Arians talks Lions, Megatron before practice

Posted by Darren Urban on September 11, 2013 – 1:37 pm

It’s easy to think of the Lions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and get locked in on him, but Bruce Arians tried to zoom out a bit when talking Wednesday about the Cardinals’ Sunday opponent.

“Everybody that they have is capable of beating you,” Arians said. “You can’t just look at one guy.”

Of course, Johnson is the guy people think of first. Patrick Peterson will not cover Johnson one-on-one all the time, Arians said, but he will do it some. That will likely work for Peterson, who cherishes these matchups (Peterson was not available during the media session today, so we’ll have more on this tomorrow.) Arians smiled with that assessment of Peterson, though. “You have to watch what you wish for sometimes,” Arians said.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz did say, if officials hadn’t overturned two touchdowns in the opener, Johnson would have come out much better than his four-catch-for-37-yard day. “If he has those two, it’s a Megatron game.”

— The ability of Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will mean the pressure this week will be on the Cardinals’ interior line of Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein and Paul Fanaika, as opposed to the pressure the tackles were under in St. Louis, Arians said.

— This from Arians, which was important to note: He said newcomer tackle Bradley Sowell can play both sides. But he said Bobby Massie cannot play left tackle — which would be a reason, for all of you who have asked, why he has not been tried there. Arians did say he thinks Massie “has all the talent in the world.”

— Arians, asked for his evaluation of Suh’s reputation as a dirty football player, said he only thing he goes off of is the video. “When I watch tape I see a great football player,” Arians said. “All the rest of the stuff, I don’t have to deal with.”

— Arians said the only player sitting out of practice was tight end Rob Housler, whom Arians already said would probably miss the Detroit game. Some players will be limited today. We will see the official injury report later today.


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Levi will stay outside

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2013 – 9:55 am

With the injury of Jonathan Cooper, the Cardinals have gone with with the Daryn Colledge-Paul Fanika guard combination. There has been a lot of speculation on the outside that the Cards, at some point, could end up trying one of their tackles inside. Maybe Bobby Massie. Maybe Nate Potter. Maybe, even, Levi Brown.

None have been a consideration. Bruce Arians was asked specifically about Brown being considered inside. “Not until I find someone to take his place at left tackle,” was Arians’ reply.

The reality is that Brown is going to be the left tackle. It doesn’t look like Nate Potter has made any in-roads in displacing Brown (in fact, Potter seems to has struggled.). Arians, meanwhile, wasn’t showing any panic about Brown even after San Diego’s Dwight Freeney got to him — and therefore, the quarterback — some Saturday night.

“Overall, pass protection has not been a problem, until the other night,” Arians said. “We didn’t game-plan Dwight Freeney as much as we would have and Dwight beat Levi. It comes down to a one-on-one game. If we feel that way going into a game (that the tackle might get beat), we’ll help the guy.”

One of the things Arians liked the most of his Colledge-Fanaika decision was it was only moving one player — Colledge, to left guard. And Colledge has experience there. Brown hasn’t ever played guard and hasn’t practiced there. Neither have Massie and Potter for that matter (Arians gave a quick “nope” when asked if one of those guys could be moved inside.) Arians had said this offseason that the time for that experimentation was during OTAs. We’re well past that now.

Clearly, Brown’s work at left tackle will remain under the spotlight. It’s hard not to notice. Could the Cards find someone to, as Arians said, take his place? Even with all the tackles that likely will make this roster (Brown, Massie, Potter, Eric Winston) I’m sure the Cards will continue to look at the spot.

LeviUSE

 

 


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Coop could come back this season

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2013 – 1:20 pm

Coach Bruce Arians said today that the surgery on Jonathan Cooper’s fractured left fibula was a success and the Cardinals are holding out hope he can return later in the season. His status is yet to be determined in terms of injured reserve. The Cards will wait to make that decision until the end of preseason. They still have to make one more roster move by tomorrow to get down to the league-mandated 75.

