Have Cards Broughton in a fullback?

Posted by Darren Urban on May 26, 2010 – 4:41 pm

In the Kurt Warner years, a fullback wasn’t featured much of the time on offense, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t used. (I have to say, I had a soft spot in my heart for old I-45 a couple years ago — Terrelle Smith). Smith was gone in 2009, opening the spot for another veteran Dan Kreider. Krieder too is gone and the Cards are searching for his replacement.

They may have added him while Kreider was still on the roster. The team signed Nehemiah Broughton in January off the practice squad of the New York Giants, right after the regular season ended but while the Cards were still practicing (and would be for another two weeks). That was good enough to convince the Cards to keep him around.

“It’s a position that is hard to find guys,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Nehemiah has good size (at 6-foot, 255 pounds) and is very athletic. He came in and worked hard for us. I am excited to see how he develops because obviously, it’s a position where we need someone to do it. You are looking for someone to step up and he’s got a little bit of a leg up because of the work he did with us last season.”

Right now, fullback is one of the positions difficult to evaluate. That spot hits, and no one is hitting in shorts. Whisenhunt said the goal-line drills in Flagstaff are one of the proving grounds for those players. “I would like to see what happens in games, what happens in training camp when the pads go on,” Whisenhunt said

Broughton took almost all the reps in minicamp because Reagan Maui’a was hurt. Afterward, the Cards also brought in Charles Ali, who had been with the Browns most recently. The Cardinals figure to need a quality fullback, given the retirement of Kurt Warner and the assumed increase in the running game.

“I just want to play football and make this ballclub,” Broughton said. “Coaches make those decisions. … But I am very confident in my abilities.”

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Cardinals sign FB Ali

Posted by Darren Urban on May 7, 2010 – 1:26 pm

Continuing to mine one-time Browns (it’s probably not a coincidence guys like Derek Anderson and Rex Hadnot are here with Director of Pro Personnel T.J. McCreight having come from Cleveland) the Cardinals have signed fullback Charles Ali to a one-year deal Friday. The team needed another body at the position after talks to bring back Dan Kreider fell through. Ali joins Nehemiah Broughton and Reagan Maui’a on the roster as blocking backs.

At 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, Ali has been in the league since 2007, playing two years in Cleveland before going to Baltimore last season briefly after playing for New York in the UFL. The Ravens brought him back after the season. He was released by the Ravens in April.

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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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Bryan Robinson returns

Posted by Darren Urban on April 28, 2010 – 9:10 am

The roster keeps getting bigger.

The Cardinals and veteran starting nose tackle Bryan Robinson have agreed to a one-year contract, bolstering the depth at the position. Robinson is a great presence in the locker room because of his experience, and assuming he remains the starter, he can bridge the gap for rookie Dan Williams to eventually take that role. There was talk about Robinson retiring — a couple of players I talked to thought he was leaning that way — but again, it’s made a difference on the defensive line to have Robinson there to talk to about things.

Having him at nose tackle also puts some pressure on Gabe Watson to up his game, now that Williams is around. And it should do the same for Alan Branch, who is better served at end anyway.

There is still a chance the Cards bring back fullback Dan Kreider, I think, but other than that, I believe the roster is fairly set for minicamp. You know, unless the Cards surprise me again.

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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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Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 12:35 pm

Right now, the Cards are knee-deep in offseason meetings, meaning I haven’t had a chance to talk to general manager Rod Graves for a story. That will be coming. In the meantime, I have collected all the contract situations (at least, organizing what year each player is signed through, or their free agent status) in a file you can find right here. It doesn’t cover every single player on the roster but it has everyone I considered a contributor this season or someone who needed to be addressed.

Officially the Cards have 14 unrestricted free agents and 10 restricted (the numbers would have been 17 and 7, but Gabe Watson, Deuce Lutui and Jerheme Urban all are going to be hamstrung by the new rules when the NFL deals with an uncapped offseason). On offense, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Starters Dan Kreider (FB), Anthony Becht (TE), Sean Morey (special teams) and Mike Gandy (T) — along with Jeremy Bridges (G/T) are unrestricted. Bigger questions are on defense, where Karlos Dansby (LB) and Matt Ware (S) could walk away, and the Cards are in transition with veteran UFAs like Bryan Robinson, Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Ralph Brown and Monty Beisel.

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Rolle, Berry to sit

Posted by Darren Urban on January 3, 2010 – 12:46 pm

With the Vikings crushing the Giants today (New York never really put up a fight) and the No. 2 seed possibility gone, the Cards are going to back off against the Packers today at some point. With that in mind, S Antrel Rolle (thigh) and LB Bertrand Berry will be inactive.

