No surprise that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, after suffering a concussion last night in Tennessee, will go through the concussion protocol this week to determine if he can play Sunday in Seattle. That decision won’t be finalized until later in the week. Fitz did pass the tests needed to at least leave the stadium and fly home with the team last night “but that’s still a long way to go from being cleared.” Never know what each day will bring in regard to head injuries.
UPDATE: On his weekly Westwood One radio segment before Monday Night Football, Fitzgerald talked about passing his initial concussion test today. “I feel better than I did yesterday,” Fitzgerald said. He talked about the concussion protocol, saying Monday he saw an independent neurologist who tested Fitzgerald to compare his score to the baseline score Fitzgerald took on the same test in the spring, to make sure Fitzgerald was at the same level.
“Those tests came back positive,” Fitzgerald said. “I was right where I needed to be. (Tuesday) I will see another independent neurologist to get another independent look and at that point it’ll be how I feel going through the week. But right now I’m feeling good and I’m going to get some rest today, some rest tomorrow and get back to work for a big game against Seattle.”
That’s not the only injury concern though. While coach Bruce Arians said quarterback Carson Palmer has a low-grade high ankle sprain and running back Andre Ellington has a thigh bruise and both should be fine, safety Rashad Johnson suffered a bad high-ankle sprain and that’s a major concern. High ankle sprains are usually bad news and mean missed time, and the Cards are already down Tyrann Mathieu. If Johnson is out, rookie Tony Jefferson would be the starting free safety and his backup would be the inexperienced Curtis Taylor.
Arians said Jefferson played well when he stepped in the lineup after Johnson got hurt. “I’m concerned we lost both our safeties the last two weeks and we are down to a rookie,” Arians said. “But it’s Week 15 or 16, whatever the heck it is. (Tony) is not really a rookie anymore. Curtis hasn’t played yet so if he’s out there, I’ll be a little worried because the dropoff from Tyrann and Rashad.”
– Arians said he didn’t think the pass defense’s problem was as much about bad secondary play as much as poor pass rush against the Titans.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, Larry Fitzgerald, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson
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Somehow, it turned into 2009 again. It shouldn’t have, not with the Cardinals having built a 34-17 lead and holding that lead with less than four minutes to play, but I’ll say this, the Titans kept going and Ryan Fitzpatrick looked damn good.
So, like 2009, when the Titans drove 99 yards to score on the final play of the game and rip one away from the Cards, there the Titans were, heading for the same end zone, facing a chance to score a touchdown and rip a win away from the Cards. Sure, it would just be temporarily since overtime was coming (and there was a moment there where the Titans looked like they were contemplating going for two and ending it one way or the other), but it still hurt.
The Cardinals prevailed, though, leaving Tennessee with a win that keeps their playoff hopes alive. That life span is shrinking though. The other results the Cards really could have used across the league did not happen Sunday. So the monumental task of winning in Seattle is now saddled with the realization that the Cards are going to need a sequence of events to unfold to make the postseason regardless of what they do.
– Because I’ve found on Twitter some confusion, here’s the deal: The Niners have already clinched the tiebreak over the Cardinals because of a better record in the division, regardless of the outcome of the team’s Week 17 contest. The way the tiebreaks work, a three-way tie – say between the Cards, Niners and Panthers – first checks to see if there are two of the teams in the same division. Because the Niners and Cards are, that tie is broken first, and as we already know, the Niners win that tiebreak. Cardinals are out. Which is why any tie involving the Niners is playoff death.
– Just as an FYI, I’m not interested in debating whether that’s fair or not. That’s the tiebreak procedure. It is what it is.
CLARIFYING: The three-way tiebreak does get only the first spot determined. Which does eliminate Arizona. But head-to-head between Carolina and SF is Carolina because the Panthers won head-to-head. So Carolina would be the No. 5 seed, leaving SF tied with Arizona for the No. 6. We know how that turns out. So again, a three-way tie between those teams leaves the Cards out (and by the same breakdown, the same goes for a three-way tie between SF, AZ and NO.)
