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Blogs

The black stripes are not a band

Posted by Darren Urban on June 3, 2014 – 7:32 am

Those looking at the photos from yesterday’s OTA or the video seemed to notice the black stripe on the Cardinals’ helmets. OK, it wasn’t on all their helmets. It was only on the helmet of the quarterbacks. That alone should give you a hint that it was something else besides some interesting new tweak to the team’s headgear. So no, the Cardinals aren’t going for a new look (although it is kind of catchy, no?)

In fact, it’s a simple way for the coaching staff to have an easier time to see what way the quarterback’s eyes are pointed when watching some of the videoed-from-high-above practice footage every day. The shots that include all 22 players on the field can make everyone look a little small on the screen. This is just another tool to make sure Bruce Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens have all the information they can in their work with the QBs.

BlackStripeBlog


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QB Logan Thomas comes to Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2014 – 10:19 am

So Friday night, Bruce Arians asked “Why” when he was asked why the Cardinals hadn’t taken a quarterback. Saturday morning, the Cardinals took Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, the definition of a project. As a QB, can Thomas beat out Ryan Lindley? Probably not. But Thomas, at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, has a giant arm and endless athletic talent. He’s not accurate. He is smart enough to play quarterback but all the analysts wonder about his technique and form. That, you figure is exactly what Arians and QB coach Freddie Kitchens think they have a chance to fix.

It’s a boom-or-bust choice, at least as a QB. Thomas could turn into one heckuva tight end. Arians, before the draft, was asked if Thomas could be a quarterback in the NFL. Arians said “he thinks he is,” and I’d think he will get his shot. Arians personally went to Virginia Tech for a pre-draft workout. He clearly likes his potential and he also thinks coaching changes and the talent around Thomas impacted Thomas’ play. But there is no getting around Thomas’ inconsistencies as a passer. This is incredibly intriguing and will be as this plays out.

LoganThomasUSE

 


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Need, speed, no QB: Day Two wrap

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Four picks and no quarterbacks. People keep wondering if the next draft spot would draw a QB choice and it didn’t. It certainly doesn’t sound like it will happen either, now that the Cardinals have moved into the fourth round. Bruce Arians was asked what he would say to fans who were expecting a quarterback to be picked. Arians was blunt.

“Why?” Arians said.

“We’ve got three pretty good ones and you don’t take quarterbacks if they’re not going to beat out the ones you have,” Arians added. “I know people rate quarterbacks. I’ve been doing this a long time. I like ours better.”

So there’s that. As for some other notes after three more draft picks on the draft’s hump day Saturday:

– As a QB follow, Arians said there was “no doubt” Carson Palmer could play a couple of more years after this one. “Look at Peyton at 38,” Arians said. “The longevity of the athletes today, with the technology in the medical profession, they are going to go a lot longer. As long as you stay injury-free.”

– The Cardinals don’t want to draft for need. Then the first three picks go to a safety, a tight end and a pass rusher and that certainly felt like need.

“That’s the emphasis you put into building that (120) board,” GM Steve Keim said. “We say best player available, but there is an emphasis on who impacts our football team the most. We are never going to leave a good player to the side, but we will take who impacts us the most.”

– Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade back up into the second round, but could not get a deal done (he did not say who the Cardinals wanted to try and get.) But a trade remains possible Sunday when the Cardinals have a pick in the fourth, fifth and sixth round. “The phone has been ringing a lot,” Keim said. “We’ve been active.”

– The Cardinals’ two third-round picks echoed exactly what Keim has been talking about this offseason, which is adding speed. Defensive end/outside linebacker Kareem Martin is 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds and Keim compared his frame to the 6-8, 284-pound Calais Campbell when Campbell came out in 2008. Now, Campbell weighs 305. Martin can rush from the outside in the base 3-4 and be both places in sub-packages. More importantly, he has the size and speed that is difficult to find. Keim also said he wanted to get longer and more athletic on the edges, better to chase down the Colin Kaepernicks and Russell Wilsons of the world.

– The other third-round pick was a stunner. “Got to keep you guys on your toes with a small-school guy,” Keim quipped. That’s exactly what it was when Pittsburg State wideout John Brown was picked. But it didn’t take much research to see Brown, at 5-foot-10 and a 4.34 40, was the Cardinals’ attempt to find Arians another T.Y. Hilton. Arians loved him some T.Y. in Indy in 2012. Keim’s been looking for a clone since. Arians also compared Brown in some ways to another of his former wideouts, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He’s older — 24 — but they love his makeup and his speed.