Cooper’s best-case scenario in coming back is 10 to 12 weeks, Arians said. If he could return for the last six games or so, that would makes sense. Arians wants him to get real regular-season playing time this year if at all possible.

“We don’t want him to be a rookie again next year,” Arians said.

— To replace Cooper, Daryn Colledge will be moved to left guard. Paul Fanaika will move into the starting lineup as right guard. “(Daryn) is not as athletic as Coop, but he’s more than adequate,” Arians said of Colledge’s ability to do the job in Arians’ offense, when the left guard pulls often.

— The rest of the injuries aren’t nearly as bad. Arians described almost all of them as day-to-day, and the hope is that most will be OK by the time the Cards have to play in St. Louis for the opener. Defensive tackle Dan Williams re-aggravated the ankle he hurt earlier in camp, but he was not concerned about it. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has a knee sprain, he too is day-to-day although he won’t play in Denver. Tight end D.C. Jefferson (knee sprain) is going to try and play. TE Rob Housler has a high-ankle sprain, and is probably the most questionable of the bunch. WR Andre Roberts (quad) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (ankle) are “fine.”

— Arians said he cut K Dan Carpenter because he didn’t like the way he was kicking. Penetration was not a problem on Carpenter’s blocked field goal, Arians said — which leaves it to be too low of a kick by the kicker.

— Starters will probably play Thursday, but not much. QB Carson Palmer may not play, however.

— RB Ryan Williams will get the bulk of the work against the Broncos. Arians had no comment on the report the Cardinals were “shopping” Williams. “I’m shopping him as far as getting me some groceries,” Arians said with a smile.


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Chargers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2013 – 12:22 am

Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe what happened to the Cardinals Saturday night. If the Cards could have only left it at the stadium. If only a bad night for special teams or dropped passes or anything like that was the worst that happened.

But the long list of injuries the Cards had been avoiding – they only had five guys not able to play coming into the game, for goodness sake, and frankly, only Jeff King was among those guys who have a shot at the roster – came back hard. The most devastating is Jonathan Cooper’s broken leg. Here’s the guy who was drafted to jump start an offensive line resurgence. And now he could be out for the season.

There are lots of ways to look at this and we won’t know exactly what can happen with Cooper yet. There are options to put him on short-term, bring-’em-back IR if the prognosis goes the right way. But that doesn’t make it any easier to replace him. Do we get more Chilo? Do we get a Paul Fanaika-Daryn Colledge guard combo? Bruce Arians isn’t sure yet. There will be much brainstorming tomorrow, I am sure. But it hurts.

“To see a guy like that go down, a young guy trying to go out there and prove himself, that’s always hard,” Colledge said. “Especially with an offensive line that lost a lot of guys last year. We’re used to this, but it’s always hard to see a friend and a teammate go down. I know it hurts him. I know he’s probably emotionally distraught right now.”

— It can’t be easy for Cooper. It might not be easy for the Cards. MRIs are coming for all the other injuries, but the offense alone saw Cooper, Rob Housler (ankle), Andre Roberts (quad) and Rashard Mendenhall (ankle) leave the game. Scary.

— As for the game, not good. The Rashad Johnson lateral was bad. Funny, Arians actually praised the lateral linebacker Jasper Brinkley made to Patrick Peterson earlier in the game following an interception, saying it was a legitimate choice. Johnson’s lateral? “Absolutely asinine.”

Johnson knows that. He was upset after a pass interference call on teammate Jerraud Powers a couple of plays before and let his emotions ride the moment. “I just felt like we needed to make a play, which we did, instead of thinking of the situation we were in and playing smart football,” Johnson said. “Coach is always talking about ‘Cardinals beating Cardinals.’ That was a big Cardinals-beating-Cardinals play.”

— Powers was hit with three pass interference flags. He said he felt a couple of them shouldn’t have been thrown, but took responsibility for not adjusting to the way the officials were calling the game.

