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Keim: Six receivers possible

Posted by Darren Urban on August 11, 2014 – 9:32 am

The Cardinals, not surprisingly, should keep “potentially” five of six wide receivers on the 53-man roster, GM Steve Keim said Monday during his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7. That math isn’t hard to follow. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn and rookie John Brown are the top four and the locks. Barring something changing, it seems hard to believe Jaron Brown — given his special teams ability — won’t be the fifth. Beyond that, it looks like it could come down to rookie Walt Powell and Brittan Golden — or, possibly, no one. Powell is practice-squad eligible, although you’d have to get him through waivers.

“That’s the kind of problem you want to have as a General Manager,” Keim said.

Some other Keim thoughts after the first preseason game:

– He was generally pleased with the work of the offensive linemen. Jonathan Cooper “rebounded nicely” after giving up the early sack to J.J. Watt. Keim thought Cooper looked athletic in space a couple of times, which is why the Cardinals liked Cooper so much in the first place. More importantly, Keim liked how Cooper got back in the fray after having his leg (the same one that had been broken) rolled up on early. The O-line “certainly looks like an area we have upgraded.”

– Keim liked the ability to create mismatches in the passing game. That was obvious a few times, especially with tight ends getting wide open on delayed routes. John Carlson caught a touchdown (called back), Rob Housler had a 38-yard catch-and-run, and Darren Fells dropped what should have been a TD catch or near-TD catch.

– He praised John Brown and Jaron Brown, but that’s no surprise. Nor was it a shock to hear Keim appreciated the “accuracy and poise” of QB Logan Thomas.

– Keim liked how second-year inside linebacker Kenny Demens — another guy who looks like a lock to make the 53-man roster at this point — played, especially on special teams. The GM noted guys like Demens, Jaron Brown, running back Robert Hughes, cornerback Justin Bethel and guard Paul Fanaika and how their games have changed. “It gives me great faith in our coaching staff,” Keim said. “(Those are) guys that not only have improved but improved considerably.”

– It all comes with a caveat that it is only a preseason game and the first one at that. Staying injury-free and fixing what Keim saw as multiple mental errors are still topping the to-do list.


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Keim isn’t worried about Coop

Posted by Darren Urban on August 4, 2014 – 9:25 am

During his weekly radio spot on Arizona Sports 98.7 with Doug and Wolf, General Manager Steve Keim said he really wasn’t worried about left guard Jonathan Cooper, even though Bruce Arians had said he was disappointed in how the 2013 first-round pick had played up until this point. Keim noted Cooper’s “pretty significant injury” and said it’s just a matter of Cooper getting through his rust. The nature of the broken leg doesn’t help either.

“When you are in a serious car accident, when you get behind the wheel the next several times there is going to be some concern and a mental hurdle to get over,” Keim said. “But the more you drive your car, the more comfortable you’ll feel.”

It does not help that Cooper is battling Calais Campbell, whom the Cardinals see as a Pro Bowl type and who Keim said continues to get better. Cooper, Keim believes, will be fine. “When you think about where he was at this time last year, he walked through baggage claim and he was our best offensive lineman,” Keim said, “so our expectations are a little higher than most.”

Other Keim obersevations:

– He thought Kevin Minter’s showing Saturday, especially in the live goal line drill, was an example of why Minter’s game will help the Cards so much against the run.

– He likes what he has seen in the growth from running back Andre Ellington and Michael Floyd and is intrigued by the battle for fifth receiver between Jaron Brown and Walt Powell.

– Keim liked how Bobby Massie has looked in practice. The comments around Massie are 180 degrees from what decision-makers were saying about him a year ago.

– He’s excited how physical rookie safety Deone Bucannon has been once the pads went on. “My man looks like he’s possessed out there, to the point where Bruce has had to pull him asisde and remind him he can’t hurt our own players,” Keim said.

– On a side note, John McClain, the Texans beat writer and the Godfather of media out in Houston, tweeted today that starters like Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Jadaveon Clowney are not expected to play at University of Phoenix Stadium Saturday in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.