– It’s not surprising that Arians said he plans to cut back on Patrick Peterson’s punt returns. There are enough other guys on the roster now, with Brown and Ted Ginn, to do it that you wouldn’t risk your Pro Bowl cornerback. Arians acknowledged the Tyrann Mathieu injury had an impact on that thinking. Plus Peterson isn’t going to play wide receiver most likely, but after adding pieces at receiver, it doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway.

– What’s left Sunday Saturday? (It’s been a long day.) Assuming the Cards stick with three picks, I wouldn’t be surprised with an offensive lineman. Beyond that, we’ll see. Obviously I’m not counting on a QB. Maybe another guy for the front seven. Then it’s time to get this roster together for the full offseason.

 


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Only the truth(?): Highlights from a draft presser

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2014 – 12:20 pm

You have to hand it to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians, who managed to make a 30-minute pre-draft press conference entertaining considering that no real news can come out of it. As willing as both are to interact with the media, no secrets are coming out. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun with it.

“Everything you hear this time of year is the furthest thing from the truth. Except from us two,” Keim deadpanned.

And as far as mock drafts go, Arians — who smiled and said he read ‘em all — was blunt: “They make for banter and chatter and good bar talk, but there isn’t much reality to it.”

As far as the other quick-hit highlights (I’ll post a story later today on the homepage):

– Keim wouldn’t rule out trading up but made it clear trading down made much more sense. Keim wants to have more than the six draft picks the Cards already have. It’ll be wait-and-see if that can happen.

– Keim said coaches and scouts have already reached out to some players who may not get drafted, to try and sell them on the idea of the Cardinals as a good fit and signing in Arizona as an undrafted free agent. That’s interesting, since the draft itself will alter the roster landscape.

– Neither would rule out drafting a quarterback, although Arians acknowledged it’s tough to have a first-round pick sit. There are quarterbacks they like. No, they wouldn’t say who. (At one point, Arians was asked how many QBs they would take in the first round. “Ten,” Arians said with a grin.) But taking a guy later? That sounded less promising as Arians talked about how many holes are in the games of QBs that last that long. “To think you’re going to draft (a QB) in the third round and he’s going to beat out (third-stringer) Ryan Lindley, that’s tough to do.”

– Arians said the potential suspension of Daryl Washington would not change how the Cards make their picks.

– The Cardinals finished their “120″ board this morning, the list on which the Cards will make their draft selections. The powers-that-be will run through a bunch of mock draft scenarios Tuesday in order to try and get a sense of the many ways the first round can go.

– Keim said Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier can play inside or outside, and in regard to Shazier’s smaller size, noted that he was similar to the 49ers’ Patrick Willis and bigger than Navarro Bowman.

– He said ASU’s Will Sutton is more of a 4-3 under tackle.

– Keim said there are “four to five” safeties at the top of the list. After that there is a dropoff to guys who may or may not be able to start in the NFL at some point.

– Arians was impressed with Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas’ arm strength. He hesitated slightly when asked if Thomas’ future position is QB. “He thinks so,” Arians said.

– Keim on Johnny Manziel: “He’s one of the few guys this year when you are evaluating players where you want to get a big Coke and a popcorn box, put your feet up and it’s fun to watch. … There are not many guys who have come out with his skill-set. He’s a polarizing figure.”

BlogDraftPicUSE


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Finding that future quarterback

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2014 – 4:00 pm

The three quarterbacks of the Cardinals were at the facility today, doing a workout, hanging out and prepping for when the team can officially get started with new strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris next week. Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, a cohesive group all last season, looked like it again and made me think of something Bruce Arians told me a couple of months ago. “You have a (quarterbacks) room, (and) if you have a starter and you know who the backup is and you have a third guy who fits in the room, you don’t fool with it,” Arians said. “It’s too delicate of a learning place to fool with it.”

In the context of what the Cardinals might do in the draft, it’s a notable belief. Palmer said today he would understand if the Cardinals picked a quarterback in the draft. He’s not getting any younger, and the Cards would like to have a long-term answer at the position. What team wouldn’t? Arians is a major part of the draft meetings and he of course will have input on the top 120 board. But GM Steve Keim will have the final call, and like any GM viewing the big picture — which Keim most certainly does — settling on a young quarterback would be nice, to say the least.

