In honor of everyone’s favorite time of college basketball season, azcardinals.com will have it’s own piece of #cardsbracketology. Check out the bracket right here and vote every day for the play you want to win. As we pare it down from 16 to one, the winner for the best play of the Cardinals’ season will come alive. Maybe you can even get friends and family to have their own #cardsbracketology bracket. I can see the office pools now.
The No. 1 seed is the Rashad Johnson/Sam Acho/Greg Toler combo fumble recovery in Atlanta. Will there be an upset along the way?
Tags: bracketology, Greg Toler, Rashad Johnson, Sam Acho
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The Cardinals had two players among the top six in the NFL in terms of earning extra money last season through the NFL’s performance pay plan, which essentially gives bonus checks to players who aren’t making a ton in salary but play a lot. One was tackle Bobby Massie, no surprise as a fourth-round pick who started all season. Massie got an extra $283,776, not bad when his salary was $390,000. The other was linebacker Sam Acho, who received an extra $273,715 on top of his salary of $465,000.
Every team distributes an extra $3.46 million to their players. Every guy who played a snap gets a check, with the money proportional to snaps and salary. The lower your salary and the more snaps you play, the more money you’ll get.
Other odds and ends on this Wednesday morning:
– Linebacker Quentin Groves agreed to a two-year contract with Cleveland, re-joining Ray Horton with the Browns. The Cardinals already needed help at inside linebacker, but now they are thin at outside linebacker too.
– The inside linebacker issue could be helped if they sign ex-Bengal Rey Maualuga, who tweeted yesterday he was coming here for a visit. Other visits expected are quarterback Drew Stanton, running back Rashard Mendenhall and cornerback Jerraud Powers.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Drew Stanton, free agency, Jerraud Powers, Quentin Groves, Rashard Mendenhall, Rey Maualuga, Sam Acho
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With the news, reported multiple places, that the Cards are a little more than $3 million over the salary cap about a month away from needing to get in compliance, general manager Steve Keim still has some maneuvering to do. Knowing now that new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is sticking with the 3-4 base defense, the linebacker corps remains a crucial part of the equation.
What that means going forward is the question as free agency/cap compliance/the offseason gets closer.
Daryl Washington, the Pro Bowler and burgeoning star, isn’t going anywhere. He got his new contract last year and is the cornerstone of the position. But beyond that? The biggest part of the to-do list is got to be the other inside linebacker spot next to Washington. Paris Lenon is an unrestricted free agent, but he is also going to turn 36 in November. With a new staff, those are often the kind of players that are left to move on, or brought back later in the offseason. But Lenon has been playing, which in Stewart Bradley’s two Cardinals’ seasons hasn’t been the case. Bradley took a reduction in salary last season of 50 percent and still didn’t play much on defense at all, relegated to mostly special teams. Again, that could change with a new defensive coordinator, but up against the cap and with Bradley owning a $6.5 million salary cap number for 2013, his return under that deal doesn’t make sense. At best, renegotiation/pay cut would be coming, although the Cards may just part ways. UPDATE: I’m not sure why I forgot to mention Reggie Walker, who played solidly this season. Walker is under contract for another season and surpassed Bradley on the depth chart.
(That’s the dangerous part of this process, however. Bradley would still cost $3M of dead cap space if released, which is still a savings of $3.5M, but it’s not like it’s zero impact. The cap hit has always got to be considered with moving on from any player or trading him. Sometimes it can be spread out over a couple of years, but it’s still a hit of worthless space.)
O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho, your outside starters, still have to prove themselves to the new staff too, although the decision to go with a 3-4 base helps both tremendously. They might have a much harder time in a 4-3 setup finding a place to play.
Tags: Daryl Washington, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Reggie Walker, salary cap, Sam Acho, Stewart Bradley
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Linebacker Sam Acho is a key part of the Cardinals’ defense and one of the young players the team wants to build around going forward. Not only is he talented, but he is smart, always a benefit on the field.
