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In the short term, tight end still a concern

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2015 – 11:13 am

Heading into camp, the Cardinals will ease Jermaine Gresham back into football. He’s coming off back surgery and hasn’t done anything football-related this summer, and so slow going makes sense. Gresham can come off the PUP list at any point, and like Tyrann Mathieu last year, I’d expect Gresham to be on the roster by early September. Hopefully, a return to the field will be even quicker for Troy Niklas, who ended up on the active non-football-injury list yesterday at the same time the Gresham news was announced. Niklas has a bad hamstring, I would assume hurt while working out in prep for camp.

But that’s two tight ends the Cardinals don’t have for the outset of training camp, and the one open roster spot the team currently has may end up being spent on another tight end just to keep the numbers up — depending on what the timetable might be for Niklas and/or Gresham. It’s another setback for Niklas too, who had his rookie season shredded with injuries — from a broken finger to a bad ankle that needed surgery.

Even without the latest hamstring issue, Niklas acknowledged his ankle isn’t quite 100 percent, noting that his doctor told him it’ll probably be into the season before he builds up all his strength and flexibility.

“I’m not going to make that an excuse,” Niklas said before his hamstring injury. “(The ankle) has healed to a point where I can do mostly everything I want to do.”

As it stands, the Cardinals still have five tight ends ready for camp’s first practice Saturday: Darren Fells, Ifeanyi Momah, Ted Bolser, Gerald Christian and Gannon Sinclair.

GresTEs


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Gresham visit could change Cards’ TE situation

Posted by Darren Urban on July 19, 2015 – 8:06 am

It wouldn’t be an offseason for the Cardinals and General Manager Steve Keim without a veteran free agent signing or two by the time the team got to training camp. Given the retirement of John Carlson earlier this offseason, making a tight end one of those signings wouldn’t be a surprise. So it’s also not a surprise when Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning former Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham would be visiting the Cardinals this week.

Gresham, a former first-round pick who spent his first five seasons with the Bengals (and once a teammate of Carson Palmer), has started 67 NFL games (of 73 total) and has 280 receptions. He’s a pass catcher on a team that could use a proven one at tight end now that Carlson is gone. He had to have back surgery earlier in the offseason for a herniated disc, which is why he hasn’t signed anywhere yet. He also has been criticized for his inconsistency over the years in Cincinnati.

Gresham has already visited the Saints, who traded away Jimmy Graham, and there is interest there. Gresham also could visit other teams. The Cards have Darren Fells and Troy Niklas as blocker-first-types. Veteran combine signee Ifeanyi Momah — who has been working with Palmer in Palmer’s San Diego workouts — has looked good as a receiver in non-padded OTAs and minicamp. The Cards also have seventh-round pick Gerald Christian, Ted Bolser and Gannon Sinclair at tight end.

Jermaine Gresham, Mike Mitchell, Lawrence Timmons


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Carlson exit creates tight end scrutiny

Posted by Darren Urban on May 5, 2015 – 3:29 pm

The surprising decision of tight end John Carlson to retire Tuesday — after taking part in Monday’s Phase 2 on-field workout — has left the position in an interesting situation. Yes, the Cards drafted a tight end (Gerald Christian, the last pick in the draft) but you have to think the Cards might have seriously considered taking a tight end earlier had they known Carlson was about to leave the game.

(It should be noted this draft class was considered relatively weak at tight end.)

The Cardinals have high hopes for Troy Niklas, 2014’s second-round pick, and they like Darren Fells too as he makes his transition from former professional basketball player overseas. But is that enough? Is Christian enough? Can they find something they like in deep roster fodder like Ifeanyi Momah — signed after the NFL veterans combine — or Ted Bolser? You figure they’d have to consider a veteran, someone like Zach Miller or Jermaine Gresham, although the injuries for guys like that are the reason they’re still out there in the first place. Fells is a smart guy, someone I could see being a leader at some point now that Carlson is gone. But he knows where he has come from, that he had to work just to stick on the practice squad two years ago. He might not have made the roster last year if Jake Ballard hadn’t retired. Now, he’s the vet. He’s been around the longest, he’s played the most NFL games. Stunning.

Tight end has never been a crucial part of the receiving offense for the Cards, so if Niklas and Fells can provide the blocking needed, that’s what Bruce Arians seeks. Fells actually showed some hands the few times the ball was thrown his way. Still, after talking to Niklas and Fells today, it’s Carlson’s leadership that will be missed the most.

CarlsonBlog


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Housler signs with Browns

Posted by Darren Urban on April 9, 2015 – 2:19 pm

Rob Housler wasn’t coming back to the Cardinals. The team had decided to move on from the tight end and 2011 third-round pick, so he was always going to have a new address in 2015. It turned out to be Cleveland, where Thursday Housler worked out a one-year contract. He joins former Cardinals teammates Karlos Dansby and Jim Dray. Once the Cardinals drafted Troy Niklas last year, Housler’s days were probably numbered, and with Darren Fells emerging as a future possibility at tight end, the Cards had — along with John Carlson — the tight ends they needed.

Coach Bruce Arians has said he is hoping to add an H-back-type tight end. Right now, the Cards have five tight ends on the roster: Niklas, Fells, Carlson, Ted Bolser and Ifeanyi Momah.

HouseGoneUSE


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