— Ryan Williams said he was “fine” after a pair of carries (for 10 yards) and a catch in his first preseason action of the season. I thought he looked aggressive for what little time he got. He needed to be. With Alfonso Smith coming out and looking good as Mendenhall’s backup, this running back battle is very interesting. Could the Cards keep five?

— Not a good night for the tight ends. Housler dropped a touchdown (Arians didn’t seemed all that concerned about it), while Kory Sperry and D.C. Jefferson also had drops. Jefferson’s miss ended up an interception.

— Not a ton learned in the kicking battle, since neither got much opportunity. Dan Carpenter had a field goal blocked on what looked like protection issues. Jay Feely made an extra point. Feely had both kickoffs.

— Arians wasn’t overly critical of Levi Brown’s play against Dwight Freeney because, well, it was Dwight Freeney. Nate Potter had his own issues, so it’s not like there is someone there that would step in.

— Michael Floyd made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.  Larry Fitzgerald’s one-handed catch to start the game was amazing. Other than that, a night to forget.


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Friday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2013 – 2:27 pm

Darnell Dockett was asked if he would say hi to Ken Whisenhunt before Saturday’s game against the Chargers.

“Of course,” Dockett said of his former head coach, now San Diego’s offensive coordinator. “I have nothing against Coach Whiz. Wish him much success at San Diego. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field.”

Dockett and Whiz had butted heads at the end of last season, but time goes on. If Saturday’s game was in the regular season, if it meant something in the standings, Whisenhunt’s return to University of Phoenix Stadium would be a bigger story. It probably would help if there were some time and distance between his firing and now, too. But it’s tough not to notice too.

Patrick Peterson hasn’t forgotten he scored a touchdown on an interception in his first University of Phoenix Stadium game against the Chargers in the preseason of 2011. Reminded of that, Peterson said “hopefully I can get another pick-6 — especially on coach Whisenhunt.”

Peterson smiled. “It was a great two years with him. I’m happy for him he got another job. We miss him around here but we have a bunch of new faces that will help us turn the corner.”

Whisenhunt spoke to a couple of outlets in Arizona this week about his return trip, both with Kent Somers and Mike Jurecki. On Jurecki’s show (on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix), Whiz mostly talked about the support the fans gave him and the friends he made in the organization and said he wasn’t sure what response he will get in the stadium Saturday.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there are a lot of great memories,” Whisenhunt said. “I really don’t know. It will be different for me because it’ll be the first time I will be in the stadium where I am not a Cardinal.”

The holdover players will likely move over and greet Whiz before the game. That’s to be expected. From there, well, it is just preseason. Right?

“There will be a ceremonial dap or two, say hi,” guard Daryn Colledge said, “but then again I know he’ll have a mindset in making a point.”

As for the rest of the game – and the fact it is the “important” third preseason game on the slate:

— The starters are supposed to go into the third quarter against the Chargers. I don’t expect any surprises in the starting lineup and I’m not sure we’re going to get any changes before the opener, although Bruce Arians has not said for sure he’s settled on anything.

— Given the red-zone issues last week, that will be something very important to watch. The team worked on it again in practice Thursday and methinks the head coach needs to see progress in that area.

— The Cards were into practicing-like-it’s-regular-season-game-week mode this week, which makes sense going into the game where the starters will play the most. That included dressing linebacker Kenny Rowe in a red “93” jersey much of the week (the rest of the defense was wearing white) to know where pass rusher Dwight Freeney would be.

— Curious to see how much time Mike Thomas gets at receiver. He just showed up so he probably isn’t familiar with a ton yet. And Arians, earlier in the week, noted Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor are next up beyond the “big three” receivers for playing time. Does Thomas have to wait to get much time, at least until Denver?

— Big game for Karlos Dansby, just in terms of seeing him on the field. Didn’t play the first two weeks, probably won’t play a lot against the Broncos. But he practiced all week and this will be a good tune-up.

