There was so much good. Carson Palmer, taking – basically – the week off and slicing and dicing the Rams regardless. Larry Fitzgerald being a frequent and effective target. John Abraham coming up with three sacks and making GM Steve Keim look like a genius for signing him. Karlos Dansby having yet another fantastic game and making Keim look like an uber-genius.
But it’s hard here on Sunday night to get past the Tyrann Mathieu knee injury. It’s probably a torn ACL. That’s the mood in the locker room and what Bruce Arians said, although the coach put in the caveat that Monday’s further tests are needed to cement such a diagnosis. Usually, if the team is willing to come out and say that’s probably what it is, that’s what it is. The Cardinals are fortunate to have a ton of defensive back depth, and assuming Mathieu is down Rashad Johnson goes back to starting and the Cards have Antoine Cason and/or Javier Arenas to fill in. It’s not ideal. There is a reason Mathieu was starting and playing so much and his versatility really helped this team. But we’ll hear all about next man up, because what else can you do?
– Abraham has 11 sacks. This was a guy unwanted – for his price, I’m sure – by the rest of the league before the Cards picked him up. He went sackless the first six games. Now he’s a menace. And he’s playing all the time. Abraham was thanking the Cards on Twitter for picking him up when no one else believed in him. The Cards need to be thanking him. He’s the first Card with double-digit sacks since Bertrand Berry had 14½ in 2004. Berry made the Pro Bowl. I don’t know if Abraham makes the Pro Bowl, but he deserves some thought.
– Speaking of Pro Bowl, Dansby anyone?
– I mean, what a season. It’s driving him batty he dropped all those picks early in the season, which cost him gaudier stats and probably a touchdown or two. As it is, Dansby now has six sacks, three interceptions and more than 100 tackles. Re-signing him is not going to be an easy process – which, because it’s because Dansby is playing so well, is not a horrible thing for Keim.
– The Cardinals went 8 for 14 on third downs. That was impressive. Easily the best percentage (57) of the season.
– I am probably the only one who cares, but I loved that Abraham was rocking the Vancouver Grizzlies Mike Bibby jersey as his post-game dress today. Not sure he knows Bibby is a Valley product, but Mike Bibby Griz? Priceless.
– Michael Floyd did not look like himself on his gimpy ankle. They got him a couple of late catches, but they need him to be healthy down the stretch.
– Jay Feely misses a 50-yard field goal, barely. OK. But then he missed a 25-yarder and we all know that does not sit well with Bruce Arians.
– They gave left tackle Bradley Sowell help and Palmer was smart about things, but the offensive line deserves credit for holding up the way they did in pass protection. And Arians deserves credit for making sure the coaching staff adjusted from Week One.
– Tight end problems? What tight end problems? Jared Cooks sliced up the Cards last time. Today? Three catches (in six targets) for 49 yards. And 31 of those yards were meaningless on the final play of the first half with the Cards playing prevent.
– The Cardinals got unlucky that tight end Jim Dray fumbled right before the goal line on what should have been Palmer’s second TD pass. They got lucky it was called a TD so a long return was negated – although the Cardinals clearly didn’t chase Janoris Jenkins on the runback having seen a touchdown signaled.
– You can’t say enough about Palmer. That first drive? Impressive. That TD drive right before halftime? More impressive.
– It was good the Cards snapped the NFC West losing streak. But as solid as the Rams can be, they aren’t the Seahawks or 49ers. Those tests still await.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Carson Palmer, Jay Feely, Jim Dray, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Rams, Tyrann Mathieu
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More on the homepage in a bit, but the Cardinals have apparently lost rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu with a torn ACL suffered in Sunday’s game against the Rams.
“We’ll wait and see,” coach Bruce Arians said. “I think that’s just the early prognosis of the exam we have right now. He’ll go through the MRI and the rest of the tests and we’ll just keep our fingers crossed.”
Mathieu suffered the injury returning a Rams free kick — a punt — following a safety when John Abraham sacked Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens in the end zone. Mathieu tried to jog off the field but eventually fell.
