— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 24, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFL, Rashad Johnson, Twitter
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, Dan Patrick, NFL, Rashad Johnson
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— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 23, 2013
Tags: Rashad Johnson, Twitter
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Bruce Arians said “it’s not good” in his post-game press conference in regard to injury problems. That’s never a good sign. The coach will talk in a couple of hours for his Monday press conference, but it sounds like the Cardinals will have to prepare for some change.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to lose a couple guys, probably for the season,” Arians said on his post-game radio interview.
(UPDATE: Both Sam Acho and Lorenzo Alexander will be placed on season-ending IR. Johnson is day-to-day. More in a story later on azcardinals.com)
I wouldn’t think, amazingly, that would include safety Rashad Johnson. The news came out this morning that Johnson’s finger injury was a nasty one, having lost the tip of his left middle finger at some point in the first half. The tip of his finger was in his glove when they took it off. Johnson had surgery to fix it. We’ll have to see what the timetable might be for Johnson now. The one thing the Cardinals have is some defensive back depth. Javier Arenas played a little safety yesterday, and Tyrann Mathieu would be the starter in Johnson’s place. Meanwhile, I guess we’ll just start calling him Rashad Lott (although contrary to the myth suddenly building on the internet, Johnson came out after the injury. He played just 21 snaps. He did not play the whole game.)
@PaulPabst lost top portion of it. Had exposed bone and skin shaved down yesterday and stitched up. Prob most painful injury I’ve had.
— Rashad Johnson (@49foyamind49) September 23, 2013
The same can’t be said about linebacker, especially since Daryl Washington has one more game left on his suspension. We wait for the news on starting outside linebackers Lorenzo Alexander (foot) and Sam Acho (ankle), but I’ve found that in my experience, coaches usually don’t toss around the idea a player could be gone for the season unless it’s likely. Losing Alexander, who is also a key piece of special teams, would cause problems in a couple of spots. The outside linebackers available now are John Abraham (44 snaps out of 75 Sunday), Matt Shaughnessy (63 of 75) and rookie Alex Okafor (five). Okafor played his first NFL game yesterday.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Bruce Arians, John Abraham, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashad Johnson, Sam Acho
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In the end, Sunday felt a little like the last time the Cardinals went to New Orleans, when Tim Hightower ripped off a 70-yard touchdown run on the opening possession and you were thinking, “OK, now, this will be interesting” and it really wasn’t. The Cards were more deliberate on their first drive this time around but the result was the same, and you were thinking, “OK now …” only the offense kept sputtering. There were too many trips without points to not have it end up adversely affecting the team.
A lot of those out there jumped on the defense, but sorry, I can’t see it. Did the unit finish? No. was there still too much poor tackling, leading to bad situations? Yes. But the defense was doing its job much of the game. Jimmy Graham proved too much – I wonder if the injuries (more below) might have impacted that – but the Cards weren’t giving up anything on the ground and had mostly stumped a pretty good offense. Eventually, though, the Cards’ own offense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain.
Now it’s on to Florida for the week. “We need to make sure it’s (good to be away),” QB Carson Palmer said. “We need to make sure this is a crisp week. We have a chance to get back to 2-2, a chance to play against Carolina at home, a chance to get a win against a team that is struggling a little bit.
“The veterans need to make sure this is work week. We are there to work.”
– Bruce Arians was not specific about the injuries suffered by the Cardinals during the game, but he sounded grim when he said “it’s not good.” Given that three defensive starters left the game in linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (foot), safety Rashad Johnson (finger) and linebacker Sam Acho (ankle), that wouldn’t bode well. Acho tweeted out a picture of himself in a boot saying “God has a plan.” Those aren’t usually the words spoken – even for someone devoted to his faith like Acho – by a guy who might miss a week. We’ll see.
– Palmer was pressured, too much according to Arians (although the Saints have a better pass rush than I gave them credit for.) He didn’t look sharp regardless. The first interception was just a bad throw to tight end Rob Housler, Palmer admitted.
– Alfonso Smith got off to a great start, gaining 27 yards on three carries on the first drive, including a touchdown. He didn’t get another carry and played sparingly if at all on offense the rest of the way. Andre Ellington got a ton of work again behind Rashard Mendenhall.
