Friday before the Saints

Posted by Darren Urban on September 20, 2013 – 3:44 pm

With the possibility Rashard Mendenhall might not play this week (I think he will) because of his toe injury, I’ve heard plenty of questions about Ryan Williams and his status. Bottom line, if Mendenhall is healthy enough to be active Sunday, I don’t see why the running back situation would change – and that would mean Williams would be inactive again.

I asked Bruce Arians about Williams today. “Working his tail off and getting better,” Arians said. “Making up for that lost time. I have no doubt when he gets his opportunity, which he will, he’ll do extremely well with it.”

Many have asked if Williams could be traded (never say never, but as of now, I’d doubt it.) I get that. Many have also wondered why the Cards just don’t release Williams. That I don’t get. If you feel like he can play a little, and he’s a former second-round pick, why just let him go? At this point, they don’t feel he deserves to be active over the top four guys – and again, I see that as a special teams thing as much as anything – but if someone gets hurt, he’s a nice backup plan to have.

OK, with that out of the way, here are some end-of-the-week notes heading into New Orleans weekend:

— The Cardinals have a lot of players heading back to familiar stomping grounds in Louisiana thanks to the LSU pipeline, but Arians has worked hard to limit the distraction. “This,” former LSU star Patrick Peterson said, “is a business trip.” A business trip in which the Cards don’t even get to their hotel until close to 7 p.m. and have a noon game the next day, so there will be very little time for anything but football.

— Given how important this trip is to Tyrann Mathieu, going home and everything, it’s hard not to think he’ll make some sort of big play Sunday. Then again, predicting Mathieu is going to make an impact play isn’t exactly going out on a limb.

— The Saints are just a different team now that Sean Payton is back as head coach after his year-suspension for the bountygate scandal.

“As a head coach, you oversee everything, so I think we missed that the most,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “There are just certain messages that I think only he can convey in his way.”

— Of course, it also helps that Rob Ryan has rehabbed a wretched defense. It wasn’t as if the Saints were bad last year offensively. But defensively, yikes. The one good thing for the Cards? They don’t really have a major pass rusher (although Valley native Cameron Jordan is off to a good start). The Saints also might have some injury issues. Their injury report is loooong, and one of the guys who might miss is guard Jahri Evans, which would be a big deal.

— Rookie running back Andre Ellington had his 36-yard touchdown catch last week and he should have had one in the first game. Someone asked Carson Palmer if Ellington was developing into one of his favorite receivers. There was a little bit of a “Come on, man” answer from Palmer.

“I like the kid, but I have some other guys,” Palmer said. “Number 12 (Roberts), number 11 (Fitz) and number 15 (Floyd), those are my favorite guys to throw to. I would love it if Andre worked his way into that group, but it’s going to take some time and some trust you have to develop. He’s very talented. He’s a tailback and those guys are receivers and there are a lot of differences between the two. I definitely like throwing the ball to those receivers.”

— I just realized, typing that quote, that none of the Cards’ main three receivers have a classic number-in-the-80s jersey. I’d have to look, but I bet no other team has their top three guys in the teens, jersey-number-wise. (As @jrleko points out on Twitter, all five receivers have numbers in the teens, with Jaron Brown at 13 and Kerry Taylor 18. That’s got to be an NFL-first.)

— Justin Bethel’s field-goal block was the Cardinals’ 15th since 2008, most in the NFL in that time span.

— Lions defensive tackle Israel Idonije was fined $15,750 for his hit on Palmer in last weekend’s game.

— Peterson was talking about how much the Saints are loved and he recalled being at LSU when the Saints won the Super Bowl. “I was there when the Saints won their first championship,” Peterson said. “It was like Christmas, every day.”

It wasn’t so much like Christmas the last time the Cards were in New Orleans. That didn’t end so well (and then Kurt Warner retired.) We’ll see if the result is different this time.

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23 Responses to “Friday before the Saints”

  1. By hummer53 on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    Have to chuckle when I see the Todd Bowles interviews. Is there anyone more cerebral than he is. My blood pressure has to be twice his. I wonder if he’s like that during a game? I’m a mess during games.

  2. By Miles on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    The last time the cardinals were in new orleans i made a bet with my Chief that the cardinals would destroy the saints, the winner got to shave the loser head completely bald. We were out at twenty Nine palms when this took place and i remember just heading to my chief before the game was over to get my head buzzed….. Lets get some revenge please.

