Porter realistic about situation

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2011 – 6:19 pm

Linebacker Joey Porter was scheduled to make $5.75 million this season. He was asked to restructure — take a pay cut — to stick around he did. After practice, he told reporters Kent Somers and Craig Morgan he couldn’t complain, and admitted that he was more mature about the situation than he might have once been.

“You get five sacks they don’t really want to pay you $5.7 million base,” Porter said.

The Cardinals haven’t found any outside linebackers worth chasing on the open market as of now. They have hopes for O’Brien Schofield, but realistically, they still need Porter. But Porter is right, it couldn’t have been at his former salary. To Porter’s credit, he understands the place he is in these days, in the last part of his career. Plus, he still is optimistic this team can make some noise, and wants to be a part of it.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said after last season he felt part of Porter’s issue was having to play too much, which was forced after Cody Brown fizzled and was cut and Schofield took half the season to get back from his knee surgery. But at Porter’s age — he is 34 — questions will always follow such a season.

“If I had played better last year, it wouldn’t have been this situation,” Porter added.

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Cody Brown among cuts

Posted by Darren Urban on September 3, 2010 – 2:03 pm

Here are the players that have been reported as cut by the Cards so far; when coach Ken Whisenhunt meets with the media at 3 p.m. a full list is expected. Keep checking back here for updates.

Obviously G Reggie Wells was dealt. LB Gerald Hayes (back) was placed on PUP, meaning he’ll miss the first six weeks. And LB Mark Washington was waived/injured:

  • TE Anthony Becht
  • LB Stevie Baggs
  • LB Monty Beisel
  • T Herman Johnson
  • T Tom Pestock
  • LB Cody Brown
  • DE Jeremy Clark
  • DE John Fletcher
  • CB Trevor Ford
  • WR Ed Gant
  • WR Mike Jones
  • WR Onrea Jones
  • CB Justin Miller
  • G Jonathan Palmer
  • FB Charles Scott
  • WR Isaiah Williams

WR Max Komar tweeted he made the team, and QB John Skelton has also made the team. Matt Leinart hasn’t gone anywhere yet. Big surprise so far is Brown, given he was a second-round pick. Obviously he is a big disappointment, since the coaches knew what they had even though he didn’t play most of last year.

The Cards still have three moves to make by tomorrow.

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Friday before the Texans

Posted by Darren Urban on August 13, 2010 – 9:58 am

Ahh, the preseason. Finally a game to watch, a game from which to make judgments instead of practice after practice.

But how much can be judged? That’s always the big question. Inevitably, we will be told that what we saw as media and fans wasn’t enough to know what’s what – like Matt Leinart’s bad game in Oakland in 2008 that, according to coaches, didn’t torpedo his chances to start.

But it is football. So the top five things I hope to see are:

— Leinart taking control. It’s early and Leinart’s playing time will be limited. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he’s looking for intangible things as much as tangible, like the way Leinart works the huddle. Makes sense to me. Playing quarterback is about talent, but it’s as much about making guys believe they can follow you to victories. That’s what Leinart had in college (and, I believe, what he had when he first showed up in Arizona).

And yes, I want to see how Derek Anderson performs too, but I think this week, it’s mostly about Matt.

— Toler playing well on an island. In this vanilla-type of game, Greg Toler (and the other cornerbacks) will have a chance at one-on-one coverage. It’s not the easiest baptism, but necessary. Toler needs to make a play or two and take a step forward toward a starting job that, in my opinion, the Cards need him to grab hold.

— Who makes an impact at linebacker. The coaches like what Paris Lenon has done so far. But can rookie Daryl Washington avoid some rookie mistakes? Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are givens. But can Cody Brown look as improved against another team as he has against some of the Cards’ second-stringers? What outside linebackers hoping to make the team – a Stevie Baggs, a Mark Washington, for instance – can do enough to earn further consideration?

— Who can handle the bright lights. Wide receiver Stephen Williams has played well at camp, and quarterback Max Hall has impressed (and at this point, has clearly outplayed John Skelton). But that’s just in practice. When the lights go on, the stakes change. They and a bunch of other younger guys need to prove the play can carry over.

