The trade earlier this week for cornerback Javier Arenas provided the Cardinals their 10th cornerback on the roster. That isn’t a surprise, but when seven of them have NFL experience already, the numbers alone will make for a very interesting battle heading into training camp. It doesn’t matter who the coaches have been that I have covered over the years, every single one — when asked about a situation like this — likes to say, “You can never have too many cornerbacks.” True, but you can’t keep too many cornerbacks either.
The quick lineup, aside from Arenas: Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Bryan McCann and three UDFAs in Josh Hill, Prentiss Waggner and Ronnie Yell.
(And as a quick aside: I think the Cards didn’t mind adding another corner, but realize that they were going to get rid of fullback Anthony Sherman regardless, and if the only option coming back was a corner like Arenas, it’s better than just cutting Sherman loose.)
Here are the facts thus far when it comes to this cornerback situation:
– In minicamp, Powers was with the first unit opposite Peterson. Now, Cason seemed to be nursing some kind of leg injury that may have limited him, but again, it was Powers who signed the three-year contract. He might be getting the first shot there.
– Bethel was told he’d be playing corner rather than safety when the coaches first got a chance to talk to him. But who knows, given the cornerback/safety situation (the Cards have seven safeties and much less experience there) maybe Bethel ends up a swing guy again.
– This math of course counts Tyrann Mathieu as a safety because that’s what Bruce Arians said he’d be at first, but Mathieu also could be a nickel corner.
– Arenas’ size (5-9) seems to dictate he’d be a slot cover guy only.
– The numbers and influx of guys will make the second offseason for Fleming very, very interesting and very important. Third-round picks usually are locks to stay a second season. But with a new staff, you never know.
– Usually, teams keep nine or 10 defensive backs. With nine, you could see four cornerbacks and five safeties or, given this roster, probably five and four.
– It does open up trade possibilities, like when the Cards dealt A.J. Jefferson at the end of the preseason last year given their glut at the position.
Tags: Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Josh Hill, Justin Bethel, Patrick Peterson, Prentiss Waggner, Ronnie Yell, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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So Anthony Sherman is gone, a victim of a regime change more than anything else, with his trade to K.C. today in exchange for cornerback Javier Arenas. This is what happens when new coaches come in (and obviously, both the Chiefs and Cards have new coaches) and existing players are deemed expendable. In Sherman’s case, he plays a position that isn’t used in Bruce Arians’ offense. In Arenas’ case, the Chiefs had brought on a bunch of cornerbacks and he was looking to be moved, although he comes to a team with a ton of potential cornerbacks as well — in addition to a safety (Tyrann Mathieu) who could end up playing slot receivers like Arenas is best suited for. Arenas came into the league in the 2010 draft.
ESPN scout Matt Williamson tweeted this about Arenas: “Pure slot CB-Size hurts him, but fiesty & big time asset on special teams.” It’s a crowded secondary now. Patrick Peterson, Jerraud Powers, Antoine Cason, Justin Bethel, Jamell Fleming and Bryan McCann all have experience in the league and now Arenas comes aboard. Someone isn’t making it to September (unless the Cards end up sliding Bethel back to safety to ease the logjam.)
More importantly, it’s yet another move as General Manager Steve Keim continues to overhaul the roster with Arians’ vision of what he needs. The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster and 45 of them are new. Now, 25 of them are rookies so they were going to be new regardless. But the number of veterans — veterans that played large roles on the team last year — that have been cut or traded continues to move up. The transactions list has a ton of action, and May just started. I count 31 moves where the Cards either made a trade, signed a veteran from outside the team or released a player.
(And to think, when Arenas lined up against Larry Fitzgerald during the Cards-Chiefs joint practice last August, you think either one contemplated being teammates?)
