CJ’s tears, and Friday before the Saints

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2015 – 4:00 pm

Big picture, there are a lot of expectations around the Cardinals this season, as the games that count begin Sunday against the Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. But sometimes, there is the smaller picture, the one of the journey traveled by individual guys to get to this point, like with Carson Palmer’s intense ACL rehab or Earl Watford’s roller-coaster career to suddenly starting right tackle or rookie Rodney Gunter going from nobody to nose tackle.

There is running back Chris Johnson, who everyone knows as the 2,000-yard rusher (way back in 2009) and the guy who didn’t quite fit in with the Jets. But now he’s the running back who was shot in a drive-by in March, his shoulder still carrying the bullet and leaving him mentally shattered.

“Lot of nights crying myself to sleep,” he said Friday.

Johnson was in mourning at that point, fearing the loss of his career. When he was forced into bedrest for six weeks, “that’s when I wondered about what direction my life would take.”

Flash forward to today, where he’s part of the three-pronged running back attack with Andre Ellington and David Johnson, prepping for the Saints. Chris Johnson may not be running for 1,000 yards this season, but he certainly sounds motivated to make yet another one-year deal for a vet by GM Steve Keim look like a bargain.

— Speaking of Johnson, he switched from jersey number 27 to 23. Why? He just didn’t like 27. Neither did Palmer, it turned out.

“It didn’t look good,” Johnson said. “Playing in it, always knew I didn’t like it but once Carson said something to me I knew it was time for me to get out of it.”

The two were playing cards on the plane during the road trip to Denver, and Johnson said Palmer asked him point-blank, “Twenty-seven? You going to stay in that number?” Johnson made up his mind then. “I was like, ‘Nah, I gotta get out of that number.”

— Arians said Michael Floyd was a game-day decision, but it certainly seems like Floyd is trending toward playing. Whether he’d be the “normal” Floyd in terms of gameplan, I don’t know.

— The tight end situation, and the iffy status of both Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas, is the more interesting injury watch. Those two are also game-day decisions. If I had to pick one, I’d say Gresham would play, but we’ll see. If a choice had to be made is a gimpy Gresham or Niklas better than the just-got-here Joseph Fauria?

— There is a lot of talk about how Watford will hold up or the pressure on Palmer or the pass rush, but honestly, one of the top things I’m watching for is Patrick Peterson versus Brandin Cooks. Peterson has set himself up for a big year, a big year that’s needed. Cooks is a tough draw with his speed. Peterson said a key is to stay close, so a simple Cooks wiggle won’t let him get away and race for a big gain. The spotlight has never been brighter on Peterson, whose 2015 confidence is apparent.

— Bruce Arians had to be careful with the game plan this week. Don’t want to make it too hard on the players because of volume.

“You have so much offense and defense from training camp,” Arians said. “A lot of times you feel you have to use it all. That’s a bad feeling when you can’t practice everything you have. Then you have way too much in there.”

— Arians said the offensive prep remains the same with Palmer. Palmer gets to pick the top 15 pass plays with which he is most comfortable, and Arians puts in running plays for the top 30 calls for the game.

— If it’s the Saints, then you have to always tip your cap to the fingertip-less Rashad Johnson, still plugging away after that fateful day in New Orleans almost two years ago. “I’ve got nine more” remains one of the best quotes ever.

— The Cardinals have only lost once in nine home openers at University of Phoenix Stadium. That was 2009, a 20-16 loss to the 49ers coming off the Super Bowl appearance. Oh, and the Cards have yet to lose a home game to a non-NFC West team since Arians took over.

— There’s been a lot said and written the past week. If you missed Cardinals Underground, or Kyle Odegard’s story about the Saints-Cards trade that netted the Cards John Brown or my story on Fitz and where he is in his career, please check them out.

— Otherwise, it’s time for an actual game that counts. (OK, first I have to write a story about the facility renovations and the cool new Tillman locker tribute, to be posted soon). There’s been plenty of talk about it.

See you Sunday.