— Deuce versus Reggie versus the whole offensive line. Can Deuce Lutui play well enough to push Reggie Wells out of the starting five? How will Alan Faneca look? Levi Brown at left tackle instead of right? Brandon Keith as starter? The Texans have a pretty decent defensive line, so the starters should get a little bit of a test.

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Whiz talks Texans

Posted by Darren Urban on August 12, 2010 – 12:16 pm

There was no practice this morning (and sorry, I’ll miss the afternoon workout with my brother getting married). So there wasn’t any action to speak of as coach Ken Whisenhunt had his final talk with the media before the preseason opener against Houston.

— Whisenhunt committed to little as far as the game. The coaching staff will discuss quarterback playing time tonight between Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. Whiz wants Anderson to get some time with the starting offensive line.

— The game will dictate if both the other two quarterbacks, John Skelton and Max Hall, get in the game.

— Among the spots Whisenhunt said he’ll specifically be watching were linebacker (not the veterans as much as the guys battling for playing time/roster spots like Cody Brown), cornerback (obviously), offensive line and some of the young receivers. From Leinart, he’d like production but seeing Leinart be assertive and handle the huddle are more important (and are intangibles that will be hard to see from the stands).

— Whisenhunt mentioned receiver health. While only tight end Dominique Byrd (hamstring) is a guy Whisenhunt specifically mentioned as possibly sitting out (see what I mean by not committing?) I don’t know if Ed Gant — who has a walking boot on his right foot — can go. And after missing some time with a sore knee, I’d guess they’d be careful with Steve Breaston even if he does play.

— RB Beanie Wells, I would guess, will be out there. “I was proud of Beanie,” Whisenhunt said. “I know he was sore and he did what he said he was going to do, show up and practice (with bad ribs). He is working like he is working to get as many reps as he can.”

— Whiz was asked about using Adrian Wilson more at linebacker given the unknown at the position. “It’s easy to say move Adrian down, but there are a lot of intricacies that come with that particular position that you don’t want it to detract from his play.”

— Whisenhunt said cornerback Trumaine McBride caught the coaches’ collective eye this offseason with how he works and his experience, starting some games in the NFL, helps his cause. That said, the Cards are looking hard at everyone at the position, not just for the vacant starting job but for spots in the sub-packages.

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Beanie practices and the afternoon

Posted by Darren Urban on August 10, 2010 – 6:17 pm

Running back Beanie Wells was out and practicing (he did skip a couple of things) with his bad ribs today, although he did run in 11-on-11, breaking one away and getting thumped on another play that let everyone know he was OK. He is sore and he wants to play Saturday but that’ll be wait-and-see, both with Beanie’s injury and coach Ken Whisenhunt’s comfort that Wells won’t be further banged up.

— Vets day for guard Alan Faneca, so he sat. Wide receiver Steve Breaston came down briefly to the area where injured players rehab but then he went back to practice and took part. Not sure what that meant. Wide receiver Early Doucet was in practice gear but I don’t remember seeing him do too much.

— Cornerback Greg Toler hurt his ankle. Hopefully it isn’t a big deal. He needs some game time.

— At least for today, Pago Togafau replaced Monty Beisel alongside Paris Lenon as starting inside linebackers. Beisel was with the second unit. I still think that’s a spot they will be looking at.

— At lunchtime, Whisenhunt was praising linebacker Cody Brown. At practice, Brown was in at the quarterback a couple of times. He’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on Saturday.

— There were a couple of nice plays in the two-minute drill. A Matt Leinart pass went right through the hands of Andre Roberts, but Breaston was there to grab it anyway for a completion. And a play later, safety Adrian Wilson tried to jump an out route, and Larry Fitzgerald snagged the pass one-handed.

— Finally, we are using James Morris for fantasy football articles this season. Just go to the Fan Zone page and in the upper right hand corner you’ll see “Fantasy News.” Morris breaks down the upcoming drafts.

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Dockett, Levi lead an afternoon of scraps

Posted by Darren Urban on August 2, 2010 – 6:16 pm

It was the first fully padded practice this afternoon, and it was a doozy.

