Coming Up


Texans aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2016 – 7:45 pm

The preseason is over, essentially. The fourth preseason game is Thursday, but the main players will likely sit it out. So the Cardinals will go into the Patriots opener (assuming nothing happens bad in a practice) fairly healthy, with their quarterback ready. Did they accomplish everything they wanted in three preseason games? No. But I’m guessing, had Carson Palmer not thrown that last interception and the offense would have kept moving the ball as they were on that drive and they got at least a field goal, that would’ve been that.

Instead, there is concern with the fan base — as there has been — and little inside the team — as it has been.

Judgment is coming. Once the games count for real, we’ll see exactly how ready the Cardinals are. In the meantime:

— Nothing official on cornerback Mike Jenkins and his injury, but he was in a giant brace in the locker room and his mood hadn’t improved from when he was taken off the field. He had a chance to be a factor in the secondary configuration but that seems unlikely now. Bruce Arians said Justin Bethel was just rusty in his preseason debut but Bethel doesn’t have a lot of time to get up to speed either. Assuming Jenkins is down, the question is, will there be a cornerback the Cardinals want and can find after final cuts?

— The running backs all looked good. Every single one of them.

— Brittan Golden was down with his bad hamstring but he played well Sunday. The end of the wide receiver depth chart will be interesting. Golden probably would have an edge on Chris Hubert because of special teams. But will the Cards keep more than five receivers?

— D.J. Humphries seemed like he had his best overall game of the preseason. At least to someone who was watching out of the corner of his eye.

— The new thing to do is to complain about backup quarterback Drew Stanton, apparently. Not sure why. I thought he played better Sunday, and regardless, he’s not going anywhere.

— Bruce Arians insists that most of the tipped ball interceptions were more fluky than anything, and that Palmer is making the right reads.

— Chandler Jones got his first sack as a Cardinal, at least in the preseason. Stopped a potential TD drive when the Cards had been getting little pressure before that.

That’s all from Houston. Arians will speak to the media before practice tomorrow, and at some point, we’ll hear about the first cuts. The preseason is almost over. Thankfully.

Cardinals Texans Football

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Fitzgerald, Mathieu, Peterson to sit out Texans

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2016 – 12:57 pm

Earlier this week, Tyrann Mathieu talked about being “mindful” of his health, weighing it against whether playing in the preseason was important enough to trump where he was in his rehab. The reality is, for many starters, playing in the preseason simply doesn’t overrule health (right, Tony Romo?)

There is no official “not-expected-to-play” list but three key Cardinals — Mathieu, CB Patrick Peterson and WR Larry Fitzgerald — all are in street clothes and not in uniform and they won’t be playing today. Mathieu, of course, is coming back from his ACL tear. Fitzgerald has been dealing with a minor MCL sprain and said this week he just wants to be ready for Sept. 11 against the Patriots. Fitzgerald was out in early warmups — helmet on, which is rare for any player at that time of the pregame — catching passes, and was moving around fine. This feels precautionary.

Not sure what Peterson’s issue is, if any. He did have his foot/ankle taped during Friday’s final practice so perhaps that is a factor, although he looked OK. In any case, it opens the door for the three cornerbacks battling for the other starting job — Brandon Williams, Mike Jenkins and Justin Bethel — to get important work. It’s unknown how much Bethel will play coming off PUP. Jenkins has yet to play in a preseason game himself because of his broken hand.

WR John “Smokey” Brown, coming back slowly from his concussion, also isn’t dressed, as is RB Kerwynn Williams. Not sure of his injury, although he was watched carefully by RB coach Stump Mitchell and trainers Tom Reed and Chad Cook early before the game.

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Friday before the Texans, as #CardsCamp ends

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2016 – 4:11 pm

Training camp is over. Bruce Arians was happy with it and major injuries were avoided (although Arians was a little incredulous that was brought up Friday.) Now they head to Houston for the third preseason game against the Texans as the offense in particular tries to have a consistent outing.