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Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »

33 Responses to “CJ’s tears, and Friday before the Saints”

  1. By shane on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    So exited for Sunday!

  2. By TucsonTim on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    We’re playing the bounty-gate team that oh by the way happened to cause Kurt Warner to retire…pay back time?

  3. By dkerry5242 on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Fauria had some big TD’s for the Lions. I think he was a good pick up at this time of the Season.

  4. By Dennis on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Unless rush can pressure Brees- it will be a long day.

  5. By tkm on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    hot damn,it’s game on

  6. By sbrown on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    the O-line has to take care of Palmer and give him a chance to make plays to all the WR’s. A big day for the front 7 on defense will make a difference.
    Go Cardinals SB 50 !

  7. By Brad oneill on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    lol darren you have become Rita Skeeter (harry potter refrence). I hope cj2k has a great season some times a little reality check can go a long way in refocussing.

  8. By Darren Urban on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Brad —

    RE: “Skeeter”

    Looking that up, that seems to be an insult. Care to explain why you think that?

  9. By Scott H on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Well, good for CJ. The kid’s been through some stuff since being CJ2K years ago. I’m sure he would rather have success in the present than be reminded of past glories. And if that happens for him in a Cards uniform, then so be it. Been some great stories here in recent years. Warner….The Honey Badger….Palmer….why not Chris Johnson?

    Darren, you scared the hell out of me with your title for this blog! I saw the word “tears” and I immediately thought of tearing, like what happens to a hamstring or an ACL! I wasn’t thinking tears, as in the salty discharge from the eyes when crying. You’re killin’ me, man….:)

    Great to hear Floyd may play Sunday! Looking forward to a bounce back year for him. I believe him to be as capable of any WR in the game right now. Anyone. Time for him to step up and take his place. May take a few weeks to get up to full speed, though.

    I wish Iupati were a possibility as well. I’m hoping he misses no more than one game, two tops.

    Ditto for Gresham. Sure would be nice to not be opening the season with so damn many question marks! Pulling big time for Fells to be the man at TE this year.

    As a promotional thing, I think the Cardinals should offer fans the opportunity to sleep over for a night in that locker room! Sign me up, man! Popcorn….scary movies….pillow fights…..and maybe Uncle Bruce telling us a story before bed! Or, maybe yelling turn off the damn light and go to sleep, already.

    Psyched – and a little nervous – for Sunday. The Saints are no joke. Seems like they are roughed up on defense but you know that offense is gonna roll. Brees is just SOOOO damn good.

    Darren, a question for you – what is happening with Jen Welter at this point? Sorry if I missed it but if something was announced, I did. I know her internship ended. So…is that it?

    Steelers D was TOASTED last night. Just one game, but….not a good start for Butler. Will be interesting to see what impact Lebeau has in Tennessee.

  10. By Chuck 1 on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Hope that the Cards get off to a winning start on Sunday (and, that no Cards are injured!!!).

    I can’t let the great game that Gronkowski (sp?) had against the Steelers go by w/o mentioning how Arians uses his TEs.

    If BA has one glaring fault (IMHO), it’s that he fails (NO, REFUSES) to use his TEs as offensive weapons. If opponents had to not only try to cover Fitz, Floyd, the Browns and Ellington, but a bone fide pass-catching TE, they would be faced with a nightmare.

  11. By Austin on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I love how Aldon smith is going to be playing this week but we can’t get a WORD on Daryl Washington wtf !!! So annoying

  12. By Coach K on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    The Saints are not going to be high scoring like in years past, and with key injuries this week, I see the Cardinals defense dominating this game. Offense will score enough to win, but the defense will be lights out.

  13. By Jon Elder on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    Super Pumped, Go Cards!

  14. By Eazy E on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    That was a real situation with Chris Johnson, God spared his life because his homie got killed, He is so good all the time and has blessed him with another opportunity to be Chris Johnson! I really hope Michael Floyd plays and contributes. The tight end situation is muddled, but I told y’all about Fauria even though he just got here, I think he’ll be a factor this season, maybe this Sunday! Patrick should have no issues with Brandin Cooks! Brandin is talented and very fast, but so is Patrick and he’s faced and shut down much better receivers before! Also, I remember that about Rashad Johnson which makes you cringe and I said, it couldn’t be me, Vanity would have made me feel like crap if that happened. Are you ready Cardinals fans, I know I am!

