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Whiz talks tackles, playing time

Posted by Darren Urban on August 20, 2012 – 12:24 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt is planning for the first-unit offensive line to start the second half in Tennessee Thursday night. That’ll give more time for work at left tackle — D.J. Young will start as expected there but D’Anthony Batiste (who will start at right tackle) will slide over there for some time as well. Whisenhunt also talked about the possibility of someone else coming in later to play tackle — there is no question the free-agent market is in play here.

The playing time thing also means that John Skelton will get many more snaps — Whiz wants to even things out after Skelton played little last week. (UPDATE: Although after further review, Skelton has played 33 snaps, Kolb 32 thus far). But Whisenhunt repeated — again — he doesn’t have a timetable for making a call on the starting QB and it might not come before the final preseason game. “I don’t think there’s any pressure” to do it next week, Whisenhunt said.

— Whiz was pleased with how Ryan Williams looked at running back (eight snaps total) and he will play more this week. It depends on how much/if Beanie Wells plays this week, although Wells is expected to be out there.

— Running back William Powell has “gotten your attention,” Whiz said. It will be interesting to see if Powell can make a real push for a roster spot.

— Whiz still wants to cut down on defensive penalties. Offensively, he’s happy there hasn’t been a lot of questions about the run game. He took that to mean the run game has been good, and I would agree at this point — especially with limited Williams and no Wells so far.


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Before 2012, a glance at 2013 opponents

Posted by Darren Urban on July 17, 2012 – 1:22 pm

Yes, yes, I know I am early. Way early. But as long as the info is out there — and while we still have a little bit before we get to training camp — here is a look at who the Cardinals’ opponents will be for the 2013 season.

HOME

— Indianapolis (Andrew Luck!)

— Carolina (Cam Newton!)

— Houston (Arian Foster.)

— Atlanta (Roddy White?)

— NFC North team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings

— and of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.

AWAY

— New Orleans

— Tampa Bay

— Jacksonville

— Tennessee

— NFC East team that matches Cards’ spot in 2012 standings

— and, of course, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco.

I was going to do a little analysis, but then I realized how foolish that was this far out.


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Cards reportedly talking Kansas City practice

Posted by Darren Urban on June 1, 2012 – 11:11 pm

There has been some “mention” of the Cardinals spending some time in Kansas City and practicing against the Chiefs early in training camp, according to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel. The Cardinals play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 — a Sunday night — and will play at Arrowhead Stadium the following Friday night. The Cards could go to Kansas City early. “I’m not opposed to it,” Crennel said. The athletic director of Missouri Western State University acknowledged Cards’ decision makers had visited the campus to evaluate the facilities. That story emphasized nothing yet had been decided and talks were only in the early stages.

It wouldn’t be unprecedented for the Cardinals to make such a choice in camp. In 2010, the Cardinals played in Nashville against the Titans and then stayed in the city to have a practice against the Titans before flying directly to Chicago for their next preseason game against the Bears.

At this point, the only portion of the training camp schedule the Cards have released is report day of July 24 and a practice on July 25. The full camp schedule usually is announced in late June.


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Looking for answers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2010 – 3:27 pm

“You want answers?”

“I think I’m entitled.”

“You want answers?!?”

“I WANT THE TRUTH!”

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

I’m not so sure that sequence (man, I love that movie) could fit any better into the place everyone is right now with the Cardinals’ quarterbacks. I know in a lot of ways my head is ready to explode.

So I got a tweet this afternoon from @mbodmer: “@Cardschatter put yourself out there. what happens week 1. 1-3 and PS qb’s. give us something real.” OK, something real. Well, reality is this – I don’t think the Cardinals know for sure what that’s going to look like 10 days from now. I’m not sure how I am supposed to figure it out.