Is there a guy in this draft worth it? Keim might think so, but he won’t be saying, wisely. Draft meetings are going on about 25 feet from me but there’s no way to know what this group of QBs will be graded by this scouting staff and front office. One thing that is interesting in this situation: Palmer is going to be due an extension after this season, and there is a large difference between paying a starting quarterback what Palmer would command (he’s getting $9 million this season) and what a guy under a rookie contract would cost. I don’t think that’s a determining factor (I don’t think the Cardinals would have a problem with Palmer as 2015 starting QB, assuming his level of play remains solid) but it is something to consider.

QB3usethis

 


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Campbell active, Ryan Williams sits

Posted by Darren Urban on September 8, 2013 – 11:52 am

In what isn’t a surprise, running back Ryan Williams is indeed inactive today for the Cardinals. You figured one of the backs would be down. Since there is special teams aspects to the other guys, Williams was a natural choice. Defensive end Calais Campbell (quad) is active. In fact, tight end Rob Housler (ankle) is the only inactive based on an injury. Another interesting move: Bruce Arians has kept all three quarterbacks, including Ryan Lindley, active today.

Eight offensive linemen are active, but all three backups can give multiple looks: Nate Potter can play G/T, Mike Gibson can play C/G and newcomer Bradley Sowell not only could play T but also blocking TE. Jim Dray is the lone starting tight end. Andre Roberts will be a third starting wide receiver.

The other first-week inactives for the Cardinals:

– CB Jamell Fleming

– LB Alex Okafor

– DT Alameda Ta’amu

– T Bobby Massie

– G Earl Watford


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Time for some draft aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2013 – 5:42 pm

Some quick wrap-up notes after the draft, before I take my neglected sons to dinner:

– The Cardinals, obviously, did not take a quarterback. Keim admitted he had talked long about about subscribing to the theory he wanted to draft a QB every year. “I really still believe in that,” Keim said. So what happened?

“The difference is that our two draft choices came through free agency with Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton,” Keim said. “So we didn’t feel like that was a necessary move that we needed to make. Quite frankly, the way the board shook out, the quarterback at no point was the top player on our board. So it made the decision quite easy.”

That means Brian Hoyer and his potential $2 million salary is safe for now. I’d think a trade might still be possible for the Cards, but post-draft, it’d be tough. Of course, if the Cards were to sign an interesting undrafted rookie QB, that could change.

– Speaking of the undrafted rookies, that list will grow into the evening and names will leak. (I won’t be keeping constant watch; the official list will likely be released Monday.) Already, Oklahoma safeties Javon Harris and Tony Jefferson have tweeted out they are coming to the Cardinals. San Jose State cornerback Ronnie Yell tweeted the same as did Florida A&M defensive lineman Padric Scott. Tony Pauline reports the Cards also got Arizona receiver Dan Buckner. Keim said he expected to sign 15 undrafted rookies.

– The Cardinals want to get another nose tackle/defensive tackle. That didn’t present itself in the draft, so Keim said the Cards will not only look at it among the undrafted rookies but also with veteran free agents and possible cap casualties as we head toward training camp.

– The weekend gave the Cards some options at return men. They have Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Andre Ellington and maybe Stepfan Taylor.

– As for the overall haul Saturday? It’s always wait-and-see for me. I can’t get very emotional because it’s impossible to know. On the surface, I like getting the speed receiver Ryan Swope assuming he can stay healthy. I like adding fresh bodies to the running back room. I definitely like the possibilities of interviewing tight end D.C. Jefferson, assuming he can prove he can play. I hope Okafor can do some things as a pass rusher because that’s still a segment of the Cards’ defense that leaves some question marks. But that’s enough for now. We have a whole offseason to analyze.


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To take a quarterback

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2013 – 11:38 am

It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.

“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”

So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?

Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.

(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)

The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.

Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.

PalmerdraftUSE


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Palmer talk gains momentum

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2013 – 10:02 am

The first domino to a Friday of speculation came earlier in the day, when news of a probable trade of quarterback Matt Flynn from the Seahawks to the Raiders hit the public domain. In itself, somewhat meaningless to the Cardinals. But the fallout was obvious — with Flynn, the Raiders no longer needed Carson Palmer, and if Palmer was on his way out in Oakland, it could mean a possible piece for the Cardinals. So last night, as I watched my son play some tournament basketball, the rumor mill hit high gear, with assorted unnnamed sources.

