The fact Bruce Arians mentioned undrafted rookie receiver Jaron Brown the other day (and Charles Hawkins, for that matter) may in the end mean nothing. Impressing in June is not the same thing as impressing in August, when, as Arians has brought up time and time again, the lights go on and players can change. But it was tough not to notice that Brown got a lot of work in multi-receiver sets, especially late in the offseason work when Michael Floyd was protecting a testy hamstring. With Ryan Swope absent with his head issues, the door is open for some unknown receivers to make a push for a roster spot.
(The fact Arians bluntly said LaRon Byrd wasn’t exactly lighting it up also creates some possibilities at the back end of the wideout depth chart.)
The Cardinals have had a recent history of finding some receivers from nowhere this time of year. This was the time when Steve Breaston first turned some heads in 2008, and while Breaston was a fifth-round draft pick in his second season, he was never thought of as a guy with that potential before that summer. There was Stephen Williams in 2010. And Byrd last year. This time, it was No. 13 — Brown — who seemed to be everywhere.
“There is always room to improve, come out and get better every day,” Brown said, who said he didn’t know anything about the Cards and their history of undrafted receivers. “I know I’m undrafted and a rookie and I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”
Brown isn’t the only young candidate. Arians mentioned Hawkins and Robert Gill (who as an arena veteran isn’t exactly a rookie, but falls into the same kind of category) as guys who have stood out. Those guys have some speed, which is a component Arians seeks in the receiving corps. Brown, by the way, ran a 4.4 himself at his pro day, so he’s not exactly slow. The caveat that always comes with the receivers who flash in the offseason? It’s easy to flash in shorts, knowing you won’t get hit going over the middle.
“I know how good they play soccer right now,” Arians said. “Football is a noise-level game and the noise-level scares some guys. Other guys love it. That’s what we’ve got to find.”
Brown has made a good impression. So far.
Tags: Charles Hawkins, Jaron Brown, LaRon Byrd, Michael Floyd, Robert Gill, Ryan Swope, Stephen Williams, Steve Breaston
Posted in Blog | 25 Comments »
The key point anytime a team gets to the 53-man roster on final cuts is this: It’s never quite the final roster. That’s something to keep in mind when looking over the Cards’ cuts today, which leaves an unbalanced roster for now.
The team decided not to move tackle Levi Brown off of injured reserve, leaving 22 cuts to be made:
Injured reserve — RB Javarris James (knee), QB Rich Bartel (shoulder)
Waived-injured – LB Brandon Williams (shoulder), WR Stephen Williams (Achilles)
Released – CB Crezdon Butler, LB Antonio Coleman, S Blake Gideon, LB Clark Haggans, G Russ Hochstein, DT Ricky Lumpkin, LB Colin Parker, CB Larry Parker, WR DeMarco Sampson, TE Steve Skelton, RB Alfonso Smith, LB Quan Sturdivant, DE Ronald Talley, DE Everrette Thompson, TE Martell Webb, C Scott Wedige, WR Isaiah Williams, T D.J. Young.
So this is what we get out of this:
— The Cardinals cut Sampson and Stephen Williams, leaving five receivers and undrafted LaRon Byrd (pictured below) as No. 5.
— OLB Quentin Groves makes the cut but both Clark Haggans and Brandon Williams are out – you’d have to think another linebacker is on the way.
— Right now, the Cards have 11 defensive backs and nine offensive linemen, and you figure one or the other, if not both, will be trimmed down. All three OL draft picks are on the squad right now. The defensive backs will have to come down if you are looking for a place to cut to add at another position. In my guess at 53, I had guessed six WRs and eight OL, and the Cards took one from receiver to add to the line. And they took one of eight linebacker slots and added it to the 10 defensive back spots, so I was kind of close. We’ll see how it shakes out.
— Running back William Powell indeed makes the team too.