– Lost a bit in the end of that thriller were the injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Ellington. Fitz got a concussion when he was hit trying to recover the final onside kick. Ellington left with a thigh bruise. Ellington was fantastic running (7.1 yards a carry) or receiving (21.8 yards per catch on four catches). The Cardinals need both of them healthy and ready in order to beat the Seahawks.
– Spare me the comments that Fitzgerald shouldn’t be out there for an onside kick. It’s called the “hands” team for a reason. You want the guys with the best hands grabbing the ball.
– Justin Bethel did not get a hand on the shanked 50-yard Rob Bironas field goal attempt. “Unfortunately I didn’t,” Bethel said. “If he would have kicked it (straight) I probably would have blocked it.”
– But it is easy to make the argument that without Bethel’s hard push from the right, Bironas would not have kicked the ball like he did.
“A miss is a miss,” Bethel said. “It’s as good as a block so I’ll take it.”
– Antoine Cason with a hero game. Two important interceptions, and he recovered Jay Feely’s “mortar” pooch kickoff to start the second half. Great kick by Feely by the way, and great timing by special teams coordinator Amos Jones to call it there.
– Ryan Fitzpatrick with 402 yards passing? Yeesh.
– The Cardinals had no penalties in the first half. Then they got four on the Titans’ 16-play touchdown drive to begin the second half — two of which negated third-down stops – and the Cards were not happy. They cooled down a bit postgame (winning tends to do that) but didn’t forget.
“There were some weird things that happened,” QB Carson Palmer said. “Some weird things that weren’t called in this game. I don’t know what the penalty, as far as who had more penalties. I’m pretty sure we had more penalties than they did. It was just a weird game, kind of an eerie game like that.”
Said S Rashad Johnson (who was ticked off after his penalty for an illegal hit of a receiver near the goal line and screamed at the officials), “No matter what happened out there, what calls were made, we were going to go home with that win. It just shows the maturity of this ballclub and how much we’ve grown through the year.”
– Ellington led the Cardinals in rushing (71 yards) and receiving (89 yards). The last guy to do that? Running back Marcel Shipp in December of 2002, when he had 79 yards rushing and 79 receiving in St. Louis against the Rams.
– Palmer surpassed three Hall of Fame quarterbacks in career passing yards: Troy Aikman, Y.A. Tittle and Steve Young. Palmer now has 33,154 yards passing, 27th in NFL history.
– The Cardinals just keep winning.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Antoine Cason, Carson Palmer, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Marcel Shipp, playoffs, Rashad Johnson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Steve Young, Titans, Troy Aikman, Y.A. Tittle
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, GIF, NFL, Rashad Johnson
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Tags: Alabama, Arizona Cardinals, Auburn, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, Iron Bowl, Jerraud Powers, NFL, Rashad Johnson
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In the grand scheme, it doesn’t mean a ton, because playing time is what it is — Bruce Arians said again Monday “We have so many starters, it’s not just the 11 that come out of the huddle,” meaning that a key part of a sub-package is still a starter in his eyes — but rookie Tyrann Mathieu was officially moved up the depth chart at free safety this week to starter. It’s not like it came out of nowhere, since Mathieu started and then played almost every snap against Atlanta over veteran Rashad Johnson and both Mathieu and Johnson already acknowledged the shift. This is less about Johnson, whom Arians continues to praise not only for his play but his leadership, and more about the burgeoning stardom of Mathieu.
Mathieu has been impressive to say the least. He was named the NFL defensive rookie of the month for October. He has been a playmaker. He is (in my opinion, at least, and in many others) the best tackler this team has, which was one of those areas of concern given his size. Johnson is still going to get plenty of playing time, with Mathieu probably moving around and inside in sub-packages (which the Cards are in more than base defense most games anyway) and Johnson playing safety.
“From an ability standpoint we knew what we were getting,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “It was up to Tyrann to make a commitment to his personal life and to come to work every day, compete, grow and get better. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the young man with that so far. Again, that’s a day-to-day thing. We count on him to come in and get better, and once he can achieve that … the first day he is here, he is able to move on to the second day, and that’s all we can ask for in the future.”