That’s a benefit off the field as well, and the man gives as much of himself to charity as he does to football. Together with his family — his parents, who came here from Nigeria, are American success stories and have worked hard to give back to their native land — Acho is holding a charity auction Monday night to raise money for his family’s Living Hope Ministries. Acho’s family is going to build a needed hospital in Nigeria, and the money raised at the event at the Ritz-Carlton here in Phoenix will be the base to that fund-raising drive.
Here are some of the auction items/events Acho has collected in order to pick up some needed cash at the first “Hope For Life” event:
– WR Larry Fitzgerald takes your child to school and attends the first class of the day with him or her;
– A 30-minute “shopping experience” with S Adrian Wilson at his store, High Point Shoes, in Scottsdale;
– Baking cupcakes with CB Patrick Peterson;
– A one-on-one basketball game with DE Calais Campbell (all 6-foot-8 of him);
– A movie night with RB Beanie Wells;
– Visiting Acho at practice, and then getting field passes before a game;
– Dancing lessons with LB Quentin Groves;
– Bass guitar lessons/jam session with DL Nick Eason;
– Cooking “experience” with LB Stewart Bradley;
– Golfing with QB Kevin Kolb and P Dave Zastudil;
– A Segway tour of South Mountain with the offensive line;
– Bowling with RB William Powell;
– Your kids playing the video soccer game FIFA with T Ricky Lumpkin and LB Colin Parker;
– Pitching with Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz before a game, in addition to four game tickets and the chance to be on the field during batting practice;
– A 30-minute hitting lesson with Minnesota Twins star Justin Morneau at Fischer Sports in Phoenix.
There will be a bunch more silent auction items as well (I think Acho got tired of texting me all the possibilities. It was quite the list.) If you are interested, visit livinghopeministries.us for more information, call 602-710-4281 or e-mail email@example.com. Click here for a brochure about the night.
Tags: charity, Sam Acho
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Larry Fitzgerald has had a chance to be around former President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton before — because, you know, that’s how he rolls — but the Cardinals wide receiver and a handful of teammates got a few minutes in with both Wednesday night, an experience they weren’t going to forget.
Kicker Jay Feely (who has played golf with Bush, actually), linebacker Sam Acho, wide receiver Andre Roberts and former Cards quarterback Rich Bartel all joined Fitz at the debate/speeches by the former Presidents at the Deutsche Bank Financial Summit. Before the event, for about 20 minutes, the quartet even got to sit and chat with the Presidents, talking “sports and policy,” Feely said. And also about Acho’s background.
Fitzgerald went to Africa with Clinton in the offseason to help distribute hearing aids together. The subject came up and Fitzgerald pointed out to Clinton that Acho too had done charity work in Nigeria, adding that both of Acho’s parents do the same after being born and raised there before emigrating to this country. Acho’s father became a doctor, his mother a nurse practitioner. During the “debate” later in front of a couple of thousand people, Acho said, Clinton got a question about immigration in the U.S. and used Acho’s family as a perfect example of why it is important.
“I thought that was unbelievable,” Acho said.
The evening as a whole was fantastic, Feely said, because of the exchange of ideas.
“It was great listening and learning from them,” said Feely, who has talked about his own desire about getting into politics when his football career is over. “Whether you agree with one party or the other, you can learn from people. You have tremendous amount of respect for both men for what they have accomplished. I’ve listened to a lot of debates, there have been none better than that one. It wasn’t party politics. They both said things that wouldn’t necessarily go with their party line. They talked about solutions and answers.”
Hanging out with two Presidents wasn’t a bad deal either.
“To a certain extent, it feels larger than life,” Acho said. “I told Rich, ‘Man, these guys are going to be in stone.’ Look at Mount Rushmore. Yet we were sitting at a table with them and they are normal guys. They are unique. It was so cool to be in that environment. In 20 years I can tell my kids, ‘I was at a table with these guys, and I have pictures to prove it!’”
And the Presidents have jerseys to prove it as well (h/t to Feely on the picture.)
