What is it about Ryan Williams and his story that is so intriguing? The Cardinals go into an important game against the Falcons Sunday, and even if Williams – because of the toe injury of Rashard Mendenhall – is active, he might not even play much. Yet many are waiting to see if Williams is active and what he would do if he played, and I am one of them.
Williams (smartly) hasn’t said much about his situation, but you can tell he’s frustrated. “I’m probably the freshest guy on the team right now,” Williams said. “I’m ready to play. I’m just waiting.” Practices are closed so it’s impossible to know exactly what Williams has done, and since he is so far down the depth chart, he’s likely getting what work he is getting on scout team and not the regular offense. But Bruce Arians has said a couple of times he has been happy with the work Williams has done. Now Sunday, if the Cards, for instance, are going to have newcomer Teddy Williams active to play special teams, who sits instead? Would that be Ryan Williams’ potential spot?
In a lot of ways, Williams might be in a type of limbo. Clearly he isn’t ahead of the others on the depth chart. But Mendenhall’s injury potential is high enough that the Cards might not want to let him go. If Mendenhall goes down with a major injury, do the Cards really want to lean just on two rookies in Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor? (There is still a chance I suppose he could be dealt before Tuesday’s deadline, but I don’t expect it.)
I guess I’m looking forward to seeing that inactive list at 11:55 a.m. Sunday.
– Lot of talk about Ellington, and people keep trying to send me comparative measurements between the 5-foot-9, 199-pound Ellington and other backs, like Jamaal Charles, etc. Look, I can’t speak to those guys. And I don’t know if Ellington could absorb more. But I think what Bruce Arians is thinking about limited reps is the idea that a lot of punishment would take away the best thing about Ellington — his explosion and ability to get outside. I’m sure he’ll touch the ball plenty Sunday.
– The Falcons were a Super Bowl favorite coming into the season. Now, the defense is much more leaky, the offense doesn’t have Julio Jones and Roddy White has been hurt so much he’s a non-factor. Steven Jackson has barely played. Now, it’s not like Atlanta hasn’t been close – their four losses have been by a total of 19 points – but they aren’t as daunting of an opponent as they once might have been.
– Matt Ryan was miserable in last year’s meeting. Ray Horton’s defense made him look terrible. Horton isn’t here anymore, obviously, but Todd Bowles is, and the Cards got after Russell Wilson pretty good. I wouldn’t expect five interceptions again, but the Cards are going to pressure him. “We got in his face early, rattled him up a little bit,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “This is a new team. With them not necessarily having their top guys … we can’t fall into that they aren’t 100 percent. They still have guys who can get the ball in the end zone. But I believe if we do the same recipe as last year, we will have good success.”
– Profootballfocus.com noted that there have been two receivers targeted a league-high six times when an interception has been thrown. One was Giants wideout Reuben Randle. The other? Larry Fitzgerald. Something to consider when Carson Palmer talks about being leery when forcing the ball to Fitz.
– Speaking of Fitz, he hammered Walter Thurmond on a blind-side block last week against Seattle and did it again later to Richard Sherman. They were blows – but they could have been much harder and destructive. Fitz downplayed them, but Seattle coach Pete Carroll came out and praised Fitzgerald for playing football the “new” way – those Seahawks still got hit pretty good, but it didn’t go over the top. You can say what you want about what that means for football, but I have to admit I agree with Carroll. You can walk that line.
– Be sure to welcome our new writer at azcardinals.com when he starts next week: Kyle Odegard. I think you’ll find him a quality addition.
– Arians talks about starting fast and you wonder about the coin flip. Arians has said he will always take the ball if he is given the choice, so the Cards end up with the ball first almost every time. That makes getting off to a quick start even more important in my eyes.
– Arians reiterated what offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said yesterday, that the Cardinals are “hoping” to play Bobby Massie some at right tackle. It will depend on how the game plays out, Arians said, but it would be for a series or two.
– Defensive end Calais Campbell took left tackle Bradley Sowell aside earlier this week to try and give him some advice. “I felt like the offensive linemen, the younger ones, they need to learn what we are trying to do to beat them,” Campbell said on the Big Red Rage radio show. “We just went over how I play the game and what I’m looking for. I gave him my advice. I think he has potential and we need him to win.”