I’m not going to lie, and anyone who has read my stuff knows this anyway: I thought all along Matt Leinart would at least start the season under center. I suppose that can still happen. He will have Beanie Wells behind him at running back for the first time in Chicago barring something unforeseen, so maybe that helps in some way. But clearly, had Leinart played the way the Cards were hoping, Derek Anderson would not be starting against the Bears. I can still see a scenario where Leinart plays against the Rams Sept. 12, and obviously, I can see Anderson playing as well.

But this has gone further than who starts. It’s also about who is on the roster.

Let’s just take today’s news/speculation and extrapolate it out. Let’s say Anderson becomes the permanent starter. Do you try to trade Leinart? Release him? It makes for easy decisions on John Skelton and Max Hall – they’d stay, of course – but where does that leave you? Let’s say Anderson falters or gets hurt. Are you riding with Hall – who was, despite looking pretty decent in camp, is still undrafted and most certainly unproven? Skelton, who is even more raw than Hall?

Another scenario is Anderson starting in front of Leinart, and keeping a young guy (and making the other young guy on the practice squad). Can Leinart handle, especially mentally, being a backup again? Can the Cards get either Hall or Skelton to the practice squad?

(Quick aside: It’s not necessarily easy to get a guy through to the practice squad, but it’s not easy to take a guy either. Don’t forget, it’s not like another team could take Hall or Skelton and put him on its practice squad. They’d have to put him on their active roster.)

Or, of course, the Cards could keep four QBs. But on a team with depth issues in spots, losing a valuable roster spot to a player who would always be inactive and would have a hard time getting practice reps with three other QBs just seems difficult to do.

The answer, for me, is that there is no answer. Not now, not with two preseason games and a couple weeks before the first game. I could be off base, but I don’t think I am. Coach Ken Whisenhunt probably wishes everything was set in stone, but he said today it wasn’t and, given the circumstances, that makes sense to me. Things change quickly — just ask this guy (below) that was at the Titans’ game. That’s the truth, whether you choose to handle it or not.


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Over at the Titans’ facility …

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2010 – 4:48 pm

Just got back from the Cards’ practice with the Titans. There will be a story up in a bit, but I have to say, it was cleaner than I expected — no scuffles at all. But it was still interesting. Unfortunately, with three fields, each team’s offense was taking on the opposing defense simultaneously on the two outside fields, so you had to pick and choose what battles to watch. Given the circumstances, I watched more of the Cards’ offense. The offensive line versus the Titans’ defensive line was fun to see. It’s clear the Cards have some nasty cusses on the second unit — Rex Hadnot (pictured below in a one-on-one battle), Deuce Lutui and Jeremy Bridges — who like to stir things up. That always lends itself to intensity.

Some quick other notes from today:

— The injury list was expected — WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee), WR Early Doucet (abdomen), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP), TE Ben Patrick (knee) and WR Andre Roberts (shoulder). LB Will Davis left during practice after aggravating his right knee bruise, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will be OK.

— Greg Toler was running with the first unit at CB with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he had told me earlier in the day there would be some shuffling. Whether that is “permanent” (which is a term that must be used loosely this time of year) or not, we will see. I also notice rookie NT Dan Williams getting a couple of first-unit snaps, but I didn’t see enough of the defense to know if that meant anything, or if it was just a sub-package or maybe veteran Bryan Robinson was just getting a blow.

— Max Hall did run with the second unit at the end of the two-minute drill, but only after Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson each got some work. Hall could have (should have?) had a TD pass at the end, but a pass was slightly tipped, changing trajectory a little for WR Ed Gant, who had the ball bounce off his upper chest. Hall threw a nice long TD earlier to Stephen Williams during 7-on-7.

— No, during my time watching the QBs, I didn’t see anything much noteworthy from Leinart or Anderson, not to add to the chaos of a story right now.

— The Cards practice one more time tomorrow at Vanderbilt, and fly to Chicago Friday.


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Titans aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2010 – 11:29 pm

Obviously, the storyline coming out of Monday night’s game is the quarterbacks. It’s always the quarterbacks.

