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Bishop brought back to roster

Posted by Darren Urban on October 1, 2014 – 9:28 am

Linebacker Desmond Bishop was one of the last cuts the Cardinals made when they trimmed down their roster back at the end of the preseason. There was always a chance he would return. That time is now. The Cards, with an open spot on the 53-man roster following Tuesday’s release of Vic Butler, brought back Bishop Wednesday. How Arians decides to break down his roster for Sunday — with everyone pretty healthy right now, all things considered — will be part of the storyline. Does he have more linebackers active? Does Alex Okafor jump into some playing time? Could Bishop? Certainly, there should be plenty of defensive backs involved, given the Broncos’ pass-heavy tendencies. Maybe that means more Tyrann Mathieu. Maybe more Justin Bethel.

The only player that seemingly should have an injury concern keeping him from possibly playing Sunday is QB Carson Palmer. Media availability is prior to practice today, so we won’t hear from anyone post-practice on the Palmer front. (But we got a serious update nonetheless.)

UPDATE: Cornerback Teddy Williams has also left the Cardinals’ practice squad to sign with the Bears. He was replaced by wide receiver Jalen Saunders, who was a fourth-round pick of the Jets this year and had appeared in the first three games of the season before he was released.

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Fitz’s targets, Ellington’s toughness and day-after B.A.

Posted by Darren Urban on September 9, 2014 – 1:36 pm

Why, Bruce Arians was asked, wasn’t wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald targeted more in the Monday night game against the Chargers?

“You have to ask the quarterback,” Arians said. “(Larry) is going out for a pass every time. I don’t look at that. We don’t design plays for guys to get the ball. That’s interceptions waiting to happen.”

In fact, Arians referred to early last season, when Carson Palmer acknowledged he had been trying to force the ball to Fitz a couple of times, with turnover-laden results. It would seem, however, that Fitzgerald would be in line to be targeted a little bit more. “I learned some lessons last year,” Palmer said. “You want to get him involved, but it can bite you in the butt. We weren’t going to do that tonight.” Arians acknowledged there were a couple of times Fitzgerald was open and Palmer threw the ball elsewhere.

“But I’m not interested in anybody’s numbers other than the ‘Ws,’ ” Arians said. “Those days are long gone.”

Fitzgerald was officially targeted four times, with one catch for 22 yards.

— Running back Andre Ellington will wear a boot on his injured left foot so it can “calm down” after playing on it and he’ll probably not practice Wednesday. Then he will try and go Thursday and Friday to get ready for the Giants game. Playing through a little pain — knowing the injury can’t get worse — is important, Arians believes. Ellington did the same thing last year, skipping the Philadelphia game after hurting his knee and then coming back to play arguably his best game, in Tennessee. “You’re never going to be 100 percent until March as a running back in the National Football League,” Arians said, adding that Ellington wanted to play Monday night.

— LB John Abraham is going through the concussion protocol, so he’ll be day to day this week. Arians said DE Frostee Rucker will not practice Wednesday with his calf injury and looks doubtful to play in New York. Punter Dave Zastudil, with his bad groin, is day to day, although Arians said he was happy with the way Drew Butler punted.

— There are going to be a lot of tense moments this season as the defensive backs — especially Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie — are going to be very much on an island as the Cardinals try to bring extra guys to create a pass rush. “Where we are putting them, they are going to get beat sometimes,” Arians admitted. “The pressure better get there.”

— Guard Jonathan Cooper played one play because Paul Fanaika hurt his knee. Cooper pulled and didn’t do the best job on his block. But there won’t be any extra plays for Cooper barring injuries, Arians said.

— For a second straight press conference, Arians noted that the offensive line had some communication issues because of crowd noise at University of Phoenix Stadium. Asked if that meant the crowd needed to learn to quiet down when the Cardinals are on offense, Arians said “yeah. And keep their tickets.”