— This group probably won’t be the exact group that hits the practice field Monday. That’s the cold reality of the NFL.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Brandon Williams, Clark Haggans, Colin Parker, Crezdon Butler, D.J. Young, DeMarco Sampson, Everrette Thompson, Isaiah Williams, Javarris James, Larry Parker, Levi Brown, Martell Webb, Quan Sturdivant, Rich Bartel, Ricky Lumpkin, Ronald Talley, Russ Hochstein, Scott Wedige, Stephen Williams, Steve Skelton
Posted in Blog | 104 Comments »
Starting right guard guard Adam Snyder (elbow) is sitting out tonight’s game, one of six Cardinals listed as out for the game. Also sitting out will be WR Stephen Williams (Achilles), S Adrian Wilson (calf), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (groin), S Rashad Johnson (abdomen) and TE Rob Housler (hamstring).
The Broncos’ list is something like 25 players. Peyton Manning will not play. Yep, it’s the preseason finale.
Tags: Adam Snyder, Adrian Wilson, Broncos, inactives, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Peyton Manning, Rashad Johnson, Rob Housler, Stephen Williams
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There is no inactive list technically for the preseason because there doesn’t have to be any inactives, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be guys who will not dress. Most are injury related. Some we knew about, some we didn’t.
Don’t Didn’t know the details on every injury, but I’ll try to track them down when I can know I do. Don’t expect any to be serious:
— CB Crezdon Butler (hip)
— DT Darnell Dockett (hamstring)
— DE Nick Eason (He isn’t here; His mother has been very ill, as he has pointed out on Twitter)
— CB Marshay Green (hamstring)
— RB Javarris James (abductor strain)
— TE Jeff King (PUP — quad)
— LB Zach Nash (ankle)
— RB Beanie Wells (PUP — knee)
— RB Ryan Williams (patella)
— WR Stephen Williams (hamstring)
— S Adrian Wilson (calf)
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Crezdon Butler, Darnell Dockett, Hall of Fame game, Javarris James, Jeff King, Marshay Green, Nick Eason, Ryan Williams, Stephen Williams, Zach Nash
Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »
The lone practice Thursday afternoon had an unexpected side story — a celebrity fan. Movie star Channing Tatum was on hand watching the workout, thanks to a long-standing friendship with safety Kerry Rhodes. Not unexpected was the stir it created. Tatum’s appearance in Flagstaff had reached across the internet earlier in the afternoon, with people trying to confirm if Tatum was indeed there. After practice, Tatum spoke with coach Ken Whisenhunt, a handful of Cardinals player wives on hand took a picture with him and players were bombarded with questions.
As a team, “we kept our composure,” deadpanned quarterback John Skelton.
Rhodes and Tatum both grew up in Alabama, and met through Rhodes’ sister. “He’s like my brother,” Rhodes said. “We’ve known each other for a while. He’s blown up and done such a good job, I’m proud of him.” Tatum appeared on the season’s first edition of The Big Red Rage, which Rhodes hosts on Arizona Sports 620.
The players have seen their share of celebrity. “We’ve got Larry Fitzgerald and that’s pretty high-powered,” Rhodes said. “But I don’t think Larry can do the strip-tease Channing could do in ‘Magic Mike.’ ”
In the end, Rhodes said, he was just happy to energize the crowd and maybe even bring out a few more fans, “because at the end of the day, it’s about the Cardinals.”
— S Adrian Wilson, CB Marshay Green, RB William Powell and WR Stephen Williams all were out of practices with unknown injuries. CB Crezdon Butler (hip) and RB Javarris James (abductor) remain sidelined as well. RB Ryan Williams took another rest day.
(Here’s a picture of Tatum, Whisenhunt and Rhodes, courtesy of media relations man Mark Dalton.).
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Channing Tatum, Javarris James, John Skelton, Kerry Rhodes, Marshay Green, Ryan Williams, Stephen Williams, William Powell
Posted in Blog | 19 Comments »
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: Michael Adams, Early Doucet, Clark Haggans, Greg Toler, Jeremy Bridges, Andre Roberts, O'Brien Schofield, John Skelton, Stephen Williams, A.J. Jefferson, Kevin Kolb, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler, Sam Acho, DeMarco Sampson, Jeff King, Todd Heap, Brandon Williams, William Gay, Michael Floyd, Jamell Fleming, Bobby Massie, Senio Kelemete, Justin Bethel, Jared Crank, Nate Potter, depth chart, Quentin Groves
Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »
Listening to the radio this morning on the way to the gym, I heard about some of the NBA player moves and how one guy got crossways with a coach because he didn’t come into training camp this past season in shape. The player thought training camp was when you should get in shape. The coach, obviously, thought camp was time to practice and that being in shape when a guy showed up was a given.