  15. By Eazy E on Sep 11, 2015 | Reply

    I’m going to Church first to give the Lord his time and then the game God Willin… Who’s excited?!

  16. By Eazy E on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Side Note: I’m going to miss Dr. J, Coach Kirkland, Coach Rod Hood, and the other interns, and I never cared or even knew about teams having intern coaches, but this group was different for obvious reasons(Jen Welter being the first female coach) and was a special group.

  17. By Eazy E on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply


  18. By clssylssy on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Really nice story on Fitz but you make him sound like “yesterdays news” when, in fact, he’s the most consistent player we have on offense. The Browns and JJ are great additions but they aren’t the all-arounder that Fitz is and because of their size will never be Larry. Still, we are quite fortunate to have such a talented group of receivers, and it seems that is an area that the Cards have become known for.
    I’m kinda surprised at the lack of enthusiasm for the regular season opener that seems to prevail across the league and especially on this site.
    I haven’t heard if the game has been sold-out yet, the last I heard it hadn’t been. Perhaps the league has finally managed to kill off it’s Golden Goose with it’s neverending drama throughout the offseason as Mark Cuban forecast!
    While we can’t control the rest of the league we can GET THIS PARTY STARTED!

  19. By Big Ken on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Uh oh Logan Thomas already released by the Miami Dolphins.

  20. By jaime on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    hey Darren, will the audio for the big red rage show be available on the site this season?

  21. By Darren Urban on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Jaime —

    RE: Underground

    As always, it’s on the Cards Underground page—NOvsAZ-Preview/d3a1a6ae-817e-4ef8-80e5-6fb233c3c7da

  22. By Steve on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Darren: Do you remember how Tillman was during interviews, specifically did Pat make himself available for all interviews or was he a bit uncomfortable talking about himself and wanting to be more or less just left alone?

  23. By Darren Urban on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Tillman

    Definitely didn’t like talking about himself. But was a go-to quote about the team.

  24. By rod on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Just saw the cardinals daily with the renovations. We have great ownership now!!!

    Go Cardinals, make a statement first game!!

  25. By Credit Card on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Weird shaped ball, referees that see things the rest of mankind doesn’t, mankind sees things referees seem to miss… Anyway, anything can happen in a game. All NFL teams have quality players and can sneak in and grab a victory.

    As usual, I’m nervous and anxious for the season to start. I think if the Cards can stay away from the injury bug — great things can happen this season.

  26. By K-Dub on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply


    What the color combination for tomorrow?

  27. By Darren Urban on Sep 13, 2015 | Reply

    K-Dub —

    RE: Uniforms

    Red jersey, white pants

  28. By John The Draft Guy on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Easy E,

    Im doing the same. Off to church , then heading to the stadium. , head home and catch the late game. Perfect day.

  29. By Fan in Chi Town on Sep 12, 2015 | Reply

    Eazy E –

    Yahweh bless man. God over everything. Psalm 25 all day. You’re absolutely right. We have to get our praise on, and then we can cheer for the Cards

  30. By shannon robinson on Sep 13, 2015 | Reply

    Quiet event – I get my wish as the red head from Alabama is added to our practice squad – our future center Anthony Steen!

  31. By Red Bird of Death on Sep 13, 2015 | Reply

    Ok, I’ve had enough people I too want to know what’s going on with Washington! Darren it’s been one season the suspension should be lifted and his status moved forward. How can this happen. Do the crime serve the time? I mean if he slips one more he should be banned for life. Let’s also not forget about Michael Vick.

  32. By Darren Urban on Sep 13, 2015 | Reply

    Red Bird —

    RE: DWash

    How do you know if he hasn’t already slipped again?

  33. By rod on Sep 13, 2015 | Reply


    RE knowing

    See that’s the thing, it’s the NOT knowing what has happened is the killer.

    We will all be able to move on after we have closer.

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