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Keim: “Good chance” Nkemdiche plays Sunday

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2016 – 8:16 am

The Cardinals had a bunch of players come back to practice this week, and — barring anything between then and Sunday’s third preseason game in Houston — General Manager Steve Keim said the team will be in pretty good health against the Texans.

During his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7, Keim said that, after talking to head athletic trainer Tom Reed, the Cardinals may only have “one or two” players too injured to be available for the next game. Keim also said that rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, who has been out since suffering a high-ankle sprain during quarterback school work and hasn’t practice in camp, has a “good chance” to play against the Texans. Coach Bruce Arians said that Nkemdiche should be back at practice Wednesday.

Other news and thoughts from the Keim conversation:

Like Arians, Keim isn’t worried about the Cardinals or their preseason performances in terms of how they will do in the regular season. But “we need to pick up our level of urgency.” Keim said. “You can’t go out when the season starts and turn the switch on. … You can’t sleepwalk through the preseason. (Friday) was a great lesson for our players.”

— Keim told MMQB.com’s Peter King that it was a “chicken(expletive) call by me” not to take a chance on quarterback Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft, and that he “didn’t have the balls to take Russell Wilson.” Keim is constantly preaching the need to self-evaluate, and that certainly qualifies.

“He is a great learning lesson for all of us,” Keim told Arizona Sports.

— Aside from allowing a pressure on the first snap, Keim said he thought right tackle D.J. Humphries was better than his first game. Keim also liked how guard Evan Mathis played, and he likes the progress — although it’s slower — of rookie OLs Cole Toner and Evan Boehm.

— On the idea Arians would like the Cardinals to practice against another team a couple of times in next year’s training camp: “I love it,” Keim said. The Cardinals might try to visit one team for a week and host a team another week. A handful of NFL teams did that this year. Keim (and Arians) love the idea of going up against another team as a measuring stick and to break up the monotony of camp.

— Keim said potential trade talks, with the Chargers or any other team, are ongoing and usually don’t heat up until the end of the preseason.

— There is still a learning curve for rookie cornerback Brandon Williams, Keim said, but “quite frankly, I thought (his struggles) would be a little worse.” Keim is pleased with Williams’ progress thus far.


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With 2016 here, a look at the 2017 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2016 – 10:51 am

Training camp officially begins tomorrow when the Cardinals get back together at University of Phoenix Stadium to hold their annual run test. The first practice of camp is Friday (keep in mind, because of the CBA-mandated “acclimation” period, the Cardinals won’t be in pads until Sunday, making these next two days a little bit like glorified OTAs.)

We know the Cardinals’ schedule for 2016, of course, which starts in the regular season with a home “Sunday Night Football” game against the Patriots.

But what about 2017, I’m sure you were about to ask? Fear not. Here are the opponents for 2017, home and away:

HOME

— Dallas Cowboys
— New York Giants
— Jacksonville Jaguars
— Tennessee Titans
— NFC South team that finishes in same 2016 divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams

AWAY

— Philadelphia Eagles
— Washington Redskins
— Houston Texans
— Indianapolis Colts
— NFC North team that finishes in same divisional place as Cardinals
— Seattle Seahawks
— San Francisco 49ers
— Los Angeles Rams


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No reason for Cards to put up a fight

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2015 – 9:06 am

Bruce Arians mentioned early in training camp he would have liked to have a joint practice with another team in training camp, to break up the monotony and to raise the level of practice that inevitably comes with going against another team rather than teammates. Given how averse Arians is to training camp fights, however, maybe it’s good that the Cardinals never did work that out.

The Rams-Cowboys joint practice donnybrook Tuesday was just the latest in joint practice battles. The Redskins and Texans got into it earlier this month and last training camp, it was the Cowboys and Raiders. The two this month were bad enough that the joint practices were called off and the teams went to practice on separate fields.

It would be interesting to see what Arians would do if his players got into a training camp tussle with another team. He’s made no bones about it happening with his own team — last summer’s Darnell Dockett/Bradley Sowell laps and then a separate abrupt end to practice underscored the head coach’s feelings on the subject. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the coaching tree either. Todd Bowles made the Jets run because of a practice fight recently.)

And while there are plenty that feel there is good that can come out of a camp scrap — ask Ron Wolfley — there is tangible evidence the downside is too great. The Cardinals know about injuries. Back in 2003, guard Leonard Davis broke his hand punching defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. (Amazingly, my story at the time is still floating around on the internet.) That’s never good.

Bruce Arians


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Cardinals add Veterans Combine receiver

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2015 – 11:26 am

The NFL brought in 105 players to Tempe Sunday for their first Veterans Combine. They are leaving one behind. The agent of wide receiver Nathan Slaughter tweeted out his client was signing with the Cardinals. (And a little later, the player himself did the same.) The team has yet to officially announce any move. UPDATE: It’s official now.