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Antoine Cason, Bryan McCann, Jamell Fleming, Javier Arenas, Jerraud Powers, Justin Bethel, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Roster, Steve Keim, trade, Tyrann Mathieu
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There is really no way to know how long the Cardinals have been thinking about Carson Palmer, but it’s clear it’s been a little while even if the official trade talks with the Raiders didn’t start until last Friday. The Cards were in a good spot, since it seemed obvious Palmer wasn’t going to go back to Oakland. The price wasn’t steep, not even if it had been straight up for a sixth-round pick, and the Cards got a seventh-rounder back. (The conditional pick next year is reportedly another seventh rounder, and since the conventional wisdom that a pick a year later is worth less than the current year, does that mean the Cards might have given up an undrafted free agent?)
The price for Palmer — about $8 million in salary, according to reports — is fair for a veteran QB with a decent resume. More importantly, the Cardinals were good with it.
“Not only with the draft compensation but with the restructuring of the contract, we had an area we felt comfortable with as an organization,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “We stuck to it and we were patient and it worked out.”
Keim said he and Team President Michael Bidwill had a long talk about the direction of the organization when Palmer’s availability came to light. Keim stressed the opportunity to get a franchise quarterback at this stage (which sounds even better given the prospects in the draft, which are clearly not exciting too many QB-needy teams league-wide given all the QB moves.) The Cards had gone for a franchise QB trade recently, and that didn’t work out all that well.
“I think there were many lessons we learned from that trade and from other trades that we brought collectively to the table,” Bidwill said of the Kolb deal.
The changes have come fast and furious over the past month or so. “All along we talked about being proactive and being aggressive,” Keim said. The Cardinals have. And now they have a new quarterback to run out there.
– It does feel like this is a perfect fit for what Bruce Arians does. I do think Palmer can still play well, and I do think he was the best option for the Cards. Is he the long-term solution? Of course not. Even if he has a Kurt Warner-like renaissance, the Cardinals are going to keep looking for long-term answers. They already were caught short once when Warner retired and they don’t want it to happen again.
– There was also cautious optimism from players today. “Any time you add a weapon, it helps your team,” running back Rashard Mendenhall said. “But we are all waiting to see how it shakes out.” As Fitz said, “I’m coming off the most disappointing season of my career and I’m in ‘Prove it’ mode.” Everyone on the Cards, especially on offense, probably needs to view it that way.
– It can’t hurt on the timing, which got Palmer to Arizona right when voluntary work started. He lost out on most of Tuesday as the deal was completed, but emphasized he is now in Arizona ready to work. I assume that means starting full bore Wednesday. (He did get a post-contract mini-workout in with John Lott, and talked a little with new teammate Dan Williams as you can see below.)
– Speaking of Warner, Palmer knows the parallel of coming to the Cards at this late stage of his career (Palmer is 33, Warner was 34 when the Cards got him.) “It’s hard to make those comparisons. Kurt was a phenomenal player. He came here and just lit people up. I’d love to be compared to some of the things that he did here when it’s my time to leave here.”
– In his opening statement, Palmer addressed the many stories about his leaving the Raiders, including the one out there that he declined to renegotiate his contract down from $13 million in 2013 even though the Raiders were reportedly still offering $10 million this season.
“There’s been a lot of rumors and stories and inaccuracies about my departure from Oakland,” Palmer said. “I want to clear the air on that. I was presented with a contract there and I was advised not to sign that contract, with no security, no guarantees. My agent told me he would never have me sign that contract. That opportunity led me here.”
Palmer said the Raiders were moving toward youth and he had no problem with that. He also called Head Coach Dennis Allen and General Manager Reggie McKenzie “stars” at their jobs.
– Arians was increasingly optimistic about his team. It lead to the funniest exchange of the day as Arians praised the players he saw for the first time Tuesday morning.
“Having walked into that room today, that’s as good a looking football team as I’ve seen in my 20 years of coaching, stepping in the first day,” Arians said. “There’s not a bad body in the room. It’s a great looking bunch of athletes, and we will never use talent as an excuse.”
Palmer didn’t hesitate. “You saying you’ve got a good body?”