“I appreciate everyone’s prayers,” Mathieu tweeted. “We go through things in life to test our faith & strength.”
Tags: Rams, Tyrann Mathieu
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The (not unexpected) news: Quarterback Carson Palmer is playing today with his right elbow injury. Again, coach Bruce Arians said Friday that was probably going to happen. Also active, RB Andre Ellington, TE Rob Housler (who suffered a hip injury late in the week) and WR Michael Floyd. All good signs in a must-win for the Cardinals today against the Rams.
The inactive list:
– WR Brittan Golden
– QB Ryan Lindley
– RB Ryan Williams
– G Earl Watford
– LB Dontay Moch
– DE Ronald Talley
– TE Kory Sperry
Tags: Carson Palmer, inactives, Rams
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFC West, NFL, Rams, St Louis Rams
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It’s hard to get away from what is the main storyline for Sunday: Is Carson Palmer going to be the quarterback?
Coach Bruce Arians sounded pretty confident Friday talking about it and was in a pretty good mood too after practice. If the key starting QB had been hurt in this way under the old regime, playing or not, you could usually tell on the face of former coach Ken Whisenhunt. But Arians is a true believer in next man up – he was the same way with Andre Ellington’s injury on Thanksgiving – and he does have Drew Stanton, a man to whom Arians was prepared to start before the Palmer trade happened.
And again, Palmer may indeed be playing and the limited work all week comes down to making sure the vet was rested. I did think it was interesting that Arians made it clear that he thought the two interceptions Palmer threw had nothing to do with a sore elbow. And Palmer, who was hurt on his first drop-back in Philly, did throw for 302 yards and three touchdowns after that.
The Cards need Palmer. That’s no slight to Stanton but instead the acknowledgement that for whatever issues Palmer has had with turnovers this season, the offense has clicked a lot more of late and that is necessary going into a crucial game with the Rams Sunday.
– The Cardinals will have Andre Ellington back and that’s a huge deal. Pairing him with an improving Rashard Mendenhall means the Cardinals have a formidable tandem with which to run – meaning that whether you have Palmer and an iffy elbow or Stanton playing QB, the Cards have good options on offense upon which to lean.
– It’s been an eternity since the Cards went to St. Louis to play. “It’s funny to watch them on film,” Palmer said. “It seems so long ago.” What doesn’t seem so long ago was the loss incurred that day – because the eventual 27-24 decision in which the Cardinals led by 11 in the fourth quarter is hurting the team big right now in the playoff chase. The swing that would have happened in the overall, conference and division records would have been momentous.
– Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek scored three touchdowns last week against Arizona, and we know all about tight end issues against the Cards’ defense (remember St. Louis’ Jared Cook in Week One, getting it started?) There’s a give-and-take there, though.
“Going into a ballgame, you try to take away (LeSean) McCoy, try to take away (Desean) Jackson, try to take away (Riley) Cooper, and you try to maintain and limit what the tight ends can do,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “You don’t let the big three beat you. We accomplished that. The tight ends got loose for a couple balls inside the red zone. I think we need to play better red zone coverage. The 24-yard touchdown pass there was some technical issues we need to clean up. But going into the game, (tight end) was probably fourth on the totem pole.”
Said linebacker Daryl Washington on the tight end subject, “I think it’s a small adjustment. I don’t think it’s a major issue.”
– I don’t think there is any question that as good as Cook was the first time around, the Cardinals are going to want to make sure Tavon Austin and Chris Givens don’t break off big plays. So we’ll see how that develops when it comes to Cook.
– Speaking of Washington, remember, he didn’t play the first time these teams met. That would seem to be a major factor in the Cards’ favor.
– No one is going out on a limb here, but Eric Winston vs. Chris Long and Robert Quinn vs. Bradley Sowell matchups are probably the key to the game.
– Speaking of the offensive line, the Cardinals used Bobby Massie for 11 offensive snaps last week in Philly as a jumbo tight end in running packages. I don’t think Massie would ever be thrown a pass — “I’m athletic enough to do anything,” Massie said with a smile – but his presence has helped the running game.