— The Cardinals made a pair of practice squad moves Tuesday, adding running back Chris Rainey, who played for the Steelers in 2012 and was with the Colts in the preseason, and bringing back cornerback Teddy Williams. The Cards released receiver Kevin Cone from the practice squad, and put running back Dominique Williams (knee) on the practice squad/injured list.


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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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Wednesday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2014 – 9:47 am

The fourth preseason game is what it is. Teams are leery about playing anyone of any starting importance, because whatever little you might gain in a few more game reps is highly outweighed by the opportunity to get injured. How the actual game plays out — like the Cardinals going against the Chargers — means nothing. This one may mean even less, since the two teams have to play their very next game against each other. No reason to show anyone anything. At all.

That being said, there are some things to watch in the game tomorrow night, thanks to injuries, a new quarterback and a couple of roster spots that look like they could go either way:

— Logan Thomas is going to get to play the whole game, for the first time in the NFL and likely for the last time in a long time. The rookie fourth-round quarterback looked really good in his debut against Houston, he looked less comfortable against Cincinnati. He gets 60 minutes now, though. Bruce Arians said he just wants to see Thomas be efficient and take care of the ball. Thomas admitted he already has become more settled now since arriving in Arizona, and he knows he’s about to sit and not play (and really, not practice much either) for a long time. He has the right attitude. There’s really nothing on the line since he’s a lock to be on this roster. Take the pressure off, and let’s see what he can do.

— Very curious to see if S Tyrann Mathieu plays. I have long felt that the Cardinals are OK in the secondary to not have any reason to want/need to rush Mathieu back. I don’t think they will rush him. The question is how comfortable/confident Mathieu is to get back into live action. This is about mental as much as physical by now.

— The other guys coming off injuries all are also worth watching. We know the story of Jonathan Cooper at this point, and dealing with his turf toe. The Cardinals are probably best suited to deal with his recovery too with the way Ted Larsen is playing. The team needs Kevin Minter at inside linebacker, and we will see how he can perform. Minter seemed very confident earlier this week. That’s a good sign. Like Mathieu, you want to see nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu in real game action — especially where he plays and how there are always bodies down by your legs — a scary thought for a guy coming off a torn ACL. Again, mental as much as physical.

— As for the battles for rosters spots, these are the ones I see out there (and the ones to watch in the game): The backup tackle spot between Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter, both who figure to start. Potter will be on the left and Sowell on the right Thursday, but it’ll be surprising if both can make the cut. The special teams/cornerback slot with Teddy Williams and Bryan McCann. It figures one will be in, the other out. McCann is a little more polished as a cornerback, but Williams definitely can be more physical. This comes down to who they like better for special teams. And then there are the many linebackers who seem to be on the bubble. Desmond Bishop. Alex Okafor. Lorenzo Alexander. Marcus Benard. Glenn Carson too. You’ve only got so many spots. Pay attention to their play.

— Finally, reports are that the Cardinals will at least work out veteran linebacker James Harrison. Sounds like it’ll be less about anything immediate and instead seeing what is available. Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly may be the same situation. Something to keep in mind this time of year, signing a veteran after Week One means the salary is not guaranteed, so there will be some vets signed after the first game around the league — especially those who might not have a lot left in the tank.

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Teddy Williams moves back to CB

Posted by Darren Urban on May 15, 2014 – 10:55 am

For a couple of weeks before the draft, wide receiver Teddy Williams heard the comments from cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

“Oh, so you played corner your whole career.”

“You’re a big dude, we’d want you over here.”

“I thought,” Williams said, “it was just jokes.”

It wasn’t. During the draft, coach Bruce Arians called Williams and the two had a “nice, long conversation” about Williams moving from receiver to cornerback. It made a lot of sense, in part because the Cardinals drafted wide receivers John Brown and Walter Powell, and frankly, Williams’ chances to make the team on offense were probably shrinking given the additions. Arians even called Patrick Peterson (below, giving Williams pointers at a recent workout) about the Williams transition.

“Everybody wants me to do it and do it right,” Williams said. “(Arians) knows me as a corner because he met me as a corner.”