It started early on, when Larry Fitzgerald and Joey Porter took a turn battling each other on punt coverage on the outside, and a Fitz blow left Porter with a bloody lip (more on that in a later blog). But that was just a taste of the 11-on-11 battles to come.

The donnybrook came first. Darnell Dockett — he’s always in these things, right? — blew up Alan Faneca and both tumbled to the ground right in front of quarterback Matt Leinart. Leinart was moving away, when Dockett swiped at his ankle and tripped him. A no-no, and Leinart wasn’t happy. When he and Dockett stood up, Leinart went up to Darnell and spiked the ball at Dockett’s feet in irritation. Then suddenly, tackle Levi Brown was there, punching Dockett in the shoulder pads sticking up for his quarterback, and the scrum was on.

The next play, tight end Stephen Spach and linebacker Cody Brown mixed it up, with Spach grabbing Brown’s facemask. It didn’t get overly heated until linebacker Joey Porter saw it happen. “Don’t let ’em grab your (expletive) facemask,” Porter screamed at Brown. A little while later, it was the third unit’s turn, when linebacker Mark Washington and offensive lineman Tom Pestock went at it, exchanging punches.

And when it was over, it was over.

“That’s what teams do,” Dockett said. “You compete, and don’t take nothing from nobody. I like it. I like the intensity, but I love at the end we come together as a family.”

Said Porter, “When you have a good team, you can fight all you want to, but when you go in the locker room, we are all one family. We’re just trying to make each other better. Fights are going to happen. As long as you can control them, it doesn’t matter.”

(Yes, we have video, and it’ll be up later tonight. The picture below of Dockett and Levi is from a video still. UPDATE: Here is the video).

Dockett admitted he was “kind of dumb” for taking out Leinart’s foot. “I shouldn’t have done that,” Dockett said. “But when you get caught in the battle, the engine turns on and you don’t think about it. I’m not trying to hurt him but I am trying to go 100 percent every time I put my hand on the ground. If I am doing that, I am making my team better.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt called it “typical” of training camp, but he said it was nice to see the players going hard.

“Emotions were running high,” Whisenhunt said. “When you get the crowd out here, things get revved up. You see that manifest itself in the chippiness.”

Dockett said he was proud of Levi Brown stepping in, saying it was what he expects.

“I patted him on the back and at the end of the day, that’s my family,” Dockett said. “It means something that he is doing it to me, but he better do it to another person if it is somebody else. As long as he does that, I’m happy.”

Porter said he barked at Cody Brown because a player can’t let an opponent get away with things. “You don’t have to accept that, even from a teammate,” Porter said. “My message was, don’t let that happen, especially in front of me.”

Whisenhunt thinks the Cardinals can be smart with the intense practices. Dockett thinks it’s the only way the Cardinals can get another NFC West crown.

“That’s what it’s all about. As much as you love your teammates, when you put the pads on, you have to try and kill them,” Dockett said. “That’s what it is all about. That’s the only way you can get better. You can’t come out and play 80 percent and expect to win a third divisional title. It ain’t going to happen. We have to treat (the offense) like they are the 49ers and they have to treat (the defense) like we’re the 49ers.”

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For what it’s worth in June, defensive edition

Posted by Darren Urban on June 14, 2010 – 4:10 pm

Back in 2007, when I was still at the East Valley Tribune and just about three months into a blog for the first time, I wanted to come up with something that could stand at the top of the blog for several days while I – gasp! – actually took some vacation time.

Guestimating the starting offensive and defensive lineups for the regular-season opener, in June, seemed to make sense, especially on the heels of the just-completed offseason work. So that’s what I have done every year and will do again the next two days. Today, we’ll hit the defense. Tomorrow’s swan song entry will be on the offense.

We’re going with the 3-4 alignment because that makes the most sense as a base, although the Cards continue to mix it up and use plenty of other sub-packages (would they really use a four-safety set this season, like we have seen at times in OTAs?). But this is how I think they’ll line up Sept. 12 in St. Louis.

DE – Darnell Dockett. He’s done all the right things this offseason. OK, except for the shower thing. But you know what I mean.