  3. By johnnybluenose on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    I can recall times in years past when a player would end up in whiz’s doghouse and would never get out. I believe things are different now that BA is in charge. But I can’t help thinking that Ryan Williams is being punished for not participating much during training camp and pre-season. I do understand that his pass protection skills have been questioned but if he is healthy and doing as well as BA implies then I really do not understand why he would be inactive, especially with Mendenhall far from 100%. I think everyone needs to find out if this kid can play and play to the level that was expected when he was a 2nd round draft pick in 2011.

  4. By Jbhughes on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    I think his knee injury from 2 seasons ago never healed well or got reinjured. Smith, Ellington & Taylor are all great backs so they can afford to sit Williams. My question is why do they keep running Smith as the second back? I think he’s averaging less than 2.5 ypc. I know he had a good camp but I think Taylor needs more repa

  5. By drummer-1 on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    Speaking of WR numbers, call me oldschool but i’d prefer all recivers numbers stay in the 80’s.. Not too fond of the teens for wr’s

  6. By AzDesertRat1953 on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    Sounds to me like BA is getting Ryan up to speed during practice, not much training camp for him, and if/when Rashard gets nicked for one or two games use Ryans fresh legs with the same backups. You know what you have with the backups.
    Ryan could very well be a nice surprise this year for the Cards, and his New Coaches.

    Also another nice surprise, Rob Housler could play.

    The only Revenge I want from last year is to go to Florida 2-1!!!

    GO CARDS!!!

  7. By mal on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply


    I’ve thot the same thing — that Williams is sitting cuz he missed pre-season with an injury that BA said he thot may have been all in his head.

    BUT we disagree cuz I dont think its at all about being in BA’s doghouse. I think BA is a master motivator and is making Williams earn his way back onto the field,at the same time rewarding the backs who busted ass for him during pre-season. When Williams finally gets back out there, he’ll be an absolute beast with all that pent-up drive.

    BA seems to know just which strings to pull to get the most out of these guys. Just like with Dansby — who missed most of pre-season with that “hammy” — I’m pretty sure Karlos was still on the field with all the scrubs who were gonna get cut the next day in the fourth quarter of the fourth pre-season game. Coach sent him a message, too.

  8. By Bay Area Bad Boy on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    With Minter being out and Mendenhall not 100%, I can see Ryan Williams suiting up. Regardless of how well Ellington has looked, he is still a rookie. I’m sure the Saints will game plan against Mendenhall and Ellington, but they have no film on Williams. Smith and Taylor haven’t show much yet.

  9. By WVcardFan on Sep 20, 2013 | Reply

    Darren, I’m not sure if the WR # thing is as rare as you think. In fact, the team the Cards are playing this week had their top FOUR WR for a few years in the tens/teens (Colston 12, Moore 16, Meachem 17, Henderson 19).

  10. By adamant on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    As long as a player is doing his job and is effective…let him wear whatever number he wants.

  11. By Mike G on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is good!–Looking forward to the game tomorrow! I hope the Card’s can split these two road games. That would be a good start for this team. Curious to see how Levi plays this week–another loud dome game on a quick surface. The team must handle the 1st Qtr and keep it close. I hope the running game is successful this week and that the Card’s can sustain drives. Looking for the special teams to keep playing well and pin the Saints deep in their territory. Hopefully Feely can hit a few as well! Need a big game from Palmer–probably need at least 24 points to win this game. Let’s see how this plays out————- Go Big Red!!!!!

  12. By robertm320 on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    Actually, Saints had it for a long time. Marques Colston (12), Lance Moore (16), Devery Henderson (19), Robert Meachum (17) were the four WR for the Saints for 5 seasons.

  13. By clssylssy on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    Most teams can win at home and the real test comes when they are up against a worthy opponent on the road…the next two games will be a true test of how far they’ve come since losing the season opener on the road. Owning the Dome and beating the Saints in their house will be a real accomplishment if we can pull off a win–a feat that will be on a level with beating the Patriots in Foxboro last season which earned us a measure of respect. This is an opportunity to again start the season on a positive note and regain some much sought after respect. The Saints are 2-0 by squeeking by there first games and haven’t played at nearly the level of the 1-1 Cards, nevertheless a W is a W! The Bucs are suppose to have a really tough defense but by my calculations by the time we play them they will have been smacked down a few pegs by huge fines for their unrepentant dirty play and should be vulnerable for a beat down of their own courtesy of the Cards. Winning these two road games will give the Cards the creds they need to be once again taken seriously. I am really like the depth of this Cards team and feel that Williams will play all in due time and will be fresh and sort of an “under the radar” weapon.
    The Cards have historically done their best when the underdog and against all odds…am hoping that we can continue that tradition this week and follow it up again against the Bucs. Looking forward to seeing what Coach BA has planned for Jimmy Graham…LOL..I’m sure it will be something special! GO CARDS! YOU CAN DO IT:)