Indeed, this is not new ground for Williams. He did not play college football. Williams was a track guy, with excellent speed and a frame (6-foot-1 and 207 pounds) that figured to translate to football. So when he got to the NFL Williams bounced back and forth between positions. He originally signed with the Cowboys as a defensive back, only to be switched to wide receiver. When he went to the Colts, he was a cornerback, which is where Arians met him. But when the Cardinals signed him, they made him a wide receiver before he went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.

One of Williams’ strengths is his ability to play gunner on special teams. That does not change whether his given position is on offense or defense. But his 6-1 size does make him fit well into a cornerback group highlighted by the 6-1 Peterson and the 6-2 Antonio Cromartie and charged to play press man-to-man by Bowles.

“That’s my game,” Williams said. “Give ’em hell all day.”

Williams switched numbers, from 16 to 29. He said it took all of five minutes to sit in the defensive backs room and to have his comfort come flooding back. “I had a coach tell me when I was in Indy, ‘Same girl, different dress.’ ” Williams said.

The Cardinals have a lot of cornerbacks too, and Williams will have to fight for a spot on that side of the ball too. But he said he is on his way to getting back from the Achilles’ rehab and he expects to be ready for training camp. It’ll just happen to be on the defensive side of the ball.

“It’s not an uncomfortable switch,” Williams said. “The coaches were excited about it so I’m excited about it. It’s always good to be flexible. Maybe someone goes down during a game, you might need someone to run a (wide receiver) route, since Pat’s not going to be doing it anymore. Hey, the more you can do.”

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Cards add a cornerback (no, not him)

Posted by Darren Urban on March 17, 2014 – 1:54 pm

Everyone is waiting for news on free agent Antonio Cromartie. There is nothing new to report there. But the Cardinals did re-sign cornerback Bryan McCann to a one-year deal Monday, which gives them options both on special teams and with depth in the defensive backfield. McCann came back last year after the Teddy Williams injury to help on special teams, but he nearly made the active roster coming out of camp.

This does not preclude the Cardinals from adding another corner, whether it be Cromartie or someone else. (Mike Jenkins, someone whom the Cards reportedly have interest in, was scheduled to visit the Buccaneers today.) That position definitely remains in play in the draft too, especially high, if no one of import is signed in free agency.

With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signing with the Giants today, the price of Cromartie — the best cornerback remaining in free agency, just went up. Which might have been why Cromartie was waiting in the first place.

— The next episode of “Tenacious,” the occasional video series chronicling the rehab of safety Tyrann Mathieu is coming this week.

— We also, with it being the bracket-picking time of year, have our second annual Cardinals Bracketology page looking at the top plays of the past season as they battle for the respect of the fans through votes. The No. 1 seed?  Michael Floyd’s TD catch in Seattle. Last year, the 16th-seeded play, guard Senio Kelemete’s freak catch in the season finale, upset everyone en route to a title. Let’s see how it plays out this year. Click here to watch the plays and vote every day.

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The need for speed (receiver)

Posted by Darren Urban on February 7, 2014 – 2:25 pm

As the Cardinals head toward the draft — a week later, May 8-10 this year — there will be a lot of talk about what positions will be targeted. There will be discussion about offensive tackles, defensive linemen, pass rushers, tight ends and defensive backs. But one thing that can’t be dismissed is the quest for a speed receiver.

The Cardinals can’t overlook the position anyway, given the impending free agent status of Andre Roberts (who likely will want to look what’s available on the open market since he’s destined to stay behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd) and the ongoing desire to have someone be able to run down the field and take the top off the defense. It was a constant quest last season. The Cards took a draft risk on Ryan Swope, and that didn’t work. Robert Gill was a track guy who they hoped would work out. Later, it was Brittan Golden and Teddy Williams.