That’s certainly how it is in the NFL these days.
Once, the preseason was six games long and teams would spend weeks on end at camp. I remember talking to some of the long-time athletic trainers with the Cards and them talking about spending eight weeks at training camp. Ugh. But in those days, players often had offseason jobs to make enough money and camp was indeed to get in shape. These days, players make enough — even the guys on the fringe of the roster — to be able to dedicate themselves year-round to staying in shape. It’s a must.
(There’s a tough grey area for the guys who are on the bubble every year — no guaranteed salaries, remember, and you only get paid the significant money during the regular season, not camp — but they have to grin and bear it to have a chance to make it in the league.)
It’s not easy all the time. Dedication is a must, and you have to do it the right way. I was mulling it over, and off the top of my head, I could recall nose tackle Dan Williams, defensive lineman Nick Eason and wide receiver Stephen Williams all admitting they were out of shape in one way or another heading into camp last year after the lockout. We won’t get into ex-Cardinal Deuce Lutui.
Look, it’s not rocket science to figure out that the coaching staff would love to have the players around more than they are in the offseason. That’s how coaches are. The collective bargaining agreement says otherwise. But when most guys are driving forward on their own — Cardinals receiver Andre Roberts acknowledged the other day at Larry Fitzgerald’s camp that guys know “this is a year-round thing” — anyone doing otherwise won’t be in a good place once it’s time to go to Flagstaff.
Which, by the way, is only eight days away.
P.S. Speaking of workouts, click here for some pictures I shot in Minnesota of the Fitz camp.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Dan Williams, Nick Eason, Stephen Williams, training camp
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My two days at Larry Fitzgerald’s Minnesota camp are over (story coming soon), and I know many are wondering who exactly is showing up to the workouts. Obviously, it’s an ever evolving thing. Not everyone shows every day, or every week. I was told Vikings Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph were there the week before. And, oh yeah, Cards rookie Michael Floyd was there Tuesday but not Monday.
As I mentioned before, Cardinals wide receivers Andre Roberts and Stephen Williams were there, as was quarterback Rich Bartel.
But I have to admit, it was hard not to notice the mixing of the NFC West rivals. Seahawks running back Leon Washington and wide receiver Ricardo Lockette were also there, and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson came too. Rams safety Craig Dahl was also in the middle of the action. Now, there are reasons.
Lockette and Jackson is a former Viking and has roots in Minnesota, as does Dahl, who was raised there. Washington doesn’t, but heard about it through his Seattle teammates and brought his wife, with the two of them hanging out at Fitz’s house afterward and taking part in water sports Fitz enjoys in the lake behind his house.
The battles for the division seemed far away.
“This group of guys is really competitive on and off the field,” Dahl said. “We come together in the summer time to reunite and push each other. On Sundays, it might be a different story.”
At one point, Fitzgerald good-naturedly tried to stop an interview with Washington (pictured below, with Fitz). Something about putting an infiltrator on the Cardinals’ website. There is plenty of trash talking about what will happen in the division later on, but that only makes sense.
“We all respect each other, we all want each other to do well,” Washington said. “When it’s the offseason, we can work together. When Sunday comes around and you match up against each other … you want your team to come out with the victory. I’ll be pulling for the Seahawks all the time.”
(Side note: There were no 49ers and I don’t believe any were expected.)
Among the others in attendance during my time there were Jacksonville receivers Laurent Robinson and Cecil Shorts, Tampa receiver Tiquan Underwood (famous for being cut by the Patriots on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl) and Vikings linebacker Everson Griffen.
“We’re a fraternity,” Fitzgerald said. “There’s only 1,600 of us.”