– The Cards do need better play from Sowell at left tackle. And from the offense in general.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Falcons, Kyle Odegard, Larry Fitzgerald, Matt Ryan, Patrick Peterson, Pete Carroll, Pro Football Focus, Rashard Mendenhall, Richard Sherman, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Walter Thurmond
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Tags: Arizona Cardinals, AZ Cardinals, AZ Cards, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks
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The Cardinals were hoping to at least get a split in this five-game stretch against the elite of the NFC West. That didn’t happen, clearly. So the Cards move on, with an extra couple of days to prep for a flailing Atlanta team that will come into Arizona a week from Sunday. The next three games are home against the Falcons and Texans – neither of which have played very well and have been punished with injuries – and then a road trip to Jacksonville. The season could turn quickly. But the Cards better figure out what ails them, especially offensively.
It’s late. This won’t be long. But in light of a rough game against the Seahawks Thursday night:
– Bruce Arians said he didn’t consider a quarterback change. What would go into the process, he was asked. It’s not just interceptions themselves.
“It’s the reasons for the interceptions,” Arians said. “Is it his decision-making? If it’s his decision-making, then we will make the change. The first (interception) to me was obvious pass interference (on Larry Fitzgerald), and the safety makes a great play. The second one was just a poor decision. Those are the ones we have to look at.”
– No surprise defensive end Calais Campbell played. He said there was a doubt coming into the day, but once he ran around he felt ready. He had a team-high eight tackles. Campbell also warmed up in an old-school Bryan Cox neck-brace/extension (google the image) but apparently discarded it before coming out for kickoff.
– I haven’t seen Andrew Luck play yet, but my vote right now for the best QB out of the current young bunch is Russell Wilson. He is so impressive on so many levels.
– The slow start was on both the offense and defense Thursday. Veteran safety Yeremiah Bell lamented too many busted coverages early — something that shouldn’t be happening — and Daryl Washington complained about the shoddy tackling. The offense needs to be much, much better but that’s 66 points allowed in the two games this week.
– So in the last two Thursday games the Cards have played, they have allowed a total of 16 sacks. That’s a tough way to live on national TV.
– Not the way I’m sure Machine wanted his send-off. Regardless, good luck in retirement.
– Larry Fitzgerald could have drilled defensive back Walter Thurmond on a blindside block early in the game. He did not, and Thurmond, while blocked, could’ve been much worse for wear. Later in the game, Fitzgerald did pop Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman harder, although replays showed Fitz could’ve creamed him much harder. And you wonder why Fitz has such a good reputation among his peers.
“I tried not to hit him too hard,” Fitzgerald said. “They fine you on those crackbacks and penalize you too. I didn’t want to put my team in a position to lose 15 yards in the red zone like that. I just tried to make a smart play.”
– GM Steve Keim said Bradley Sowell was going to have his ups and downs at left tackle. Thursday was definitely a down. He had a rough game getting pushed back, down and away by what is a very good Seattle defensive line. There were plenty of plays where other linemen had issues, but Sowell – with the Seahawks able to pin their ears back and come without fear of the run – was overmatched one-on-one much of the time.
– Not a whole lot else to say on this one. The Seahawks a good team. Better than the 49ers right now. After these two games, the Cards know where they stand. They wish it was in a better spot.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, Carson Palmer, Daryl Washington, Larry Fitzgerald, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Seahawks, Yeremiah Bell
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After Patrick Peterson made a pair of interceptions last week in Tampa, coach Bruce Arians called Peterson the best cornerback in the game. That shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It’s certainly a topic that has come up before. Peterson certainly has a lot of confidence in himself. Sometimes, he’s a little more vague about his place in the pecking order than others. Sometimes, he talks about being the best cornerback in the game or wanting to be the best cornerback in the game. It never sounds over-the-top. Most of the time, he sounds matter of fact. He said it on a recent appearance on profootballtalk.com’s daily video show.
