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Cardinals, the roster, and target areas

Posted by Darren Urban on January 27, 2014 – 11:33 am

Every time General Manager Steve Keim talks about his roster, he talks about looking to improve everywhere. That’s always the default. While the Cardinals probably need, say, offensive linemen or tight ends more than, running backs, you don’t turn down chances to upgrade your team at any position. (As for the latest talk-radio conversation about quarterback, I feel confident that a) Carson Palmer is going to be the starter in 2014 and b) if Keim has a QB sitting on the board in the draft that he really, really likes — whenever that is — the Cardinals will likely take him.)

All that said, there are spots that need addressing just for the sheer numbers. I’ve already posted this once, but below is a link to a roster breakdown done right after the season. It has changed a bit — punter Dave Zastudil has re-signed by now — but the rest of the contract situations remain the same. Keim has a little more than six weeks before contracts officially expire. In terms of strictly numbers, here are how impending free agency impacts the positions (not including all the futures deals/low-end free agents that have signed):

— QB: Cards are fine with all three guys under contract. You’d expect a fourth camp arm to sign if one isn’t drafted.

— RB: Rashard Mendenhall is unrestricted and plays a big role, although if the Cards rode Andre Ellington/Stepfan Taylor in 2014, no one would be surprised.

— WR: Assuming the Cards can get comfortable (if they aren’t already) with Fitz’s contract, the position is probably OK. They need to add someone if Andre Roberts leaves as a free agent, but they can ride with Floyd/Fitz as a top two.

— TE: A major question. Only Rob Housler is under contract for next season. This has got to be a spot where the Cards draft, right?

— OL: Upgrades are necessary and will happen, but as of now, only Eric Winston is a free agent of guys who played at all.

— DL: Need depth here. Do you bring Frostee Rucker back? And that rehab needed for Alameda Ta’amu’s ACL tear hurts the team as much as Ta’amu.

— LB: It’s hard not to notice two starters in Karlos Dansby and Matt Shaughnessy who could potentially walk away.

— DB: The Cards could probably use another young safety, although they may be in good shape if Tony Jefferson can step forward. But what about cornerback, with Tyrann Mathieu coming back from injury and Javier Arenas/Antoine Cason/Bryan McCann scheduled to be free agents. Depth is needed there. It’ll be interesting to see if Justin Bethel ends up playing a bigger defensive role.

— Specialists: Zastudil is back. We’ll see what the Cardinals do at kicker and impending FA Jay Feely.

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Palmer’s Hall of Fame jersey, and some notes

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2013 – 1:31 pm

We here at azcardinals.com are grinding away to post some day-after-season content, but here are some quick notes on a relatively news-less day-after following locker room availability and Bruce Arians’ final presser — news-less for sure compared to this time last season:

— Carson Palmer is still in the middle of his career, but his jersey from Sunday — still grass-stained and now autographed as seen below — is headed to Canton, Ohio and the Hall of Fame after Palmer surpassed 4,000 yards this season during the game Sunday. Palmer became the first player in NFL history to throw for at least 4,000 yards with three different teams. He did it previously with the Bengals and Raiders.

— Arians, who is usually good for one great quote almost every press conference, got off another doozy Monday. When he was told players see him as a father figure, Arians didn’t miss a beat. “I don’t like that,” Arians said. “I’m the cool uncle you like to have a drink with.”

— Arians said he wants his entire staff back. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is expected to draw interest for head coach openings.

— Nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu indeed tore his ACL, so he has a long road back after surgery.

— Arians was not surprisingly vague on specific free-agents-to-be. He’d love to have LB Karlos Dansby back. In regard to K Jay Feely, “I love Jay to death” but as a free agent, “it will be all business from here on out.”

— The free agents themselves, those who talked, said the same thing almost every free agent for every team does. I’d love to be back. It’ll depend on what they want to do upstairs.

— TE Rob Housler made good progress, Arians said, but he has to learn to block better and stay healthy. One thing is in Housler’s control. I’m not sure the other one is.

Here’s a photo gallery from Monday’s locker room cleanout.

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Fitzgerald, Housler active in Seattle

Posted by Darren Urban on December 22, 2013 – 12:32 pm

As expected, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is active today for the Cardinals after suffering a concussion last week in Tennessee. That’s important, as is tight end Rob Housler (groin) as the Cards need all their weapons. Another interesting twist on today’s inactive list: Quarterback Ryan Lindley is active, meaning all three QBs are up. That is a nod to the gimpy left ankle of Carson Palmer, not that he won’t or can’t play, but more that if he is hit the wrong way and sent out, the Cards would want to make sure they still have two healthy quarterbacks once Drew Stanton was put in the game.