— If this is the game in which the main players are going to get a lot of time, does that mean Patrick Peterson gets a few offensive reps? It’s going to be very interesting to see how much time on the offensive side of the ball he does get when games begin to count.

— Ryan Williams will likely be suited up. But again, if this is about the guys in the main rotation, Williams is going to have to cut in line to get much work. And you still have to wonder how much work he can handle with one practice in three weeks.

— Don’t forget about the bag policy if you are going to the game. Remember, the bag policy.

— Larry Fitzgerald turns 30 next week and is feeling the pinch of Father Time. If you didn’t see it, here’s my story.

— The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster. They must trim to 75 by Tuesday (although I’d guess their cuts will be before then. There will be practice Monday.) If you wonder about who is getting cut, keep an eye on the players who do not get a snap against the Chargers. If you are going to release someone, you don’t want them getting hurt.

— Once, as noted by Bob Glauber deep in this piece about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, reigning Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms not only played in the fourth preseason game, but he played the whole game. As he noted, he’s not sure when the third game became the important one.

— Yet we do know, thanks to Denny Green, this game doesn’t count, but it matters. After all, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know.


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Never forget — skill wins out

Posted by Darren Urban on August 21, 2013 – 2:14 pm

Bruce Arians was talking at lunch about some of the moves the team has been making and noted that new wide receiver Mike Thomas had a résumé none of the other young receivers did. He also noted Thomas had speed, something the Cards are always looking for at wideout. Arians was asked again later how important that résumé was. Arians didn’t hesitate.

“That should help him, (but) the deciding factor though was speed,” Arians said. “He does have the résumé, But if he were slow and had that résumé, he probably wouldn’t be here.”

You need a total package. The Cards had undrafted rookie Robby Toma, who seemed to catch everything thrown his way. But he didn’t have the speed, he didn’t have the size and he definitely didn’t have the experience. Robert Gill had the speed but he didn’t have the experience, he struggled catching the ball of late and before that, he was battling a bad hamstring too often. Those were the reasons those guys were cut Wednesday. And it’s a reminder you need to total package to stick around.

Besides, at 87 players, the Cards have to slice 35 more guys before the regular season, not including anyone else they claim/sign. A lot of the current guys are going to have to go.

— WR Andre Roberts (ankle) was back at practice Tuesday. Arians said the Cards will take it slow with him.

— Arians still has hope TE Jeff King (knee) will be able to practice some this week and maybe play in Saturday’s game.

— If Roberts is down, it is Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor the next in line — not Thomas — to get the bulk of the work in the game. With Patrick Peterson and Rob Housler as receiving options, I think the Cards keep at most five receivers. There’s a lot on the line for Brown/Taylor/Thomas. The other young guys will get more work in the preseason finale.

— Arians won’t have a lot of time to evaluate Thomas, but that’s a reality of the situation. “There are guys you claim off the waiver wire where you get one day and they have to play on Sunday sometimes,” Arians said. “That’s the hardest part of coaching, get a guy on Tuesday and have to play him Sunday.”

— Arians said he hopes to play Daryn Colledge about 10 snaps at center against the Chargers. “Ten to 12, all in one good long drive for a touchdown,” Arians added.


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Sidelined Ryan Williams knows he’ll need “big plays”

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2013 – 12:27 pm

The Cardinals are getting healthier, although the main subject for Bruce Arians once again as his team starts a new week was the status of running back Ryan WIlliams. It’s only Monday, but already Arians said Williams “probably” will not play against the Chargers Saturday because of the knee. Answers are few and far between, but Arians was asked about Williams anyway.

About evaluating WIlliams, Arians said, “He needs to start playing. Can’t evaluate him unless you play.” Arians isn’t sure yet what it means for Williams’ chances at a roster spot, and there is still an opportunity for Williams to “play a bunch” against Denver in the preseason finale. That would mean Williams would actually have to come back first though.

