Drew Stanton spent last season working with Bruce Arians and his offense in Indianapolis, so he’s been ahead of the curve when it comes to learning the playbook. Arians also likes how Stanton (below with assistant head coach Tom Moore) has been able to help out starter Carson Palmer, with the coach noting he has long used a reserve quarterback as a coaching aid. Charlie Batch, the long-time third-stringer in Pittsburgh, was that guy for Arians when he was with the Steelers.
“Sometimes as a coach you can tell a guy over and over and over,” Arians said. “But when a player tells him, they get it. I saw that with Charlie Batch and Ben (Roethlisberger). Whenever I wanted Ben to get something, I said, ‘Charlie, tell him to do this.’ I’d always cuss Charlie out for Ben. So Drew, he’s used to it too.”
Stanton laughed when told Arians might have him absorb some of the coach’s wrath for another player’s sake. Sometimes, that’s the role you play.
“I think it starts with BA wearing a lot of different hats and he has a lot of different responsibilities on his plate,” Stanton said. “But I think being in the system last year, I kind of already know what he wants, what he expects out of certain things. Especially me being out there and being able to still see it, I can see it through Carson’s eyes. So when we talk we’re speaking the same language as well. If I can relate one thing, flip one thing and relate it to a different protection or something, I think it allows (Carson) to digest it easier.”
Stanton could have a lot riding on him this season. Not only is he helping decipher the offense, he might be the only thing between the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson at quarterback should Palmer get hurt if Arians goes with only two QBs.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Tom Moore
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Daryn Colledge cut his hair this offseason. He said his face got a little lonely, so he’s decided to grow a beard. He had a beard when he played for the Packers when they won a Super Bowl. Foreshadowing? Colledge wouldn’t mind it.
“I’ve always been a facial hair aficionado kind of guy,” Colledge said. “It’s one of those things where I cut all of my hair off my head for the heat and I got lonely. I thought I’d grow the beard out this year and now that I’m injured I got to leave it on. I don’t even got time to shave anymore with all the treatment I got. I might just let it go the whole season we’ll see where it goes. The last time I grew my beard out I won a championship with Green Bay and maybe we can use this as a catapult this year.”
The Super Bowl is, after all, in New Jersey this season — outdoors — so …
“When you hold a cold-weather Super Bowl like this year you’ve got to plan ahead of time,” Colledge said. “So maybe I’m just getting ready for what I expect this team to be able to do this year.”
– Colledge, by the way, should only be out a couple more days, coach Bruce Arians said. That’s good, because Arians also said Paul Fanaika could challenge for that right guard starting role. Colledge has never missed a game on any level, so he’d rather not miss the Packers preseason game.
– RB Rashard Mendenhall is dealing with patella tendinitis and will rest at practice today. Arians has no concern about Mendenhall’s issue and he is expected back Monday. RB Ryan Williams, with his knee issues, is going to be back “maybe after Green Bay, hopefully before Green Bay.” DE Everrette Thompson has an arm injury and will miss a practice or two. No other changes on the injury front, he said.
– That makes it tough on the running backs. No question that Stepfan Taylor, Andre Ellington and Alfonso Smith are getting plenty of reps these days.
– Much more about Patrick Peterson-on-offense to come, but Peterson said he has no problem taking the extra reps and Arians said it was natural to want to use Peterson on offense in a package that has already grown to 15 plays or so. “You think, ‘Hmm, that’s a lot of weapon sitting next to me.’ “
– Arians was happy about his offensive showing in practice Friday. “The light went on offensively for a lot of guys,” he said.
– The Cardinals have a lot more reps in practice than other teams might, Arians said, although more teams have added reps and tempo now that the CBA prevents more than one practice a day. “When you had an afternoon practice and a morning practice you split it up,” Arians said. “We’re trying to get a two-a-day practice (work) in a one-a-day practice with the reps we’re getting.
The Cards do a lot of 11-on-11 work. “Coach (Bear) Bryant used to call it ‘country coaching,’ ” Arians said. ” ‘Let’s go out and scrimmage because we only have 22 guys so let’s play football.’ I think you can become a smarter football team that way.”