– In the grand scheme, it didn’t mean much but the Cards, after scoring the opening TD, allowed the Saints to get one on their own first possession. “You score a touchdown you don’t like it answered with a touchdown,” Arians said.
– Larry Fitzgerald looked OK dealing with his hamstring. Led the team in catches and yards (5-64). The week of little practice seemed to make a difference.
– Who were the two guys most brought up during the week by the Cards as the ones to watch for? Graham and Darren Sproles. Who were the catalysts for the Saints? Graham and Sproles.
– Can’t discount Drew Brees and his ability to move in the pocket. He was sacked four times but he seemed to somehow escape about four others, turning them into gains either by running or passing. Those are always gut-punchers for the defense.
– A lot of this, of course, seems pretty trivial given the horrible news about Dan Williams. Arians said the team is keeping their collective thoughts and prayers with Williams. That’s all it can really do.
That’s it from Florida. We’ll have all the coverage out here for the week as the Cards will try to bounce back against the Bucs.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Dan Williams, Jimmy Graham, Larry Fitzgerald, Lorenzo Alexander, Rashad Johnson, Saints, Sam Acho
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The depth chart, as I mentioned yesterday, can only be believed to a certain point. Things often change and are more flexible than what’s listed in one certain package (especially on the defensive side.) That’s one thing to remember when John Abraham pops up as “third string” behind Lorenzo Alexander and Matt Shaughnessy. I remember running into Bruce Arians at one point during the owners meetings in March at the Biltmore, and even then — long before Abraham, for instance — saying that he considered many more than just 22 guys “starters.” If you were in a certain package as first unit, you were a starter. Since Abraham will be on the field for nickel to rush the passer, he too is a “starter” in Arians’ eyes.
Abraham played just 27 plays the entire preseason. The Cards knew what they had in him (especially when, in just five plays in the opener, Abraham came up with a strip-sack in Green Bay.) The Cards are counting on him getting double-digit sacks this season — as he is himself — and that’s been an elusive thing for the Cards’ defense the last few years. The last time that happened was 2004, when Bertrand Berry had 14.5.
Pressure on the quarterback is always where the defense starts. The Cardinals will need Abraham. They will need the defensive linemen, especially Darnell Dockett, to up the havoc level. Calais Campbell has to be seen as a given. And elsewhere, whether it is Sam Acho or Lorenzo Alexander or Matt Shaughnessy, there has to be more. It will start with Abraham, though. That’s why he’s here.
– One more number change in addition to the ones we saw yesterday. Safety Rashad Johnson is switching from 49 to 26.
Tags: Bertrand Berry, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, John Abraham, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Rashad Johnson, Sam Acho
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Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe what happened to the Cardinals Saturday night. If the Cards could have only left it at the stadium. If only a bad night for special teams or dropped passes or anything like that was the worst that happened.
But the long list of injuries the Cards had been avoiding – they only had five guys not able to play coming into the game, for goodness sake, and frankly, only Jeff King was among those guys who have a shot at the roster – came back hard. The most devastating is Jonathan Cooper’s broken leg. Here’s the guy who was drafted to jump start an offensive line resurgence. And now he could be out for the season.
There are lots of ways to look at this and we won’t know exactly what can happen with Cooper yet. There are options to put him on short-term, bring-’em-back IR if the prognosis goes the right way. But that doesn’t make it any easier to replace him. Do we get more Chilo? Do we get a Paul Fanaika-Daryn Colledge guard combo? Bruce Arians isn’t sure yet. There will be much brainstorming tomorrow, I am sure. But it hurts.
“To see a guy like that go down, a young guy trying to go out there and prove himself, that’s always hard,” Colledge said. “Especially with an offensive line that lost a lot of guys last year. We’re used to this, but it’s always hard to see a friend and a teammate go down. I know it hurts him. I know he’s probably emotionally distraught right now.”
– It can’t be easy for Cooper. It might not be easy for the Cards. MRIs are coming for all the other injuries, but the offense alone saw Cooper, Rob Housler (ankle), Andre Roberts (quad) and Rashard Mendenhall (ankle) leave the game. Scary.
– As for the game, not good. The Rashad Johnson lateral was bad. Funny, Arians actually praised the lateral linebacker Jasper Brinkley made to Patrick Peterson earlier in the game following an interception, saying it was a legitimate choice. Johnson’s lateral? “Absolutely asinine.”