Safety Rashad Johnson (ankle) is indeed inactive, meaning rookie Tony Jefferson is starting. With Lindley up, the “new” inactive is offensive lineman Nate Potter.

The full inactive list is:

— S Rashad Johnson (ankle)

— RB Ryan Williams

— G Earl Watford

— DE Ronald Talley

— LB Dontay Moch

— T Nate Potter

— TE Kory Sperry


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Housler sits, but Palmer, Floyd playing

Posted by Darren Urban on December 15, 2013 – 1:06 pm

Not surprises with the Cardinals’ inactives list today in Tennessee. Tight end Rob Housler, who didn’t practice all week with a groin injury, is not dressing. Quarterback Carson Palmer (right elbow) is playing, as is wide receiver Michael Floyd (ankle). Tight end Kory Sperry is playing in Housler’s place. Wide receiver Brittan Golden is also active this week while reserve safety Curtis Taylor is inactive.

The other five inactives:

— QB Ryan Lindley

— RB Ryan Williams

— LB Dontay Moch

— G Earl Watford

— DE Ronald Talley

In a big development, the Titans made wide receiver Justin Hunter inactive because he violated team rules. He’s been a good weapon for Tennessee of late and that can only benefit the Cardinals.


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About that win, and the running backs

Posted by Darren Urban on October 7, 2013 – 1:13 pm

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.


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Fitz, Mendenhall questionable but should play

Posted by Darren Urban on September 20, 2013 – 1:41 pm

Both wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (toe) were upgraded to limited practice today and will officially be listed as questionable for Sunday’s game in New Orleans. Questionable is a 50-50 designation, but if I had to guess, I’d guess both will be active for the Saints. Both looked OK during the open portion of practice (which isn’t necessarily full speed and isn’t in pads, so take it for what it is worth.) Also, both fall into that category of Bruce Arians from earlier in the week, when he said he’d let a player with a good résumé play even with no practice. Obviously both practiced and in both cases, both have proven themselves to Arians enough that I’d think he’d trust their judgment when it comes to this.

Mendenhall’s injury isn’t a turf toe, Arians said (Mendenhall suffered it during the game and played with it, Arians said). Arians said he didn’t remember the name of what exactly Mendenhall had, and even though it isn’t turf toe, “it’s damn close,” Arians said with a chuckle.

Of course, being active and playing doesn’t mean playing the whole game. We saw that with Fitzgerald last week. How much of an impact either can make is TBD. And this week, since the Cardinals have to get on a plane, we also don’t know if the flight could somehow aggravate either injury, which makes “questionable” a lot of sense.

Linebacker Kevin Minter (hamstring) is out for the game. The Cardinals did have tight end Rob Housler (ankle) practice fully for the first time Friday, so he is ready to play. He will be a welcome addition to the offense.


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No Fitz today, but it feels like he’ll play

Posted by Darren Urban on September 18, 2013 – 2:03 pm

Larry Fitzgerald did not practice today. “I wanted him resting today,” coach Bruce Arians said. “I didn’t want him aggravating that (hamstring) again.”

“He wants to practice,” Arians added. “I’m not letting him.”

Fitz is going to be day-to-day, Arians said, but there sure seemed to be the underlying feeling Fitzgerald will end up playing Sunday. That’s the vibe Arians gave off, and every time Carson Palmer was talking in general about playing without Fitz — like in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Lions — he made it sound that Fitz will be there. Palmer said if he knew a guy was going to miss a game he’d prefer to work with the backup, for chemistry and timing reasons. But, he added, “that’s not the case with Larry,” Palmer said.

During the open portion of practice, Fitz still donned his helmet and went out and stood five yards away from a JUGS machine and was making catches — one-handed. Amazing how he was doing it, easily snaring the ball (with either hand) with it being shot out of that thing. Even injured Fitzgerald leaves an impression.

Here’s something else to remember with Fitzgerald. Arians was asked what his philosophy was in terms of playing players Sunday who didn’t practice during the week. “That totally depends on the player,” Arians said. “You better have a résumé. We fortunately have one that has a pretty good résumé.”

— Rookie linebacker Kevin Minter wasn’t practicing either, and Arians said his hamstring problem was worse than originally expected. Minter is “probably doubtful” to play in New Orleans, Arians said. Running back Rashard Mendenhall also wasn’t practicing during the part of practice open to the media. Not sure if that’s his knee or a hamstring or what, but Arians did not bring it up in his pre-practice press conference. The injury report will be out later today.

— The good news? Tight end Rob Housler was back and practicing full for his first workout of the regular season. Housler should give Arians more flexibility with his offense.