Slaughter ran one of the fastest 40 times Sunday (reportedly sub-4.4s), which is noteworthy after a workout with some notoriously slow 40 times. He is 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, a West Texas A&M product who was originally signed by the Texans as an undrafted free agent last year. He was cut and then signed by the Jaguars in June, then waived-injured by Jacksonville early in August. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game. For a team looking for a return man, Slaughter averaged 41.7 yards per kickoff return his last year in college.

Nathan Slaughter


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Breaking down Cooper’s opener

Posted by Darren Urban on August 10, 2014 – 1:02 pm

If it weren’t for that pesky broken leg, Jonathan Cooper’s training camp in the spotlight would have been one-and-done. The left guard would have been looked at all last camp as a No. 1 draft pick, and he would have settled in to the background by now. But he did break his leg and he did lose his rookie season, and right now he’s been up-and-down in camp as he tries to come back.

So everyone was watching Coop in the preseason opener Saturday night. He knew it. “Nerves were running at an all-time high,” Cooper said, adding “I definitely have a lot of room to improve.”

Cooper ended up playing the entire first half, mostly with the second-unit offensive line. That was 40 total snaps, including those that had penalties. The last was a kneel-down at the end of the second quarter. Three times Cooper moved back into pass protection but with a three-man rush he had no one to block. Here is a breakdown of his plays. I don’t know exactly what he was being asked to do, obviously, and I can’t speak directly to his technique. He got burned early by J.J. Watt sack but otherwise it looked to me that Cooper did just fine in his first work since last preseason.

DRIVE ONE

1st-n-10: Cooper pulls, hits LB Brooks Reed. Does job, although Andre Ellington gains one yard.
2nd-n-9: Watt beats Cooper badly, shoving Cooper left as he sacks Palmer.
3rd-n-16: Cooper tries to help LT Jared Veldheer on Jadaveon Clowney. Not really needed as Palmer fires 25-yard completion.
1st-n-10: Helps Veldheer on Watt on four-yard completion, which was negated by Texans penalty.
1st-n-10: Engages defensive tackle Tim Jamison and holds up fine on 38-yard pass to TE Rob Housler.
1st-n-10: Pushes forward on quick screen to Larry Fitzgerald.
2nd-n-6: Helps Veldheer on Watt, not really needed on wheel route TD pass to TE John Carlson, which was called back on penalty.
2nd-and-16: Nice push on Jamison as Ellington runs for six yards.
3rd-n-10: Takes on Watt one-on-one. Watt definitely pushes Cooper back, but Coop holds up long enough for 10-yard completion to Jaron Brown.
1st-n-G: Handles Jamison on seven-yard TD slant to Fitz.

DRIVE TWO

1st-n-10: Takes care of Jamison decently, although a non-factor in a six-yard Stepfan Taylor run.
2nd-n-4: Pushes out to second level on run, but run play blows up when TE Darren Fells can’t hold a block.
3rd-n-9: Helps Veldheer on Clowney double-team, plenty of time for Drew Stanton to hit John Brown for 24 yards.
1st-n-10: Helps double-team NT Jarrell Powe. Brown draws 39-yard PI.
1st-n-10: Handles Jamison on a quick six-yard pass.
2nd-n-4: Gets OK push on Jamison, with help from Veldheer, on three-yard Taylor run.
3rd-n-1: Good pass pro on Jamison on two-yard pass play to RB Robert Hughes.
1st-n-G: Standoff with Powe, and Taylor rolls up the back of Cooper’s leg. A scary sight after last year. Coop gets up.
2nd-n-G: Tries to chip Clowney on a dive block. Misses. Taylor gains a yard.
3rd-n-G: Holds off Jamison just long enough for Stanton to hit Jaron Brown for a five-yard TD.

DRIVE THREE

1st-n-10: Unneeded in pass pro.
2nd-n-10: OK blocking Jamison but the whole line has breakdown and Taylor may have made mistake bouncing outside for yard loss.
3rd-n-11: Fine in pass pro against Jamison. Incomplete.

DRIVE FOUR

1st-n-10: Helps on DT Ricardo Mathews at the snap, tries to come over and take unblocked LB Jeff Tarpinian late. Too late. Taylor no gain.
2nd-n-10: Takes out Tarpinian on quick five-yard pass to Brittan Golden.
3rd-n-5: Rides Jamison out of the play on an 11-yard pass.
1st-n-10: Locks up DE Jared Crick but Taylor loses a yard.
2nd-n-11: No one to hit in pass pro on eight-yard gain.
3rd-n-3: Helped some on Jamison in pass pro on Stanton incompletion.