First, though, a look back at camp. Arians said the only starting job still undecided is the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson. That means, barring someone from the outside, both D.J. Humphries and A.Q. Shipley have solidified their jobs as right tackle and center, respectively. As for the cornerback, it feels like it’ll be tough for Bethel or Mike Jenkins to dislodge Brandon Williams unless it comes quickly. Jenkins would have to completely outplay the others to get the nod, because if it’s close, the Cards figure to go young when they can.

It was a long camp, but there was the week in San Diego, and we’ll see if Arians can make good on his wish to practice against two different teams in training camp 2017. But that’s a long way off.

— Arians said there were no surprises other than the guys already talked about. That includes wide receiver Chris Hubert, tight end Troy Niklas, Jenkins of late, even rookie guard Cole Toner, who held up when he took first team reps during those days when Mike Iupati and Antoine McClain were hurt.

— Speaking of which, here are’s “awards” for training camp.

— Fourth-string QB Jake Coker, who has struggled in practice, won’t make the trip to Houston because of a sore knee. But Arians indicated Coker will make the first round of cuts Monday since he said Coker would be back for the Broncos’ game next week. Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton will get the chunk of the work against the Texans. We’ll see how much Matt Barkley does to finish up.

— Arians guesstimated there are about eight roster spots not yet determined, for about 20 different players. Not sure if that includes the very specific long-snapper job, for which Cam Kanaday and Daniel Dillon remain close.

— Palmer, talking about the length of the four-game preseason: “I’m torn on it.”

“You need those games to see who you want on your team,” Palmer said. {You can’t just do it in practice. It has to be in live tackling situations and special teams and all those things.”

The fourth game against Denver, of course, will have most of the Cardinals’ key players sitting out altogether. That’s why the Texans game looms large for the main players on the roster in terms of a tune-up.

— Earl Watford, who banged up his knee pretty good a couple of weeks ago, has been back at practice. His is an important situation, because he figures to make the team as the sixth offense lineman, able to play any position when he is active on game day. Arians said he wants to see Watford have one more “solid week” of practice, especially at tackle. Why is that important? Because there is still a chance it will be Watford who would be the replacement tackle if Veldheer or Humphries gets hurt.

— Anxious to see Robert Nkemdiche in his first game Sunday. He can be good, it looks like. How quickly he can be good is up to him.


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No rush for “mindful” Tyrann Mathieu

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2016 – 8:38 am

All along, Tyrann Mathieu has preached patience.

The safety has been encouraged with his progress coming back from his ACL tear, and still hopes to be on the field when the Cardinals play the Patriots Sept. 11. But as good as Mathieu has done in practice, he is clearly cautious.

“I wouldn’t say I’m ready to play a full game,” Mathieu said. “I still feel like I have a ways to go.”

Mathieu recently estimated himself around 80 percent, and this summer, talked about how he wanted to be 100 percent before playing, with a nod to how much he struggled at the outset of the 2014 season when he was coming off another (albeit much worse) ACL tear. Coach Bruce Arians said there is still a chance for the PUP guys — Mathieu, cornerback Justin Bethel and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker — could play in Houston Sunday. As for Mathieu in particular, he is “not necessarily cutting it loose” in practice, Arians said. “I’d like to see him in game action, but that doesn’t mean I have to see him.”

Listening to Mathieu, an appearance now seems doubtful. Realistically, this would be the one opportunity — it’s hard to imagine someone at the top of the roster playing in the fourth preseason game, much less someone coming off a significant injury.

“Your passion tends to override being mindful of where you are at in your recovery,” Mathieu said. “As long as I stay mindful of that, as long as people around me stay mindful of that, I think I’ll be all right.”

UPDATE: Mathieu did not practice Friday, but Arians said he expected the three PUP players to play “10, maximum 12 plays.”



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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’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:


— 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


— 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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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