For much of the season, the NFL and its players have been trying to work towards support to players’ concerns about social issues and create a social justice partnership/initiative. Recently, the league agreed to donate $90 million while teaming with players toward those goals. With owners meetings currently underway, ESPN’s Jim Trotter reported the tentative working groups for the initial social justice meeting between the league and the players will have a decidedly Cardinals flavor.
Among the players and former players expected to take part are three ex-Cardinals: Anquan Boldin (who, along with Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, has been at the forefront of this work from the players’ side), Josh McCown and Aeneas Williams (who was tapped by the city of Ferguson to help heal that area after the unrest there in 2014.)
On the owners’ side, one of the representatives is Cardinals president Michael Bidwill. This too is not a surprise. Current Cardinals have been pleased with how engaged Bidwill has been with them this season on this subject. It is obviously a hot-button topic this year with the NFL and many fans, and working toward results — rather than rhetoric — is important.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Anquan Boldin, Josh McCown, Michael Bidwill
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Patrick Peterson is the Cardinals’ Man of the Year for a second time, but his time as a punt returner, well, “that stage of my career is over,” he said. Not necessarily because he thinks he can’t do it anymore, but it’s not like the Cardinals are going to put him back there that much. He’s too valuable as a cornerback.
Now, if you asked to go play offense? “That chapter is not over,” Peterson said with a grin. “I’m going to leave that open, and I have a couple of blank pages for coach.”
Peterson said he wishes he could play offense. “I’m an offensive guy at heart,” he said. He wouldn’t even mind quarterback, although that’s not going to happen.
Catching a pass or two would be interesting. The Cardinals will be down John Brown Sunday against the Titans, and J.J. Nelson is nursing a sore knee. Chad Williams should get a little more work.
“(Patrick) used to be in the book, when we didn’t have any speed,” coach Bruce Arians said. “He may be back in there soon.”
*Editor’s Note: Peterson isn’t playing offense this weekend. Or this year, I’m guessing.*
— The other Peterson isn’t playing Sunday, but that isn’t a surprise any longer. Adrian Peterson still hasn’t practiced since suffering the neck injury and his road to return is vague, to say the least. Arians has no answers and Peterson has not yet spoken to the media since getting hurt. More chances for Kerwynn Williams.
— On the good side, having left tackle Jared Veldheer is crucial, especially when weighed against the fact the Titans are without pass rusher Derrick Morgan.
— Quietly, money linebacker Deone Bucannon returned to full practice this week from his ankle injury. Arians already said Josh Bynes – who is playing very well – will get snaps. It’ll be interesting to see how playing time is parceled out to Bucannon, Bynes and Karlos Dansby.
— Don’t forget that the Aeneas Williams episode of “A Football Life” is tonight.
— Also, there is a toy drive Sunday at the stadium, if you would like to contribute. Monetary donations or new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the gates.
— Marcus Mariota is not Russell Wilson, not even close. Maybe someday, but not today. Still, there are some similarities in terms of mobility in the pocket. The one thing Mariota has (surprisingly) not done well this season (that Wilson absolutely does) is throw on the run. The Cardinals don’t want Mariota escaping for long runs, but if they can get him to move and still try to throw, maybe that is something they can exploit.
— Former Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis is spending this season as the color analyst for the Titans’ radio network. Mac was a great personality to cover back in the day, and that final locker room speech he made after the famous McCown-to-Poole touchdown – knowing he’d be fired as coach – is as emotional as they get.
— The Titans visit University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday and that will complete the league – Tennessee is the only team not yet to have played in the Cardinals’ “new” stadium, which is in its 12th season. The Cardinals would prefer to be lousy houseguests – Arians is 6-1 against the AFC South since coming to Arizona.
— Larry Fitzgerald needs 26 yards to pass Randy Moss. I’m gonna guess he has that in the first quarter. No, I’m not putting any money on it.
See you Sunday.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Aeneas Williams, Dave McGinnis, Deone Bucannon, Jared Veldheer, Josh Bynes, Karlos Dansby, Kerwynn Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Marcus Mariota, Patrick Peterson, Titans
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The Cardinals have gotten their share of “A Football Life” episodes over the years, whether it was Bruce Arians or Pat Tillman or Emmitt Smith or, just recently, Larry Fitzgerald. Friday, another Cardinal will get his time with a documentary: Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams.
The show will premiere Friday at 7 p.m. Arizona time on the NFL Network. Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. Of course, he was excellent for so many years in Arizona, really the first Arizona-bred Cardinal — drafted in 1991, he was the first great that played for the Cardinals that hadn’t come over from St. Louis during the 1988 move.