“Yeah buddy. Yes indeed,” Arians fired back. “Sixty and sexy.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Bidwill, Raiders, Rashard Mendenhall, Steve Keim, trade
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Many have asked over the months since the Cardinals traded cornerback A.J. Jefferson to the Vikings at the end of August. Thanks to my friend Tom Pelissero, erstwhile Vikings guru, those trade results have been finalized. Ultimately, the trade was Jefferson and the Cardinals’ seventh-round pick in 2013 for the Tennesee Titans’ 2013 6th-round pick, which the Vikings had previously acquired.
Considering the Cards were on the verge of cutting Jefferson (and the league knew the Cards were corner-heavy) when the trade went down, moving up a round wasn’t a bad result. It gives the Cards, at least before the compensatory picks are doled out, seven total draft picks covering the first six rounds of the draft.
Tags: AJ Jefferson, draft, Titans, trade, Vikings
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Because of that storm called Sandy, the NFL’s trading deadline was moved back to Thursday this week. That means a couple of extra days of the rumor mill for a time that already picked up some steam because it is a couple of weeks later this year than in year’s past.
Today, we know:
– The Rams’ Steven Jackson, oft talked about, is staying put.
– Ravens T Bryant McKinnie, who is no longer playing because he was supplanted by a rookie, could be had. Peter King wrote the Cardinals “I hear have some interest in him.” What that means is anyone’ guess. Even King says McKinnie would just be a band-aid, and what exactly would you give up for a band-aid?
Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about the trade deadline today. “Well, we’re looking,” Whisenhunt said, and that’s really standard operating procedure for any team. “We’re always looking for ways to help this team. We always have been, so if there’s something available, we’ve got until Thursday. If we had an opportunity to get somebody we think can help us, we certainly would try to do that.”
I’ve said a few times, on Twitter and in response to blog comments, I’m not sure any trade will happen. Take McKinnie for instance. Is he an upgrade? You’d think so. He was also beaten out by a rookie. He’s had all kinds of off-field issues. The Vikings let him walk away rather than deal with him anymore. If he were a free agent, a band-aid makes sense. To give up a draft pick, even a later one, to me takes some consideration, especially if he is just a band-aid that won’t be around in the future.
If there was a deal, I can’t see it being for anything but an offensive lineman. Just my opinion.
We’ll see how this plays out.
– Whiz said running back Beanie Wells “is not there yet” but is on track to return to practice next week — the soonest he can off the IR-return list — and I would assume that means right now it looks encouraging for Wells to play in his first chance to come back, which is the Nov. 25 home game against the Rams. What will be something to watch is if Beanie’s whole body is right after this time off. Not just the torn ligament in the toe but also his knee, which still looked like it left him out of sorts earlier in the season.
– There are many wondering why Whiz doesn’t play rookie QB Ryan Lindley, and he isn’t, saying John Skelton is his starter. I get questions of why that is, and I’m not going to argue that Skelton isn’t exactly playing stellar right now. But there are a lot of issues that go into the offensive problems, and QB isn’t the only one. The Cardinals and Whisenhunt have been through the rookie thing before, and it usually isn’t pretty.
I’d guess Lindley will take some snaps in a game this season. I don’t expect it to be in a start, and I’m not even saying it will be soon. If a game gets out of hand, maybe we see him. Skelton has been through some things by now, though, and Lindley hasn’t, and while I’m sure I will get “Yeah, but Skelton can’t do it anyway and we might as well get Lindley experience,” well, that’s a fine line to walk as a team and as a coach.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Bryant McKinnie, John Skelton, Ken Whisenhunt, Ryan Lindley, Steven Jackson, trade
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There are a lot of questions I am getting about trades when it comes to a running back. If the Cards go get another running back, I think it will be the free-agent route. That way you don’t surrender a draft pick at a position that you need short-term help with. It’s tough when people start throwing out names like Chris Johnson or Maurice Jones-Drew or even Mark Ingram, all of whom apparently have been suggested as targets. Stop. Those aren’t going to happen for a multitude of reasons.
