A healthy Friday before the Lions

Posted by Darren Urban on October 9, 2015 – 3:53 pm

There is no real wood here at my desk – not sure exactly what it’s made of, actually – so there isn’t anything on which to knock. Normally, no biggie, although I’m going to go all mentioning-the-no-hitter-in-the-seventh-inning and say it: The Cardinals are really, really healthy. Four games into the season, and they are about as healthy as an NFL team can ever be.

Bruce Arians noted it when he said, thanks to the impending return of wide receiver J.J. Nelson from a shoulder injury, that the Cardinals will have “seven healthy scratches” Sunday in Detroit for the inactive list. When has that ever happened?

Arians admitted there will be tough decisions on who sits. If Nelson plays, you figure that’ll send Brittan Golden back to the bench. But with Andre Ellington back, someone else needs out, and it’s unlikely to be a running back. The inactive list will indeed be interesting to see – but again, it’s a good problem to have.

— The Cardinals have a long week ahead, staying in West Virginia to practice at The Greenbrier, which is where the New Orleans Saints hold their training camp. First comes the game against the Lions though, a team that’s 0-4 yet have the Cardinals talking all week about how dangerous they are.

“You forget they have Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, the cat from Nebraska,” linebacker Kevin Minter said. “This is a talented team. They are a few plays from being almost undefeated. Last week, I feel they got cheated (in Seattle). I wouldn’t sleep on the Lions. I know we’re not.”

— “The cat from Nebraska” is running back Ameer Abdullah, who has flashed some talent despite the Lions’ struggles running the ball. Arians said how much he liked Abdullah coming out, and he was in consideration by the Cardinals at draft time. Things would be different with Abdullah instead of David Johnson, although the way Johnson has played, I don’t think the Cardinals would want to make any swaps.

— Speaking of running backs, the trio is back together and healthy. How will it play out? Ellington isn’t sure, exactly.

“Coach doesn’t really share too many of his thoughts,” Ellington said. “So we’ll see.”

Ellington said he’d play his role. The guess is that Chris Johnson starts, and Ellington splits time (I don’t think CJ gets the vast bulk of the work, but like Ellington said, we’ll see.) David Johnson will do something, you’d figure. But it’s nice to have options.

— A big reason the Cardinals are running the ball so well – and they really are at this point – is the offensive line. Yes, there are things to improve with communication and such, but the line overall has been better. ranks the Cardinals after four games as the 11th-best line in the NFL. That hasn’t happened in recent memory. And to think, Mike Iupati has a game underneath him and the Lions are missing their defensive tackles.

— Arians said he will “wait and see” who does punt returns Sunday. If Nelson is healthy, does he get it back from Patrick Peterson? Nelson did muff his last punt catch attempt. But given Peterson’s defensive importance, I would think it’ll be Nelson’s duty sooner rather than later.

— After the craziness of the end of the Lions-Seahawks game and the fact Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright didn’t know the batted ball rule (and nearly cost his team a dramatic win because of it), Arians said coaching assistant Wes Goodwin (no relation to OC Harold) goes through every game each week to “find something crazy” so it can be a teaching moment for the Cardinals.

Goodwin took over the job from James Bettcher, when Bettcher was elevated to defensive coordinator. The team goes over the plays every Thursday morning, teaching as best as possible.

— For the record, Arians said he knew the batted ball play was a penalty as it happened, which would have made for an interesting moment had he been coaching the Lions.

“It would have been a hell of a fight on that sideline,” Arians quipped.

— Left tackle Jared Veldheer, a Michigan native, is playing in his home state for the first time in his career. Veldheer estimated he attended three or four games at Ford Field growing up, and not surprisingly, he’s expecting a pretty large group of his family and friends at the game Sunday. He shrugged off the idea it’d make him nervous.

“I think it’s better,” Veldheer said. “It fuels me. It’s fun to be able to have guys you played college football with in the stands, high school football with, friends. That stuff is cool to me.”

— A big matchup, considering a) Patrick Peterson has played so well and b) Calvin Johnson has done little for a struggling Lions’ offense: P2 versus Megatron.

— A final statistical note: The Cardinals have only had four three-and-out possessions this season. And they had none in their lone loss last week.

The Motor City awaits.


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Posted in Blog | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “A healthy Friday before the Lions”

  1. By Steve on Oct 9, 2015 | Reply

    Darren personally I think the “cat” from Northern Iowa is better!!

  2. By Red Dead Redemption on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    I don’t care how good the Lions are on paper. I don’t care that the point spread is only -3. I also don’t care about the Seattle game because they are not playing great ball in their own right. A championship team or one interested in winning a championship. Blows a struggling team like the Lions out. After a loss where almost the whole team plays like crap. It’s about pride and making a point.

    If this game isn’t all but over by halftime I will be disappointed. I expect nothing but a domination of the Lions. At worst I expect a Broncos type game where the Cards pull away at the end.

    No excuses. Get a win.

    Go Cards.

  3. By cheesebeef on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    Holy jinx Darren!

  4. By Darren Urban on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    cheese —

    RE: Jinx

    Comon cheese, you’ve been reading me so long, you know I don’t go there.

  5. By Dr. G. on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    I am eager to watch this game; the Lions are much better that their record indicates.

    Patrick Peterson has played so well???? Rarely tested is more apropos. I am giving him all benefit now that he ((says)) has quit eating a back of cookies before bed and candy bars for lunch…dropping 25 lbs ((some estimates)). He looks better and at the least seems to want to try to help in the return game. He was considered by many to be the best athlete coming into the draft…I think he just took things for granted, and now realizes that others are good too…((4 years later))

    As you ((Darren)) posted earlier, he stands at the precipice of better WRs coming his way. If he wants to “become” a top CB, he will have to contain many of the better WRs in this league…and just quit rapping about it. Last season a few guys like Julio embarrassed him big time. We shall see… I await his upgraded performance. We need it.

    I still think he would contribute better at Safety, ‘cuz he wouldn’t get juked so much by the quicker WRs…but tackling will be a challenge for him. …later GO CARDS…!

  6. By Scott H on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    Good to be healthy, good to be able to run the ball when you have to ( or, even when you don’t! ).

    Hell, it’s just good to be a Cardinals fan! I love how, since they lost last week, the Cardinals have fallen out of so many conversations while the 4-0 Falcons and Bengals continue to be media sweethearts. Hey, whatever. Nothing wrong with flying under the radar.

  7. By rod on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    Thus isn’t college football, you can’t expect a blowout. Anything can happen.

    I just want the team to get their minds right now that they have had a slice of humble pie.

    Go Cardinals, stay focused, keep working hard, stay smart and win a ring!

  8. By Chuck 1 on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    By Red Dead Redemption on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    …”If this game isn’t all but over by halftime I will be disappointed. I expect nothing but a domination of the Lions. At worst I expect a Broncos type game where the Cards pull away at the end.”…

    My comment: That’s the kind of overlay optimistic comments that I saw before last weeks loss.

    Will fans never learn?

  9. By Coach K on Oct 10, 2015 | Reply

    Holy Jinx Batman

  10. By Cardinalman on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply


    You are really lucky to stay at the Greenbrier a top notch resort/hotel since the late 1800s. I lived back east and never made it. But I do plan on staying there when the opportunity arises. Are you able to tour the bunker? I would really like to do that.

  11. By Darren Urban on Oct 11, 2015 | Reply

    Cardinalman —

    RE: Bunker

    That’s my plan.

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