Johnson knows that. He was upset after a pass interference call on teammate Jerraud Powers a couple of plays before and let his emotions ride the moment. “I just felt like we needed to make a play, which we did, instead of thinking of the situation we were in and playing smart football,” Johnson said. “Coach is always talking about ‘Cardinals beating Cardinals.’ That was a big Cardinals-beating-Cardinals play.”
– Powers was hit with three pass interference flags. He said he felt a couple of them shouldn’t have been thrown, but took responsibility for not adjusting to the way the officials were calling the game.
– Ryan Williams said he was “fine” after a pair of carries (for 10 yards) and a catch in his first preseason action of the season. I thought he looked aggressive for what little time he got. He needed to be. With Alfonso Smith coming out and looking good as Mendenhall’s backup, this running back battle is very interesting. Could the Cards keep five?
– Not a good night for the tight ends. Housler dropped a touchdown (Arians didn’t seemed all that concerned about it), while Kory Sperry and D.C. Jefferson also had drops. Jefferson’s miss ended up an interception.
– Not a ton learned in the kicking battle, since neither got much opportunity. Dan Carpenter had a field goal blocked on what looked like protection issues. Jay Feely made an extra point. Feely had both kickoffs.
– Arians wasn’t overly critical of Levi Brown’s play against Dwight Freeney because, well, it was Dwight Freeney. Nate Potter had his own issues, so it’s not like there is someone there that would step in.
– Michael Floyd made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald’s one-handed catch to start the game was amazing. Other than that, a night to forget.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Chargers, Chilo Rachal, D.C. Jefferson, Dan Carpenter, Daryn Colledge, Dwight Freeney, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Jonathan Cooper, Kory Sperry, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, Paul Fanaika, Rashad Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams
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Starting free safety Rashad Johnson suffered a “mild” MCL sprain and ankle sprain breaking up a pass at the end of Monday’s practice and is day-to-day. He probably isn’t going to be available to play Saturday against Dallas, so that means rookie Tyrann Mathieu will get the start in his place when the Cowboys visit. More on that on the homepage in a bit, but Mathieu is looking forward to it.
“It just gives me an opportunity to go help my team,” Mathieu said. “Of course I wish Rashad a speedy recovery because he was one of those guys who showed me the ropes from a safety standpoint. But it gives me the opportunity to go out there and be there for my teammates.”
– Also, linebacker Daryl Washington indeed was/is in New York to talk to the league about his suspension. He is on his way back now. The hope was that whatever talking Washington does could possibly lead to a shortening of his four-game suspension. “Whether or not anything comes of it, we’ll see,” coach Bruce Arians said.
Arians praised Washington’s work in training camp though, noting a recent one-handed interception. Arians had previously talked about how important the preseason was for Washington, since he will not only miss games but a month’s worth of practices if his suspension stays as is.
“Daryl has been playing lights out,” Arians said. “He’s probably the second-most dynamic player in practice to Tyrann as far as interceptions and getting balls out. His rare athleticism and speed sets him apart. He’s been practicing hard, got a smile on his face and is doing everything asked of him. He knows where he stands.”
– Arians was asked if he had an update on the status of RB Ryan Williams and when he might return. “I have no idea,” Arians said. “I have no absolutely no idea.”
Tags: Daryl Washington, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Williams, Tyrann Mathieu
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Nothing super exciting today, other than a chance to talk to Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter on the Cardinals Daily Report (below). But here are some notes and observations:
– Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Tyrann Mathieu forced a fumble, punching a ball lose after a catch by tight end Jeff King. It’s going to be very interesting to see him in games because over the last week or so, Mathieu has been a playmaking machine.
– We’ve mentioned Jaron Brown, Charles Hawkins and Robert Gill as receiving options, and after the depth chart came out it was clear Kerry Taylor had made inroads as the No. 4 receiver. Someone who hasn’t been mentioned (and I will admit I didn’t think we would be) is recent rookie signee Robby Toma out of Notre Dame. He’s not big, he’s not real fast. But it’s tough not to notice him catching almost every pass thrown to him.
– Veteran safety Yeremiah Bell made a very impressive diving interception — he fully laid out to grab it — against Ryan Lindley. Who says being 35 has to hinder athletic plays?
