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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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Texans aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 10, 2013 – 8:21 pm

Patrick Peterson was shaking his head, unable to fathom even after Sunday’s game how Andre Johnson had made his two touchdown catches. Both were against Peterson but neither were Peterson’s fault as much as Johnson – the Texans’ star receiver – making unreal plays to get a second foot down on the edge of the end zone.

“I thought I played pretty well today,” Peterson said. “I held him to 37 yards, I believe. Just those two touchdowns. He’s an all-pro. He gets paid the big bucks.”

Ultimately, that was the story of Sunday in a nutshell. The Texans got some good plays from their stars. J.J. Watt had a couple of impressive forced fumbles too. But in the end, the Cardinals got more from more people. Bruce Arians called it a “team” win – and most coaches do, and there were parts from everyone. It looked a lot like the other wins the Cards have had, with a defensive bent, no question, but the offense did enough.

And, of course, the Cardinals are 5-4 and going to play Jacksonville on the road.

– There was no way to start the game better than the John Abraham strip-sack that Matt Shaughnessy returned for a touchdown. It didn’t lead to a blowout or anything, but it did underscore what a good signing Abraham is turning out to be. He now has five sacks (and he was pretty close to a few before he got his first three games ago) and is exactly as advertised as a pass rusher.

– There will be much talk – again – about Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington. But guess what? Arians wasn’t down on Mendenhall at all afterward, so there are going to be no changes. He said he thought Mendenhall was down before he fumbled, so the fumble isn’t going to be a black mark. He said he thought Ellington’s work was just fine, and that was after 13 touches (although two more passes were thrown incomplete to Ellington.) Mendenhall had 14 touches for the game.

– It was interesting for a coach like Arians, who said in training camp he didn’t like the wildcat, to use Ellington in the wildcat. Arians said after the game he doesn’t like the wildcat with the QB on the field, and Carson Palmer wasn’t. Ellington was QB for three straight plays. Ran it for five. Ran it for seven. Handed off to Patrick Peterson for a four-yard loss.

– Karlos, Karlos, Karlos. You might be headed to your first Pro Bowl if you could hang on to those near interceptions. There were two more today. Feels like Dansby should have six interceptions already instead of just one.

– Arians said he expected Michael Floyd back next week after he sprained his shoulder, but I want to see that first. With Andre Roberts available, the Cards may not want to push it. It’s too bad, because Floyd was off to a good start Sunday.

– Fitz had three catches for 23 yards on six targets, and it really didn’t mean anything. Don’t know if that’s a good sign or bad.

– Palmer, on the two big plays by Watt: “There are a handful of players you’re not going to stop,” Palmer said. “They’re going to make their plays. It’s inevitable.”

– The Cards got three false starts in the first half. That’s what happens when Watt and company are ready to come. “Guys like (Antonio) Smith and Watt can come off the ball and you are primed up and ready to go,” guard Daryn Colledge said. “Carson is trying to hold (the snap) to help us as safeties are rolling down but we’re primed to go and he’s late in his cadence. There was a perfect storm. We probably could have had more than that. I think pretty much every offensive linemen at some point is pretty much just holding on to the grass.”

– Justin Bethel should be in the Pro Bowl. And that field-goal block was a life saver.


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Join the conversation – #HOUvsAZ

Posted by since1898 on November 10, 2013 – 1:00 pm

Daryl Washington

BACK TO #since1898


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Cards’ D tops and Sunday’s inactives

Posted by Darren Urban on November 10, 2013 – 12:56 pm

We interrupt the normal gameday inactives post — because there are no surprises on it following the bye week — to note the Cardinals’ defense, coming into the weekend, were the top defense in the NFL based on footballoutsiders.com’s DVOA rankings. The DVOA rankings are in many ways better than the NFL rankings because it takes into account so much more than just yards. (DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, balancing a team against the league average and multiple categories). FO says the Cards’ strength of schedule plays a factor, as does the turnovers (although DVOA doesn’t give a ton of credit for fumble recoveries, because those tend to be the luck of the bounce) and the fact the Cards do well defending on second- and third-downs. Something to chew on going into today’s game.