The one trade name that does make some sense to me is Chris Ivory in New Orleans. He’s shown before he can perform and he is buried deep, deep on the Saints’ bench behind Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. But the Saints know the Cards need a back, and they might just hold up the Cards for a higher pick. Frankly, in this day and age where backs have become more and more disposable, it’s hard to think that’s a good idea. Ivory was undrafted and has shown well — maybe William Powell can do the same for the Cards.
Free agency makes more sense to me, if and only if the Cards decide they need someone. That’s no sure thing right now.
As for available free agents, well, the name that comes up over and over is Tim Hightower. He knows the team and the offense. But Hightower isn’t healthy right now. The Redskins, who cut him in camp, thought about bringing him back when Roy Helu went down for the season and not only is Hightower still coming back from an ACL tear, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he had a setback and was having an arthroscopic procedure on his knee. That was a couple weeks ago. (The Redskins signed Ryan Grant instead.) Could Hightower be in the mix down the road if he heals up? Maybe. But the Cards have had their fill of injured backs. They don’t need another so they would have to be sure where Hightower stands health-wise before that could be explored.
– If you missed it, check out this story of defensive lineman Nick Eason, his mom , and why this month of pink in the NFL is so meaningful to him.
– The Cardinals, in case you missed it on Twitter yesterday, will be wearing their black uniforms again Sunday against Buffalo. Because of the various NFL rules in place for alternate uniforms — you can’t wear them in nationally televised games, you can’t wear them after flex scheduling starts — this is the last opportunity for the Cards to do so.
– The Big Red Rage has been moved to Wednesday night because of ASU football, so anyone heading to Majerle’s — special guest Vonnie Holliday — make sure you adjust your schedules accordingly. Same time (6 p.m.), same place (Chandler Fashion Mall).
Tags: Big Red Rage, black uniforms, Chris Ivory, Saints, Tim Hightower, trade
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The headlines this weekend begin with Kevin Kolb (probably) facing the Eagles for the first time since they traded him away. But it’s also the first chance for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — the other player in that trade — to return to Arizona for the first time. Kolb may have been hurt last year when the teams played in Philadelphia, but DRC was there, at least at first. DRC hurt his ankle returning the opening kickoff of the second half and missed the Cards’ rally that day.
“They’re the ones who gave me the opportunity to be in the National Football League, so you always want to thank them for that,” DRC told PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I had fun times (in Arizona); there are no hard feelings.”
DRC never really seemed to be a hard-feelings kind of guy. He was/is talented, and showed, especially in 2009, why the Cards made him a first-round pick in 2008. He made the Pro Bowl and seemed headed for great things. But he wasn’t good in 2010 — few were for the Cards that season — and even he knew it. When the Cardinals hired Ray Horton to be defensive coordinator, Horton talked about having “little guys who could hit,” and anyone who watched DRC had to wonder if DRC fit that bill.
(Although I will say this — Horton has made it clear to me that if a guy is a good enough cover corner, other issues can be overlooked.)
When the Eagles were willing to trade Kolb, and on the lookout for a cornerback knowing their time with Asante Samuel was likely coming to an end, DRC ended up being the piece the Cards surrendered. DRC struggled a bit last season as the nickel corner while the Eagles started Nnamdi Asomugha and Samuel started. “The way he handled that was phenomenal,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “My hat’s off to that kid just for that alone. It was new to him. He attacked it the best he could attack it. We were blessed with three real good corners, so one of them had to sit. He was the one and he was awesome with that, but he’s playing well now.”
DRC admits he was surprised at the trade, but he’s moved on. The locker room certainly hasn’t been the same. Close friend Michael Adams (tackling DRC on DRC’s first-half kickoff return last year) and DRC often did a lot of talking, bantering, arguing. It’s hard to forget DRC’s sometimes painted toenails, his Toy Story kids backpack, how he talked about his love for sandwiches he “cooked” with an iron on the ironing board, or the time he wore old-school footie pajamas into work when the Cards had to practice on a holiday. He was one-of-a-kind.