– (By the way, both the Bell pick and the Mathieu play are caught in today’s highlight package you can see here.)
– Bell said he hadn’t expected QB Ryan Lindley to throw the pass. It’s been a rough stretch for Lindley, and now Arians is talking about keeping only two QBs. It’ll be very interesting to see how Lindley does in preseason games.
– Drew Stanton did hit Andre Roberts with a long touchdown pass at one point.
– RB Andre Ellington left practice early on Tuesday with what looked like some sort of neck issue. It didn’t look serious (he walked off the field fine) but he did not return.
– Those sitting included DT Ricky Lumpkin (ankle), RB Ryan Williams (knee), LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring), G Daryn Colledge (leg), WR Robert Gill (hamstring), WR Kerry Taylor (hamstring), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), CB Jamell Fleming (hamstring), LB Alex Okafor (ankle), DT Dan Williams (ankle) and LB Kenny Demens (not sure on his injury).
– Just when Arians was asked about a lack of scuffles in camp, there was a scuffle. Guard Scott Wedige and defensive end Ronald Talley got into it a little bit after one play, but teammates quickly broke it up. Perhaps they were all warning the pair about Arians’ rule against camp fights.
– Officially John Abraham is listed third on the depth chart at linebacker. But as proof as why the depth chart is dangerous, Abraham — as he has been since he showed up — is running first unit nickel as the right side pass rusher. Matt Shaughnessy is on the left, with Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell in the middle. The linebackers are Reggie Walker (with Dansby out) and Jasper Brinkley. The corners are Patrick Peterson and Antoine Cason on the outside, with Jerraud Powers as nickel slot. Bell and Rashad Johnson are the safeties.
– Random note: Prior to Tuesday’s roster moves (which are unlikely to impact the salary cap anyway), the Cardinals had $5.76 million in salary cap space.
Tags: Alex Okafor, Andre Ellington, Antoine Cason, Calais Campbell, Charles Hawkins, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Jamell Fleming, Jaron Brown, Jasper Brinkley, Jerraud Powers, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Kenny Demens, Kerry Taylor, Kory Sperry, Matt Shaughnessy, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Ricky Lumpkin, Robby Toma, Robert Gill, Ronald Talley, Ryan Williams, Scott Wedige, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell
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With the building half-empty with players scattered around the country and coaches on vacation, it seems to be a good time to talk about hair. In part, that’s because Darnell Dockett just shaved off his long-time locks, only furthering a trend of late. I mean, it’s not like Bruce Arians sat in a team meeting and said, “We need to turn this around, we need to play better, and oh, by the way, I can’t stand the long hair.” But it was hard not to notice when running back Ryan Williams and wide receiver LaRon Byrd clipped their dreadlocks and then safety Rashad Johnson did the same, asking his followers on Twitter first if they thought it was a good idea. (Those are the three in the photo to the right.)
Johnson was going to do it anyway — he just felt like it was time for a change. That was some of Williams’ thought too, and as you can see below, that’s what Dockett was thinking too. Time for a fresh start. Maybe Arians’ arrival didn’t bring with it an express message of necessary haircuts but instead just a vibe that reached out to players that said “Snip it!” (Or, more likely, I am just overanalyzing something on a dead day in the offseason.) Heck, I’m not even including guard Daryn Colledge, who didn’t have dreadlocks but had his own long hair that he chose to shear off this offseason.
Dock talked about what a big year it is for him, so this is a type of rebirth. Actually, you look at that list of names — Williams, Byrd, Johnson, Colledge, Dockett — and it could be a big year for all of them to prove their value here with a new staff and new front office (yes, Johnson did just get an extension.) It is the NFL of course, and you know what that makes possible for many players: Hair today, gone tomorrow.
UPDATE: I texted Larry Fitzgerald to see if, you know, he might be following suit with his dreads. His response, expected as it was, was blunt: “No shot.” It shouldn’t be a surprise, but I had forgotten that Fitz has a reason for his long hair — his mother, who passed away from cancer when Fitz was in college.
“I grow my hair in honor of my late mother,” Fitz said in a follow-up text. “It’s a reminder of her great strength and courage in time of doubt and uncertainty. It’s a consistent reminder to keep living and never to give up. It’s not a fad like it is for other guys. My hair has a purpose to me.”
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Williams
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