– Arians, always good with the soundbites, had this to say of why he likes having assistant head coach Tom Moore around: “Two things: I look young, and I have someone who has been there and done it.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Daryn Colledge, Everrette Thompson, Patrick Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams, Stepfan Taylor, Tom Moore
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Cardinals VP of Media Relations with a great nugget on Assistant Head Coach Tom Moore.
— MarkDalton (@CardsMarkD) July 23, 2013
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, National Football League, NFL, Tom Moore
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Last year, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts had a breakout season not coincidentally, he believed, after attending Larry Fitzgerald’s Minnesota workouts (where Shorts also decided to swim for the first time in the lake behind Fitz’s house, FYI). He noted recently that Fitz “works like he is broke.” So, after an offseason of change in which Fitzgerald for the first time is trying to learn three receiver positions so coach Bruce Arians can move him around more, Fitzgerald was asked Thursday exactly why he’d work like that.
“This last year would be enough to drive anybody over the edge,” Fitzgerald said. “I just don’t ever want a repeat of what happened last year. You put that kind of stuff on tape, it’s hard to keep a job.”
There were some laughs in Fitz’s impromptu, I’m-about-to-leave-until-camp-so-ask-what-you-need press conference. But talking about last year, and talking about why Fitz hasn’t talked a ton this offseason, Fitzgerald was definitely serious.
“It’s ‘Prove it’ for me,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not about the talking and the soundbites. It’s about getting back to the level of play I am accustomed to, and the level of play everybody is accustomed to.”
That apparently is starting, via Arians and assistant head coach Tom Moore, with moving Fitzgerald all over the place. That has made this offseason uncomfortable for Fitz. He’s played one spot since high school. Coaches have moved him in motion, but he’s never really lined up in the slot or in other facets of the passing game. Arians made it clear that was going to change, and Arians had huge success doing it with Reggie Wayne a year ago. The goal is obviously to make sure Fitzgerald doesn’t have another 71-catch, 798-yard season like 2012.
“Do you want 100 balls? If you want 100 balls, move around,” Arians said. “If they know where you are at it’s easier to take you out of your game. Reggie bought in right away last year and Larry is buying in now. It’s hard because when you are a veteran of their stature, you don’t like making mistakes. You get embarrassed. You have to put that behind you and learn multiple positions.”
There have been moments, especially earlier in the offseason, when Arians got on Fitzgerald during practice. Fitz, save for the Todd Haley years, rarely heard such things on the practice field. Now, that was mostly because he was so very good at what he did. He’s learning all over again.
“I’m a bit of a creature of habit,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve played the same position since I was a junior in high school, I’ve never had to move around, and I’ve gotten good at it. I think we all resist change to a certain degree, especially if you have had a little success. But as I have gone through these offseason workouts I have definitely become more receptive of it.
“Coach Arians has a wealth of knowledge with the defense that will be thrown at us and he tells me there will be a lot more opportunities to make plays inside and it will give my teammates like Andre Roberts and Michael (Floyd) and Rob Housler and guys like that better matchups as well. It’s not all about me, it’s about making this team go.”
As much as Fitzgerald will help Carson Palmer, he too can learn something from Palmer, who threw to a couple of pretty good receivers in Chad Johnson/Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Moore has backgrounds with Peyton Manning, Wayne and Marvin Harrison, along with Steelers Hall-of-Famers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. Fitzgerald is hoping that knowledge comes in handy and was frequently talking with Moore prior to workouts this entire offseason.
Make no mistake, one of the reasons Fitzgerald was so salty about last year was the drop in his production. The losses were the biggest reason, but Fitzgerald wants to be considered one of the best and that’s tough when you aren’t even reaching 800 yards. If there are ways to avoid that again, Fitzgerald will buy in. He’ll work as if he’s broke — which is most certainly is far, far from — and figure out new positions. He’ll probably mention to Palmer too that single coverage means get Fitz the ball — just not right now.