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Keim perspective as pads go on

Posted by Darren Urban on July 28, 2014 – 9:25 am

The Cardinals will put on the pads for the first time this afternoon, which changes the dynamic of training camp. That was part of the theme today when GM Steve Keim went on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 620 this morning — what will happen when the pads go on.

– Keim wants to see rookie WR John Brown in pads, and see what the kid can do coming across the middle when, say safety Deone Bucannon is about to drill him. That’s not a big surprise, since it’s what everyone has been saying about Brown. He’s been impressive. “We haven’t been able to cover him,” Keim said. But that could change when the pads go on. As Patrick Peterson said, after Brown burned him on a play, “I told him he’s not going to be that much faster than me when he’s got those shoulder pads on.”

– Keim said he thought right tackle Bobby Massie looks like he’s in the best shape of his career (and I have always thought Massie was in pretty good shape anyway) and “he looks focused.” But Keim wants to see Massie in pads too, and frankly, that’s the only real way to judge linemen.

– The GM admitted to having a concern in the offseason for guard Jonathan Cooper after noticing a “little limp,” but the first two practices have erased those concerns.

– Keim acknowledged that taking Patrick Peterson off punt returns is in part because the Cardinals haven’t had as much return success with Peterson doing that job the last couple of years.

– Asked about absent linebacker John Abraham, Keim said “I’m not concerned at all. He’ll be back at some point here and Bruce (Arians) has excused him for personal matters.”

– With Aeneas Williams going into the Hall of Fame Saturday, we have created a page for Aeneas (azcardinals.com/aeneas) where all the stories and videos about Williams will live. Check it out.

 


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Camp gives Cooper “plenty of time”

Posted by Darren Urban on June 24, 2014 – 10:24 am

All along, Jonathan Cooper was going to play it smart.

The guard did participate in all of the offseason work as the first-unit left guard, just as was planned. Coach Bruce Arians raised a couple of eyebrows at the end of minicamp when he said it as “obvious” Cooper was “not the athlete he was last year at this time and I wouldn’t expect him to be.” Such is the downfall of coming back off a broken leg (and doing it at 312 pounds, which isn’t simple.) But Arians also finished his statement with a very important qualifier: “He has plenty of time to get there.”

Cooper knew it was going to take a while to get back to normal. In a lot of ways, the offseason was a perfect jumping off point for Cooper. He could ease back into the flow of the offense and starting without the punishment and rigors of actually playing offensive line. By the time Cooper has to really start hitting people in pads a few days into training camp, my guess is he’ll be in a much better place. The Cardinals have zero doubt that a) Cooper will be ready by the time games count for real and b) that Cooper will be able to perform like the former first-round draft pick that he is.

The Cardinals are counting on that left side of the line. Between Cooper and Jared Veldheer at left tackle, they represent two well-planned for pieces in GM Steve Keim’s rebuilding of the offensive line. Cooper, yet to play a regular-season down, must still prove himself. But barring another injury, I don’t see health being an impediment as the Cards move into the 2014 season.


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Ramifications of Washington’s suspension

Posted by Darren Urban on May 30, 2014 – 11:00 am

This one I’m not sure anyone saw coming. Forget the length of Daryl Washington’s suspension, which is not good for a defense that figured to miss him for a couple of games but certainly not 16. It’s at least 16, by the way. He has to be reinstated. It’s not automatic. It’s just that, with the news Washington violated the league’s substance abuse policy again (no, this has nothing to do with his assault case), I can’t help but think back to Washington’s tweet last summer after it came out that violating that same policy was going to cost him a four-game suspension to start 2013.

I promise to work even harder and to not let you guys down anymore.”

That was before his arrest and obviously long before this latest news, which comes with no details, including how this impacts Washington beyond the 2014 season. What this means for Washington’s future in Arizona would only be a guess right now, although coach Bruce Arians is scheduled to meet the media after Monday’s OTA. Speaking of Washington as a person, he’s obviously made some bad, bad decisions and if he doesn’t figure it out at some point he’s in danger of losing his livelihood. Just last week, Washington was sounding genuinely in the dark about his situation.