“It was fun,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve had a chance to be around those guys on several different occasions. It was a great experience. I was happy my teammates could come.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Rich Bartel, Sam Acho
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There’s been a lot of talk about the Cardinals adjusting their playcalling to fit with what seems to be a transitioning philosophy on offense — a little more deliberate, sticking with the run, etc. But offensive coordinator Mike Miller said nothing really has changed in what he has been dialing up on game days.
“It feels pretty much the same,” Miller said. “I haven’t really done anything differently. We’ve made adjustments in-game that come up specific to that opponent. But as far as the way we call it, I mean, we ran no-huddle in the Seattle game, mixed it up in the New England game. It’s been ‘up’ we just haven’t called it.”
Through three games, the Cardinals are fairly balanced, although not 50-50. The Cardinals have 87 pass attempts and been sacked five times, and nine of the 12 quarterback runs have been scrambles from a passing play, for 101 pass plays. With the three intentional quarterback runs, they have had 78 rushing plays. Interestingly, even though the offense needs to generate more yards and have been outgained, the Cardinals have almost even time of possession with opponents (29:46 to 30:14) and the Cardinals are one of only six teams in the NFL to score at least 20 points in each of their three games.
(They are the only team in the NFL to allow less than 20 points in each game too.)
– There were a couple of statistical changes from the Philadelphia game, affecting the sack totals of a couple of linebackers. Sam Acho had previously been credited with a tackle after a Michael Vick one-yard scramble in the second quarter, but after further review it was deemed Vick only got back to the line of scrimmage — which by definition gives Acho a sack. In the third quarter, Daryl Washington had been credited with a 12-yard sack of Vick on a first down play, but after further review it was decided Vick was a runner when Washington got to him, so instead of a sack it became a 12-yard tackle-for-loss. It means Washington now only has two sacks this season and Acho now has two himself.
Tags: Daryl Washington, Mike Miller, offense, sacks, Sam Acho
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Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.
Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.
But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.
QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)
RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.
FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”
WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.
TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.
OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.
DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.
LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.
DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.
ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Adam Snyder, Adrian Wilson, Andre Roberts, Anthony Sherman, Beanie Wells, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Clark Haggans, D'Anthony Batiste, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, David Carter, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, James Sanders, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, Jim Dray, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, Lyle Sendlein, Michael Floyd, Mike Leach, Nick Eason, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Rich Ohrnberger, Rob Housler, Roster, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stewart Bradley, Todd Heap, Vonnie Holliday, William Gay, William Powell
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Linebacker Sam Acho seems like he’s talking to everybody and anybody this training camp. Need an interview? He’s your man. You want an autograph? Happy to oblige. And he’s got that giant smile he can’t seem to shake.
“I love talking to people,” Acho said. “I love the opportunity to sign an autgraph for a little kid and have them remember that day for the rest of their life. I figure why not?” As he talks about it after an afternoon practice, a kid among the dozens ringing the lower practice field is screaming, “ACHO!” at the top of his lungs. Acho smiles (of course). “How do you say no to that?”
Acho actually praised fellow second-year man Patrick Peterson about his autograph output. “I inspired him, he said,” Peterson said. After one practice early in camp, Peterson stayed after for about an hour literally signing autographs for every person waiting. “Sam asked me why,” Peterson said. “I told him, ‘Hey, those guys come out and show us love, so I want to show them love so they continue supporting us,” Peterson said.
(When I told Peterson he was setting an awfully high bar for himself when it comes to autographs, he laughed. “Hey, I just want to be the best at everything I do.”)
It affected Acho. “I thought, ‘If Pat can do it, why can’t I?’ ” he said.
Acho’s personality even oozes out when talking about his one-time fourth-round draft status, which was a disappointment. When, for instance, Darnell Dockett went in the third round, he was angry, and it is an angry chip on his shoulder Dockett carries to this day about the subject. Acho being Acho, his chip can’t be anything but positive.
“Draft day was a humbling experience,” Acho said. “I expected to go higher, but I couldn’t have been happier to go to a team like the Cardinals, to get the opportunities I had. Proved God had a plan. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t want to go in the first, second or third round. I’d want to go in the fourth round to the same team, the Arizona Cardinals, because we’ve got a great thing going.”