“You can’t get these reps back,” Arians said. “He had an excellent OTAs, started with an excellent camp, running and cutting. Then just put the brakes on. You can’t get this back.” Asked if he thought it was more mental than physical with Williams, Arians said “I can’t answer that. He’s the only one who can answer that.”

UPDATE: Williams said it’s still the irritation under the “fatty pad” in his knee causing him sharp pain. He said he doesn’t even call it an injury. He also wasn’t willing to say he was nervous about his spot on the roster, mostly because he figures worrying about it wouldn’t help.

“I wouldn’t say nervous about my spot, I just don’t like taking time off,” Williams said. “But things like this happen. There was nothing more I could have done to prevent this from happening. I really not nervous, because I feel when I go out there, I’ll be able to erase the time that I’ve missed.”

Would there be enough time to convince the organization to keep him if he didn’t return until next week? “I don’t know,” Williams said. “We’ll have to see. I’d have to make a lot of big plays to erase the time that I’ve missed. I really don’t worry about things like that, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”

Williams added he was “pretty sure” the coaches are frustrated because he is too.

“I wouldn’t doubt that they were,” Williams said. “Can I sense it? No. If they are they are doing a good (job) of hiding it. I’m pretty sure they are, but it’s not to the point where they are mad at me. They are more mad at the situation like I am.”

— The good news is that Arians expects a handful of players to return to practice today. He didn’t name any particulars other than cornerback Javier Arenas, although he said last week he thought LB Karlos Dansby would be back on the field today. Those players may still be limited, but they will have a chance to play Saturday. TE Jeff King (knee) and WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion) remain out, although Arians said he thought King could play against San Diego.

— Backup tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie got extended playing time against the Cowboys because they needed extra work, Arians said, and he added he liked they way they played. They will get less work this week as the starters go longer, and while Arians said the depth chart at the position has not changed he still sees a competition not only between Massie/Eric Winston and Potter/Levi Brown but also at right guard between Daryn Colledge and Paul Fanaika.

— Colledge will get some snaps as center this week. Colledge said he has never played center in a game, but with only seven linemen that dress Sundays, having Colledge be proficient at the skill would mean the Cards wouldn’t need a specific backup center active on game days.

— Arians has mentioned a couple of times that Kerry Taylor dropped a touchdown pass against Dallas, as he did with tight end D.C. Jefferson in the first preseason game. In both cases, it looked like the pass from QB Drew Stanton was slightly off-target and would have made a grab difficult. Arians was asked if he ever thought about giving his receivers more slack. “No,” he deadpanned, before a smile crept over his face. “This is the NFL. When you get both hands on the ball, you’ve got to catch it.”

— The play of QB Carson Palmer was “average,” Arians said. “He’d probably say he was terrible,” Arians said. “He knows he can play better.”

— In the department of Ryan Lindley seems to have a good shot to stick, Arians said the third QB has done “extremely well” and his decision-making in games has been good. Lindley will get extensive time in the fourth preseason game, which will be important in his evaluation.

— Arians, asked to assess the camp of kicker Jay Feely, paused before calling it “solid.” But he said he made it clear to Feely missing a 30-yard field goal was unacceptable.

— Colledge, whose fractured leg was revealed last week by General Manager Steve Keim, said he was shaking off the rust. “A lesser man would have quit football,” Colledge quipped. As for the talk of the injury being a nerve problem and not a broken leg, Colledge said “What we tell people and what needs to be said are two different things.”


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Friday before the Cowboys

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2013 – 1:48 pm

Bruce Arians sees a lot of positives about playing Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. They play a version of the Tampa Two thanks to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, a zone that forces different decision-making than the quarterbacks have been making thus far. They feature a four-man defensive front, which the Cards do not see in practice. These are all things the Cards need to work on in preseason game No. 2.