  14. By ored on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    how can smith be regarded as a great back w/-2.5 average,pretty sure he has speed but has yet to display it in a game,he may be a good blocker but so was our fullback.just my opinion that we need an above average TE or at the least bring back a dual threat FB in place of smith,a good FB should be able to get 2.5 yards a carry and block at least as well,i think there is a FB that has broken out as a impressive RB,just don’t remember who he plays for now.switch housler to wide out,use oour best TE or trade/draft one or go back to a FB who has a higher ceiling than smith.does’nt make sense to keep him over a Fb with a higher upside,if not that,then overload the TE position,every TE should block at least as well as smith,probably be a bigger recieving threat,and capable of 2.5 ypc.this was not to pick on smith,but it just seems like there are better options,maybe he’s there as a stopgap until williams blocking is up to speed,i don’t know,but he’s not as versatile as ellington and does’nt have the potential of taylor or williams…just wish we would find a stud TE and then everything else falls into place.

  15. By Chuck 1 on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    “GREAT” is an overused word.

  16. By James on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    What has Ryan Williams shown to warrant him being active and one of the other backs being inactive?Could someone please answer that question for me? Because he was a second round draft choice?Don’t get me wrong,I like Williams and want him to do well.Coach knows what he’s doing,let him handle this situation the way he wants to handle it.

  17. By sbrown on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    ored –
    BA does not run his offense with a FB, that is why Cards traded Sherman to KC. I do agree that TE is an area of need, and I do expect to see the Cards in the next Draft to go Left Tackle / TE / D End , with their first three picks. Go Cards !

  18. By billy_idle on Sep 21, 2013 | Reply

    I noticed on the Cardinals team webpage at NFL dot com, in the transactions section, that Nicholas Edwards was picked up for the practice squad on 9/19 and released on 9/20. Perhaps a failed physical or a mistake?

    No mention of it here at the Cardinals website – anyone have any insight on this?

    On another note: Anyone know what jersey color we wear in N.O this week? The Saints wore white at home last week …

  19. By Darren Urban on Sep 22, 2013 | Reply

    Billy —

    RE: Jerseys

    The Cards will wear red.

  20. By D.Robles on Sep 22, 2013 | Reply

    the defensive coordinator is garbage

  21. By Rick on Sep 22, 2013 | Reply

    God we suck

  22. By D.Robles on Sep 22, 2013 | Reply

    WOW, I really feel soooo sorry for the defense. I really think the pop warner coach in East Mesa could do a better job than todd bowles. I really like what Bruce Arians is doing, but todd bowles is not the defensive coordinator for us. The defense looks a little better than the Eagles did last year, horrible compared to the Cardinals defense last year. Can we have a good defensive coordinator to match our Great Coach, or do we have to pick either or? That’s what it seems like we have to pick either or, last year we had a horrible head coach & a great Defensive Coordinator in Ray Horton. This year we have a Great Head Coach in Bruce Arians & a HORRIBLE defensive coordinator in todd bowles. todd bowles must be a great SALESPERSON, but defensive coordinator………… NEVER!!!!!

  23. By Andy Kw on Sep 22, 2013 | Reply

    -Our defense is just terrible. It was part of the reason to why the Philadelphia Eagles had a 4-12 season last year. Todd Bowles is terrible, I can’t believe Bruce Arians and the GM would decide to hire him.
    -As I mentioned many times, our defense was terrible and I stand corrected. Yards do matter and now I hope you fans see why.
    -I can’t wait when this team fires DC Todd Bowles and the secondary staff.
    -I hope this team cuts: SS Yeremiah Bell, CB Antoine Cason, DL Ronald Talley, LB Jaspar Brinkley, OT Levi Brown, S Javier Arenas, LB Lorenzo Alexander, LB Matt Shaugnessey, DL Frostee Rucker, CB Jerraud Powers.
    -This defense just sucks and we do not have a long term QB. Fire the entire defensive staff.

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