It isn’t just about football — in fact, the episode is built around Williams the man. He’s a pastor, who has his own church in Ferguson, Missouri, where race riots threw things into chaos after the Michael Brown shooting in 2014, a week after Williams went into the Hall of Fame. Williams, as is shown, helped bring the community back together. (Click here for the preview.)
Oh, and he was a heck of a player too. As one-time Cardinals defensive backs coach Rob Ryan noted, “He was the first Revis Island. He was Aeneas Williams Island.”
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Rob Ryan
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When the Rams left St. Louis, they also left a void in the community in a couple of places. In one such case, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill stepped in, donating $10,000 to the St. Louis chapter of the National Football Foundation so it could hold its annual banquet to honor local high school football players.
Now, Bidwill is being honored himself, for the gesture. He will be recognized at the Musial awards — named for St. Louis Cardinals baseball Hall of Famer Stan Musial. The awards banquet is in St. Louis Nov. 18.
“Michael Bidwill’s actions embody the goodness and decency we seek to celebrate with the Musial Awards,” St. Louis Sports Commission president Frank Viverito told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “This was something he certainly did not have to do and did not seek credit for. In light of everything, he sets a perfect example of what it means to be a ‘good sport.’ ”
Just the other day, Bidwill — seen below with Cardinals (and Rams) Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams this past week at the Hall of Fame game — was helping another person with St. Louis ties — rescuing the stranded family of Kurt Warner so they could get to Warner’s Hall of Fame party in Canton.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Kurt Warner, Michael Bidwill, Stan Musial
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Fitting, perhaps, that the first game of the defining portion of Drew Stanton’s career will be against the team he grew up watching and then playing for. Stanton moved to Michigan while in high school and later played at Michigan State, and then the Detroit Lions drafted him.
It never quite worked out with the Lions, and then Matthew Stafford showed up. He went to the Jets – briefly – until Tim Tebow showed up. He went to the Colts, and at least Andrew Luck was already on his way, and at least he met Bruce Arians. But then he came to the Cardinals, and while Arians warned him the Cards were likely going to bring in another veteran quarterback, none of the names Arians told Stanton at the time were Carson Palmer. So Palmer arrived, and Arians admitted Stanton was “pissed.”
Stanton is a pro, though. He’s been the model of a great backup, right down to his fill-in stint earlier this season when he won a pair of games. It’s Stanton’s team now. Not Stafford’s, or Luck’s, or Palmer’s. This is his chance. The Cardinals don’t have to win Sunday to make it to where they want to go, but it sure would help to take another one at home, especially in the first game without Palmer.
— Larry Fitzgerald has been a huge part of the offense of late. Michael Floyd has not. It’ll be interesting to see how the passing game unfolds. Don’t forget, Stanton’s last start – against a pretty good Denver pass rush – featured Stanton completing just 11 of 26 passes, so no one was really getting the ball. That, obviously, needs to change. (Although, as it has been pointed out to me, there were a bunch of drops that game too.)
— It’ll be very interesting to see how the interior of the Cards’ offensive line handles Ndamukong Suh after the tough game that group had last week against the Rams. The coaches have had their collective back all week, confident Paul Fanaika, Lyle Sendlein and Ted Larsen will bounce back.
— Fanaika was fined $8,268 for hitting a Rams player after the play during last week’s game, a penalty that cost the Cards 15 valuable yards. Speaking of 15 valuable yards, the illegal blindside block of tight end Lance Kendricks on Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson – the one that turned a Jared Cook 25-yard catch deep into Arizona territory into just 10 yards, eventually costing the Rams a scoring chance – cost Kendricks a whopping $22,050.
– The Cardinals should benefit from the return of running back Stepfan Taylor this week. Taylor isn’t going to come in and run for 100 yards, but he can handle some pass protection and give the Cards some flexibility in what they’re doing with Andre Ellington. Marion Grice seemed to struggle last week in both route-running and pass protection.
— Don’t forget to bring some canned food to the food drive being held prior to Sunday’s game.
— Hall of Fame cornerback Aeneas Williams, inducted into Canton in August, will receive his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony.
— This is how to win games: No team in the league has been more proficient in scoring defensive touchdowns since the beginning of the 2008 season as the Cardinals have been. The Cardinals have eight defensive touchdowns in that span (six via interceptions, two via fumbles), tying them with the Kansas City Chiefs.
— If you are looking for some podcasting goodness and some perspective on Palmer’s absence, check out Cardinals Underground.
— Speaking of Palmer, his wired segment featuring last week’s game/press conference will air Saturday morning at 9 a.m. on ABC-15 (and will be posted to azcardinals.com sometime after that.)