In a statement released to the media, Washington acknowledges the violation was related to marijuana. Under the league’s substance abuse policy, punishment for being in Stage 2 of the league’s system is a four-game suspension. Washington got a four-game suspension last year. It is in Stage 3 where the minimum suspension is for at least one year. According to that policy, the player has to apply to be reinstated after that year. A return is not automatic. He spends the rest of his career in Stage 3, with unannounced testing and the ability to be tested up to 10 times a month.

GM Steve Keim left no doubt where he stood: “It’s completely unacceptable that Daryl has once again put us in this position.” Football-wise, the Cardinals don’t need this. The organization made the prudent decision to let Karlos Dansby go and not try and overpay him given his age. But I’d guess that was based partly on knowing Washington – even if he had been out a couple of games suspended through his assault plea – was mostly going to be around. Now Washington is not going to be around. It makes the step forward from Kevin Minter that much more important. It makes the signing of Larry Foote that much more crucial. And I’d guess sooner rather than later, the Cardinals will bring in another veteran linebacker. (Ernie Sims visited the other day.)

Washington can’t be at the facility. He won’t get his $2.9 million salary. (For a full breakdown of the suspension’s financial impact on Washington, check out this stuff from overthecap.com.) Cap relief might not come until 2015.

There is time to regroup. Arians will undoubtedly push next man up, and, again from a football perspective, this is just like losing a player with a major injury before the season begins. It happens. But given Washington’s history and cloudy future, there is obviously more that goes into it. And that makes this a difficult situation.

I know some have said cut Washington. That won’t happen. He just got his huge bonus. He doesn’t get paid while he is suspended. He will only be 28 next year, and depending on what happens over the next year (and whether Washington can get his life in order), he figures to return to the field. Of course, things can always change.

“I sincerely apologize for the effect of my actions on my teammates, coaches and other colleagues at the Cardinals,” Washington said in his statement. “I also apologize to Cardinals fans for the time I will miss. I will work diligently during this suspension and will return as a better man and football player.”

We’ll see.

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#ThrowbackThursday – Steve Keim’s college days

Posted by since1898 on May 22, 2014 – 1:15 pm


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Peterson will be smart during contract talks

Posted by Darren Urban on May 13, 2014 – 9:48 am

First of all, Patrick Peterson isn’t going to hold out. If that was a question, Peterson stepped on it and killed it when asked about his contract extension situation yesterday.

“There won’t be no holding out for me,” Peterson said. “I want to continue playing football at a high level. … I have two years left so there’s no sense holding out.”

Peterson was holding a presser yesterday to talk about his charity dinner and foundations (all details are at patrickpeterson.org) but inevitably it turned into a discussion about the Pro Bowl cornerback’s contract status. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman just got a big contract extension, Browns cornerback Joe Haden just received one Tuesday morning, and these days, most consider Sherman, Haden and Peterson the top three young cornerbacks in the game. Peterson is going to need an extension, and while the Cardinals have some time after exercising Peterson’s 2015 team option — hence the “two years left” — it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Peterson, though, understands the process. He talked of working on something “bigger” than just a contract, and insisted he’ll be patient.

“I think I’m definitely well-deserving of a new contract, but at the end of the day it’s a business,” Peterson said. “You’ve got (salary) cap numbers, you’ve got other guys you need to take care of, the rookie pool. All that stuff falls into perspective, but at the end of the day I know (GM) Steve Keim, coach (Bruce) Arians and Mr. (Michael) Bidwill, they want me here for the long haul.”

That’s true. Ask Keim and he couldn’t act more confident that Peterson’s situation will eventually get worked out. Will it get messy? I don’t see it. Peterson is a smart man. He works in the big picture, not unlike teammate Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz has had a couple of uncomfortable contract situations (always with the leverage over the team, but still) and he has deftly worked around any bad feelings it might have caused not only with the team but the fan base. Peterson knows a holdout wouldn’t go over well with anyone and it probably wouldn’t make a huge impact either given how much time is left on his deal.

Instead, he’ll work within the system. And in the end, like Sherman and Haden, he’s gonna get paid.

