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Keim: Cards like Barkley’s mental makeup

Posted by Darren Urban on September 8, 2015 – 8:12 am

We’ve delved into why the Cardinals took Matt Barkley at quarterback already, but General Manager Steve Keim — during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 Tuesday morning — got into a little more detail.

“When you are looking at a quarterback … and you’re saying, ‘What are the traits you look for,’ the first thing you don’t say is arm strength, or foot speed or mobility,” Keim said. “To me, when you look at quarterbacks, the first thing you want is mental toughness, the second thing is the ability to process and learn.

“Those are the things that excited us about Matt Barkley. When he came out of college we spent a lot of time with him. We liked him coming out. We know he is a football junkie. The mental part of the game is not too fast for him. Now, we bring him in, not a lot of risk involved, and you see what he’s got physically. To me, that’s how you have to approach that position because they are so hard to find.”

Other Keim’s points:

— The roster is “always in flux.” Keim wouldn’t even say the current 53 would stay static through Sunday’s opener against the Saints. Something to watch, although I’d be surprised if there was a move at this point just given what is out there (and assuming no one gets hurt in practice.)

— The fact the Cardinals have only three cornerbacks on the roster isn’t lost on Keim. Having safety Tyrann Mathieu there is a bit reason the Cards were comfortable with the move, but Keim did point out there is a reason the team has three cornerbacks on the practice squad. Any one of them could be pulled up in a given week.

— Once Bobby Massie is reinstated from his two-game suspension, then Keim and Bruce Arians will figure out who might be released to make room on the roster. No reason to talk names now, Keim said, because no one knows what injuries may happen, if any, over the first two games. Keim was pleased with the way Earl Watford played right tackle in the final preseason game.

— That said, Keim deferred to Arians on any starting lineup announcements, including center. He also said he had nothing concrete to report on injury updates of G Mike Iupati and WR Michael Floyd. Arians already said Iupati wouldn’t be playing this week.

— Keim said it was “good to see” both RB Chris Johnson and LB Sean Weatherspoon play “extremely well” in the final preseason game. Keim reiterated the Cards were excited for both additions when they signed and the team is counting on their contributions.

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Analyzing the initial 53-man roster

Posted by Darren Urban on September 5, 2015 – 5:28 pm

The roster will change. Now that the Cardinals are down to 53 players, the chances of it staying the same by the time the team comes back together Tuesday isn’t great. GM Steve Keim seems almost a lock to make at least one waiver claim that comes through. But for now, here’s some of the highlights to Saturday’s choices:

— The breakdown by position looks like this:

QB 3
RB 4
TE 4
WR 6
OL 9
DL 7
CB 3
S 5
ST 3

— The Cardinals will have four cornerbacks at some point. I don’t see how they don’t. It might not be until after the first game, but I am confident they will keep the search going.

— The trade for Matt Barkley ended the chances for Logan Thomas and Phillip Sims. I don’t see them keeping a fourth QB on the practice squad.

— Two undrafted rookies make the roster in nose tackle Xavier Williams and Alani Fua. Fua, at 6-foot-5, is one of those choices Keim wanted to make the team longer and more athletic. It’s why they still like Shaq Riddick even though Riddick has been hurt so much.

— Stepfan Taylor is your “big” back with the cut of Robert Hughes. Kerwynn Williams is a fan favorite but his skill-set is just too close to Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson.

— With the suspension of Bobby Massie, it might have saved Bradley Sowell a roster spot for now. When Massie returns, we’ll see what happens. By then, the Cards might have a better sense of who they want at center, or maybe they let a tackle go.

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One guess at the 53, 2015 edition

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2015 – 3:55 pm

Bruce Arians always likes to say the Cardinals aren’t the Cardinals until the roster is pared down to 53 players, because before that, it’s every man for himself fighting for a job. Well, the Cardinals are about to become the Cardinals.