— It’s not often that the defensive coordinators get a lot of ink before a game, even for teams with good defenses like the Cards and Lions. But Todd Bowles had his stellar year interrupted by the news of his new contract, and Lions DC Teryl Austin – who was on Whiz’s coaching staff for three years – gets to come home.
— Both these teams have been special in the fourth quarter. You know what the Cardinals have done. The Lions have won the last three games on scores inside the final two minutes (or overtime.)
“If the game is close, there is an honest-to-God belief we will win that ballgame somehow, some way,” Arians said, and it’s difficult to argue that.
— The Cards aren’t a favorite of many anymore, now that Palmer is out (and they weren’t necessarily before Palmer got hurt either). Arians doesn’t care. “No one outside of that locker room matters,” Arians said. “It’s us against the world and we love that part of it.”
Drew, you’re up.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Drew Stanton, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Michael Floyd, Paul Fanaika, Stepfan Taylor, Teryl Austin, Todd Bowles, Tony Jefferson
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The main part of Hall of Fame weekend comes tonight, when the seven-man class is officially inducted here in Canton, when the men all give their (often emotional) speeches and the busts are unveiled. But Friday night was significant as well. The new enshrinees were given their new gold jackets during a ceremony, but that itself wasn’t what really got my attention.
Instead, it was the realization — granted, with the help of thunderous NFL Films music and the electricity of the crowd — that as every returning Hall of Famer was introduced, one by one, how the history of the NFL was suddenly playing out in one tangible moment. Former Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams, who is one of this year’s seven, said that the meaning of being put in the Hall of Fame is that “‘When they say the Hall of Fame, they’re saying they can’t tell the history of the NFL without including you.”
Of course, that’s the point of a Hall of Fame, to mark the history of, in this case, pro football. Still, to see the legends you grew up watching all in one place is special. A living, breathing textbook of the NFL. This is more than just a bust of a guy. It’s Aeneas Williams, at the end of his “gauntlet” walk through dozens of Hall of Famers, getting to the end and sharing an emotional hug and tears with one-time fierce rival Michael Irvin.
It can’t help but be memorable.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame, Michael Irvin
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In a special long-distance Cardinals update as I fly to Canton for Aeneas Williams’ Hall of Fame induction, the big news was Bruce Arians’ comments on absent linebacker John Abraham. Arians said “He will be here soon” and added he expects Abraham in “five or six days.” For a veteran like Abraham, missing a couple of weeks of training camp really won’t make a big impact. But it’ll be good for the Cardinals to have him return. Other tidbits from Arians after the morning walkthrough:
— RB Andre Ellington and DT Dan Williams are returning to practice, but WR John Brown (hamstring) is going to sit out. Arians does not believe it is serious and at first, Brown had been hoping to practice today. The Cardinals are going to play it safe.
— Arians said safety Tyrann Mathieu is anxious to get back to practice. “He’s begging me to come off PUP.”
— The addition of veteran Max Starks will give the Cardinals “quality depth and competition” and can play both tackle spots, Arians said. Still pleased with how Bobby Massie is doing. Arians also said he likes the idea of having veteran tackles on the field in the preseason. That makes sense. Quarterbacks can get under fire when you get deeper in the depth chart on the offensive line. Starks will practice with the second unit on both sides. Starks lives in nearby Fountain Hills, so it’s not like he even had to fly in.
— No true comparison to bringing in Eric Winston a year ago, Arians said, because of the confidence Massie has now earned.
— As for the Cardinals other top reserve tackles, Nate Potter is having a good camp, Bradley Sowell has been “OK,” Arians said.
— Arians had big praise for safeties Tony Jefferson and Rashad Johnson. May make it tougher for Deone Bucannon to crack the starting lineup, but he’s done well as “dollar” linebacker in the nickel.
— Arians wants LB Alex Okafor to bring his motor up to run “hot” all the time like fellow linebacker Sam Acho. Arians has been very happy with Acho’s play.
— If you get a chance, please check out my big Aeneas Williams’ story as a lead-in to Saturday’s induction.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Dan Williams, John Abraham, John Brown, Max Starks, Tyrann Mathieu
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The Cardinals got a day off today from practice before doing two more workouts Friday and Saturday, which is the Fan Fest workout. After slamming into each other for three straight days, it’s good to get a reprieve. And to think, with practice just across town at University of Phoenix Stadium, it’s easy to pop home for the day. I know I appreciate it.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” running back Jonathan Dwyer said. “Get your mind away from football for a day. Guys who have family can spend time with their young ones, like myself. Just rest our bodies and come back to work the next day.”