“I’m too busy trying to learn where I’ve got to be and figure out my assignments,” Fitzgerald said. “Once I have that down, then I’ll try to get in his ear a little bit.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Cecil Shorts, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Tom Moore
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Bruce Arians was planning on seeing recuperating QBs coach Freddie Kitchens in the hospital Thursday afternoon, as the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013 OTAs earlier in the day. Kitchens, of course, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday night to fix his aorta. Arians said he received a text from Kitchens’ wife Ginger that Freddie “took a lap down to X-ray and walked back and was breathing fine” Thursday morning. Doctors took the tube out of Kitchens last night, and while it was a rough night, Kitchens was doing much better today.
“Something just didn’t seem right,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, echoing the thoughts of fellow QB Drew Stanton. “Freddie is about a tough of a guy as you are going to meet. We had the trainers come and look at him. Freddie is lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.
“We’ve just been praying and thanking God that he’s doing better … The first thing I thought of was his wife Ginger. She had to fly across the continent and I can’t imagine how scared she was.”
– As for the team in the meantime, assistant head coach Tom Moore (talking to the quarterbacks, below, Wednesday) is taking Kitchens’ spot for now. Moore has been a integral part of the quarterbacks’ learning curve up until this point anyway. “He’ll keep the seat warm until Freddie gets back,” Arians said.
– OTAs are over. The Cardinals have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week (with Fan Fest at the outset on Tuesday) before the vets scatter for the summer. The rookies will stick around a little longer.
– Arians said next week’s goal is just to “continue” and “watching the little mistakes disappear.” The offense is “97, 98 percent done.” The defense “might add a blitz or two.” Arians joked that the Cards worked on taking a safety during today’s workout and “usually that’s the end of training camp.”
– Arians was asked if he had any concerns about the struggles of Levi Brown in the past. Once again, Arians backed up his left tackle.
“I don’t really care (of Brown’s past),” Arians said. “I don’t care about anybody. You start with a new slate. It’s what you do now.”
Arians reiterated he sees Brown as “elite” when he is playing well. And there is little question Arians doesn’t use the term lightly when you consider how important he sees the position.
“If you have to protect your left tackle all the time you’re really game planning with one hand behind your back,” Arians said. “You can find guys who can run and catch, you can find guys who can play in the middle. But left tackle and quarterback, God makes them.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Fan Fest, Freddie Kitchens, Levi Brown, Tom Moore
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Quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens had to leave Tuesday’s OTA when he wasn’t feeling well. Turned out he had a defect in his aorta that needed surgery. Kitchens is doing well this morning. Here is the team’s official statement:
“During Tuesday’s practice Freddie Kitchens began to feel ill – dizzy, light-headed – and was sent to the training room. After being evaluated by the team’s medical staff it was determined that he should be taken to the hospital for more evaluation and testing. During that process, a CT scan revealed a defect to his aorta that required surgery, which he had Tuesday night at the Arizona Heart Institute. According to the doctors who performed the surgery, it went very well and the early prognosis is positive. The Kitchens family is grateful to everyone who has and continues to extend their support, well wishes and prayers.”
UPDATE: Head Coach Bruce Arians credited the quarterbacks for making sure Kitchens was looked at by head athletic trainer Tom Reed. Quarterback Drew Stanton said the group was just having their normal warm-up conversations before Tuesday’s workout.
“Anyone who knows Freddie’s personality, he’s jovial and easy-going,” Stanton said. “He was joking around asking if a heart attack is on the left or right side, going for the chuckle, and then said ‘Actually, it’s kind of in the middle here.’ I told him, ‘Freddie, that sounds kind of serious,’ and Carson (Palmer) said ‘Yeah Freddie, you don’t look so good, you’re kind of flush.’ He tried to say he was OK, but we called Tom over and he was monitoring him.
“Luckily and thank God it worked out and he was taken care of in time. It puts things in perspective real quick. You count your blessings, things that we might just take for granted.”