He and Fitz had some practice battles — the ones Patrick Peterson took over after DRC left — and considering DRC played just three seasons in Arizona, he left a mark. It’ll be interesting how his homecoming goes Sunday.
“I’m just looking at it like another game,” DRC said. “I know a lot of people are probably looking at (the trade angle), but I’m just going in there facing an Arizona team that’s on the rise.”
Tags: DRC, Eagles, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Adams, trade
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Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves will meet with the media in a little more than an hour to talk about the upcoming draft, although I’m not expecting a whole lot of concrete statements (I am willing to bet they will admit that they would draft Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin if either remain on the board at 13, and I am willing to go out on a limb, given their tackle situation, and say they would take
Ryan Matt Kalil if he were to slip all the way to 13 too.)
But as the draft gets closer and the smokescreens/convenient leaks increase — I’ve never heard so much chatter about what a team might do at No. 3 or how much they do/don’t like a player as I have heard with the Vikings and Kalil, all clearly to ramp up possible trade interest — there has been speculation about the Cardinals’ willingness to trade out of No. 13.
I will guess that Graves and Whiz will say they aren’t closing the door on any options. That leaves my opinion, I suppose. I don’t see any way they trade up. I guess you would be tempted if Kalil slipped — say to 10? — but the Bills pick at 10, need a tackle, and I don’t see the Cards with the firepower to be able to pull off a trade up because they don’t have a second rounder.
I think it’s moot anyway, because I don’t see a surefire player the Cards are going to want to trade up to get anyway (Kalil will be long gone). Trading down is a different story. Would they trade down? Well, most draft analysts seem to believe that once you hit players nine or 10, the talent level isn’t much different than the guys who will be available into the 20s. There are a few offensive linemen out there that should be there later than 13 if the Cards dropped. And if there was a chance to get another draft pick — maybe even a second-rounder to supplement what the Cards don’t have after last year’s Kevin Kolb trade — that would be attractive.
One thing I am sure of, however. Any trade-down scenario for the Cards wouldn’t materialize until the Cards would be on the clock, because no one is going to want to move into No. 13 unless they knew a specific player would be available. That’s how most draft-day trades happen anyway. It’s never simple, though. Trading down and acquiring an extra pick always sounds good, except that you have to have a team that wants to come up to do the deal. It seems like there’s never as many trades as people speculate there will be, especially in the first round.
Certainly, though, it will make for some intrigue in Tempe until we actually hear the pick — or something else — announced by Roger Goodell.
Tags: draft, trade
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Everybody has a story. Mine was standing in the bowels of Raymond James Stadium, suit on and lugging my computer backpack among a host of other Super Bowl media types waiting for the game to end and to have access to players/the field. And watching the game on a TV – seven-second delay – as Fitz caught that crossing route and raced for that 64-yard touchdown, and seeing the crowd go crazy and roar. I remember the emotion smacking me hard enough I bent over for a moment to catch my breath, thinking, “Holy crap, the Cards are going to win this thing.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was asked earlier this week on his conference call about how long ago that Cards-Steelers Super Bowl seemed. His answer was succinct: “Eons.”
I can’t disagree. So much has happened in the two-and-a-half seasons since the last time the Cardinals and Steelers played a game that counted, which will happen again Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Steelers have been back to another Super Bowl, losing this time. The Cards have undergone a huge metamorphosis, losing one way or another many of key figures that played on that team in 2008.
Not only does the Super Bowl seem like eons ago, so too does that playoff game against Green Bay a year later, when the Cards lit up the scoreboard like a pinball machine.
Now they have – at this moment in time – a chance to beat the Steelers, which in no way would make up for the Super Bowl loss but would be certainly welcome nonetheless, given their dire straits.
“It doesn’t erase the fact we got there and it was a good run for us,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I think that’s what makes us so confident we are doing the right thing, as far as how we prepare and how we work.