“They drafted me for the long haul,” Peterson said. “I want to be that Adrian Wilson of the organization, that Larry Fitzgerald, that Darnell Dockett. I believe I’ve done some great things here early in my career, and I want to be here for a while.”

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And that’s the 2014 Cards’ draft

Posted by Darren Urban on May 10, 2014 – 3:43 pm

Seven picks, six rounds and a whole lot of hand-wringing over the Cardinals’ picks, but the draft is over. So are three long days, but before I head out to an abbreviated weekend, it’s time to wrap this up.

The Cards went with an eventual starting strong safety, a starting tight end who can block, a pair of future picks for the defensive line, a pair of receivers to fill out the corps and an intriguing (I know some of you have stronger words for it) quarterback prospect. Some of the picks, especially Logan Thomas, feel like a swing for the fence, as in if they work out, they could be very, very good.

But let’s make no mistake, not everyone is going to work out and frankly, that’s how every draft ends up. Steve Keim said he looks for three impact players out of each class. That’s just being realistic.

“What I love about (this class) is I look at all those names and I see guys who are big-time competitors, who love the game and bring an element of toughness to our locker room, which I don’t think you can ever have enough of,” Keim said. “That’s the whole thing. I’ve walked out of this building for many years when we got ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s’ (as grades), and those players didn’t turn out to be good players. You have to trust what you’re doing and trust your board. I trust the people in our room.

“Again, you have to avoid the noise sometimes and avoid what people are saying. You can’t get caught up in some of the hype. Again, I’ve always trusted what I see on tape and I think we came away with a pretty good class.”

– I don’t know how Thomas will turn out. I know he looked erratic the very limited times I saw him play in college. I’m pretty sure the Cards saw the same. I’m leery about being about change a guy who has long been inaccurate. Is it a risk? Sure. But everyone has a different opinion. I still think that, if you try him at QB for a couple of years and it isn’t working out, you can put him at tight end and still get a good fourth-round choice out of it. Sorry, but I don’t lose any sleep about the draft picks. They are what they are, and I’ll chronicle how their careers play out, good or bad.

– Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade “multiple times” in the draft. “We would’ve moved three or four more times if we would have gotten cooperation in other spots from other teams,” Keim said.

– Finishing the draft in the sixth round meant an early jump on recruiting potential undrafted rookies. The Cards after the draft class have 76 players on the roster, leaving 14 spots (although as long as the draft class is unsigned, they officially don’t count toward the 90-man roster limit.) Keim said he would’ve liked a seventh round pick but it’s a benefit to start on recruiting. “Quite frankly, I think that’s one of the things Bruce and I do best,” Keim said.

– Of those undrafted rookies, Keim said he’d like to add two running backs and three-to-five offensive linemen. I’d guess they will add a couple of defensive backs and receivers too.

– The undrafted names will slowly leak out. I don’t expect an official list until Monday. I may check out Twitter and mention some there (@cardschatter, if you aren’t already following) but otherwise, I’ll catch up to that group later.

 


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Need, speed, no QB: Day Two wrap

Posted by Darren Urban on May 9, 2014 – 9:12 pm

Four picks and no quarterbacks. People keep wondering if the next draft spot would draw a QB choice and it didn’t. It certainly doesn’t sound like it will happen either, now that the Cardinals have moved into the fourth round. Bruce Arians was asked what he would say to fans who were expecting a quarterback to be picked. Arians was blunt.

“Why?” Arians said.

“We’ve got three pretty good ones and you don’t take quarterbacks if they’re not going to beat out the ones you have,” Arians added. “I know people rate quarterbacks. I’ve been doing this a long time. I like ours better.”

So there’s that. As for some other notes after three more draft picks on the draft’s hump day Saturday:

– As a QB follow, Arians said there was “no doubt” Carson Palmer could play a couple of more years after this one. “Look at Peyton at 38,” Arians said. “The longevity of the athletes today, with the technology in the medical profession, they are going to go a lot longer. As long as you stay injury-free.”

– The Cardinals don’t want to draft for need. Then the first three picks go to a safety, a tight end and a pass rusher and that certainly felt like need.