The team must trim 22 off the roster by Saturday at 1 p.m. Arizona time, and the likelihood is that, like last year, those cuts won’t be announced until then. There is also still a preseason game left to be played, and Arians suggested there are still up to 12 roster spots that could change given what happens. That seems like a lot. Usually, by now, the roster is relatively firm in the eyes of the front office, save for a few spots. Given the depth this year, it might be harder.

One caveat when it comes to these predictions. The Cardinals have been active on the waiver wire, adding at least one claim as the regular-season starts. That’s a wild card that can’t be predicted right now. The 53 on Saturday often isn’t the 53 that goes into the locker room the morning of the opener. Always something to keep in mind. As you do, here is my guess of how this filters out:

QB (2): Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton. The Denver game will go a long way toward figuring who could be a third quarterback between Phillip Sims and Logan Thomas, but given the other needs on the roster, I think the Cards take the risk and go with only two quarterbacks. Sims seems to have the edge right now, and he could be brought back on the practice squad.

RB (5): Andre Ellington, David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes. This is tougher. I think Taylor has a shot to stick because he is effective on special teams. But there is a chance the Cards go with four and gain a roster spot elsewhere.

WR (5): Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson. There has been a lot of talk about six wide receivers, but injuries at tight end and the offensive line may just make that too difficult right now. Brittan Golden has a shot as No. 6 if people get healthy.

TE (5): Troy Niklas, Darren Fells, Ifeanyi Momah, Jermaine Gresham, Gerald Christian. Right now, it’s tough to know if Niklas or Gresham will even be healthy enough to start the season. In an offense where you need two on the field a lot of the time, I almost think five is necessary right now.

OL (9): Jared Veldheer, Ted Larsen, Lyle Sendlein, A.Q. Shipley, Bobby Massie, Jonathan Cooper, Earl Watford, Mike Iupati, D.J. Humphries. This one is very difficult right now. Iupati is hurt. Massie might not be available – but right now, is destined to count against the 53-man roster. If Watford is the starting right tackle, I’d guess Sowell would be out with Humphries around. But it could also be whomever doesn’t win the Shipley/Sendlein center battle, knowing Larsen could back up there. Like defensive line, this will be a tough call.

DL (7): Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Ed Stinson, Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro, Xavier Williams, Cory Redding. This is the position that will suffer tough cuts (or a potential trade). Alameda Ta’amu may be out because Williams has done so well. And it would seem to come down to Mauro or Matt Shaughnessy, and if it’s close, you figure the Cards will go younger and cheaper.

OLB (5): Alex Okafor, Markus Golden, LaMarr Woodley, Kareem Martin, Shaq Riddick. Riddick hasn’t had much time to show much but Arians’ comments have indicated he’ll get a chance this season to stick around.

ILB (4): Kevin Minter, Sean Weatherspoon, Kenny Demens, Alani Fua. Fua is in a battle with Gabe Martin (who could be a practice squad guy) but his length and ability to go inside or outside seems to give him the edge.

CB (3): Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel. It’s not many. But I could see a cornerback addition via waivers. If not, the safety-heavy Cards can also go with three or four safeties at a time to make it work. Undrafted rookie Cariel Brooks could make a push on Thursday. There will be cornerbacks on the practice squad, though.

S (5): Rashad Johnson, Tony Jefferson, Deone Bucannon, Tyrann Mathieu, Chris Clemons. Clemons would seem to be on the bubble but the lack of cornerbacks makes him more valuable. Mathieu’s ability to help at cornerback makes a difference too.

Specialists (3): K Chandler Catanzaro, P Drew Butler, LS Mike Leach. The news from this spot already came when Butler was kept and Dave Zastudil released.


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Keim: Raiders game “a great wake-up call”

Posted by Darren Urban on August 31, 2015 – 8:07 am

General Manager Steve Keim acknowledged the obvious from Sunday night: There were a lot of issues offensively.

“It was a great wake-up call,” Keim said Monday during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf show” on Arizona Sports 98.7.