According to profootballfocus.com, quarterback Carson Palmer threw 74 passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air last season. He completed only 23 of them, and while longer passes will inevitably have a lower completion percentage, coach Bruce Arians does want to get more production out of those six deep shots a game he’d like to take. The Cards didn’t take as many as that as the season went along, in part because there was an understanding the protection wasn’t always good enough for such long plays and in part because the was a search for the right target. Floyd and Fitz can do the jump ball thing, but to be able to just tell a guy to go long and watch him speed by in one-on-one coverage would be ideal.

Where that guy will come from isn’t set in stone. Will the Cardinals draft one? I wouldn’t be surprised. But Steve Keim will comb other options too. Williams and Golden are still around and in the mix (although they have to stay healthy.) It’s an Arians want, and an Arians need, and that isn’t going to change until the Cards find their answer.


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Arians checks Arians and some other notes

Posted by Darren Urban on November 18, 2013 – 1:01 pm

It may have been the timeout that save the game (although the way the Cardinals were playing defense, it might not have been that dire). Still, Arians called timeout right before Carson Palmer threw his interception and wiped out the QB’s lone turnover. The official simply couldn’t find his whistle, Arians said, and that’s why the glitch in the snap still being made, and not because Arians called it late.

Arians said he made a bad play-call and instead of going with, he realized discretion was the better part of valor.

“It was a play with Andre Ellington in the backfield,” Arians said. “I was tired of being stuck down there (deep in the Cards’ own territory) and I wanted to try and take a shot and flip field position. It was a bad time. So I called timeout. … It was one of those gut feelings it was going to be the wrong play for that time.”

It was the wrong personnel, Arians said, the wrong time to call it on second-and-long (instead of first down) and just nothing was right no matter how badly Arians wanted to make something happen.

“At times it gets frustrating,” Arians said. “But you have to be careful (as a play-caller) and not lose your patience and lose the football game.”

— The availability of special teams ace Justin Bethel is up in the air after he suffered a concussion Sunday. He will go through concussion protocol and the Cards will see where he is at the end of the week. Fellow special teamer Teddy Williams, who tore his Achilles, will be placed on injured reserve.

— Arians talked about facing the Colts this week (and this won’t be the last time you hear about this storyline). “The prep will be easy,” he said. “It’s seeing them that will be emotionally involved because it was such an emotional year last year. You’ll get through that hopefully in warmups.”

“I was hoping this would never be on the schedule. Because there are too many emotional ties to what happened last year.”

— Arians said the coaching staff for two weeks has been talking about the possibility of using Tyrann Mathieu as punt returner instead of Patrick Peterson. Those discussions will continue, Arians said. One concern is the amount of snaps Mathieu is already playing as a rookie. Clearly, though, Peterson hasn’t been his rookie self when returning punts.

— There was talk of the Cardinals-Eagles game being flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” That was officially put to rest Monday when the league announced the Sunday night game that weekend will remain Giants-Redskins.


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Ellington’s hair and some Jaguars aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 17, 2013 – 7:42 pm

That’s five years worth of hair growing on the head of Andre Ellington, so he doesn’t want to lose it. He especially doesn’t want to lose it on the football field, but he lost

some of his beloved dreadlocks Sunday, which might have been the strangest part of a strange game. The rookie running back was tackled, Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin ended up with a handful of it (right) and it ended up on the ground, only to have Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker rescue and return it.

“I didn’t think I was going to get it back,” Ellington said. “I was talking to (Jaguars defensive end) Andre Branch, we are pretty good friends, I told him, ‘I’m gonna get your boys, they pulled my hair out.’ But it’s all good.”

Amazingly, Ellington said he didn’t feel it, although “you don’t feel it when you are being tackled by 300-pounders.” He didn’t even realize it had happened until he saw Babin holding it up. “I was like, ‘Oh man.’ He was like, ‘It’s part of the uniform.’ I was like, ‘Alright. I’ll remember that.’ ”

Ellington later tweeted out he’d just stich back in the loose part. I didn’t really know you could do that, but hey, Rucker is a hero, apparently. Ellington did say he was just happy with the win, which is good, because not only did he have hairs yanked out (ouch, by the way) but he was held to three yards on eight carries (ouch again.)