— Speaking of Fan Fest, click here for all the details of the practice.
— What stood out through the first five days of practice? WR John Brown, obviously. Confidence in CB Justin Bethel’s progress. Thinking that TE John Carlson, if he can stay off the injury report, could have a very nice year catching the ball. Kareem Martin is going to have a key role on the defensive line, I think. Michael Floyd is destined to improve on his season a year ago.
— I’m off to Canton tomorrow to cover the induction of cornerback Aeneas Williams into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Saturday. I’ll still have stuff on the blog from both Canton and training camp, and my cohort Kyle Odegard will be the boots on the ground at University of Phoenix Stadium. He did a nice piece on Bobby Massie today. Speaking of Aeneas, I hope you’ve been checking out all the content on the special Aeneas Williams page (azcardinals.com/aeneas). I’ll have a big story on Williams posted tomorrow first thing.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Hall of Fame, John Brown, John Carlson, Jonathan Dwyer, Justin Bethel, Kareem Martin, Michael Floyd, training camp
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The Cardinals will put on the pads for the first time this afternoon, which changes the dynamic of training camp. That was part of the theme today when GM Steve Keim went on the Doug and Wolf show on Arizona Sports 620 this morning — what will happen when the pads go on.
— Keim wants to see rookie WR John Brown in pads, and see what the kid can do coming across the middle when, say safety Deone Bucannon is about to drill him. That’s not a big surprise, since it’s what everyone has been saying about Brown. He’s been impressive. “We haven’t been able to cover him,” Keim said. But that could change when the pads go on. As Patrick Peterson said, after Brown burned him on a play, “I told him he’s not going to be that much faster than me when he’s got those shoulder pads on.”
— Keim said he thought right tackle Bobby Massie looks like he’s in the best shape of his career (and I have always thought Massie was in pretty good shape anyway) and “he looks focused.” But Keim wants to see Massie in pads too, and frankly, that’s the only real way to judge linemen.
— The GM admitted to having a concern in the offseason for guard Jonathan Cooper after noticing a “little limp,” but the first two practices have erased those concerns.
— Asked about absent linebacker John Abraham, Keim said “I’m not concerned at all. He’ll be back at some point here and Bruce (Arians) has excused him for personal matters.”
— With Aeneas Williams going into the Hall of Fame Saturday, we have created a page for Aeneas (azcardinals.com/aeneas) where all the stories and videos about Williams will live. Check it out.
Tags: Aeneas Williams, Bobby Massie, John Abraham, John Brown, Patrick Peterson, Steve Keim, training camp
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The timing made all kinds of sense for the Cardinals to put Kurt Warner in the Ring of Honor this season. There is a high-profile “Monday Night Football” game in which to do the ceremony (if you have forgotten, Aeneas Williams also went in at halftime of an MNF game) and this is the first year Warner is eligible to be voted into the Hall of Fame — which would happen in downtown Phoenix the day before the Super Bowl here in Arizona, if it were to happen. In a lot of ways Warner was a supernova in Arizona considering he played just five seasons (and barely played in one of those, 2006, when Matt Leinart was trying to make his way in the league.) It was an incredible run though (as this timeline and this top 10 list of his best games says more tangibly.)
So who is next?
We already know Adrian Wilson will get there. Michael Bidwill has already said as much. First, though, Wilson has to retire, and he’s not ready to do that quite yet as he hopes to find a job somewhere in 2014. At some point, you figure Larry Fitzgerald is a lock, regardless of what happens in the future. Obviously the hope is that Fitzgerald plays out his career in Arizona, but the NFL is a business and Fitz staying is anything but a guarantee. Certainly, he’s done enough on and even off the field that he’ll be Ring-bound some day.
Beyond that, though, I don’t see any sure bets. It’s way too early to think about Patrick Peterson. Does Darnell Dockett warrant a discussion? Could Calais Campbell some day be worth it? I think Anquan Boldin was headed in that direction, but the way his tenure (and his last two seasons) ended in Arizona I’d call that a very long shot, which is too bad. He was a part of the renaissance of this franchise. I don’t know if some of the other guys from the 1998 team — a Larry Centers, a Jake Plummer — would fit.
Again, with Bidwill noting that 11 of the 13 previous Ring members before Warner are in the Hall of Fame, that means something. They are, Bidwill said, “the best of the best” and that’s a lofty ideal. The franchise has been around since 1898, and only 14 guys have gone in. It’s not an easy honor to obtain. It is a fun subject to debate.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Aeneas Williams, Darnell Dockett, Jake Plummer, Kurt Warner, Larry Centers, Matt Leinart, Michael Bidwill, Ring of Honor
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