NT – Bryan Robinson. Dan Williams will get plenty of playing time this season, and he may even be starting at some point (after the bye?). But coach Ken Whisenhunt has made it clear the past three years rookies, even first-rounders, have a hard time getting playing time early. And as good as Dockett said Gabe Watson looked this offseason, it’s tough to bet against Robinson once again starting, even if he ends up with fewer plays.

DE – Calais Campbell. If anyone is poised to have a big year, it would seem to be Campbell. With his potential and what Williams can become, the Cards have to be happy with the future D-line.

ROLB – Joey Porter. No-brainer. The Cards need a pass rush upgrade off the edge. The preseason will be about narrowing down Porter’s eventual heir apparent. You figure Cody Brown, but we’ll see.

SILB – Gerald Hayes. I still think Hayes finds a way in there, although the coaches like what Reggie Walker brings and Hayes is battling the back issue.

WILB – Paris Lenon. Replacing Karlos Dansby isn’t going to be easy (Thanks, Mr. Obvious). This is eventually Daryl Washington’s spot, but maybe not this year and certainly not to start the regular season. I’ve already talked about the coaches’ aversion to giving rookies a lot of time early.

LOLB – Clark Haggans. Will Davis looked good in his pre-injury stints last season. But Haggans was pretty consistent last season. And he’s exactly what Whisenhunt likes having around the field and the locker room.

CB – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. His knee will be fine. So will his toe. I am interested to see how he handles DB coach Donnie Henderson, who can be in-your-face.

CB – Greg Toler. The Cards have moved around the candidates thus far, but Toler should find a way to win the job. He has to step it up though. And I still think there may be a veteran to be had after the other 31 teams make their cuts.

SS – Adrian Wilson. I am curious to see how he meshes with Kerry Rhodes on the field …

FS — Rhodes. … because you know everyone is going to be measuring what Rhodes does to what Antrel Rolle might have done.

OK. That’s it for the defense. I’ll close out with the offense tomorrow.

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Notes from Fan Fest practice

Posted by Darren Urban on May 1, 2010 – 1:25 pm

Another Fan Fest on the Saturday morning of minicamp is over and with it, the third of five minicamp practices. The fan Fest crowd was big again — around 4,500 — and the practice fairly crisp. Some news, notes and thoughts:

— The Cardinals are hurting at fullback, with Reagan Maui’a nursing a bad groin, leaving Nehemiah Broughton as the lone healthy fullback. “We’re thin, and not from a physical standpoint,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “The two guys we have out there definitely aren’t thin. … That’s obviously an area we have to address, just to have some depth. I feel good about who we have there, but when you only have two and one gets nicked up, it makes it kind of difficult.”

The Cardinals were considering bringing back veteran Dan Kreider, but Whisenhunt said that won’t happen.

— The quarterbacks looked good today. Clearly Derek Anderson and John Skelton have arm strength to put some heat on their passes. Whisenhunt said he wants to see how all the QBs react once the defense starts working in more blitzes and the like.

— Speaking of catching passes, linebacker Monty Beisel made an impressive and athletic leaping interception of Anderson, standing at the line of scrimmage and grabbing a missile before it got very far from Anderson. “We had a blitz coming and I was kind of messing around coming on a delayed blitz and he threw it up – it happened really quick,” Beisel said. “I had that one (Friday) when Matt threw me a layup and I dropped it. I had to come back and redeem myself.

The crowd certainly loved it.

— Larry Fitzgerald might be getting the bugs out. He got open deep on a bomb that was perfectly thrown by Matt Leinart, but Fitz couldn’t come up with the catch. Judging on what Fitz has done in the past, though, I’d bet the Cards would rather have a great bomb by Leinart and Fitz get the drops out of his system in April rather than Leinart have trouble getting it there and Fitz rescuing him with a great catch.

— I still don’t think it’s a big deal as I have said many times, so I am hesitant to even bring this up, but Tim Hightower is still running with the first string with Beanie Wells second. Again, Beanie is going to get a ton of carries this season, so it’s basically a moot point, but I know there are fans out there who want to know.