Tags: Andre Roberts, Cecil Shorts, Craig Dahl, Everson Griffen, Larry Fitzgerald, Laurent Robinson, Leon Washington, Michael Floyd, Ricardo Lockette, Richard Bartel, Stephen Williams, Tiquan Underwood
Posted in Blog | 30 Comments »
The Cardinals had almost everyone on the field today to start OTAs. One man who had hoped to be out there was veteran tight end Jeff King, but it turns out he suffered a partial tear of his quadriceps tendon recently working out at the facility. He had surgery to repair it and is scheduled to return for training camp.
UPDATE: King saw this post on Twitter and responded via Twitter: “Will come back stronger….“The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.” ”
The OTAs, which are voluntary, got great turnout once again. Those who weren’t practicing couldn’t because of injury or other reasons (rookie guard Senio Kelemete isn’t here because the University of Washington remains in session.) As expected running backs Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams were both off to the side rehabbing their respective knee injuries.
Wells expanded on some of his thoughts about sitting out during OTAs, and coach Ken Whisenhunt addressed them as well, saying it was the plan all along to have Wells sitting at this point. Beanie still has no desire to talk details about his surgery. He reiterated it was “a scope, clean things up.” When asked if it was to repair the meniscus, Beanie said it was “a little more complicated.”
“I am pretty confident in being ready when the time is right,” Wells said. “It’s football. I’m just glad to have a job.”
— CB Greg Toler, rehabbing from an ACL tear, has returned. He is limited in his number of reps but did everything. More on him in a later blog post.
— Lineups mean little right now, but William Gay was working on the top unit at cornerback with Patrick Peterson (although the secondary coaches were careful to call their lineups 1a and 1b right now). Jeremy Bridges is working as the top right tackle. Kevin Kolb was with the top unit at quarterback. At receiver — although that’s a position that always tends to be fluid during OTAs and practices when everyone is trying to get reps — Andre Roberts joined Larry Fitzgerald, DeMarco Sampson was with Early Doucet next, and then came Michael Floyd and Stephen Williams.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Beanie Wells, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Greg Toler, Jeff King, Jeremy Bridges, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, OTAs, Ryan Williams, Senio Kelemete, Stephen Williams, William Gay
Posted in Blog | 45 Comments »
As this year’s crop of wide receivers run their 40s here at the NFL combine, it’s as good time as any to note that, yes, the Cardinals will look at the position this offseason.
(And as a side note, 40 times don’t mean as much as you’d think. Nice to have speed, but Jerry Rice reportedly ran a 4.71 at the combine. Larry Fitzgerald was a 4.63. Both turned out OK, in my opinion.)
The Cards will have Fitz and Andre Roberts next year. Early Doucet is a free agent and while there is a chance he could return, we will see what the market — and the Cards’ plans — turn out. The team will look over the free-agent market. That does not mean, for instance, they would bring in (if he does hit the market) someone like San Diego’s Vincent Jackson or that ilk. They have a No. 1 receiver in Fitz, and don’t need another. Yes, I have heard the arguments that Boldin was a 1A, but guys that are No. 1 potentials want No. 1 money, and it makes little sense to invest that kind of cash into two pass catchers.
Guys like Pierre Garcon and Robert Meachem make more sense to me. They have speed and, in theory, aren’t as expensive. The latter could change and that will impact the Cardinals. As general manager Rod Graves said the other day, the team sets the value for each player and then goes from there. At some point, each team needs to decide how much adding that free agent is worth. Garcon, for instance, reportedly declined a five-year contract from the Colts. Does that mean he is expecting a huge deal? We’ll see. We’ll see what the market bears.
One reason teams like having free agency before the draft is because free agency can be about need and there is a little more of “best player available” at draft time. Given the deep crop of UFA receivers this year, it makes sense to make a stab there for whatever the Cards might want to do, because you’d figure to get more for your money. If the Cards come out of free agency without a receiver, I’d think they’d look very hard at taking one in the draft.
The Cards still have young guys like Stephen Williams and DeMarco Sampson, but in both cases I’d think their most likely landing place would be as a fourth receiver if they take another step forward.
Tags: Andre Roberts, DeMarco Sampson, Early Doucet, Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Robert Meachem, Stephen Williams
Posted in Blog | 55 Comments »