DRIVE FIVE

1st-n-10: Locks up Jamison in pass pro on 14-yard pass to TE Darren Fells.
1st-n-10: Struggles with Mathews as pocket collapses everywhere and Stanton barely gets off an incompletion.
2nd-n-10: No one to hit in pass pro. Walt Powell gets 45-yard catch.
1st-n-10: Blocks Jamison but run play to other side.
2nd-n-6: Pulls right as screen pass goes back to the left on some nice misdirection. Gains 10.
1st-n-10: Negates Jamison. Nine-yard run comes back on Niklas hold.
1st-n-20: Not great against DE Keith Browner but enough — but Fells drops a TD pass.
2nd-n-20: Handles Crick, but Cards called for offensive pass interference.
2nd-n-30: Locks down Crick on incompletion.
3rd-n-30: Handles Crick again on 22-yard pass to John Brown.

Again, it’ll be interesting to see how Arians describes Cooper’s night. But it was a good start to the preseason for a guy who just needed to get back on the field.

CoopBlockUSE


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Texans aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 9, 2014 – 10:53 pm

Bruce Arians wanted a fast start. He got it. What was striking to me about Saturday night’s demolition of  the (admittedly bad) Houston Texans was that everything the Cardinals have been saying about their team was indeed true. The offensive guys kept saying they were a lot more comfortable and knew their stuff. The defense promised they’d be good again even with the linebacker losses. There is a ton of time still before the games count for real, but that’s what happened to start. Why does that strike me? Because I have been around plenty of teams for this franchise and optimism is always high early in camp — and then the games start. It’s rare when the optimism matches.

— Carson Palmer looked really good. This is the guy the Cardinals are talking about when they talk about Palmer’s ability to lead them where they want to go.

— I’ve heard a lot of things said about rookie wide receiver John Brown. Here’s how one Cardinals’ player described him tonight: “He’s like Wes Welker.” If he can make that kind of impact, turning third-and-longs into first downs, man, does this offense have potential for being incredibly dangerous.

— I’ll have more on G Jonathan Cooper tomorrow after I watch the game again, but I thought he held up OK. He gave up the sack to J.J. Watt, but again, we’re talking about the best defensive player in the league. “I definitely have a lot of room to improve,” Cooper said. “I got those jitters out of the way now.”

Cooper will get better (and thank goodness when he was rolled up on from behind he wasn’t hurt. Cooper said it was the same leg he broke last year. It shouldn’t be a problem but we’ll see in the light of day.

— I’m not sure how this team will sort through its wide receivers. I really believe Walt Powell can play in this league, but he’s stuck behind a solid five of Fitz, Floyd, Ginn, John Brown and Jaron Brown. I mean, Floyd and Ginn didn’t suit up and the passing game didn’t miss a beat.

— Logan Thomas might be that guy Arians talks about when he talks about gamers, because goodness, the Logan Thomas who played against the Texans has not been the guy I’ve noticed on the practice field. Not that Thomas has been bad in camp, but it was his calmness in the pocket that struck me. Maybe Arians and Tom Moore will turn out to be quarterback whisperers. Long, long way to go, of course. But 11-for-12 for 113 yards and a TD? Can’t start much better.

— Because the offense was so crisp it is easy to forget about the defense, but it was solid. “We have to look at the film to be sure,” defensive coordinator Todd Bowles said. “We did some good things. We were out of out depth a few times in the running game. All in all, a good start.”

— Speaking of good starts, rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro couldn’t have been better in his battle to get a job. Boomed kickoffs deep or through the end zone all night, made all three field goals (easily) and three extra points. Jay Feely gets his turn in Minnesota.

That’s it for tonight. I’ll post on the blog tomorrow, and it’s back to practice Monday. We’re only halfway through #CardsCamp.


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Floyd, Ginn sit out Texans game

Posted by Darren Urban on August 9, 2014 – 4:22 pm

Earlier in the week, Bruce Arians said he expected all but center Lyle Sendlein (and the PUP guys) to be available tonight against the Texans in the preseason opener. Turns out it wasn’t quite the case. Wide receivers Michael Floyd (groin) and Ted Ginn (knee) ended up scratches for the game for what I can only expect are minor issues. Sendlein’s bad calf will keep him out, and obviously LB John Abraham (still awaiting to have him show at camp) and PUPers Tyrann Mathieu and Alameda Ta’amu are out.

I don’t think Larry Fitzgerald will play a ton either. I do expect to see a lot of John Brown, Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden.

The Texans did not announce the players they are not expecting to dress tonight.