— Speaking of things people want to know, Whisenhunt addressed the progress of 2009 second-round pick Cody Brown. “He does not look anywhere close to be as lost as he was at this time last year,” Whisenhunt said. “He looks more natural than he did. He’s not a rookie. He hasn’t shown what he can do yet, but he’s much further advanced.”

It was suggested that Brown was still lost but not as lost. “That’s a great assessment,” Whisenhunt said. “He’s kind of in that limbo-land. He’s not a rookie but he’s not a vet.”

— As has become the custom, the Cards presented framed Pro Bowl jerseys to last year’s Pro Bowlers: Larry Fitzgerald, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and DRC.

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Numbers, they are a-changin’

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2010 – 9:48 am

Bryant McFadden actually had eyed uniform No. 20 since he showed up in Arizona as a free agent last year. But the cornerback ran into a veteran – cornerback Ralph Brown – who already had it and “Ralph wasn’t going to budge.”

“I was stuck with 25 and I wasn’t really a fan of 25,” McFadden said.

So when safety Kerry Rhodes arrived in a trade this offseason seeking that same 25 – since 25 had been Rhodes’ number since he got into the league – McFadden wasn’t going to be like Brown.

“I told him, ‘We’ve got to make a switch,” Rhodes said. “He said, ‘Is 20 open?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, but 21 is.’ ”

Rhodes had been issued 21 – Antrel Rolle’s old number – when he arrived. But Brown’s 20 was also going to be available since the team wasn’t going to re-sign Brown. There were a couple hoops to jump through with the NFL, since McFadden “25” jerseys were made, but it’s official now. And it was relatively peaceful.

“No fights about it,” Rhodes said with a laugh. “We kept it civil.”

Civil, but not necessarily free. Asked if Rhodes was going to have to cough up any compensation for giving up 25, McFadden smiled and said, “We’ll leave that undisclosed.”

It wasn’t the only flip-flop. The Reggie Walker-Joey Porter switch recently came down, and veteran linebacker Monty Beisel also convinced fellow linebacker Cody Brown to flip-flop. Beisel had been 52 in his first stint with the Cards, but when he returned last season he took 50 because Brown already had 52. Brown had been 50 in college.

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Filling in the roster gaps

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2010 – 1:47 pm

With the owners’ meetings wrapping up today and the pace of free agency slowing down, it may be a good time to look at where the Cardinals’ roster stands — and where there are holes that need to be filled by the time minicamp begins April 30.

This topic crossed my mind after writing yesterday about the signing of wide receiver Darren Mougey, who may or may not pan out but certainly isn’t been seen (at least as of now) as a replacement, whether it’d be Anquan Boldin or even Jerheme Urban. He’s just one of many receivers that will be on the roster this summer. Today, the Cardinals officially have 60 61 players on the roster, leaving 19 spots to be filled by the draft/undrafted rookies (which figures to total between 14 to 16, depending) and then some free-agent spots. There are seven veterans un-signed who could still return: LB Monty Beisel, FB Dan Kreider, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware, K Neil Rackers, DT Bryan Robinson and WR Sean Morey (although I think Morey is more likely to end up in Seattle right now).

(On my 60-man count, I am including all the restricted and exclusive rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders, because they eventually will.)

What spots need shoring up? The Cards need at least one more quarterback, and even if St. Pierre comes back, they need someone young, at least for camp. They need another receiver or two, although I am guessing whether they chase a veteran may depend on what happens in the draft. Remember, at that spot, a fourth receiver would likely need to play special teams and guys like Kevin Curtis or Torry Holt tend not to want to do such things.

The Cards definitely need to look at nose tackle, especially if Robinson doesn’t return. They need inside linebackers even if Beisel comes back (which I expect). They probably could use another young pass rusher at outside linebacker without knowing exactly what Cody Brown/Mark Washington/Stevie Baggs brings to the table. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get another cornerback — you can never have too many — and a return man is also needed if Steve Breaston is going to be the No. 2 wideout.

Numbers-wise, here is the current 61-man breakdown by position:

  • QB  2
  • RB  4
  • FB  2
  • WR  6
  • OL  11
  • TE  4
  • DL 9
  • OLB  6
  • MLB  4
  • CB  6
  • S  5
  • Specialists  2

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