The Cardinals have yet to announce where they will be holding training camp later this summer, but Flagstaff is no longer an option after Northern Arizona University has decided to move on from negotiations. The Arizona Daily Sun reported NAU president John Haeger rejected a one-year concept for the team to train there in 2013 and the school also rescinded an offer for a three-year contract.
Glendale remains an option and it would seem the leading option, but no site has been finalized yet. The Cardinals released their offseason dates Thursday, but that doesn’t include the training camp work. Camp dates aren’t usually released until late June.
Tags: training camp
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The new Cardinals braintrust is grinding through initial meetings but just like that, the Scouting combine is around the corner, and so here are a few of the key dates upcoming in the offseason:
– Feb. 20-26: Scouting combine in Indianapolis.
– March 9: Teams are allowed to begin negotiating contracts with agents for players from other teams that are scheduled to become free agents. This is a new development, with the league acknowledging talks between free agents and teams often quietly was going to happen. It will definitely spark the speculation/rumormill for players going to other teams for a couple of days before contracts can be signed.
– March 12: The new league year begins and free agency officially begins. Free agents are allowed to sign contracts. Teams must, prior to 2 p.m. Arizona time, exercise options on contracts and tender offers to restricted or exclusive rights free agents if a team is going to do so. Free agency begins at 2 p.m. All teams must be salary-cap compliant (with the top 51 cap numbers).
– March 17-20: The annual spring owners meetings will be held in Phoenix at the Biltmore.
– First week of April: Teams with new coaches — including the Cardinals — are allowed to begin their offseason program.
– April 25-27: NFL draft
The dates for the Cardinals’ OTAs and minicamps have yet to be announced. We are waiting to hear information about training camp, but the regular season will begin for the Cardinals Sept. 8. Working backward, and based on past years with the timeline, training camp should start around July 26.
Tags: free agency, offseason, training camp
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For a long time the concept of a indoor practice bubble being installed at the Cards’ Tempe facility has been floating out there. It was something that first got traction when Ken Whisenhunt was first hired, although it hasn’t happened yet.
Yet may be the key phrase there. Team president Michael Bidwill said today, during an interview on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 620, that the hope is that the Cardinals will finally get a bubble sometime this year.
“We’re going through a process now of getting a bubble in Tempe,” Bidwill said. “We had a political problem there, the former Mayor was opposed to it, but (new) Mayor (Mark) Mitchell, who is a great guy, is all for being supportive of this and hopefully we’ll get that done at the Tempe training facility this year. It’s an exciting time for us and it will really bring us back up to speed as far as being state of the art.”
Obviously, given the extreme heat early in the season, the chance to have an air conditioned practice facility would be a big benefit for the Cardinals — and make sure they don’t have to travel to ASU anymore (like last season, pictured below) to use a bubble if the weather called for it. Usually it stays pretty toasty during practice times all the way until late October, nearly halfway through the schedule.
Along those lines, Bidwill reiterated nothing has been decided on the spot of 2013 training camp, although discussions are ongoing with both NAU in Flagstaff and Glendale, location of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, practice bubble, training camp
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Team president Michael Bidwill is in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and during a visit to Radio Row, touched on a subject a lot of people are wondering about: Where training camp will be held in 2013. It’s no secret the team’s contract with Flagstaff ran out after next year, and the team is currently exploring options.
Bidwill talked about some of the issues the Cardinals have had with NAU, with construction and being displaced and issues of various accommodations, and he said NAU plans to address those things. “That’s real good for them,” Bidwill told “Bickley and MJ” on XTRA 910, “because there are other competitors out there we are speaking with.”
One of those competitors is Glendale, where University of Phoenix Stadium resides. That could end up being the place the Cards go for camp, using the stadium and other possible new facilities to be built.
“They are (a viable option),” Bidwill said. “We are considering both (Flagstaff and Glendale), that’s for sure.”