Of the starting offensive line, Keim said guard Ted Larsen was the only to even have a solid game. But like Bruce Arians, he saw other problems, like Carson Palmer holding the ball too long a couple of times, some poor routes from receivers, and running backs failing to chip in certain situations.

“When you have so many things go wrong at the same time, it’s a recipe for disaster,” Keim said.

— Keim said the potential Bobby Massie suspension is “up in the air” until and if the Cardinals hear something from the league office.

— The battle at center between A.Q. Shipley and Lyle Sendlein remains ongoing, Keim said. (Shipley did have some issues Sunday night holding off the inside of the Raiders’ line, including ex-Cardinal Dan Williams.)

— Earl Watford played well, Keim said, reinforcing my view that Watford held up pretty good against stud Raiders pass rusher Kahlil Mack.

— Nothing has changed with Mike Iupati, other than he continues to rehab. Personally, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t miss some regular-season time, but we will see.

— Keim acknowledged there probably hasn’t been a preseason game the last two years where he hasn’t been concerned or there had not been some ups and downs. But he also said that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to feel good about. He thought the defense — other than a couple of blown assignments on coverage — played well. And he was happy with the play specifically of linebackers Alex Okafor and Kevin Minter and defensive end Calais Campbell.

— Keim said both running back Chris Johnson and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon “have a chance” to play in Thursday’s preseason finale.

— The 12 roster moves needed to get to 75 should come today. “No reason to waste any time,” Keim said. The Cardinals practice this afternoon.


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Weaver cut to trim roster to 87

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2015 – 10:47 am

The Cardinals made a roster move Saturday morning, releasing safety Ross Weaver. That Weaver was cut isn’t a surprise, since he was likely going to be in the batch that was included in the first round of cuts early next week as the team gets to 75. What it does mean is that the Cardinals are down to 87 on the roster, meaning they only have to pare 12 from the roster to get to the 75-man limit.

Again, teams don’t have to get to 75 until Tuesday but with a Thursday game and a Monday practice, I expect it to be earlier than that after the Cards play Sunday night.

That short week will make for an interesting couple of days, by the way. The Cards play in Oakland Sunday night and won’t get back to Arizona before midnight, and then have a practice beginning at 1:20 p.m. Monday. Granted, the vets won’t do much since they won’t play much if at all in the preseason finale, but still, it’s a short turnaround.

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Keim: Potential trades coming

Posted by Darren Urban on June 11, 2015 – 12:01 pm

General Manager Steve Keim has spent the offseason building up the roster to a place where the Cardinals have some quality players on the current 90-man roster that won’t be able to stick around by the time the team needs to get to 53 in September. Keim said on the “Doug and Wolf” show this morning on Arizona Sports 98.7 it was a concern, although it was a good concern. What it means is that the Cards might pull off a trade or two, likely in an effort to fetch some future draft picks if possible.

“For the first time we have a certain amount of depth here where we will either have the ability to trade a player or two or four or five at certain positions that not only can make other NFL rosters but could potentially start for some teams,” Keim said. “I have to be active and make sure I address that situation so we are not just releasing players and allowing teams to pick them up. Hopefully we can be active and get some solid value for guys who can help other teams.”

Keim has never been shy about churning the roster, and this is just another potential instance. He also said he is “watching two or three players” at the moment who are free agents that the team could sign. Keim wouldn’t name names or even positions, but he did note that often times, these late veteran signees are guys who are coming off injuries and need until near training camp to get right, and then the Cardinals would talk to them (and likely execute one of Keim’s famous one-year “prove it” contracts.) Tight end anyone?


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Roster move for Halapio on a quiet Friday

Posted by Darren Urban on June 5, 2015 – 1:44 pm

The Cardinals made a roster move on the back of the depth chart Friday ahead of next week’s minicamp, releasing tackle Tavon Rooks and signing guard Jon Halapio. Halapio was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2014 before being released in the final roster cuts. He spent time on the Broncos’ practice squad late last season and was with Denver until he was cut in May.

