Wednesday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2014 – 9:47 am

The fourth preseason game is what it is. Teams are leery about playing anyone of any starting importance, because whatever little you might gain in a few more game reps is highly outweighed by the opportunity to get injured. How the actual game plays out — like the Cardinals going against the Chargers — means nothing. This one may mean even less, since the two teams have to play their very next game against each other. No reason to show anyone anything. At all.

That being said, there are some things to watch in the game tomorrow night, thanks to injuries, a new quarterback and a couple of roster spots that look like they could go either way:

— Logan Thomas is going to get to play the whole game, for the first time in the NFL and likely for the last time in a long time. The rookie fourth-round quarterback looked really good in his debut against Houston, he looked less comfortable against Cincinnati. He gets 60 minutes now, though. Bruce Arians said he just wants to see Thomas be efficient and take care of the ball. Thomas admitted he already has become more settled now since arriving in Arizona, and he knows he’s about to sit and not play (and really, not practice much either) for a long time. He has the right attitude. There’s really nothing on the line since he’s a lock to be on this roster. Take the pressure off, and let’s see what he can do.

— Very curious to see if S Tyrann Mathieu plays. I have long felt that the Cardinals are OK in the secondary to not have any reason to want/need to rush Mathieu back. I don’t think they will rush him. The question is how comfortable/confident Mathieu is to get back into live action. This is about mental as much as physical by now.

— The other guys coming off injuries all are also worth watching. We know the story of Jonathan Cooper at this point, and dealing with his turf toe. The Cardinals are probably best suited to deal with his recovery too with the way Ted Larsen is playing. The team needs Kevin Minter at inside linebacker, and we will see how he can perform. Minter seemed very confident earlier this week. That’s a good sign. Like Mathieu, you want to see nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu in real game action — especially where he plays and how there are always bodies down by your legs — a scary thought for a guy coming off a torn ACL. Again, mental as much as physical.

— As for the battles for rosters spots, these are the ones I see out there (and the ones to watch in the game): The backup tackle spot between Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter, both who figure to start. Potter will be on the left and Sowell on the right Thursday, but it’ll be surprising if both can make the cut. The special teams/cornerback slot with Teddy Williams and Bryan McCann. It figures one will be in, the other out. McCann is a little more polished as a cornerback, but Williams definitely can be more physical. This comes down to who they like better for special teams. And then there are the many linebackers who seem to be on the bubble. Desmond Bishop. Alex Okafor. Lorenzo Alexander. Marcus Benard. Glenn Carson too. You’ve only got so many spots. Pay attention to their play.

— Finally, reports are that the Cardinals will at least work out veteran linebacker James Harrison. Sounds like it’ll be less about anything immediate and instead seeing what is available. Veteran defensive lineman Tommy Kelly may be the same situation. Something to keep in mind this time of year, signing a veteran after Week One means the salary is not guaranteed, so there will be some vets signed after the first game around the league — especially those who might not have a lot left in the tank.


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22 Responses to “Wednesday before the Chargers”

  1. By chrisgaer on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Alex Okafor on the Bubble? Really?

    Another question. Is reducing the squad to 53 players technically Keims or BAs duty? Who has the last word on it?
    (Although hopefully they will try to agree on the decision anyway)

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    chrisgaer —

    RE: Okafor/duty

    I’d think Okafor is probably safe, but you never know.

    As for the roster, B.A. obviously has his input. But Keim makes the final call.

  3. By Andy Kw on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Let’s just say James Harrison is signed whether if he is signed now or after week one. We have Alex Okafor, Marcus Benard, Lorenzo Alexander, Kenny Demens, Glenn Carson, & Desmond Bishop.
    -Marcus Bernard has been consistent and I can see him making the roster at OLB.
    Kenny Demens proved that although he wasn’t drafted, he can still play well at the pro level. He is an above average ILB that can stuff the run with the best of them and he shown it in the preseason. I can see him making the roster.
    -I know Lorenzo Alexander has 2yrs left on his contract but he has struggled to pick up the system. Special teams or starter, he is not the player he once was. For a pro bowl special teams player, his injury derailed his career. He could be cut or he could be traded. We will see.
    -Desmond Bishop has shown more progress than Alexander. I can see him beat out Alexander to make the roster at ILB.
    -Are Keim & Arians willing to place Okafor on the practice squad if Harrison is signed? I think not. Okafor could face some heat if struggles but I see him making the roster.
    -Glenn Carson is likely in at Practice Squad but not the 53 man roster

  4. By br in nc on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Andy kW,
    Hope your right about Bishop, I just have this gut feeling he would be better to keep over Alexander. Lorenzo Alexander just didn’t or hasn’t panned out so far for the Cardinals, they brought him in with an opportunity to contend for a starting OLB job, knowing that his special teams play was at or close to a pro bowl level, so he could always fall back on his special teams play if full time OLB didn’t work out, but in my opinion, neither has really worked out. What is puzzling is, I’m not sure why he didn’t at least continue his high level of play on special teams, schemes can’t be all that different on special teams from one coaching staff to another? I have never really studied closely how complicated one special teams schemes are over another’s, just assumed they fly around out on the field with no reguard for their body, and that most seem to switch to “certified psycho” mode (no I still can’t spell) on game day, then “snap”, back to being a nice Guy, until the next game rolls around. Anyone have any knowledge when it comes to special teams, and how they vary from team to team, or if they do at all? Always up to learning something new.