As for what that might mean to the fans, Bidwill said fan access will still be important, regardless of where the Cards end up.
“The whole idea behind training camp is both a football activity where we are getting players ready for the season, but it is also a fan activity where we want to bring fans in,” Bidwill said. “There are many elements where it is great about doing it in Flagstaff, but there are also great possibilities of doing it at University of Phoenix Stadium. It could be a really a fantastic site. There are a little bit of tradeoffs, but there is no doubt (the camp experience) gets better and better each year and that is something we want to continue to focus on.”
– Bidwill had an interesting quote when talking about drafting a quarterback. He reiterated that the team needed to address the quarterback situation, but was going to leave those specifics up to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. But he talked about the things he had witnessed in the draft room over the years. “Every time we have reached, we have made a mistake. I don’t want to reach. You start reaching for a guy rather than going for best player available, you make mistakes.”
– As for free agency, he also is leaving that to Keim, but as for being tight against the salary cap, “I know we have some flexibility and there are things we can do around the cap to make room to get better,” Bidwill said.
Tags: draft, Michael Bidwill, salary cap, training camp, University of Phoenix stadium
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Another year in Flagstaff over. The Cardinals closed out with a lengthy morning session – going about 30 minutes over the scheduled end time prepping for the Titans. As usual, the team had their annual rookie show the last night. In what could have been predicted, receiver LaRon Byrd imitated Larry Fitzgerald in a skit, an impersonation Fitz insisted “it was not an accurate depiction of me at all.”
No one went after coach Ken Whisenhunt this year – Whiz surmised with a smile it was because after pushing the team so hard last week the rookies might have been a little gun shy to take him on – but then he added, “if you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t have fun.”
“It was a good way to end.”
– The Cardinals will indeed have Beanie Wells Thursday against the Titans. Whisenhunt said he liked how Wells did in practice this week – brief as it was – and will be treated in the game much like Ryan Williams was last week against the Raiders.
“I’m excited to see him in a game,” Whisenhunt said. “There’s no concern with him at all with his health.”
– Linebacker O’Brien Schofield sat out practice again because of his sore knee. Whisenhunt said the Cards will be conservative with Schofield and make sure it doesn’t become a bigger problem. I’d guess Schofield wouldn’t play Thursday. Safety Rashad Johnson (abdomen), cornerback Greg Toler (knee) and fullback Jared Crank (neck) also sat out. Guys like Early Doucet and Todd Heap, who missed practice yesterday, were back.
– Linebacker Daryl Washington will miss the game because of the death of his grandmother.
– The Cards aren’t going to miss dorm life or dorm beds, but they will miss the mild temperatures. Practicing in Tempe is a whole different world this time of year.
“When we come down the hill after this time I know they are in good shape because of the altitude,” Whisenhunt said. “Getting adjusted to the heat takes a little bit. We’ll make sure we go through our routine with the tents and the fans and hopefully they’ll adjust quickly.”
– Whisenhunt praised the big crowds during camp. “It seems like there were more people,” Whisenhunt said.
– A lot happened over the last month, between the ongoing QB battle to the Hall of Fame game to a side trip to Missouri to Levi Brown’s injury. That’s all in the rear view. The team goes to Tennessee tomorrow and the regular season will be here soon.
“It was a good camp,” Whisenhunt said. “But now we have to take the next step.”
Tags: Beanie Wells, Daryl Washington, Ken Whisenhunt, LaRon Byrd, Larry Fitzgerald, O'Brien Schofield, training camp
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The Cardinals got their first movie day at camp in a couple of years (it was nixed last year because of the lockout and the need for practice time). It’s been an annual thing because coach Ken Whisenhunt feels the need to take his foot off the gas pedal. He almost pulled the plug, but felt like the players’ effort Monday and Tuesday earned them a moment.
