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Blogs

It’s that time for Bucannon

Posted by Darren Urban on July 23, 2014 – 4:55 pm

Deone Bucannon wasn’t really thrilled about having a few weeks off. In the end, he’ll probably appreciate getting away from the grind but he was admittedly so bored he ended up working out all the time anyway. “I’d go to the gym constantly,” he said Wednesday after the rookies took part in the Cardinals’ QB School. Now is the time he has been waiting for since the Cards made him a first-round pick in May.

“It’s not really nervousness, it’s more anxious,” Bucannon said. “You want to show everybody you can play and be a part of this team.”

That’s part of the mystery right now with Bucannon. He wasn’t dropped into the starting lineup in the offseason, like 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper had been. He isn’t the rookie that generated the most offseason buzz, because that was wide receiver John Brown. There were reasons for both. Cooper came into an offensive line with holes; Even with Tyrann Mathieu’s injury, the Cardinals have faith in Rashad Johnson and Tony Jefferson at safety. And in the offseason, it’s always easier for a skill guy — especially a receiver — to flash, rather than a defender. Especially when the defender’s top strength is hitting.

But Bucannon will be in the mix, and I still believe that by the end of camp, he will find his way into the lineup as the starting strong safety. He’s had the right mindset since the day he was drafted and clearly isn’t assuming anything — including an eventual starting job that seems obvious given his draft status. Let’s face it, if the No. 1 pick doesn’t start at some point, it’s a major whiff. But this is where we really get to see what Bucannon will bring in his first season. His under-the-radar time is over.

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#CardsCamp starts in only 3 days

Posted by since1898 on July 23, 2014 – 3:35 pm

3-DAYS-CAMP

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ACLs, rehab, Mathieu and Ta’amu

Posted by Darren Urban on July 22, 2014 – 3:19 pm

As  camp approaches, some of the Cardinals have begun to leak back into the building, getting in a morning workout. Most of the weight room has been cleared out, with the equipment moved to University of Phoenix Stadium for use at camp, but that didn’t stop guys like Lyle Sendlein, Calais Campbell, Frostee Rucker, Sam Acho and Marcus Benard (among others) today.

Also here were the two key rehabbers: safety Tyrann Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Both are expected to be on the physically unable to perform list when camp opens. It doesn’t mean their rehab has gone poorly or slow. But the reality is both ripped up their ACLs late in the season and coming back at the beginning of camp not only doesn’t make a lot of sense it’s probably not fair to ask.

The rehab from a torn ACL carries with it a lot of uncertainty. Uncertainty of a timeline, uncertainty of what you can do even when you’re out there doing it on the field. Playing in a game is one thing. But will you be Adrian Peterson, or Robert Griffin III? One-time Cardinals tight end Stephen Spach ripped up his ACL in the Carolina playoff game during the Super Bowl run. He was back on the field six months later, although he said “there is a difference between being able to play and compete and getting to where you feel like it never happened.” It took tight end Jake Ballard a couple years to feel right, although in Ballard’s case, he had other damage besides the ACL.

Ta’amu was hurt almost a month after Mathieu but his injury was only the ACL. Mathieu had other injuries, but his rehab has gone well and he has worried less about what he can do when he plays again and more how quickly he can actually play. Both guys are key pieces to the defense. The one guarantee: The Cardinals will be better when they get back on the field.

– In other news, Mathieu has decided to change agents. It’s not altogether a surprise, since Patrick Peterson — who also had Pat Lawlor as an agent when he came into the league — dropped Lawlor in favor of Joel Segal. What will be interesting to see is if Mathieu, who looks up to Peterson, decides he too will use Segal. Unlike Peterson, Mathieu is going into only his second year of a four-year contract and any new contract is much further down the road. Peterson, of course, is already in (early) talks for a contract extension.


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Tom Moore will report for his 50th training camp on Friday

Posted by since1898 on July 21, 2014 – 12:13 pm

5894

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Considering intriguing camp battles

Posted by Darren Urban on July 18, 2014 – 4:17 pm

This isn’t necessarily about starters, since I have already addressed that directly. But the battles of training camp aren’t always about who plays first or the most. Sometimes it’s about roster battles and depth and who plays more than who. Some competition will come seemingly from nowhere — going into camp last season, no one would have guess Paul Fanaika would have gotten into the mix, but the Daryn Colledge injury helped that come into focus — so there will be other players to watch.

But for now, here is some of the competition I will be watching:

Guards Earl Watford, Paul Fanaika, Ted Larsen and Anthony Steen. Larsen has been backing up Lyle Sendlein at center while Steen, who can also back up both spots, didn’t do anything in the offseason recovering from injuries. Someone will be the starting right guard. The Cardinals would like for Watford to step up. It very well could be Fanaika for a second straight season. Watford should be on the roster regardless, so if he’s not starting, that will be a spot that must be won. The Cards likely will only dress seven on game days, making those swing interior guys valuable.

Tackles Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell. OK, everyone knows this one. It doesn’t make it any less intriguing. Like Watford, Massie is the guy the Cardinals would like to win the job. But he’s got to win it. Sowell isn’t going away without a fight. Sowell, however, can be a valuable game-day backup since he played left tackle all last season and can play the right. That’s a one-for-two guy on your bench.

Cornerbacks Justin Bethel and Jerraud Powers. With Tyrann Mathieu still hurt, Powers is an important piece in nickle coverage to start the season. But when Mathieu gets back, can Bethel — who got so much love for his potential this offseason — find a way past Powers on the depth chart? Bethel still has much to prove. Powers has his limitations, but his smarts make him a favorite of Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians.