This game had a little of everything. Big plays, bad officiating, crazy calls, a few turnovers and yet another dominant defensive showing after not exactly a bad but more of a weird start. But lookie here: The Cardinals are 6-4, reeling off three wins in a month after that Seattle loss. The schedule gets tougher, with division leaders Indy and Philly next. But the Cards are where they want to be.

— The Newark Star-Ledger reported the Cardinals game in Philly will be flexed to “Sunday Night Football.” Not a surprise. It is supposed to be Giants-Redskins, and with all the Thanksgiving games (and with Chiefs-Broncos Part II unavailable after Part I was on SNF tonight) there aren’t a ton of choices better than two potential playoff teams. It would be the Cards’ first Sunday night appearance since the Vikings game in Arizona was flexed into the spot in 2009. UPDATE: Here’s an opposing report saying it won’t happen. We’ll see this week. UPDATE II: Monday morning the NFL announced that “Sunday Night Football” was going to stay Giants-Redskins, and the Eagles-Cardinals game is staying as a 1 p.m. kickoff in Philly.

— Michael Floyd was spectacular Sunday. Forget the 91-yard play for a moment, he made a catch on the sideline for 22 yards that was incredible. He made a nice play on the long TD, too. His 193 yards are a career-high, and  that threat means a lot for the Cards going down the stretch.

— Carson Palmer did not throw an interception Sunday. (OK, he did, but it didn’t count.) First time that’s happened this season.

— Palmer looked good. He said afterward he had a clean pocket, and again, that’s the book on Carson – if you give him a comfortable place within which to throw, he will do well. That’s exactly what happened.

— The Cardinals didn’t have a turnover for the first time since the third week of last season.

— The lopsided way the Cards had their offense today – 419 yards passing, 14 yards rushing – reminded me of the 2006 game in Minnesota when Matt Leinart threw for 405 yards but the Cards just ran the ball five times. The Cards lost that game. It’s not like the Cards didn’t try Sunday, with 24 attempts, but against the worst rushing defense in the league? It was surprising, to say the least.

— Special teams did not have a good day at all. The Cards allowed 36 yards a kickoff return, Dave Zastudil looked like he didn’t hit some punts as solidly as usual and more importantly – much more importantly – there were injuries. Justin Bethel went out of the game early after an illegal blindside block left him with a possible concussion, while fellow gunner Teddy Williams was lost for the season after tearing his Achilles. It hurts to lose Williams. Bethel’s status is up in the air, but it was clear how much the special teams need him after he left the game. That’s what happens when a Pro Bowl-caliber player goes down.

— Among the special teams problems, Patrick Peterson muffed a fair catch. He got it back somehow, but punt returning has turned into such tough sledding for him.

— One of the reasons the Cards had a tough time putting the game away? Field position was rarely in their favor, at least until late. The Cards started possessions on their own 3, 16, 9, 10, 2 and 10.

— There wasn’t a big crowd. It was kind of sad. “It’s like a morgue,” Cardinals tackle Eric Winston said. “It makes a three-point lead seem like 20.”

That’s good for now. Lot of flight left, but I have some other stuff I need to get to. Tomorrow, it’s Colts week, Arians against his ex-team week. It will be fun.


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Ellington starts, Ryan Williams not active

Posted by Darren Urban on October 27, 2013 – 11:53 am

Running back Rashard Mendenhall is sitting out today’s game against the Falcons with his bad toe. That was expected. Andre Ellington will start in his place. That too was expected. And Ryan Williams is inactive again, which, in the end, probably should have been expected too. If Williams isn’t playing special teams — which he isn’t, no matter what the reason — it’s tough to have him up. Newcomer WR Teddy Williams, who will play tandem speed guys on special teams with Justin Bethel, is active.

Besides Mendenhall and Ryan Williams, the rest of the inactive list:

— WR Brittan Golden

— QB Ryan Lindley

— G Earl Watford

— TE Kory Sperry

— DE Ronald Talley


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