And it wasn’t as if it was a full-contact practice that was scotched. It was an hour-long walkthrough they missed and there will still be a full regular practice this afternoon at 3 p.m. The Cards have been through a lot of upheaval in the past 10 days, from Canton to Cleveland to St. Joseph to Kansas City, and they looked like it against the Chiefs — leading to this week’s intense practices.
“We haven’t handled the changes very well,” Whisenhunt said. “I thought last week we were sluggish and tired in that game. That’s something you have to adapt to. This was a change for the good for once.”
– RB Beanie Wells is sore getting back into practice. Whiz said he’ll go through pregame Friday to see if he plays. If I had to guess, I’d think he’d wait one more week.
– CB Greg Toler tweaked his knee in practice yesterday. Whisenhunt said he was sore, but it isn’t expected to be a major issue. LB Paris Lenon (ankle) isn’t ready to return yet, but that is coming soon. My thought would be that Lenon will miss one more game. No reason to rush it.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Greg Toler, Paris Lenon, training camp
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Adrian Wilson has his moments when he isn’t going to say much. Not if you are in a regular conversation, or in an interview setting, or even on the field. But when he does talk — the man has been to multiple Pro Bowls and is in his 12th season — you are darn sure going to listen. So it caught my attention when, during a SiriusXM NFL radio interview on the “Movin’ the Chains” show Monday, Wilson noted that “what we were going through last year is starting to creep back into this year.”
If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what is.
“I was pretty pissed last game,” Wilson said. “It’s because (the mistakes) are things we know and it’s things that come from veteran guys. When things like that happen you start to say, ‘OK, is this guy starting to get too comfortable?’ Are you going to have to pull the guy to the side and really say something to him? That’s what I feel I have to do now. Starting (Monday morning) through the rest of camp is those veteran guys, you can’t be comfortable making those small mistakes. They will turn into big problems for the whole team.”
The Cardinals have had a newfound intensity at practice this week. No one is going to talk a lot about it, but the week in Missouri was a drain, probably moreso than had been expected. Between coming back to Arizona and the urgency this team was forced toward after a pair of disappointing games, the vibe has shifted. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has been encouraged — to a point.
“Until we do it in a game I’m not going to say we’ve done anything,” Whisenhunt said. “We haven’t played to our standard.”
After Monday’s practice, which was moved inside because of rain, Wilson and Larry Fitzgerald were at midfield for close to 30 minutes talking. Now, Andre Roberts was there too, and for all I know, they were discussing good places to take their children in their off time. But for the two leaders on this roster– as mentioned in Cardinals Underground this week, Fitz wouldn’t have to say much in front of teammates to get their attention — to talk for a while in the aftermath of last week, I could see them discussing the state of the team. The comment from Wilson about veterans having issues dovetails with defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s concern that his third-stringers are more fundamentally sound right now than his starters.
The Cards need to stop the creep.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald, training camp
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One of John Skelton’s greatest attributes is his sense of calm. It’s one of the reasons he can be so effective in the fourth quarter, because he doesn’t get rattled. So it makes sense that, even with his name at the center of the NFL world most of Tuesday because of a national report he might be the starter, Skelton shrugged it off.
“For me, not speaking for Kevin, I take it the same way whether it is a local reporter reporting something or a national outlet, it doesn’t faze me either way,” Skelton said. “I think it’s fair to say I haven’t really thought about (getting it over). My goal every day is to come to practice and get better. It’ll all work itself out in the end.”
Skelton does think he’s much improved over the Skelton of training camp 2011. “I think I am, and I think coaches will say the same thing and I think players will say the same thing,” he said. “Really, getting better day in and day out and getting consistent with it is my goal.”
– I thought Kevin Kolb had arguably his best practice of camp today. Maybe all the news swirling around motivated him (maybe that’s what the news was meant to do.) I thought Skelton struggled for the first part,overthrowing several times, but in the final segment of 11-on-11 looked much more sharp.
– DL Nick Eason returned to practice after missing almost two weeks to tend to his ill mother, who later passed away. LB Zach Nash, who hurt his ankle early in training camp, also finally came back to practice.