First came the idea the Cardinals could trade for Palmer. Then there was the notion the rest of the league would be surprised if Palmer would want to play in Arizona, unless of course the Cardinals were one of the teams Palmer wouldn’t mind playing for. As it stands at this moment, the Flynn trade has not even been completed, so until that comes to pass, nothing else will. But it always made sense that the Cards would consider Palmer if he came available.

(Yes, I understand there are plenty out there talking about what Palmer has left. This would be a relative short-term solution, however. I keep hearing the idea of, basically, do what you do with Drew Stanton in 2013 and if you lose, you lose and then draft a QB high in 2014. Understand that’s not how Bruce Arians and Steve Keim are going to think.)

From here though, there are questions. Trading for a player who seems likely to be released? Odd, although the Raiders can, in theory, hold on to Palmer indefinitely before cutting him, so maybe it would be worth the Cards giving up some kind of late, maybe conditional pick just to get Palmer in the fold. Many reports have Palmer turning down a $10 million salary (he is slated to make $13M this season) to stay in Oakland. No way I can see the Cardinals paying that. And if you’re Palmer, it would figure you’d rather be a free agent — after being released — to give yourself options/leverage if you so chose.

So clearly there are a lot of moving parts here. One caveat that could facilitate this: If the Raiders and Cards were going to try and pull off a trade, it makes sense the Raiders would give the Cards permission to talk contract with Palmer’s people first. That’s the only way this would get done (again, the Cards aren’t going to just inherit a $13M deal and the same headache the Raiders currently have) trade-wise. Lots of moving parts — remember, the Flynn deal isn’t even official right now — but it’s certainly a storyline to watch develop (or not develop) over the next week. Not sure it’s quite like Manning Watch 2012, but a quarterback is a quarterback.

CPTradeBlogUSE


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Drafting a quarterback — and No. 7

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2013 – 10:06 am

A) Your team needs a quarterback;

B) Your team has a top 10 pick;

So C) there is endless speculation about that team drafting a quarterback with their first-round selection.

The Cardinals are in that loop right now. Most of the early mock drafts (mockable totally in the sense that they are based on little but surface connect-the-dots) had the Cards taking quarterback with their first round pick, seventh overall. That seems to have slowed down of late, in large part because of coach Bruce Arians’ own words.

“I think all speculators look at need and not the draft board,” Arians said. “If you draft for need, you’re in trouble. Just because you need one you don’t take one, if there is a better player there who is going to help your football team.”

That doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t take a QB first. I think that’s being sorted out right now in a draft that many believe isn’t top-heavy in talent and is deep in offensive linemen. But it’s easy to see a scenario where the Cards go elsewhere than quarterback in the first round and save a QB pick for round two or three.

“If there is a quarterback who fits the spot in the draft that you put him in at, that fits the value, then you take one,” Arians said. “That’s why I feel very comfortable with our situation with Drew Stanton in our mix. The need value is not there.”

It is clear that Arians likes Stanton. But it also behooves him to talk him up because there is a chance, in this totally fluid time when no one knows how the draft will go or if another interesting veteran could come available, that Stanton will be the starter and then Arians will have expressed confidence in Stanton from the jump. That makes sense. But I still think that no matter how the rest of the QB roster shakes out the team will draft a QB.

It was suddenly big news that the Cardinals are working out N.C. State QB Mike Glennon but that shouldn’t shock anyone either. The Cards are going to do due diligence on every one of the top QBs and just because there will be a workout doesn’t mean a) they will draft him or b) they will even decide they like him enough. Is he in the mix? I think he could be, but that’s what this time of analysis is for. GM Steve Keim went to N.C. State and has his ties there, and the former coaches at the school did pick Glennon as their “guy” over Russell Wilson (which is why Wilson transferred to Wisconsin), so Glennon must be decent. But I don’t see he or any other QB going in the second round stepping in to be a rookie starter even if Keim and Arians like to get QBs work early.

The speculation is going to play out over and over until the draft actually starts (IMO, by the way, Geno Smith is gone by the seventh pick, so what will really be available early anyway?) But in a world right now where the Cardinals haven’t even started their draft meetings nor come close to setting there Top 120 board (I know I’ve said that before), this is all fluid.

GlennonForBlogUSE


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