There’s nothing I can write to convince people who already believe Leinart is an epic fail that’s it could be otherwise. He connects with Stephen Williams on that bomb down the field – and Williams was easily open – everything is different. Leinart has his one bomb, the Cards move the ball a little, etc. But that didn’t happen, and it’s fair to argue it was on Leinart to get the ball there (coach Ken Whisenhunt did note Williams didn’t run the greatest route).

So where does that leave the Cards – and by extension, us?

Probably right where we were before. My guess is the Cards will break down the tape, see the Titans bringing the house (and Leinart under heavy pressure nearly every play), see the running game providing no support, and figure with a better game plan, Leinart would have been OK. Had Derek Anderson been awesome perhaps that’d change the dynamic, but aside from Anderson’s 37-yard pass to Williams – which was a nice pass – Anderson had a lot of the same issues and Leinart.

All I know is that I’m happy there is another game relatively quickly. Nothing been decided yet, and it takes games to push that progress.

Among the other things here late in Nashville:

— The defense looked solid early, forcing two three-and-outs to start the game. They just want to continue that. “It was decent, the thing is, the coaching staff was expecting us to sustain that passion we were playing with,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “I thought we did pretty well, but we have to do it every series.”

On the next drive, safety Kerry Rhodes took a bad angle on the Titans’ first big pass play (30 yards) and CB Trumaine McBride was beat on the next play for 28 yards, setting up the first TD. Still, the Cards are probably generally happy with where the defense is right now, especially when – again – game-planning is at a minimum.

— Linebacker Daryl Washington didn’t flash as much as the first preseason game. Who did? LaRod Stephens-Howling had some nice runs and he continues to look like a Pro Bowl special teamer. I thought linebacker Stevie Baggs made some plays, and the fact he afterward was lamenting the few assignments he missed is a good sign of focusing on getting better.

— I am interested in seeing what the analysis is on the offensive line. Very difficult to see what was happening since the Titans were bringing the kitchen sink early on. I don’t know what the assignments were or who was supposed to block who, but Tim Hightower lost four yards on his first three carries. One replay showed tackle Levi Brown looking to block someone but, given the circumstances, he couldn’t get his hands on anyone. Again, as Whisenhunt said, there were opportunities but the Cards couldn’t execute.

“This is the time of year where (coaches) are going to look to see who will win the one-on-one battles,” center Lyle Sendlein said. “When they are blitzing people, us up front, everyone has a man they have to block. Outside, you have to win routes and the running backs have to pick up players and the quarterback has to get the ball out.”

— Finally, the leap of Lavelle Hawkins over cornerback Marshay Green was ESPN’s top play of the night, but man, it’s hard to get on Green. It’s not like Marshay dove at the guy’s ankles and Hawkins went over. Green actually came almost all the way up on his 5-foot-10-ish frame and Hawkins still cleared him (Sure, Green could have extended his arms for the trip, but I’m trying to stay positive here). It was just a great individual effort. And made for a nice picture.

Talk to you tomorrow. (Today?)


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Cards-Titans practice should be open

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2010 – 1:47 pm

I have had a few people ask me about the Cardinals’ practices in Nashville this coming week and whether the public can watch. The practice Wednesday against the Titans at the Titans’ facility at Baptist Sports Park (460 Great Circle Rd.) is expected to be open. That practice is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. local time. Now, I don’t know what form the practice will take or if the players will be signing any autographs like they had in Flagstaff, but at least it will be a chance to see them. The practice Thursday at Vanderbilt is a closed affair.


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Early will rest, battling the Titans and other stuff

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2010 – 1:02 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked at lunch (it’s weird having so few morning practices, like again today). Among the topics:

— Wide receiver Early Doucet only has a “slim” chance at playing in Tennessee with his sore abdomen. Whiz said the Cards are just being cautious, and are going to be even more so with Larry Fitzgerald (knee) on the shelf. “Early could push through but you don’t know the long-term ramifications,” Whisenhunt said. “Our job is to make sure the main three guys (Fitz, Doucet and Steve Breaston) are available for the regular season.”