The Cards have 15 total offensive linemen on the 90-man roster. Minicamp begins Tuesday.

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Roster math heading into the draft

Posted by Darren Urban on April 27, 2015 – 10:25 am

Crunching the numbers heading into the draft, the Cardinals currently have 72 players on their roster. With eight draft picks (for now), that leaves room for 10 undrafted rookies to be signed to reach the roster limit of 90 going into offseason work. (Phase 2, which is the first step of on-field stuff during the offseason, begins next week.) This does not include suspended linebacker Daryl Washington; if Washington were to be reinstated by the NFL, the Cardinals would have to find a roster spot for him if they did not release him. I still think it’s hard to believe they would release him after just paying him a $5 million bonus installment he was owed, but we’ll see.

There is a lot of room to maneuver with the roster, however. If they Cardinals trade for more draft picks — or trade away some of them — then the number of undrafted guys could shrink or grow. There is also a possibility the Cardinals could cut players already on the roster to make room for more undrafted rookies if the Cards feel they have a chance to improve the bottom section of the roster. That happened last year when a few guys were cut right after the draft.

The roster churn never ends with GM Steve Keim. He’s proven that. But we’re almost to the point where we will know the vast majority of the Cardinals’ roster for 2015. That’s when the football actually starts.


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Cardinals add Veterans Combine receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 11:26 am

The NFL brought in 105 players to Tempe Sunday for their first Veterans Combine. They are leaving one behind. The agent of wide receiver Nathan Slaughter tweeted out his client was signing with the Cardinals. (And a little later, the player himself did the same.) The team has yet to officially announce any move. UPDATE: It’s official now.

Slaughter ran one of the fastest 40 times Sunday (reportedly sub-4.4s), which is noteworthy after a workout with some notoriously slow 40 times. He is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, a West Texas A&M product who was originally signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent last year. He was cut and then signed by the Jaguars in June, then waived-injured by Jacksonville early in August. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game. For a team looking for a return man, Slaughter averaged 41.7 yards per kickoff return his last year in college.

Nathan Slaughter

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“Final” cuts aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2014 – 6:29 pm

It’s tough to fully analyze the Cardinals’ roster right now after the initial moves to get to a 53-man roster. Waiver claims come through Sunday, and really, the surprise will be if the Cardinals don’t claim one or two players — which would mean they would have to cut the corresponding amount from the 53. So a guy could have made the team today and  be off by tomorrow. Yes, it’s a rough, rough business.

Surprises? Nothing of note. I had different picks for my 53, before the final preseason game. I managed to hit on the offense. They kept only four cornerbacks — I had Bryan McCann as a fifth — and the linebackers as I thought were a problem for me. I had Desmond Bishop and Glenn Carson cut, and Marcus Benard in. Wrong. But as we go forward, what to expect?

There are six wide receivers for now, but as Bruce Arians said, the bottom five on the roster shouldn’t be comfortable because the potential for change is constant. Walt Powell could easily slide on the practice squad at some point. So too could Carson, if the Cardinals don’t need a fifth inside linebacker. Is another backup tackle possible? Could Max Starks come back like Arians said he might? I suppose the one surprise is the fact the Cardinals only have eight defensive backs, given that Tyrann Mathieu’s status is so up in the air. But I believe Teddy Williams is practice-squad eligible and I don’t know if McCann is going to get picked up anywhere anyways.

The practice squad will be 10 strong now, don’t forget, with the potential of a couple of veterans. So maybe the Cards keep WR Brittan Golden if he isn’t claimed, and other potential practice-squad guys would be defensive tackle Bruce Gaston, interior offensive lineman Anthony Steen and tight end Andre Hardy. I’d think there also could be a couple of outside guys come in for the practice squad too.

This isn’t over yet.

— A quick note: Veteran LB James Harrison retired today. So that’s no longer an option.



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