But it’s also a game against Cowboys, which, preseason or not, tends to bring with it a different vibe than other games. When you hear guys like Jonathan Cooper talking about nerves, it seems to me playing against Dallas doesn’t do much to help – especially knowing it’s a nationally televised game on NFL Network (which will be blacked out locally I believe, because ABC-15 has the game here.)

This, however, is where I’d think one of the biggest benefits of holding training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium comes into play. Usually, the team hasn’t even been to the stadium yet, or maybe had a brief walkthrough the night before. But all these new players – rookies and otherwise – know UoP like the back of their hand now. They are there almost every day, dressing in the locker room and playing football on the field. There will be no newness to it whatsoever. As a player, they aren’t going to be any more comfortable than they already are.

— Arians said he plans to play his starters about 20 plays but also doesn’t want to have them play the entire first half. My guess is that their performance will dictate some of that, at least offensively. Arians was not happy with the number of points the Cards scored last week and that will be something to watch.

— General Manager Steve Keim, on Thursday night’s Big Red Rage, said Arians “has a few tricks up his sleeve for the fans on Saturday.” Hmm. Any chance the Patrick Peterson-at-receiver gets unveiled? Regardless, something to look forward to in the home opener.

— With Tyrann Mathieu starting at free safety, he may just be limited to those 20 plays. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they extend Mathieu a little with the second unit. With Jonathon Amaya already nursing a knee injury, the Cards are thinner at safety with Rashad Johnson down and it’s not like Mathieu doesn’t need the reps. Keim said Mathieu didn’t want to come out of the game last week in Green Bay.

— Here’s the reality of camp and fighting for jobs, too. Keim said the powers-that-be “probably have 10 tough discussions” coming on who was going to make the roster. “The rest are set in stone.” Do the math, and a lot of guys are already out of it before a second preseason game is even played.

— There are a lot of guys who need to make some inroads after injuries. CB Jamell Fleming and WR Robert Gill are two that come to mind. Arians hasn’t really made a secret out of the fact guys fall behind when they are hurt. When you are fighting to make the team, you can’t afford hiccups.

— Speaking of injuries, Keim was noting how guard Daryn Colledge came back “on a fractured leg” to fend off Paul Fanaika. Colledge was put right back with the first unit when he returned to practice this week.

— One player to watch is kicker Jay Feely. Feely had a good season last year and he is very dependable. But he did miss a long field goal last week and his leg doesn’t always boom kickoffs. Like most positions, Arians isn’t going to just give a guy the job. Finding an upgrade may be tough, but that doesn’t mean the Cards wouldn’t look.

— Do not forget the new bag policy is in place. Go here to read about all the details.

— Paid final respects to former Arizona Republic writer Jim Gintonio this morning. He was a good man and I hope he rests in peace. Go here or here or here to read those more eloquent about Gintonio the man than I.

— Reports from Dallas are that quarterback Tony Romo will get about 15 plays himself.

A day game in the preseason. Something different.


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The “dominance” in the NFC West

Posted by Darren Urban on August 15, 2013 – 12:30 pm

If there was any doubt how Bruce Arians was approaching this season and the Cardinals’ place in the NFC West — and via the moves they have made with Carson Palmer and Karlos Dansby and John Abraham and Eric Winston, et al, there shouldn’t have been — he made it clear Thursday. He reiterated the physical nature of the division and how the Cards were going to have to be prepared for it.

But he also said “I don’t see the dominance that everybody else talks about. One of those teams may be (dominant.) It still has to be played on Sunday.”

We will see how it does play out on Sundays, but the NFC West will be entertaining, for sure.

— Arians ruled out DE Frostee Rucker (toe sprain) and S Rashad Johnson (knee/ankle) from playing Saturday. He also said most of the other injured guys are in the same place. Since G Daryn Colledge has been practicing, I would guess he will be in the lineup.