The team held a pre-practice prayer for Kitchens Wednesday.
Kitchens has been on staff since 2007 and was the tight ends coach before moving to coach quarterbacks when Bruce Arians arrived. The one-time quarterback at Alabama was coached by Arians for a season with the Crimson Tide. While Kitchens recovers, the Cardinals have assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore who can work with the quarterbacks.
Tags: Drew Stanton, Freddie Kitchens, Tom Moore
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As I was walking out to take some pictures at today’s OTA with special teams work going on at the outset, I noticed Larry Fitzgerald spending some time with assistant head coach/offensive guru Tom Moore and snapped off a photo:
They spoke for about 10 minutes. That’s no surprise. Fitz is learning about this offense like anyone else. But what I have noticed is that it is Moore spending most of his time with the younger players. It was noted Tuesday that Bruce Arians is splitting the OTAs into two simultaneous practices, so that the vets can get in the reps they need but the rookies also get a chance to get more reps than they normally would. (That’s a benefit of having a big coaching staff.)
Everyone knows Arians is going to call plays. He’s the one running the offensive show with the vets. But then Moore, with his years of knowledge and ability to teach — that was made clear by Arians from the start — is on the second field, getting key points across to players who are just learning the NFL game. It’s a extra benefit with the way this staff is constructed. Will it speed up the learning process for the young guys on offense? That remains to be seen, but it makes sense. With a coach in Arians who likes to use young players, you can certainly see it working out that way.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, Tom Moore
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Tom Moore may be 74, but he cautioned Friday not to look at his chronological age. “I feel like I’m about 50,” he said, which was helped tremendously when he got his knees replaced in the offseason prior to the 2012 season. Moore was close to retirement but realized after his surgery it was the knee problem, and not a want-to with coaching, that would have kept him out of the game. He told Bruce Arians that this season — when Moore served for five weeks as a consultant with the Titans — that he wanted to coach again, and Arians knew he would hire Moore if he got a head coaching job.
So Moore ended up in Arizona. When Arians called him to work, Moore said he told his wife, “We just hit the lotto.”
That’s a good starting point to have an offensive mind like Moore so excited to fix what ails the Cardinals. The man who worked under Chuck Noll in the glory days in Pittsburgh once upon a time and the man who was Peyton Manning’s Colts mentor for first decade-plus of Manning’s career now gets a shot whomever will be quarterbacking the Cardinals. A full story in just a bit on the homepage, but first, a few of the key highlights:
– Clearly, the offensive line is important. “Everything in the passing game starts with the protection,” Moore said.
– Moore will join Arians as overseeing the game planning, although other coaches will have their specific duties. An interesting note: Game-planning will actually begin Saturday nights eight days out from the specific game, in order to get a head start on the week. That leaves more time on game-plan Tuesdays to get to important specifics like red zone, two-minute, etc.
– Perhaps the most critical point Moore made, and he made it a couple of times: His system isn’t one size fits all. If a QB is better throwing deep, you tailor the system that way. If he is better with the short pass, you tailor the system that way. You don’t jam a square peg into a round hole. Moore had a great anecdote about a time under Noll when the Steelers’ staff found themselves coaching one of the Senior Bowl squads. Noll found Moore and some other coaches soon after getting the gig working. Noll asked what they were doing. “Game-planning,” was the reply. Noll asked, “How can you game-plan when you don’t even know what the players can do?” With that, the coaches waited, spending a week watching the players on film before going back to the original task.
Obviously there will some things Moore and Arians (and OC Harold Goodwin) want in the offense, but making sure it fits will be important. So too will the protection emphasis.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Harold Goodwin, Tom Moore
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Bruce Arians sat at the interview table next to his new offensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin, and was asked — bluntly — what they were going to be able to do so that the Cardinals didn’t have the “worst” offense in the NFL, after the team was last statistically in 2012.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Arians said with a smile, cracking Goodwin up next to him and drawing laughs from the media. “I guarantee we won’t be there this year.”