“That’s the emphasis you put into building that (120) board,” GM Steve Keim said. “We say best player available, but there is an emphasis on who impacts our football team the most. We are never going to leave a good player to the side, but we will take who impacts us the most.”

– Keim said the Cardinals tried to trade back up into the second round, but could not get a deal done (he did not say who the Cardinals wanted to try and get.) But a trade remains possible Sunday when the Cardinals have a pick in the fourth, fifth and sixth round. “The phone has been ringing a lot,” Keim said. “We’ve been active.”

– The Cardinals’ two third-round picks echoed exactly what Keim has been talking about this offseason, which is adding speed. Defensive end/outside linebacker Kareem Martin is 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds and Keim compared his frame to the 6-8, 284-pound Calais Campbell when Campbell came out in 2008. Now, Campbell weighs 305. Martin can rush from the outside in the base 3-4 and be both places in sub-packages. More importantly, he has the size and speed that is difficult to find. Keim also said he wanted to get longer and more athletic on the edges, better to chase down the Colin Kaepernicks and Russell Wilsons of the world.

– The other third-round pick was a stunner. “Got to keep you guys on your toes with a small-school guy,” Keim quipped. That’s exactly what it was when Pittsburg State wideout John Brown was picked. But it didn’t take much research to see Brown, at 5-foot-10 and a 4.34 40, was the Cardinals’ attempt to find Arians another T.Y. Hilton. Arians loved him some T.Y. in Indy in 2012. Keim’s been looking for a clone since. Arians also compared Brown in some ways to another of his former wideouts, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown. He’s older — 24 — but they love his makeup and his speed.

– It’s not surprising that Arians said he plans to cut back on Patrick Peterson’s punt returns. There are enough other guys on the roster now, with Brown and Ted Ginn, to do it that you wouldn’t risk your Pro Bowl cornerback. Arians acknowledged the Tyrann Mathieu injury had an impact on that thinking. Plus Peterson isn’t going to play wide receiver most likely, but after adding pieces at receiver, it doesn’t make a lot of sense anyway.

– What’s left Sunday Saturday? (It’s been a long day.) Assuming the Cards stick with three picks, I wouldn’t be surprised with an offensive lineman. Beyond that, we’ll see. Obviously I’m not counting on a QB. Maybe another guy for the front seven. Then it’s time to get this roster together for the full offseason.

 


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Notes after a first-round pick

Posted by Darren Urban on May 8, 2014 – 10:52 pm

Before I head home for the night, some notes to clean up with after the Cardinals took safety Deone Bucannon with their first-round pick:

– I can see, on various platforms of communication I have with fans, that some are upset (and some are very, very upset) with the fact the Cardinals didn’t take a quarterback. Folks, I feel I’ve made this pretty plain over the weeks (and I’m not the only one covering the team that did) that the Cards could consider a QB but it was going to have to be the right QB in their eyes. If the right guy wasn’t there, they weren’t gonna take him. Taking a QB you don’t believe in is a reach of the highest proportions. It’s what the Titans did with Jake Locker and the Vikings did with Christian Ponder. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I appreciate some of you believe so much in Manziel/Carr/Bridgewater. But it’s not like Steve Keim and his crew aren’t scouting these guys. I think they have a pretty good handle on what they think they should do.

– Speaking of Derek Carr, Bruce Arians actually addressed him specifically, when talking about how the hype of the draft provided skewed perspective for both fans and prospects.

“Sometimes people forget about the player (and his skills) and they start pairing players with teams and push and push and push and it doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “I felt terrible Derek Carr has been attached to us by some people. There he is sitting there on television when we are coming on the clock. That (pick) wasn’t going to happen.”

– Keim got his extra pick. The Cards have No. 52, 84 and 91 Friday. The Texans are first with No. 33.

– Did the Cards have players ranked higher than Bucannon? Of course. But those guys all came off the board by 20, and that’s when you look to trade back. It made sense.

– Arians and Keim both said Bucannon can cover tight ends. That would help a team that desperately needs to do a better job of that.

– You have to like that Bucannon talks about his “aggressive energy.” “I’m not afraid to go in there and stick my nose in anything or anybody,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how big you are, I’m coming downhill regardless.”


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