Inside linebackers Ernie Sims and Kenny Demens. Sims has the experience, but he also has the reputation of struggling the past couple of seasons, which is why he finds himself bouncing around the league. The Cardinals have been intrigued with Demens since his (undrafted) rookie year last year, when he spent most of his time on the practice squad. Sims came in late and is trying to catch up. Losing Daryl Washington sent a lot of things into flux at inside linebacker. One of these guys are vying for a depth role probably behind Kevin Minter, Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander.

Kickers Jay Feely, Chandler Catanzaro and Danny Hrapmann. This is another obvious one. Still it’s one to watch. It’s definitely a subject that seems to get the fans riled up — and looking around the league, it’s a position that tends to do that with the fan base, for whatever reason.

Running backs Robert Hughes, Jalen Parmele and Zach Bauman. Arians came out praising Hughes. He figures to be the top choice as the fourth running back behind Ellington, Dwyer and Taylor. But Parmele is another big guy who has played in the league and could sneak his way into the spot instead. What will be interesting is if the Cardinals want less of a bruiser as a fourth, like a Bauman, considering Dwyer is a big back and Taylor is more of a between-the-tackles guy too.

Wide receivers Jaron Brown, Walt Powell and Brittan Golden. The top four receiving spots are taken. Fitz is Fitz and Floyd is Floyd. Ted Ginn will have a role, as will third-round pick John Brown. Brown flashed last year but again, he’s got competition. He’s bigger than Powell and definitely Golden — Golden would seem to be in trouble given the arrival of Brown and Ginn — but Powell is a draft pick and that usually ends up playing a role if it’s close.

Quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Ryan Lindley. It’s hard to believe that, barring a meltdown, Thomas doesn’t find a way on to the roster. But you never know, and both players figure to get plenty of playing time in the preseason to let any battle play out in front of us.

battlesuse

 


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The roster heading into camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 15, 2014 – 3:55 pm

Next week is the week.

With the Cardinals’ decision-makers trickling back into the building, the end of minicamp has been a moratorium of sorts. Time off is the important thing, and with no football-related things going on, there was no reason to make any roster changes over the last month-plus. But that potentially changes Monday when everyone is back in Tempe and the Cards gear up for the camp that starts at the end of the week.

That’s no guarantee anything will happen. Last season, the Cardinals didn’t do anything to the roster (save for signing a couple of draftees) after May 21 until right as camp was starting. The biggest reasons? It was time to put Ryan Swope on the retired list (bringing in Robby Toma) and the Cardinals needed to clear room for linebacker John Abraham and tackle Eric Winston. That made just a bit of a splash as camp opened.

The Cards last transaction was June 9. Could they have another veteran or two that make sense to sign? If it’s going to happen without someone getting injured, this is the time. Vets on the market know they probably aren’t going to make the kind of money they once thought they might (Tyson Clabo, anyone?). This time around, I’m thinking the Cards have some faith in Bobby Massie, enough of which to see how he develops these next few weeks. I don’t know of any decent pass rushers hanging out either. Don’t forget, last year, Bruce Arians was still trying to get a handle on his players. Now, he knows better what they can do.

This isn’t to say the Cardinals aren’t going to stand pat with the roster. Things can change quickly, with players taking physicals next week and everything. You want to maximize the roster as practices begin. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how it all evolves, heading toward that 53-man lineup the Cards must pare down to prior to the season opener against the Chargers.


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Patrick Peterson trains for the upcoming season

Posted by since1898 on July 8, 2014 – 10:37 am

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The move to move guys around

Posted by Darren Urban on August 14, 2013 – 9:58 am

So much has been made about Larry Fitzgerald’s work at all the receiver positions, but in truth, Bruce Arians likes testing out all his receivers. When he talks about young wideouts making errors half the time in the Green Bay game, part of that has to be attributed to what is on their plate. It’s part of the process.

“Coach Arians wants to see guys do things they may not be comfortable with, he wants to see what everyone is good at,” Fitzgerald said. “He wants to see you uncomfortable to push you, to get the best out of you. Everybody is on edge, on their toes. There are plays off the script that you’ve never been prepared for, but he wants you to be thinking, to be studying.”

It goes past the receivers. Arians thinks of camp — especially the early time — as a time for “experimentation.” That may have been one reason, for instance, that the Patrick Peterson-as-receiver scheme picked up steam as the days went past and the Cards saw on the field that he could flourish in such a role.

“Right now you have to press the element to figure out what guys can do,” Arians said. “You have to take them out of their comfort zone too, because they don’t know what their comfort zone is until they try something else. The more tricks you can learn, the more you can do. Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Larry Fitzgerald, they’re all learning all three (receiver) positions. You keep pressing the envelope. That’s how you find special niches — (for instance,) this guy is an outside player, but he’s a hellacious inside pass rusher. You won’t know it until you put him in there.”

– Forbes came out with its latest valuations of each NFL teams, with the Cardinals ranking 24th in the league at a worth of $961 billion million (Oops. Man, if it was billion, I better ask for a raise) in 2012 and an operating income of $9.7 million. The team with the biggest value? Saturday’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, at more than $2 billion. For the full list, go here.

– The Cardinals are off today. They resume practice tomorrow at University of Phoenix Stadium.


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Calais Campbell loves being a Cardinal, and we love it too

Posted by since1898 on August 7, 2013 – 10:29 am

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Tyrann Mathieu knows it’s close

Posted by since1898 on August 7, 2013 – 9:11 am

32DAYS3

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