— RB Andre Elllington is “ready to go” and will play. “It’s much nicer going in with four (running backs) than two,” Arians said with a smile. Of course, there is still no word on an ETA on RB Ryan Williams, the fifth back who remains out with knee problems. I don’t expect him to practice again today and definitely don’t see him playing against the Cowboys. No, that’s not good for him and you have to start to wonder about what his place on this roster might be — or even if he will have one.

— CB Javier Arenas hurt his finger in practice Tuesday. Not sure if it will affect practice time or whether he can play Saturday. UPDATE: Arenas isn’t practicing Thursday.

— LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring) remains out and won’t play either. But Arians didn’t sound concerned at all. “He doesn’t need much tune up,” Arians said. “He knows how to play the game. He just needs some full-speed game action, We’ll get him a couple of quarters against San Diego (next week) and he’ll be fine.”

—  DE Calais Campbell continued to sound excited about what the defense will allow he and the other defensive linemen to do in Todd Bowles’ scheme. Ultimately, he said, the defense sets up guys in one-on-one positions and they are told may the best defender win and make the play. Campbell also said the Cards will definitely feature more four-down linemen sets than last season, and he raved about newcomer Matt Shaughnessy and the pass-rush front of Shaughnessy, John Abraham, himself and Darnell Dockett. “That’ll be tough to block,” Campbell said.

MattSUse


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Needy Jefferson gets help from Fitz

Posted by Darren Urban on August 12, 2013 – 5:25 pm

Long after most players had cleared the field after Monday’s practice — indeed, the University of Phoenix crew in charge of breaking down the field and rolling it back outside for the night were getting antsy — rookie tight end D.C. Jefferson and Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald were catching balls launched from a JUGS machine.

Fitz probably doesn’t need the extra work. Jefferson, the quarterback-turned-tight-end-in-college who has been hit-and-miss catching the ball, does. Fitzgerald saw Jefferson Monday, and decided to give him some pointers. Maybe it was just to be a good teammate and maybe it was Fitz remembering that Jefferson dropped a key pass in Friday’s game — something that can’t happen when games count.

“I normally stay out there and catch balls anyway,” said Jefferson, the Cardinals’ seventh-round draft pick. “I guess Larry saw me catching the ball, and he brought me to the side and showed me some extra drills to help me out.

“Anything from Fitzgerald is worth having. It is good to have his techniques and ways to be great.”

It’s been an up-and-down camp for Jefferson. He no question looks the part and his attitude is right. But he has struggled with mental errors at times and has dropped the ball too. Coach Bruce Arians also made a comment after the Packers game about Jefferson dropping a touchdown pass, but further review showed that Drew Stanton’s pass was off-target enough that Jefferson would have had a hard time pulling it in.

“I haven’t been perfect but I’m getting better every single day,” Jefferson said. “It’s coming along.”

Jefferson has been aided by a ton of reps, thanks to tight end injuries that have cleared the way for playing time. Whether that is enough to eventually get him a roster spot, or if he might be a practice squad candidate, well, that’s one good reason for Fitz to try and teach Jefferson what he can now. The job interview is ongoing.

“There’s pressure every day,” Jefferson said. “This is the NFL. Going against guys that are trying to kill you every day. You have to make your plays. There is definitely pressure. But it’s something I embrace.”

— Right guard Daryn Colledge (leg) basically practiced the whole way Monday and was dropped right back in with the first-unit offensive line. Paul Fanaika returned to the second unit.

— There were a couple of noteworthy catches. Fitzgerald made one in traffic between two defenders early in the practice. Patrick Peterson, helping double cover Fitz with Tyrann Mathieu later in the practice, made a pretty over-the-shoulder interception.

— The injured list included TE Jeff King (knee), TE Kory Sperry (ankle), LB Karlos Dansby (hamstring), RB Andre Ellington (concussion), RB Ryan Williams (knee), S Jonathon Amaya (knee), DT Dan Williams (ankle), DT Ricky Lumpkin (ankle) and LB Dan Giordano (PUP – toe.)

FitzDCBlog


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