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Jaron Brown and Friday before the Texans

Posted by Darren Urban on August 8, 2014 – 3:36 pm

It’s been hard not to notice that wide receiver named Brown during training camp. Then again, Jaron Brown has had a year under his belt to know what to do.

Sure, rookie John Brown is the breakout-star-in-the-making. And he’ll be on the roster. Jaron Brown, the 2013 undrafted man out of Clemson, has more of a fight on his hands. But this last week seemed to show that this J. Brown likely ends up on the roster as well. Part of it had to do with prepping for the Texans game, since Jaron will be part of that second group that figures to play a lot Saturday. He definitely has found a rapport with backup quarterback Drew Stanton. It felt like he was making a two to three nice plays a practice (including a couple of nice grabs Thursday, as you can see below). Better yet, Bruce Arians loves the fact that Brown not only plays special teams, but is big and rugged enough at 6-2, 205 to stick his nose in the middle of kickoff coverage.

Jaron Brown had a nice preseason last year as well, which got him on the team. He’s showing up again. Assuming Jaron Brown doesn’t get hurt, he seems to be playing from ahead for that spot on the 53.

— If Jaron Brown looks like the leader for the fifth receiver job, where does that leave others? Brittan Golden hasn’t been bad either, but after the Cardinals added Ted Ginn and John Brown, his speed is less needed. Sixth-round draft pick Walt Powell also has been solid with good hands. Perhaps he’s a practice-squad target. The Cardinals are not going to be able to keep them all.

— The Texans aren’t going to play wide receiver Andre Johnson or running back Arian Foster Saturday. Whether No. 1 overall draft pick Jadaveon Clowney plays seems to be up in the air. Clowney, dealing with an undisclosed injury, seems to think he will start. Texans coach Bill O’Brien refuses to commit to Clowney playing. Who says there’s no drama in the preseason.

— The starters are going to get about 15 plays, maybe two possessions. I would guess it will be determined by the success of the first possession for both sides of the ball. That’ll open up the vast majority of the playing time for the second- and third-units. Logan Thomas is going to play the last chunk of the game, and after his camp thus far — he’s gotten almost all of the third-team reps since camp opened — it’ll be a big test.

— Players to watch in the game? I’ll be curious to see how Bobby Massie looks at right tackle and how John Brown fits. I want to see how guard Jonathan Cooper does against someone who isn’t Calais Campbell. I want to see backup offensive linemen Max Starks — who has an inside track to the roster if he shows well — and Earl Watford. I want to see Justin Bethel at cornerback, Kevin Minter as he begins his starting role and rookies like Deone Bucannon and Kareem Martin on defense.

Mostly, I want to see zero injuries. In the end, that’s really the most important part of the preseason.

— Speaking of preseason, here’s a link to the reminders if you are going to the game. It is a sellout, so it will be televised on local TV, on ABC-15.

— The Cardinals will be off Sunday and back at (open) practice Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

JaronBLOG


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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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A second-half push for the defense

Posted by Darren Urban on November 11, 2013 – 11:59 am

The Cardinals were down 17-14 at halftime Sunday, thanks to the blocked field goal of Justin Bethel on the final play of the second quarter. At that point, linebacker Daryl Washington said, the defense as a unit committed to the idea 17 points was the most it could allow. A lofty goal. But if Rashard Mendenhall doesn’t fumble the ball away late inside the 10 — and if Andre Johnson doesn’t make yet another spectacular toe-tapping touchdown on fourth down for the Texans — the Cardinals’ defense would have pulled it off.

The Texans gained just 41 net yards in the second half and had zero net yards in the third quarter. In the second half, Houston had just three plays of at least 10 yards — two 11-yard passes and an 11-yard run. And in their five wins, the Cardinals — who were down at halftime in four of those games — have allowed just 21 points in the second half. They have 20 turnovers, which is tied for fifth in the league (and it should be higher if Karlos Dansby could hang on to the ball — more on that later today.)

— As of now, Elias is checking out whether John Abraham and not Frostee Rucker should get the late 23-yard sack of Case Keenum. It’s tough to tell on replay if Keenum lost his balance because of Rucker or because he was trying to dive out of the way of Abraham. Even if Abraham “only” ends up with two sacks yesterday, he’s one of only seven players this season with five sacks and three forced fumbles — nice production and exactly what the Cards were hoping for.

— Bethel’s block was the Cards’ 16th blocked field-goal attempt since 2008, by far the best in the NFL. Seattle is second with 10.

— Carson Palmer’s TD pass to Rob Housler was Palmer’s 200th in his career.

— RB Andre Ellington and his 7.19-per-carry rush average remains second in the league behind Oakland QB Terrelle Pryor (7.41) and by far the best running back with at least 50 rushing attempts.


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