Bowl because we are playing in the Super Bowl. That’s my ultimate goal. But you do want recognition when you are playing well.”
Of course, then Campbell downplays how he has done, noting his missed games and the knee that isn’t going to be quite right all season, even as he plays at a high level.
“I just can’t wait to be healthy so I can try to take over a game,” Campbell said. “We need a big play, and I want to be able to dig deep and come up with the big play.”
To vote for the Pro Bowl, click here or go to http://www.azcardinals.com/fan-zone/official-2015-pro-bowl.html.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Calais Campbell, Chandler Catanzaro, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
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
Posted in Blog | 23 Comments »
A couple of years ago, the Pro Bowl was moved to Miami, which that year was also the site of the Super Bowl. The idea was to incorporate the Pro Bowl on the front end of the Super Bowl week to come. Now come multiple reports that next year’s Pro Bowl is being seriously considered to move to University of Phoenix Stadium, which also will be hosting the Super Bowl a week later. First reported by Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it certainly would make the Valley king of the NFL in late January.
It’s an interesting concept. The NFL still sees a lot of players bail out for the Pro Bowl and the league would like to slow that down. By the same token, you’d think Hawaii would be a bigger draw for players than anywhere on the mainland. At least the Pro Bowl was more competitive and looked more like a football game this past season.
Cardinals players wouldn’t even have to go anywhere. Of course, they are hoping to not even get to play in the game because their season would still be alive — although they wouldn’t have to travel for that game either.
Tags: Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, University of Phoenix stadium
Posted in Blog | 16 Comments »
So the possibility of teammate vs teammate in the Pro Bowl was probable, given the format of a draft at the hands of Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice. Now the Pro Bowl will have a hint of an Arizona Cardinals practice (or, given the way the players have gone about the Pro Bowl the last couple of years, an Arizona Cardinals OTA) when wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald landed on Team Rice and Peterson, not surprisingly, was picked by Team Sanders.
(Deion loves him some Patrick Peterson. The man wore a Peterson jersey on TV when the NFL Network came to Arizona for Thursday Night Football last season, for goodness sake.)
I’ve had a chance to see that battle many, many times on the practice field. I think they both relish it, although practice is practice. This is a game after all, although how intense it will be can be argued. I’ve had people ask what it would mean if, God forbid, Fitz wrecked a knee when he was tackled by Peterson. Frankly, if Fitz tore an ACL in a Pro Bowl, whomever he was tackled by seems pretty irrelevant to me. Would you feel better if he had been tackled by Darrelle Revis?
Looking over the Pro Bowl rosters, there are a handful of possible teammate-on-teammate crime. Bears cornerback Tim Jennings I would guess will see some of Chicago wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Could Browns safety T.J. Ward come looking for Cleveland wideout Josh Gordon if he came across the middle? And then there are the real eyebrow-raisers: The possibility of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith being sacked by Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali or defensive tackle Dontari Poe. Or Colts defensive end Robert Mathis taking down Indy QB Andrew Luck.
Who am I kidding. There are no sacks in the Pro Bowl.
— The assault court case of linebacker Daryl Washington has been pushed to another later date. His next hearing is scheduled for April 23, which now comes after the large roster bonus he is scheduled to receive. Washington said at the end of the season he expected it to get worked out, and so do I. I don’t see the Cardinals letting Washington go, although at some point, he will need this case resolved so any further football-related details can be worked out (like possible further punishment if he is found guilty) and Washington can move on.
Tags: Deion Sanders, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
Posted in Blog | 10 Comments »
The Pro Bowl players will be announced Friday night at 7 p.m. Arizona time during a special on NFL Network (and you’ll get the info here too, on azcardinals.com), but for now, the Cardinals hoping to go can only wait. Cornerback Patrick Peterson seems like a lock to make his Pro Bowl appearances three-for-three in his young career, and defensive end Calais Campbell is certainly deserving.
There are a couple of other deserving Cards too, and they might be the most intriguing storylines. One is special teamer Justin Bethel, who has had a fantastic season. So too has linebacker Karlos Dansby, who is seeking his first Pro Bowl bid in his 10th NFL season. Both are helped by the fact in the new Pro Bowl format in which conferences do not matter — all the choices from a position could conceivably come from just the NFC, which gives breathing room — but at this point, neither one is counting on anything.
“I’m kind of nervous, but I’ve done all I can do,” Bethel said. “Hopefully everyone saw (my play) and we will see what happens.”
It’s long been the Pro Bowl adage that a player ends up making the Pro Bowl a year after he deserves to go and at the end of a career, a year beyond he should have. Bethel knows such things, but he is hoping he showed enough as a rookie last season that this would be “the year after.”
“I was thinking about that last year, because at the end of the season I was playing at a high level,” Bethel said. “If it happens it happens. (Not making it) is not going to deter me from working harder.”
Dansby is in a slightly different spot. He wants to make the game, but he has made a lot of money and is confident in his play — and he also knows that Pro Bowl slots don’t always line up with the players that are most deserving.
“It’d be a great honor,” Dansby said. “But it ain’t going to crush me because my play speaks for itself. It always has. It’s just getting recognized now. Balled in the AFC too, different scheme, first time playing Mike linebacker (last season). This is my second year playing Mike. I’m having fun. I’m still learning the game from a different angle and I’m having fun. I can’t say that enough.”
— There are only a couple of hours left in this auction of Anquan Boldin’s game-worn jersey that December Sunday back in 2003 when he set the NFL record for receptions by a rookie in a season. If you’re up for trying for the jersey — with proceeds going to Cardinals Charities — click here.
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Calais Campbell, Justin Bethel, Karlos Dansby, Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl
Posted in Blog | 14 Comments »