  5. By Smack28 on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    I think signing Harrison would make a lot of sense. Who knows, BA might be exactly what he needs at this point in his career to raise his level of play from the past two years. Also, you can never have too many pass rushers.

  6. By br in nc on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    A plus for the Cardinals is we play the 3-4, in Cincinnati he was playing in a 4-3, that has to explain some of his lost production, that and he isn’t a spring chicken anymore.

  7. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Like him, but to me, with limited views, Okafor seems a step slow. BA loves speed. Trust both Potter and Sowell PS eligible? It will add a lot of excitement if Tyrann plays, can’t imagine he won’t. Wonder if a few run options for Logan? Might be a fun game. Can hardly wait for MNF! wow.

  8. By D on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    I like Keim being aggressive on bringing in FA’s just to keep someone on speed dial.
    I think Okafor will be safe. But, this year is huge for him, Acho and Benard if he makes the team. If Keim has to bring in Pass rushers to help John A out this year, then some or all of those OLB could be in their last year as a Cardinal.

    (I believe Acho is in his last year of deal and I believe Benard is on a 1 yr deal)

    Also this is a big year for D. Williams and Ta’amu who I think both are in their last years on their currents deals at NT.

    I could see Sowell winning the backup Tackle job for week 1, but don’t think we have seen the last of M. Starks if he is still available this year.

    Logan just needs reps and to remember he doesn’t have to throw his passes through walls every time.

  9. By clssylssy on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Agree with Smack 28 and think Harrison would be a great short-term addition to our defense. Marc Sessler of summed it up as follows:”Knowing Harrison well from their days together in Pittsburgh, coach Bruce Arians is looking for difference-makers to join Arizona’s depleted defense. Last year’s edgy unit has lost defensive end Darnell Dockett to a season-ending knee injury and inside linebacker Daryl Washington to a year-long suspension. With Karlos Dansby leaving for Cleveland and John Abraham just returning from a long summer hiatus, the Cardinals’ D threatens to take a major step back in 2014.”
    Glad to see Arians/Keim are actively looking for difference makers to beef up our defense even if it’s short-term or for depth. While I can see the logic in waiting for these players to go “on sale” after week one the winners in this game of chicken may be those who don’t hesitate and strike while the iron is hot. Depending on their skills and salesmen Arians/Keim might even be able to convince Harrison to come to the Cards as an opportunity to boost his stock before retiring…it worked on Dansby!

  10. By br in nc on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    James Harrison is worth a look, although not real impressive with the Bengals last year, he will be back in his natural 3-4 OLB position. Bengals play 4-3 and I think he struggled picking it up, he was an OLB in the Bengals scheme, not a pass rush DE, as a 3-4 OLB I believe he will impress people much more than last year with the Bengals. Plus he is formerly from Arizona East, SK we have to give him a look! LOL!! Anyone have any thought on Tommy Kelly, I never really followed him, when he played for the Raiders (I despise the Raiders!) So I have no clue where he would best fit in on our D-line?

  11. By All day on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Very excited to see Thomas play a whole game. I personally loved the pick when we got him.

    As for Mathieu I’m not sure it makes sense to play him at this point. Tyrann is still gonna be Tyrann. Why risk re-injuring his knee? He could use the reps I’m sure but he will start week one if he’s ready so may as well wait. The risk is probably higher than the reward.

  12. By krehbieo14 on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Tommy Kelly is a great pick up for the Cards! Can’t imagine what the Patriots were thinking. I don’t believe money was a factor. If they don’t want the depth, we’ll take it. Nice move Mr. Keim.

  13. By Scott H on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    Harrison is totally a Why-not proposition. The Cards have nothing to lose, maybe something to gain. As John Belushi said in Animal House – Don’t cost nothin’!

    This game on Thurs day will beyond useless in regard to seeing or knowing anything about the Cardinals or the Chargers in terms of who they will be in 2014. But I think getting to see Logan Thomas play a whole game COULD tell us something useful about what we may have for the future.

  14. By clssylssy on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    @br in nc: I share your towards the Raiders for the most part going back to my days iin KC and they were a division rival. They got a little classier with Rich Gannon then fell apart again, and I recall a shooting incident when the Cards played them in 2012. My impression of Tommy Kelly at that time was that he was something of a thug, I know he did a lot of trash talking but, it may have been the Raider culture. I would prefer James Harrison because he is a familiar commodity and BA knows him. At this point perhaps we need somebody who isn’t Mr. Nice Guy as long as he doesn’t take a bad attitude to the locker room?

  15. By Andy Kw on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    DT Tommy Kelly looks like a legitimate starter. If you watched how he played last year before he got injured, he looked like the best Defensive Tackle in the NFL, no offense to Darnell Dockett. If he impresses in the preseason finale, Isaac Sopoaga could be on a plane home. Sopoaga was really happy for the opportunity here and I would be disappointed to see him go. But you never know, Sopoaga still has a chance.