“I definitely feel like I am the best corner in the game. I just want to continue getting better every week,” Peterson said. “I believe if I do my job to the best of my ability, which is going out there and not letting the opponent’s number one receiver to get off and have a big game, I believe we have a big opportunity of winning the ball game.”
Peterson added that if can compete going against the opponent’s best receiver every game, “then there’s no question that you are the number one defensive back in the league.”
Of course, that’s debatable. There are plenty of backers of Darrelle Revis in Tampa and Richard Sherman in Seattle. Certainly, Sherman is excellent — although it would be interesting to swap these guys around into the different defenses for which they play and see if that impacts the play. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the fact Peterson is one of the biggest keys on the defense. Nor the fact he aches to improve so that he can take some of the doubt out of such debates.
“He’s getting better and better, not that he wasn’t any good,” said Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith, against whom Peterson will most likely match up Sunday. “He has confidence in himself and his abilities, and why would he not? His play shows it.”
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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For a list that so many insist doesn’t mean anything, there are plenty of players and others who have issues with how the NFL Network’s Top 100 list has played out. The Cardinals are a part of that debate, after cornerback Patrick Peterson was named as the No. 33 player on the list given that Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was No. 50. It echoed the Pro Bowl results, which had Peterson making the team and Sherman not, even after Sherman had an incredible season. Sherman finds a way to talk about just about anything but I haven’t found that he has addressed being below Peterson on the top 100.
As for Peterson, he smiled when asked about being ranked higher than Sherman and other cornerbacks. “I will always like that idea,” Peterson said. “But I am not in competition with any of those guys. I want to continue to help my team the best way that I can and being the best cornerback I can and continue to go out and shut down the best receivers. That’s what I get paid to do. I don’t get paid to go against other cornerbacks. It’s to do my job to the best of my ability, to go out on Sunday and shut down the opponent’s number one guy.”
It was a weird offseason for Peterson. He missed the bulk of the voluntary OTAs “taking care of some family matters,” he said, but when he returned for mandatory minicamp this week he didn’t look like he had missed a beat.
“It felt extremely good to be back, especially (Tuesday) in front of the fans,” Peterson said. “I’m one of the most in-shape guys on the team. I made sure I still did what I needed to do to be ready when I came back. I didn’t want to be behind. I wanted to be a step above everyone on the field. It’s a long season and I want to continue to improve and better myself and be one of the premier cornerbacks in the game.”
– And, after our discussion the other day about it, it turned out Larry Fitzgerald did indeed make the NFL Network’s Top 100 list, at No. 22. And that was after a down year Fitz never wants to live through again. It’s a testament to Fitz’s reputation among his peers.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman
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The Pro Bowl voting is over for the fans, which counts toward one-third of trying to assemble the rosters. The other two-thirds, from the voting of players and coaches, takes place today for the Cardinals.
The Cards will need some help on that end. Only two players ended up in the top five of fan voting at their respective positions in the NFC. Linebacker Daryl Washington, with 159,407 votes, was third among NFC inside linebackers behind the San Francisco tandem of Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman. Cornerback Patrick Peterson was fourth among NFC cornerbacks with 154,736 votes, behind the Bears’ duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman and Seattle’s Richard Sherman (although I was reminded by someone via Twitter that if Sherman fails his appeal on his PED suspension, that also means he can’t play in the Pro Bowl.)
No sign of defensive end Calais Campbell or safety Kerry Rhodes among the top five. And while it isn’t surprising given how this year has gone, it’s depressing to see that Larry Fitzgerald isn’t among the wide receivers. No one can argue he should be in there, but no one can argue he isn’t one of the top five receivers in the NFC either.
The Pro Bowl rosters are going to be announced Dec. 26.
Tags: Calais Campbell, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl voting, Richard Sherman, Tim Jennings
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Pro Bowl voting for fans is over and players and coaches will soon be doing their version for the teams that will be announced next week. I know there is a lot of speculation over how many Cardinals might be able to find their way to Hawaii. Profootballfocus.com named their Pro Bowl teams — not that it means anything with the actual roster — and included defensive end Calais Campbell and safety Kerry Rhodes.