Tags: Patrick Peterson, Sam Acho
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The Cardinals put out their first official depth chart of the season today. This stuff is fluid given certain competitions, but they have to make someone No. 1 and No. 2 and so on. There are no shocking developments, but:
– Kevin Kolb is listed as the No. 1 QB right now. John Skelton is the No. 2.
– Jeremy Bridges is the No. 1 right tackle over Bobby Massie, and as I have said many many many times, I expect that to be the case for a while.
– With Jeff King still rehabbing his quad, Todd Heap is the No. 1 tight end, Rob Housler No. 2.
– Behind Fitz is DeMarco Sampson and then Stephen Williams. At the other receiver spot, it officially goes Andre Roberts, then Early Doucet, then Michael Floyd.
– William Gay is the No. 1 right cornerback across from Patrick Peterson. Greg Toler is listed as Gay’s backup, with Michael Adams listed as Peterson’s backup.
– Brandon Williams is Sam Acho’s backup, with Clark Haggans as O’Brien Schofield’s backup at OLB. Quentin Groves is behind Haggans.
– With the large roster, the only second team rookies (no starters) are LG Senio Kelemete, FB Jared Crank and Massie. (And the Cards are incredibly unlikely to keep two fullbacks.) T Nate Potter is third-string, Floyd is third-string, S Justin Bethel is third-string and, with the large amount of veteran cornerbacks, Jamell Fleming is technically fourth-string behind Gay, Toler and A.J. Jefferson (although he will be on this roster, no doubt.)
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Andre Roberts, Bobby Massie, Brandon Williams, Clark Haggans, DeMarco Sampson, depth chart, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jamell Fleming, Jared Crank, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, John Skelton, Justin Bethel, Kevin Kolb, Michael Adams, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, O'Brien Schofield, Patrick Peterson, Quentin Groves, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, Senio Kelemete, Stephen Williams, Todd Heap, William Gay
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I’m not a big fan of doing any play-by-play or recaps of practice, because in the end, it just doesn’t matter. Each play is a snapshot, with little or no context. But, with the Red-White practice tomorrow — which will basically be a series of drives, offense versus defense, with play calls like it’s a game — the Cards worked on red zone and two-minute drills today. It provided some highlights.
– Tight end Rob Housler made a couple of nice catches at the back of the end zone, one time banging into the pad on the lower upright. Michael Floyd couldn’t haul in a high jump ball in the end zone, but later in the two-minute drill caught a pass while tippy-toeing toward the sideline. DeMarco Sampson beat Greg Toler in the end zone for a touchdown.
– But on the defensive side, Patrick Peterson broke up one pass over the middle, while Kerry Rhodes managed to control a bouncing, tipped pass to finally nab it for an interception.
– Interesting that, in the two-minute drill in the defense’s dime package, the defensive backs were Rhodes and Adrian Wilson at safety, and then four cornerbacks: William Gay, Peterson, Michael Adams and A.J. Jefferson. Toler worked with the second dime unit. It’s early, but these are the things you notice.
– The second unit of the offensive line during the two-minute drill were, from left tackle to right tackle, D.J. Young, Senio Kelemete, Ryan Bartholomew, Chris Stewart and D’Anthony Batiste. Eventually, Bobby Massie was put in at right tackle, Batiste slide to right guard, and Scott Wedige at center. I’ve said it a few times, but I think the wait for Massie to start will be awhile.
– Running back Alfonso Smith blew up linebacker Sam Acho on a block during the two-minute work. Smith has worked hard to earn a spot on the team, which I think is pretty assured at this point.
– If you are coming to the Red-White, don’t forget to come early. All the details are here, but last year, there were about 13,000 fans on hand.
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Adrian Wilson, Alfonso Smith, Bobby Massie, Chris Stewart, D'Anthony Batiste, D.J. Young, DeMarco Sampson, Greg Toler, Kerry Rhodes, Michael Adams, Michael Floyd, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler, Ryan Bartholomew, Sam Acho, Scott Wedige, Senio Kelemete, training camp, William Gay
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