“I’m more worried about where we are as a team right now and getting our team some wins.”
– Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett called the recent players meeting that included coaches – a rare occurrence – “one of the most emotional meetings I have ever been in.” The hope is whatever messages were delivered carry over. As Fitz said (and I am paraphrasing here), meetings are good but it comes down to playing on Sundays.
– The Steelers can be run on. They have the best pass defense in the NFL. This may be a weekend where running back Beanie Wells, now healthy from his hamstring issue, gets 30 carries (his career-high is 27, set against the Giants earlier this month).
– You figure the Steelers are going to test these young cornerbacks. Wide receiver Mike Wallace has established himself as one of the – if not the – scariest deep threat in the league. He already has five catches this season of at least 40 yards. He averages 21 yards a reception, and it will be one of the keys to the game how he is dealt with by cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson.
– Speaking of Peterson, he may be a rookie, but he isn’t fazed by the Cards’ current rough patch. “My confidence will always stay high,” Peterson said. “I let bygones be bygones. I have amnesia. This team will continue fighting.”
– In terms of yardage gained on third-down receptions, this game will have the top two receivers in the NFL: Wallace (228 yards) and Arizona’s Early Doucet (214).
– Nice job by Kent Somers to ferret out the conditions of the conditional draft pick the Cards got in the trade that sent running back Tim Hightower to Washington and a pick plus defensive end Vonnie Holliday to Arizona. The Cards get a sixth-rounder unless Hightower plays in 60.41 percent of the offensive snaps for the Redskins. Currently, Hightower has played 54 percent of the snaps and shares time with Ryan Torain and Roy Helu. That doesn’t seem to be a good combination for the higher pick, barring an injury.
– With defensive coordinator Ray Horton seeing his former team Sunday, I wanted to remind everyone of the feel-good story from the offseason, when Horton gave his car to a Steelers cafeteria worker before leaving the team to come to Arizona.
– If you get to Big Ben, tackle him. It changes everything when you don’t.
I thought it was interesting today as Horton spoke and a visiting Pittsburgh writer asked about the matchup between Fitzgerald and cornerback Ike Taylor and what he thought of the matchup.
“Back in Tampa, there was a call late in the game where our guy caught a pass and went up the field,” Horton said. “I hope there is a lot of that this week.”
Of course, back in Tampa, Horton was working for the Steelers at the time and probably wanted to throw up when Fitzgerald split the defense for his touchdown. Today, though, the memory comes up and it’s “our guy.”
Tags: A.J. Jefferson, Darnell Dockett, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Ray Horton, Steelers, trade, Vonnie Holliday
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The news the Raiders are about to trade for quarterback Carson Palmer is stunning in itself — I didn’t think the Bengals would let him go this season — but also speaks to the importance of the position and underscores how, in trades, overpaying for a QB is always possible and apparently necessary.
There were plenty of people who weren’t happy about the price paid for Kevin Kolb this offseason for the Cardinals, which was a second-round pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But Kolb is at five years younger than Palmer, and many are concerned Palmer’s arm injuries have zapped him of what once made his special. The price for that? At least a first- and a second-round pick, and if the Raiders win one playoff game — which would be good for a franchise that has been in the dumps, definitely — it becomes two first-round picks. That’s an amazingly high price.
If Palmer had future upside, it’d be one thing, but it seems limited.
Coming back to the Kolb question, however, it’s the price to play poker. The Raiders needed a QB badly after the collarbone injury to Jason Campbell, especially when it looks like the running game and defense can get Oakland to the postseason. The Cardinals, likewise, needed a quarterback in the worst way, so they pulled the trigger. Will Kolb — or Palmer, for that matter — work out? Some time is needed to truly evaluate that. Everyone had high expectations for Kolb right away, fair or not, and Palmer will be viewed under the same prism. But their most important qualification is simply the position they play, and what it means to an NFL team.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb, trade
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