Campbell impressed the PFF guys enough to remain even though he missed a couple of games. “(I)n spite of missing a long stretch of the season Calais Campbell’s impact for the Arizona Cardinals cannot be denied as he put up strong pass rush numbers (5 Sacks, 9 Hits and 17 Hurries) and also brought a greater presence as a run defender than he mustered in 2011.”
As for Rhodes, “Kerry Rhodes has re-discovered some of his best form as a coverage defender and all round safety after missing much of the 2011 season.”
Can’t argue with either one. As for the missing, well, there are arguments to be made. The PFF guys noted they left off linebacker Daryl Washington, who has been very, very good, but apparently not good enough (in PFF’s eyes) to beat out the 49ers duo of Patrick Willis or NaVarro Bowman. And I know a lot of people have wonders about Patrick Peterson. Peterson didn’t get a mention in a group of Seattle’s Richard Sherman, Chicago’s Charles Tillman and Green Bay’s Casey Hayward. Again, we will see who actually gets the call next week, and don’t forget there are always guys who beg off — meaning replacements will be named too as the weeks go.
UPDATE: PFF owner/founder Neil Hornsby saw my post and wanted to give his thoughts on Peterson: “He’s had a very good year and was highly graded and reasonably consistent but as with most things Pro Bowl-related it’s a numbers game. Only someone who doesn’t watch much football would argue against Tillman and Sherman so it comes down to one place. The choice of Hayward was tough because he’s only played nickel so we had to think long and hard especially putting him up against Tim Jennings, Tarrell Brown and Peterson.
“The truth is though, (Hayward) has been unworldly in his 633 snaps. In that time he has only one less interception and twice as many passes defensed as Peterson and quarterbacks have a 23.5 rating throwing at him. Those numbers are not a fluke and he’s one of the few people to live in the middle with Cruz for example. Peterson was our fifth man up, after Jennings but before Brown, but most significantly was much improved on last year and will almost certainly have his day.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Casey Hayward, Charles Tillman, Daryl Washington, Kerry Rhodes, NaVarro Bowman, Patrick Peterson, Patrick Willis, Pro Bowl, Pro Football Focus, Richard Sherman
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So the Cardinals head to Seattle tomorrow, and we turn to locker room sage Larry Fitzgerald – man, if you would have asked me in 2006 if I’d ever write that descriptor for Fitz, I’d have thought you were crazy – to put these last four games, the playoffs realistically if not officially out of reach, into perspective.
“It’s never to the point where you can’t improve and get better,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s top to bottom, I don’t care about your position on the team. It teaches all of us how to deal with adversity. It’s a microcosm of life. Sometimes it doesn’t go your way and you have to continue to battle.”
It doesn’t hurt that the Seahawks have a chance to make the playoffs and the Cards have a chance to crimp that possibility. It’s cliché, but I do believe playing spoiler – especially to a division rival – is motivation and I do think it is real. The Cards would love to sweep the Seahawks, even if both teams are a lot different than the teams that met at UoP Sept. 9.
– I am very interested in seeing how John Skelton reacts to this start. Seattle is not an easy place to play. He struggled against the Seahawks’ defense in the opener this season before getting hurt. But as he noted Wednesday, he gets another opportunity, one that if not for the major problems of Ryan Lindley, he probably would not have gotten.
I don’t know if there is less pressure on Skelton or more. Obviously coach Ken Whisenhunt proved he’d go to Lindley. Then again, after seeing where Lindley is in his development, it’s tough to see the Cards turning to him again. Impossible not to watch that storyline play out.
– Safety Kerry Rhodes said this week, talking about how the defensive players can’t talk bad about the offense, that until the defense holds a team to zero points and zero yards, they have to tend to their own business. Zero yards? Hyperbole. Zero points? Defensive coordinator Ray Horton was asked if that was realistic.
“That’s probably every defensive player’s mantra,” Horton said. “Is it realistic? Sometimes it is. I think it is the mentality they have which I love, that they think that way.”
– I think the Cards should have defensive end Calais Campbell back this week, a good thing because Campbell always plays well against the Seahawks. Then again, I thought Campbell was going to play in New York, so I will wait and see on that one.