Speaking of today’s game, the (not surprising) inactive list. Bradley Sowell will start as usual at left tackle, Jake Ballard gets a spin at some tight end:

– WR Brittan Golden (hamstring)

– QB Ryan Lindley

– RB Ryan Williams

– LB Dontay Moch

–G Earl Watford

– TE Kory Sperry

– DE Ronald Talley


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Friday before the Texans

Posted by Darren Urban on November 8, 2013 – 3:53 pm

“I don’t know how they are 2 and 6.”

Larry Fitzgerald said that about the Texans this week. Coach Bruce Arians said something similar. Normally, eh. Players and coaches are always going to say nice things about the opponent, lest bulletin board material be uttered. But this is a week where that seems to make a little sense. The Texans have the top-ranked defense in the NFL. They have the top-ranked pass defense. They have a top 10 offense. Those things don’t usually add up to 2-6 as a record.

But it is the cracks in the armor that put the Cards in a good position coming off the bye. Those stats don’t translate into wins because the Texans don’t generate a lot of turnovers. They have a hard time stopping teams from scoring touchdowns once they get into the red zone. They’ve managed to give up a lot of points when they are playing offense (although a quarterback change has helped that) and their special teams aren’t very good.

Add in a missing head coach who also happens to be the team’s play caller, and the Cardinals seem to be set up for an opportunity coming off the bye.

– Texans quarterback Case Keenum has played very well since taking over for Matt Schaub. But for an inexperienced guy, it just feels like there will be a bump coming sooner rather than later. That could be Sunday. The Cards do a nice job against the run and tend (unless you have an athletic tight end) not to get beat deep. Keenum likes to throw the deep ball. I just have this feeling that will get him into trouble this week.

– That will obviously mean Patrick Peterson will be on display, especially since he will be chasing Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson much of the game. Johnson went off for 229 yards and three touchdowns last week. The spotlight will be on both. Peterson hasn’t given up a touchdown pass since Week 3 in New Orleans, when he was beat late on a Jimmy Graham slant. Profootballfocus.com says that Peterson has been targeted 48 times in eight games by opposing passes, and he has allowed a completion on only 50 percent of those throws.

– Cardinals tackle Eric Winston not only played with Johnson in Houston, but also in college at Miami. “Andre is that specimen-athlete-type guy,” Winston said. “He looks at a weight and he puts on weight. At Miami we made him stop coming to the weight room because he got too heavy. He ate McDonalds every day and had two percent body fat.”

– Jake Ballard will be active this week. I do not expect him to be a revelation at tight end, but the Cards hope he can show a little bit as he works back into the game following so much time off.

– Rashard Mendenhall will start. Not a big deal. Andre Ellington should get his touches. That is a big deal.

– I expect Bradley Sowell to start at left tackle. Watching how the Cardinals deal with J.J. Watt, however, is going to be a line-wide job. Can they hold him off? That run game (the Texans are just 18th against the run) is going to be so important in making that pass rush hesitate at least a little.

– Saw Jonathan Cooper this morning in the weight room. The rookie guard still has a boot on his foot but was doing some dumbbell work. A good sign as he slowly progresses in his rehab.

– Heads up for anyone going to the game Sunday. Not only is the football game going on, but there is a concert at Jobing.com Arena and then the annual NASCAR November race at PIR. Traffic is expected to be heavier than normal on the 101 and around the stadium. Be prepared and give yourself extra time. Parking lots open at 10 a.m. – remember, with the rest of the country changing clocks, kickoff this weekend is now 2:25 p.m.

– And in case you missed it, the Cardinals will be wearing their black jerseys.

– As we wrap this up, I found this Karlos Dansby video very entertaining (now the world sees what I have known for a while, how Los repeats your question.) His one comment might be the quote of the year: “Batman, man, he’s gonna have problems. He’s gonna have issues.”

See you Sunday.


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