There were a few smiles between the two of them Wednesday as Goodwin, 39, got to be a coordinator in public for the first time. The one-time college offensive lineman at the University of Michigan (he played there with Cardinals kicker Jay Feely) has a background in offensive line and was the offensive line coach for the Colts last season. That will remain important in his role. Arians emphasized there will be a “group of people” teaching blocking on the Cardinals, including Goodwin, assistant head coach Tom Moore, assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, tight ends coach Rick Christophel and assistant tight ends coach Steve Heiden.
Goodwin will indeed be the coordinator of the offense, however. Arians said that too, noting that while Arians will call plays, Goodwin will work all the other normal coordinator duties.
– Goodwin and Arians didn’t get super specific on the offensive linemen, although Goodwin mentioned Levi Brown and Nate Potter in passing and said he thinks the group has some talent. He wouldn’t speculate why the unit would have been so poor last season. Said Arians about the line, “We’re not far off.” Injuries were a factor, both of them said.
– There were a couple of jokes about how intense Goodwin can be. If it gets emotional it will be a change for the offensive linemen. Russ Grimm saw his players through the “they are professionals and know what they need to do” lens.
– Arians opened the presser before anyone could ask about the quarterbacks by talking about the quarterbacks. “Nothing has changed on my comments on quarterbacks since the last time we talked,” Arians said, adding, “the quarterback situation will take some time.”
A full story coming later on azcardinals.com. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is set to meet with the media tomorrow, with Moore and special teams coordinator Amos Jones coming on Friday.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Harold Goodwin, Larry Zierlein, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, offensive line, Rick Christophel, Steve Heiden, Tom Moore
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The Cardinals finally released a list of their new coaching staff Tuesday. They had already announced, after the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians, the addition of assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Now comes 13 new names, along with keeping four holdover coaches:
– Special teams coordinator: Amos Jones (last job, special teams coach, Pittsburgh Steelers)
– Quarterbacks: Freddie Kitchens
– Wide receivers: Darryl Drake (receivers coach, Chicago Bears)
– Running backs: Stump Mitchell (head coach, Southern University)
– Tight ends: Rick Christophel (head coach, Austin Peay)
– Assistant tight ends, assistant special teams: Steve Heiden (tight ends coach, Concordia University)
– Assistant offensive line: Larry Zierlein (OL coach, Hartford of UFL; was Steelers’ OL coach from’07-’09)
– Defensive line: Brentson Buckner (intern DL coach, Steelers, 2010-12)
– Pass rush: Tom Pratt (consultant, IMG Academy)
– Linebackers: Mike Caldwell (linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles)
– Outside linebackers: James Bettcher (special assistant to head coach, Indianapolis Colts)
– Defensive backs: Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator, University of Deleware)
– Cornerbacks: Kevin Ross (safeties coach, Oakland Raiders)
– Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs: Ryan Slowik
– Offensive assistant: Kevin Garver (offensive assistant, University of Alabama)
– Strength and conditioning: John Lott
– Assistant strength and conditioning: Pete Alosi
An interesting note: the offensive line doesn’t have a offensive line coach per se. Duties teaching the line will be split between Zierlein, Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who has spent his coaching career as an offensive line coach.
Kitchens had been coaching tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt, but moves to quarterbacks, a position Kitchens played in college. Slowik was outside linebackers coach on the last staff, and of course, Lott and Alosi remain in their former jobs. The staff of 21 is four more coaches than was on Whisenhunt’s staff. Arians said he preferred to have extra coaches on staff, and said he likes the diversity of experience and youth. The group moved into offices and began their meetings today. More in a bit on azcardinals.com, including more background on the new group. (And here it is.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Brentson Buckner, Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Darryl Drake, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, James Bettcher, John Lott, Kevin Garver, Kevin Ross, Larry Zierlein, Mike Caldwell, Nick Rapone, offensive line, Pete Alosi, Rick Christophel, Ryan Slowik, Steve Heiden, Stump Mitchell, Todd Bowles, Tom Moore, Tom Pratt
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