— Whisenhunt said after further review, he felt Wednesday night’s practice wasn’t bad. The Cards were throwing things in defensively that the offense hadn’t seen, he said, which was one of the reasons the defense was ahead. He also intentionally made things tougher for the offense. “It was a much better practice on tape than what the feel was,” Whisenhunt acknowledged.

— The Cards have three games in 11 days starting Monday, but Whisenhunt said it won’t be a huge deal. He did say it was important the team was staying in Nashville after the Tennessee game since the team wouldn’t have gotten back until the wee hours of Tuesday and then would have had to fly right back out three days later.

— The Cards are tentatively scheduled to practice with the Titans next Wednesday in the late afternoon in Tennessee and then have their own practice Thursday starting in the late morning.

— Whiz noted wide receiver Mike Jones made a couple of plays Wednesday night and it will be interesting to see, assuming Doucet is out with Fitz, if Jones can make any headway on the depth chart. Whiz wouldn’t commit to Stephen Williams running first unit in the Titans’ game either, saying he wanted to see where Ed Gant was in his recovery from a bad foot.


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Back in Flag one more time

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2010 – 8:54 am

The Cardinals begin their final week of training camp in Flagstaff today. It’s a longer stretch — the final practice is Saturday morning, because the team doesn’t have its next preseason game until ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” telecast in Tennessee a week from today. Anway, here’s hoping the rain stays away.

Here are some points to touch on this morning:

— Around noon or 12:30, Matt Leinart speaks for the first time since he played Saturday night (by now, you’ve heard he didn’t meet with the media after the Texans game; he said it was a misunderstanding).

— If you are planning on coming up this week, keep an eye on the practice schedule. Things can change. Already, the Wednesday morning workout has been closed to the public, leaving just one morning practice — Friday — left to watch. And Wednesday has a night practice and not an afternoon workout. Because there aren’t morning practices, news — like injuries — are going to come late afternoon. Coach Ken Whisenhunt usually doesn’t volunteer such things.

— I am planning on doing a live chat Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. I’ll go at least an hour and maybe a little more depending on the questions. I will link to the page tomorrow.

— And the plan is to have a new podcast taped tomorrow morning too.

Kurt Warner is going to do a few games for FOX as a color analyst. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t end up doing at least one Cardinals’ game. (Oops. Guess I should read all the way through the story I link to; Warner will be calling the Cardinals-Saints game Oct. 10).

— After the Titans’ game, the Cards, as you know, will spend the week in Nashville and go directly from there to Chicago for the third preseason game five days later (The Bears? In Chicago for the third preseason game? Who treats the third game of the preseason like it’s *@&%@%! *@&%@%!). Obviously there will be much more on that trip later.


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Cards spending preseason week in Nashville

Posted by Darren Urban on June 18, 2010 – 10:43 am

Yeah, about not writing at all on vacation …

The Cardinals are going a road trip in the preseason. Not Flagstaff, and not just for a game. Because the Cards play in Nashville on an ESPN Monday night game and because the team’s next game is in Chicago the following Saturday, coach Ken Whisenhunt has decided to spend the week after the Titans’ game in Nashville. The team will work out at Vanderbilt University after the MNF game and then leave Friday for Chicago. There is a chance the team could end up practicing a day or two against the Titans, but that’s still undecided. The trip itself, which has been percolating for a while, is not.

It’s not the first time Whiz and the Cards have done such a thing, spending a week in a town before a game. There was the infamous week in Virginia back in early 2008, when the Cards lost to the Redskins and then lost to the Jets in the Anquan-Boldin-breaks-his-face game. They did it again a few months later in Tampa, for a little thing they call the Super Bowl.

Normally, Flagstaff training camp would be over by then anyway (and Aug. 21 looks like the wrap-up date). Not sure off the top what the weather is like in Nashville in late August, but it’s probably going to be different than the 107 degrees in Tempe.

The season seems so close already.


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