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Quick hits after Arians

Posted by Darren Urban on September 16, 2013 – 1:03 pm

The Cardinals have changed up availability times for Mondays, so the players aren’t talking until later on, but a few notes from lunch with Bruce Arians:

— Rookie running back Andre Ellington continues to impress and it’s not like Arians only sees him has a third-down, change-of-pace guy. “This kid can carry the load,” Arians said. (And to clarify: “Can” carry it doesn’t mean he will. Rashard Mendenhall is the starter.)

— Of the seven game balls awarded for the Lions game, three went to special teamers: kicker Jay Feely, punter Dave Zastudil and Justin Bethel, who blocked a field goal and who has to be in the discussion as best gunner in the NFL. The others went to DE Calais Campbell, CB Patrick Peterson, WR Kerry Taylor and QB Carson Palmer.

— Palmer did have the pick-six interception, but Arians praised his leadership, especially late in the game with no Larry Fitzgerald and the offense struggling on third downs. “He sent the best signals (that) ‘We’re fine,’ ” Arians said.

— Arians was happy with the play of Taylor but he did not commit to keeping Taylor on the roster once Fitz returns to full strength. That, he said, will depend on injuries. The bottom five roster spots are always churning.

— The hope is tight end Rob Housler (ankle) will play this week. But it’s still we’ll-see mode, as it will be with the rest of the injuries. Arians said he wants to see where the Cards are Wednesday before talking about anyone else.

— Safety Yeremiah Bell actually was playing some linebacker Sunday (I can’t wait to hear from everyone who always wanted Adrian Wilson to do the same). It was part of the package to handle the Lions’ offense. “He played great,” Arians said. “We asked him to learn linebacker in two different fronts. I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s the ultimate pro.”

— Arians said the decision to stay back East after the Saints game came with the knowledge the team has back-to-back 10 a.m. Arizona time kickoffs. This will hopefully alleviate some of the issues with the early kickoff in Tampa.


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Fitzgerald is questionable for Lions

Posted by Darren Urban on September 13, 2013 – 1:31 pm

Bruce Arians said wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will be questionable for Sunday’s game with his hamstring issue. The injury happened Wednesday, when Arians said Fitzgerald “tweaked” the hamstring in practice. This was not a holdover from St. Louis. Arians did say he thought Fitzgerald was doing well today, albeit limited again. My guess is this will go all the way up until game time to see if Fitzgerald will be ready. Sorry, Fitz fantasy owners. I figure Fitz will do everything in his power to play, although you want to be smart — you’d rather miss one game than have it turn into 50-percent Fitz for four weeks.

Tight end Rob Housler (ankle) is out for the game. Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander (biceps) is also questionable.

Overall, though, Arians said he was pleased with a week of practice coming off of a hard loss in St. Louis.

“Today was almost too competitive,” Arians said. “(But) I’d rather say ‘Whoa’ than ‘Sic ’em’ like I have before. Today was almost, ‘Whoa, slow down a little bit.’ “


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Arians talks Lions, Megatron before practice

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2013 – 1:37 pm

It’s easy to think of the Lions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and get locked in on him, but Bruce Arians tried to zoom out a bit when talking Wednesday about the Cardinals’ Sunday opponent.

“Everybody that they have is capable of beating you,” Arians said. “You can’t just look at one guy.”

Of course, Johnson is the guy people think of first. Patrick Peterson will not cover Johnson one-on-one all the time, Arians said, but he will do it some. That will likely work for Peterson, who cherishes these matchups (Peterson was not available during the media session today, so we’ll have more on this tomorrow.) Arians smiled with that assessment of Peterson, though. “You have to watch what you wish for sometimes,” Arians said.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz did say, if officials hadn’t overturned two touchdowns in the opener, Johnson would have come out much better than his four-catch-for-37-yard day. “If he has those two, it’s a Megatron game.”

— The ability of Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will mean the pressure this week will be on the Cardinals’ interior line of Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein and Paul Fanaika, as opposed to the pressure the tackles were under in St. Louis, Arians said.

— This from Arians, which was important to note: He said newcomer tackle Bradley Sowell can play both sides. But he said Bobby Massie cannot play left tackle — which would be a reason, for all of you who have asked, why he has not been tried there. Arians did say he thinks Massie “has all the talent in the world.”

— Arians, asked for his evaluation of Suh’s reputation as a dirty football player, said he only thing he goes off of is the video. “When I watch tape I see a great football player,” Arians said. “All the rest of the stuff, I don’t have to deal with.”

— Arians said the only player sitting out of practice was tight end Rob Housler, whom Arians already said would probably miss the Detroit game. Some players will be limited today. We will see the official injury report later today.


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