No, he’s not on the Pro Bowl ballot — time for a write-in campaign? — but Mathieu is playing like a first-round pick. Which he probably would have been without his off-field baggage. And now, he’s the starter. Probably for good.
Tags: Rashad Johnson, Steve Keim, Tyrann Mathieu
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This isn’t going to be lengthy, not with the bye weekend here and time off embraced. But here at the halfway point, I was trying to consider team MVP candidates from either side of the ball. Defensively, there are choices. Linebacker Daryl Washington may have only played four games, but he’s quickly shown why he is so important and he’s in the mix. Defensive end Calais Campbell has been outstanding, and I think given the matchups he is faced with each week, cornerback Patrick Peterson has been pretty good too. Veterans Karlos Dansby and Darnell Dockett have been solid as well.
Offensively, though, um, I’m not sure there is one. I guess you’d go with Andre Ellington at this point, even though he hasn’t gotten the ball a ton. Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t made enough of an impact in that regard, it doesn’t seem. Neither has Michael Floyd. I will say, I am very, very interested to see if this offense can make some steps forward in the second half of the season (especially with the schedule upcoming) or if they just are who they are.
– Congrats to Ellington, by the way, for winning the NFL’s Fed Ex Ground player of the week award, voted on by the fans.
– Tyrann Mathieu has been outstanding, and we don’t need national awards to prove it. Yes, I think the safety has a chance to win defensive rookie of the year. He already is making the move to displace Rashad Johnson as a starter. I’ll be curious to know if that stays the same against Houston. Another thing the first half has shown me: Mathieu is a great tackler. Not good, great. He’s the best tackler on the team (and no, Tyrann, I’m not just talking pound-for-pound). That’s been the most impressive part of his game for me.
– Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin can quip with the best of them, and the de facto offensive line coach was talking about that unit when he mentioned left tackle Bradley Sowell. “He didn’t give up a sack, thank God.” There was a little sarcasm there for all the Sowell questions he gets, and some truth too. But Profootballfocus.com not only graded Sowell with having his best game against Atlanta last week in not giving up a sack, PFF said Sowell didn’t even allow a QB pressure.
– Both Fitzgerald and Floyd rank high on PFF’s drop-rate list, so that’s good. They just have to see more catchable passes.
– Amazing. A future opponent loses another good player, with the news today Jaguars WR Justin Blackmon is suspended indefinitely for violating the substance-abuse policy. Blackmon had already been suspended the first four games of the season. What a waste.
– OK, that’s enough. Back to the regular season next week. And in the meantime, here’s a very cool slow-motion capture of that rumblin’, stumblin’ run of Stepfan Taylor against the Falcons. The play gained 15 yards, and he earned every one of them.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bradley Sowell, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Harold Goodwin, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
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At 4-4 at the bye, Bruce Arians would have liked another win or two at this point, but .500 will work for now. The main news from Monday’s day-after-a-win-and-before-a-limited-week of practice was still Andre Ellington and the way Arians will juggle those running backs when Rashard Mendenhall comes back healthy from his toe injury. (That’s assumed to be the next game, but who really knows at this point.)
Arians didn’t say anything Monday that would set in concrete Ellington would stay the starter at running back. He didn’t say anything that would set in concrete Mendenhall would stay the starter either. He reiterated that Ellington would get the touches they had planned for him to get (he had 17 Sunday on 33 snaps, and that’s about what the Cardinals would like to do each week) and that if Mendenhall plays, he would take the work back from rookie Stepfan Taylor, who had 14 carries Sunday.
“We’ll see how that plays out when (Rashard) comes back,” Arians said, later adding, “I’ll evaluate it when he comes back but I’m sure he will resume his role, as long as he’s full-speed.”
What did the performances of Ellington and Taylor say to Arians Sunday? “It basically reiterated what I said, we have a good group of running backs,” Arians said. “Ryan (Williams) can play too. I knew we did. I don’t think you can have enough of them, because in a wink, they can all be gone.”
Arians did say Ellington needs to improve his pass blocking “to stay out there” and improve his patience as a runner.