– A final capper on the Kerry Rhodes-Darnell Dockett dustup, where Rhodes said it wasn’t a big deal and Dockett said he was sorry but he was never going to quit. The reference was to the unsaid-yet-out-there reason that the Cards’ decision to try and let the Jets score at the end of last week’s game – statistically, the best way (however long of a shot it was) to try and win – was at the root of the problem. So Horton was asked his philosophy about letting a team score.
“The ultimate goal is to win the game, whether you give up the safety, whether you give up a touchdown,” Horton said. “My philosophy is whatever it takes to win the game. If it means doing that I’d do it to give ourselves a chance. I asked Coach (Ken Whisenhunt) to do it for time reasons.”
(We won’t go into the details yet again of the situation. I know some of you disagree with the strategy and agree with Dockett’s take. I covered it here.)
– OK, maybe one more point: Mike Jurecki of XTRA broke the news that Dockett was fined six figures by the team and could have his playing time limited in Seattle for what went down. Whisenhunt has made it plain whatever was happening with the situation was going to be handled internally and not commented upon. Clearly, the Cardinals did not agree with Dockett’s take. (Kent Somers is now also reporting the fine and said it was because of both the fight and not heeding the coach’s call.) We’ll see on Sunday about the playing time issue.
– UPDATE: Dockett tweeted out praise for the NFLPA so the assumption is, not surprisingly, Dockett is appealing the fine.
– That late personal foul call against nose tackle Dan Williams last week, the iffy one on Jets quarterback Greg McElroy on the sidelines? Williams was not fined for it. Still hurt though – it gave free yards on the Jets’ lone touchdown drive of the game in a 7-6 Jets win. Usually, if a player isn’t fined for a roughness call, it means the league disagreed that it should have been a penalty.
– With cornerback Brandon Browner out with a suspension, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman – himself facing a possible four-game suspension – will probably follow Fitz around Sunday. “I would anticipate that, if I were a betting man,” Fitzgerald said. The best on the best makes sense. It just would be nice to get Fitzgerald a handful of catches and maybe sniff 100 yards. It’s been too long. And frankly, the offense needs it.
The good news is that, after nasty forecasts earlier in the week, the rain is supposed to subside after Saturday morning in Seattle and hold off through Sunday. That’d be a plus. But the Cards have a hard game ahead to snap the losing streak. Let the fourth quarter of the season commence.
Tags: Brandon Browner, Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Ray Horton, Richard Sherman, Ryan Lindley, Seahawks
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When Michael Floyd, ex of Notre Dame, was drafted back in April, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, ex of Stanford, decided to comment on Floyd’s arrival in the division. To be fair, Sherman was answering a question from a fan, but he tweeted “I’m going to wear him out again.” It was a reference to the yearly Stanford-Notre Dame games. When the two teams met in 2010, Floyd had eight catches for 110 yards but Stanford won handily.
The two will get a chance to go up against each other again Sunday.
Floyd said he doesn’t know Sherman at all, other than seeing him on the field. Floyd wasn’t going to be drawn into some verbal battle. “That’s some people’s personality,” Floyd said. “You take a little grain of salt with whatever he says. You play the game out on the field and whoever wins, wins.”
Sherman did apparently trash-talk A.J. Green and even Peyton Manning before his Floyd comment, so it’s not unusual. But Floyd isn’t the kind of person to get caught up in all that. He speaks evenly and thoughtfully with anything asked of him. He doesn’t look or sound like he has any interest in getting emotional, and that includes thinking about his first “real” NFL game Sunday.
“Every time I touch the field, preseason or not, I take it seriously,” Floyd said. “You never know if there is a new person out there who has never seen me play, so you always want to give your best effort.
“Sometimes when you lay in bed, you reflect with how you got here. But mostly you live it day-by-day.”
I know the next question is going to be how much Floyd will be involved Sunday. I’ve said it since he was drafted and nothing has changed — I expect him to be fourth in the pecking order behind Fitz, Roberts and Doucet, but I expect him to be in certain packages. I don’t expect him to light it up, but he’ll play a role.
Tags: Michael Floyd, Richard Sherman, Seahawks
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