The rest of the Cards’ list:

  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • FB Dan Kreider (neck)
  • OL Herman Johnson
  • WR Sean Morey (concussion)
  • TE Ben Patrick (concussion)
  • DE Kenny Iwebema (concussion)

It also looks like the Cardinals will have a Saturday playoff game against the Packers, in all probability the early game. But of course, that’s not set in stone and won’t be until all the playoff matchups are set.

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An “irritating” scenario for Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on January 1, 2010 – 1:02 pm

The Vikings lose Sunday, and the Cardinals are playing for the No. 2 seed and a bye. The Vikings win, and fighting hard for No. 3 or No. 4 — when you’re making key players susceptible to injury or showing trends to make it easy for the Packers to scout you — doesn’t make as much sense.

It’s made getting ready this week, with everyone knowing all the different possibilities, difficult. And not an ideal situation.

“It’s irritating,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “This type is irritating, because it is more the unknown. Listen, I am glad we are in this situation because we know we are in the playoffs and all we’re doing is working to get a better seed, and that’s always a good thing. I’d like to have the two or the one seed already locked up. That’s the best.

“But this is different because we’re waiting on another game just to see if we even have a chance at the No. 2 seed. That determines a lot of what you do going forward.”

Interestingly, the teams with the first-round bye the last four seasons are just 7-9 in their initial playoff games. The bye teams lost three of four last season, including both NFC teams (the Giants and the Panthers).

“We were a benefactor of that,” Whisenhunt said. “Who knows? There is a theory it’s better to play in the Wild Card games to keep your routine going. It worked for us last year. But it’s always great to have a week off, especially when you are a team like us where you’ve had how ever many weeks straight since our bye week.”

Safety Antrel Rolle (thigh) didn’t practice today and he probably will try and go if the No. 2 seed is on the line. Otherwise, nope. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) will kick. The other five guys listed as questionable — TE Ben Patrick (head), WR Sean Morey (head), FB Dan Kreider (neck), DE Kenny Iwebema (head) and RB Beanie Wells (groin) — all will likely be subject to the same What-did-the-Vikings-do scrutiny.

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After practice Wednesday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2009 – 2:07 pm

Safety Antrel Rolle sat out practice today with a bruised thigh, but coach Ken Whisenhunt sounded like he wasn’t that worried about the situation. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema was limited with a head injury as well. A handful of guys that were listed as limited — K Neil Rackers (groin), TE Ben Patrick (head), FB Dan Kreider (neck), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe), special-teamer Sean Morey (head) and RB Beanie Wells (groin) — should be fine. Also fine are WR Larry Fitzgerald and CB Greg Toler, each of whom hurt their elbows Sunday.

Much of the talk today was about the same subject as Monday — what to do against the Packers when there is a good chance the Cards will see them a second time. The answers were all the same: We play hard, but it’s the coach’s decision. Whisenhunt reiterated he will likely make choices Sunday.

(Packers coach Mike McCarthy, by the way, said on the conference call the Packers will play to win and keep momentum.)

The Cardinals also had a change in the practice squad after guard Trevor Canfield — one of the Cards’ seventh-round picks this year — signed with the Seahawks. Replacing him was guard Jonathan Palmer, who has bounced around the league.

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Monday’s Whiz reflections

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2009 – 11:54 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked about what his plans are for the Packers since it’s likely the Cards will play them not only in the finale but also in the playoffs. Right now, Whiz’s answers are he doesn’t know. The Cards will game-plan like it will be a game of significance, but may pull back if something changes in the early games depending on the outcomes. That goes for the amount of detail in the game plan and with how much the starters will play. I’ll have more in a homepage story later today on the subject. It helps the Cards to prepare this week anyway because the playoff game might be on Saturday and the Cards can jump-start playoff prep.

A couple other notes:

— Whisenhunt said, after he went back and looked at the tape, he was actually not as upset with the offensive line’s protection — and he was asked specifically about tackles Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges — as he twas originally. “I think for the most part our line played a very good game yesterday,” Whisenhunt said. “We had one or two plays on the edge with Jeremy and that’s going to happen in a game. We will continue to work on correcting those things. Anytime you spread out like we do and expose the edge, you have to be aware those things can happen. It’s a risk-reward thing.

“We just have to be a little more aware, like we did against Minnesota, that we give those guys some help in certain situations as far as chips or body presence. I’m not disappointed at all in the way those guys played. I was upset after the game because my perception of how our line played was not what it actually was. If you look at how Levi played and how physical he was and some of the things he did in protection, I actually was impressed with how he played and Jeremy … for the most part, did a nice job.”

— Injury-wise, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Whisenhunt had no new updates on the left elbow injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Toler, but neither are expected to be serious. Fitz certainly doesn’t think so. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) kicked a little Saturday and will kick again today to see where he is in his rehab. Fullback Dan Kreider (neck) should be fine, and tight end Ben Patrick and receiver Sean Morey (both have concussions) should be back this week.

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