– Ellington’s 7.74 yards per rush is tops in the NFL for anyone with at least 40 carries.
– Arians said Bobby Massie did well in his turns at right tackle (21 snaps, and graded positively according to profootballfocus.com). The Cards will continue to try and get him snaps, but because he plays just one position, his active status could change depending on injuries.
– The Cardinals were healthy coming out of the game, which sets them up well for the bye and recovery time, Arians said.
– Tyrann Mathieu started at safety with Rashad Johnson coming off the bench, grabbing two interceptions. Arians said that could continue but he wouldn’t commit to it.
– Arians said he doesn’t mind QB Carson Palmer having just 18 pass attempts when the team is running the way it was. But the Cards did just have 54 offensive snaps, and he wanted the third-down conversion rate to be better than 3-for-10 — and more plays would have likely meant a few more passes.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Rashad Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
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Some newsy quick hitters after Bruce Arians addressed the media today, the day after Daryl Washington’s return-to-action party:
– Arians sees Andre Ellington’s role at 30 to 35 plays a game. But that might top it out. Arians said he doesn’t see Ellington’s body type to hold up with a much heavier workload, and he emphasized Ellington will continue to get work as both running back and receiver.
– Stepfan Taylor is doing a “great job” on special teams. Ryan Williams, as we have said ourselves many times, doesn’t play special teams, Arians said. So Williams isn’t going to be active. I think that changes if there is an injury, but in the meantime, Williams will stay inactive, it looks like.
– The only injury from Sunday was a hamstring problem for linebacker Kenny Demens, which will likely sideline him this week, Arians said. Linebacker Jasper Brinkley (groin) and safety Rashad Johnson (finger) should return this week, the coach added. Arians said he didn’t want Johnson playing with a big “mitt” of a cast, but Johnson should be down to a small splint this week.
– He said Andre Roberts was playing inside early in the season when he was effective, and when tight end Rob Housler came back, Roberts went outside and became less effective. It’s something the coaches will look at.
– As far as Housler, he’s a “work in progress” Arians said. “He’s not on the same page as Carson (Palmer),” Arians added.
– Arians said there would be no change in the schedule to prepare for next week’s short week, which features a trip to San Francisco for Sunday and then a home game against Seattle a week from Thursday. The Cards won’t worry about Seattle until after San Francisco, Arians said.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Andre Roberts, Daryl Washington, Jasper Brinkley, Kenny Demens, Rashad Johnson, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor
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Injuries will keep safety Rashad Johnson (finger) and linebacker Jasper Brinkley (groin) sidelined today, as both were included on the Cardinals’ inactive list. One non-change, even with the trade of Levi Brown — Bruce Arians will still have eight offensive linemen active. Earl Watford — who has been running second unit left guard — will be up and available for the first time today.
Along with Johnson and Brinkley, the rest of the inactive list has familiar names:
– QB Ryan Lindley
– RB Ryan Williams
– WR Kerry Taylor
– T Bobby Massie
– TE D.C. Jefferson
Tags: Earl Watford, inactives, Jasper Brinkley, Panthers, Rashad Johnson
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Safety Rashad Johnson was not cleared by doctors to play with his severed fingertip so he will not be active today against the Bucs. As expected, Tyrann Mathieu will start in his place.
No Johnson is a blow especially to a special teams unit that was already missing Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho. Special teams was a spot where the Cardinals had been consistent. We will have to see how the unit can respond. You figure rookie Tony Jefferson will also take a bigger role all the way around. The fact the Buccaneers probably will run the ball more with a rookie quarterback lends itself to the play of vet safety Yeremiah Bell, too (although the Cards must tackle better than they have.)
The rest of the inactive list comes as no surprise. Nose tackle Dan Williams (father’s death) and linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring) were already out. The others sitting:
– QB Ryan Lindley
– RB Ryan Williams
– T Bobby Massie
– G Earl Watford
For the Buccaneers, QB Josh Freeman, benched this week, is inactive. Wide receivers Mike Williams (ankle) and Vincent Jackson (ribs) are active.
Tags: Buccaneers, inactives, Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell
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