“It’s a good thing getting a chance to play,” Massie said. “It’s better than standing on the sideline watching.”
Until Sunday …
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Chris Long, Daryl Washington, Drew Stanton, Eric Winston, Rams, Rashard Mendenhall, Robert Quinn, Todd Bowles
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Carson Palmer’s status for Sunday’s game against the Rams is going to come down to a decision on game day, coach Bruce Arians said, and the quarterback — who was limited again Friday — will officially be questionable with his ailing right elbow. Arians expressed confidence Palmer will be able to play.
“He’ll be a game-time,” Arians said. “I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.”
Arians did say he needs to see Palmer throw some Sunday, which is what makes it a game-day choice. Not surprisingly, he emphasized how much faith he has in backup quarterback Drew Stanton should Stanton have to play. “If it comes to that, Drew will do a hell of a job,” Arians said. “There is no doubt in my mind.”
Arians said Palmer’s two interceptions in Philadelphia did not have anything to do with the injured elbow. One game because Palmer was being hit as he threw, Arians said, and the other was a poor decision by Palmer where he was throwing the ball. The limited work all week for Palmer in practice would seem to be a setback in preparation, but Arians said it shouldn’t be in part because the Rams have a fairly straightforward defensive philosophy and in part because Palmer has gotten in tune with the offense.
“Sometimes it is good this time of year to give the veteran a couple days off and let the young guy get some reps anyway,” Arians said. “He got every mental rep. I’m sure he will be fine throwing the ball.”
As for Stanton, he has not thrown a regular-season pass since Dec. 19, 2010, when he had his best NFL game playing for the Lions, completing 23 of 37 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown. Arians said he isn’t worried about having to turn to a quarterback with such rust, if needed. “He’s prepared,” Arians said. “Having been with him all last year, there was never a doubt … because he does know the offense inside and out.”
– Arians said running back Andre Ellington (knee) “looked just like himself” and is no longer wearing a knee brace. He also said wide receiver Michael Floyd (ankle) is fine. Both are expected to play.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Rams
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— MarkDalton (@CardsMarkD) December 3, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Larry Fitzgerald, NFL, Rams, St Louis Rams
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The Cardinals are second in the NFL in rushing defense heading into Week 12, allowing just 81.4 yards a game (The Jets are first, at 73.2.) But as the Cardinals head down the stretch with their final six games, that ranking will be tested and how the Cards hold up may go a long way in determining how real their playoff hopes will be.
Of the Cards’ final six opponents, all but one rank in the top half of the NFL rushing the ball and three are in the top six — including the top two rushing teams in the league, Philadelphia (150.6 yards a game) and Seattle (147.9). The others are San Francisco (sixth, 141.0), Indianapolis (15th, 112.9), Tennessee (16th, 112.3) and St. Louis (22nd, 99.4).
(How the Cardinals run the ball themselves will make a difference too — Arizona is 25th in the NFL at 85.6 yards a game — but that’s a topic for another post.)
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles came into the season saying he wanted the Cardinals to stop the run first and his players have often echoed it. That wasn’t the case last season and it often bit the Cards. This year, only three times have the Cards given up more than 56 yards to the other team’s leading rusher. Of course, in all three instances, the Cardinals will play those teams again, with the Rams (Daryl Richardson, 63 yards), 49ers (Frank Gore, 101 yards) and Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, 94 yards) still out there. Richardson is no longer the Rams go-to guy but Zac Stacy, although Stacy has looked good. No reason to dwell on what Gore and Lynch bring; they are among the best in the NFL and the Cards have seen that up close and personal too many times.
Next week against NFL leading rusher Shady McCoy and Chip Kelly’s new-look offense will be interesting as well.
There’s a reason it’s a football cliché that teams must first stop the run. The Cardinals need to live it as gospel.
Tags: 49ers, Colts, defense, Eagles, Rams, schedule, Seahawks, Titans, Todd Bowles
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Tags: 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Carson Palmer, Monday Night Football, NFC West, NFL, Percy Harvin, Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks, St Louis Rams
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