  16. By cardsalltheway on Aug 27, 2014 | Reply

    “reports are that the Cardinals will at least work out veteran linebacker James Harrison.”

    Let’s just hope that he’s in shape, clean of the green(harmless medicinal drug banned by the NFL), and ain’t into guzzling the liquid poison(killer beer/alcohol drug the NFL endorses and advertises).

  17. By Tien on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    Hey Darren, since the Cardinals are playing the Chargers the week right after, do you see them running basic plays like nothing from the playbook?

  18. By Darren Urban on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    Tien —

    RE: Playbook

    I wouldn’t say nothing from the playbook, but I would say they aren’t going to show much.

  19. By br in nc on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    Have to hedge your bets that the veteran you want after week 1 is still going to be available, so you may gain a non guaranteed contract (which obviously is to the teams advantage) or you may lose out on the player all together by trying to wait to get that non guaranteed contract, little bit of strategy, little bit of luck, seems both come into play, IMHO, this plays well for the Cardinals, SK & BA seem to be experts (as in better than the majority of their peers) at signing veterans late in the process, and those players becoming key contributors, they seem to have a extra keen eye when it comes to churning the bottom of the roster (with the only miss being Max Starks, and he was injured/hurt), maybe Ernie Sims, but the Cards were trying him at ILB, not his natural OLB position, but then again, the Guy was a very high first round pick, so asking him to move inside shouldn’t be an issue, and of course he has never really lived up to his draft position, and potential. Nothing gained, nothing lost on that one. Anyone think of a veteran miss that I forgot??

  20. By clssylssy on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    When comparing Harrison and Kelly many fans will lump them together or, because of Harrison’s high visibility in the league for so long will assume he is much older when in reality there is less than two years that separates the two. Harrison played in a 4-3 scheme with the Bengals last year and suffered, whereas Kelly suffered a serious enough injury that the Patriots didn’t think he was worth taking a chance on. Both could benefit from playing for the Cards but Harrison will probably retire a Steeler in the not-to-distant future.
    Sometimes to fans, there is a thin line that gets blurred by the media separating defensive players who are top tier passionate defensive players from thugs. However, if you check a player’s resume, the difference often lies in their creds and tenure in the league.

    James Harrison: Among his list of creds and honors some are:
    x5 ProBowl Player (x2 first team ProBowl)
    x2 SuperBowl Champion Team member
    AP Defensive Player of the Year
    x2 Pittsburg Steeler Team MVP
    x2 AFC Defensive Player of the Month
    Holds the record for longest interception in Superbowl history
    Ranked in Top 100 NFL Players #21, #29, 2011, 2012
    645 Tackles
    66 QB Sacks
    6 Interceptions
    29 Forced Fumbles

    Tommy Kelly: ProBowl alternate (x1)
    441 tackles
    36.5 sacks
    1 interception
    9 Forced Fumbles

    Do I think the Cards will have a chance with Harrison–not likely, but we can hope.I believe he is a Steeler at heart and probably considering retiring. He would also likely want more money.
    Kelly may be doable in Dockett’s absence if he can hold up physically and the injury doesn’t derail him.
    Still, I like that Keim is making an attempt to beef up the defense:)

  21. By cardsalltheway on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    @ clssylssy,
    “When comparing Harrison and Kelly many fans will lump them together or, because of Harrison’s high visibility in the league for so long will assume he is much older when in reality there is less than two years that separates the two.”

    Really, who is “lumping” them together and why would you think that? If anyone is “lumping” them it’s you even though Tommy Kelly was not mentioned in Darren’s post. Nonetheless, they do both play defense and it’s you who says they’re both “thugs.” BTW, 2 1/2 years difference is a lot at age 36 compared to 33. For me, the biggest difference is that T. Kelly is just coming off an ACL injury and he is a DT compared to James Harrison the LB. As far as your provided stats, most good LB’s have higher stats than good DT’s. I hope they both stay healthy, eligible, and produce for the Cardinals in the rotation.

  22. By clssylssy on Aug 28, 2014 | Reply

    @ Cardsalltheway…by lumping them together, many fans (outside Cardinal land apparently)believe one tough defensive pounder is pretty much a pounder by virtue of the job description of ‘defending”. I don’t recall referring to James Harrison as a thug although admit that was my impression of Kelly when he was with the Raiders. I am aware that linebackers usually have better stats but I would then compare Dockett and Kelly as they are both linemen…Kelly doesn’t quite measure up with Doc but. My point was that I am happy to see Keim get us some heavy duty defensive support and as far as age goes, yes in the NFL especially it can be a big difference but as in life it depends on the individual and most elite players(like Harrison) tend to take REALLY good care of themselves, stay in shape and play longer. Kelly had a impressive beginning with the Pats but apparently they didn’t think he was going to come back to his pre-injury form or they would have kept him. It would be great if the Cards could get them both and they could have a good and productive year as Cards 🙂

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