– QB Rich Bartel was ill and sat out. CB Greg Toler left after tweaking his right knee (the opposite one that he tore ligaments in last preseason). LB Paris Lenon (ankle) and WR LaRon Byrd (shoulder) remained out.
Tags: Greg Toler, John Skelton, LaRon Byrd, Nick Eason, Paris Lenon, Rich Bartel, training camp, Zach Nash
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Quarterback Kevin Kolb was talking about how coach Ken Whisenhunt treats the players fairly, not overworking them usually. “We have to reward him with a better effort.”
Practice sure seemed more intense Monday afternoon after the Cards had a disappointing game in Kansas City. There was a scuffle between defensive lineman David Carter and center Scott Wedige and some various whoops and hollering, and the battling went all the way down to the late part of the two-minute drill, when Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson went up for a jump ball in the end zone and while it looked like Peterson had it at first, Fitz wasn’t going to give up the battle as they fell to the ground.
As for the offensive woes of late, answers are at a premium. “If we knew, maybe practice today would have been a little better,” Kolb said. “I’ve been a lot of places and you go through funks like this. To be honest a lot of time it happens in practice a lot when the defense, they know route concepts and stuff like that. You just keep pushing through, trust your keys and keep working hard.”
– The Cardinals made a move in the lineup Monday, with D’Anthony Batiste taking over as first-string right tackle from Jeremy Bridges, who then took Batiste’s place as second-string right guard. No way to know what it means yet — coach Ken Whisenhunt is next available at lunch tomorrow — but at a position where everyone was waiting for a Bridges-versus-Bobby Massie fight, it was an interesting development.
– Sitting out with injuries were FB Jared Crank (neck), CB Michael Adams (hamstring), WR LaRon Byrd (shoulder), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (undisclosed) and LB Paris Lenon (ankle).
Tags: Bobby Massie, D'Anthony Batiste, David Carter, Jared Crank, Jeremy Bridges, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, LaRon Byrd, Michael Adams, Paris Lenon, Scott Wedige, training camp
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It’s a story told many times: Man is in man coverage, man sees tight end stay into block, man reads quarterback’s eyes. End-zone interception.
OK, maybe not many times. And it certainly hadn’t been told on the NFL level yet for undrafted rookie safety Blake Gideon before the preseason opener. But Gideon did all that, making a pick that — for a guy well down on the depth chart — can hopefully garner some much needed attention. But he, and all the other players fighting for spots need more.
“When you make those plays, it gets you a gold star in your box, but you have to keep getting those,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “This league is about consistency, and being able to do it all the time.
“It does get the attention. You’re like, ‘Wait a minute, Blake Gideon, great read, good interception, big time in thegame.’ Can he consistently do that? He’ll get more reps now because you want to see what he can do.”
Gideon knows. “You are trying to do something to stand out,” he said. “Whenever it comes time for the roster to be reduced, if something about you stands out, coaches will be thinking about you. I made a couple of plays. Now it’s being consistent with it. There are four more preseason games.”
The reps are so few and far between in practice for a guy like Gideon or receiver LeRon Byrd, another undrafted prospect, that there are plenty of times in games where they encounter a situation that they simply haven’t had a chance to rep out in practice. Making a memorable play for Gideon is about more than just getting props from teammate and fellow former Texas Longhorn Lyle Sendlein (pictured below).
Whisenhunt said he never quite gets to see the lower-tier players as much as he wants. “You go into games and think you will play players a certain amount of plays and think you’ll get a chance to look at a lot of guys maybe you wouldn’t see in a normal situation and then things change,” Whisenhunt said. Practice is better the coach said, because it’s more structured, but again, with 90 guys in camp, reps are limited.
That’s why a signature play — or two — is necessary.
Tags: Blake Gideon, LeRon Byrd, Lyle Sendlein, training camp
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