Looking at young players is just that

Posted by Darren Urban on October 21, 2013 – 1:03 pm

There will be no changes to the lineup this week, Bruce Arians said. Yes, he mentioned Bobby Massie possibly playing and looking at young players, but Arians clarified that looking at those players was all he was doing. He wants to make sure they are making progress and “really are the depth we’re looking for,” Arians said.

“It’s just a matter of opportunities in case one arises,” Arians added.

Opportunities, Arians said, come in the form of injuries, mostly. Those included under the microscope, according to the coach: The entire practice squad, along with guard Earl Watford, linebacker Dontay Moch, and tight end D.C. Jefferson. It’s clear the Cards continue to look at tight ends — Arians mentioned practice squad tight end Daniel Fells by name. But unless, for instance, Colledge is down this week because of his back problem (and Watford is currently running as Colledge’s backup), don’t expect an overhaul.

— Colledge (back), WR Brittan Golden (hamstring) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (looked like his leg was wrapped) were sidelined during the open part of Monday’s practice. There is no injury report before Wednesday, but Arians said there were no injury surprises today. He also said the Cards eased off on certain veterans who were hurting.

— The Falcons are expected to get running back Steven Jackson back from practice this week too, although he has missed so much time there is no guarantee he’ll be ready to play Sunday.

— LB Marcus Benard missed practice because he was out of town for the birth of his child. “I congratulate him on that,” Arians said. Arians added Benard played well. Benard started Thursday, although he only played 11 of 67 defensive snaps.

— Wide receiver Michael Floyd reiterated that the entire offense needs to shoulder the blame for its problems, and Arians repeated the same thing when asked about the issues of quarterback Carson Palmer. “I think Carson’s problem is, some are hit and some are the 10 guys around him,” Arians said. “It’s not just the line. It’s the receivers being in the wrong spots and running the wrong routes and not being in their reception areas, and then again the protection.”

— The three biggest injuries announced in the NFL today all impact the Cardinals and their home schedule. The Texans (visit Nov. 10) lost linebacker Brian Cushing for the season, the Colts (visit Nov. 24) lost wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the season, and the Rams (visit Dec. 8) lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the season.



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Campbell playing against Seahawks

Posted by Darren Urban on October 17, 2013 – 4:02 pm

It seemed pretty obvious with the way Calais was talking all week, but the defensive end, five days after being taken off the Candlestick Park turf on a stretcher, is playing tonight against the Seahawks. That’s a big deal (and not as scary as it once might have seemed since Campbell said he had been ready to walk off the field last week before the medical staff said no way.) Campbell has six sacks in the last eight games he’s played against Seattle and is having a very good season.

The inactive list, actually, is about what you would expect. LB Dontay Moch is inactive today, a mild surprise but against a team that figures to run a lot, not a shock. Aside from Moch, those sitting are:

— QB Ryan Lindley

— WR Brittan Golden (hamstring)

— RB Ryan Williams

— LB Kenny Demens

— G Earl Watford

— TE D.C. Jefferson

The roof will also be open tonight for the first time this season.

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Friday before the Buccaneers

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

The Cardinals have played the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay just once in the past 16 years, a forgettable 2007 17-10 loss in which, among other things, the Cards began to start leaving for East Coast trips on Fridays (after looking sluggish following a Saturday arrival in Tampa) and Larry Fitzgerald inexplicably stepped out of bounds on a long catch-and-run that seemed like it should have gone for a touchdown.

That, of course, doesn’t even include the last time the Cards played in Raymond James Stadium, which didn’t include the Buccaneers but did include Bruce Arians on the other sideline.

“I don’t have any good memories from this stadium at all,” Fitzgerald said.

The Cardinals desperately need to change that up this time around. It couldn’t be lined up any better. The team stayed in Florida for the week, to prep for the early start/humidity/weather. The Buccaneers decided to start a rookie quarterback – a third-round pick, no less – and will probably inactivate the only QB on the roster who has ever had any success in the NFL (and who played well against the Cards in 2010 in Arizona.) Fitzgerald is back healthy. The Bucs are 0-3 in the first place.

There seems like a giant chasm between a 2-2 record and a 1-3 record.

— Fitzgerald was talking – again, like he has the past couple of years – about what the problems were of the offense. Fitz obliged the best he could, and then was asked if he ever tired of saying the same things. Fitz smiled.

“I can give you clichés all day,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve got them in my back pocket. I’m not going to give you any bulletin board material. I’m going to keep it classy.”

— Some of the issues aren’t new. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin reiterated the need to protect Carson Palmer better, and if that happens, the offense flow from there. Once again, Goodwin was asked about extra blocking help on the edge, especially for left tackle Levi Brown.

“There’s only so many things you can do in a game based on what we do,” Goodwin said. “We are going to go empty. We are going to do play-action pass. Obviously he’s got to get the job done. Otherwise I’ll be in there.”

— The reality is that most teams have protection issues these days. Look around the league. That doesn’t excuse problems Brown or anyone else have, but few teams are satisfied. It can change week to week too. As for sacks, the goal is “get the number down,” Goodwin said. “You are going to give up sacks, it’s the nature of the beast. We just have to do a better job getting in front of those guys, try and slow them down.”

— If the equation is a) the Bucs’ top two receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson are questionable with injuries and b) the Bucs are starting rookie Mike Glennon at quarterback and c) the Bucs have a solid run game with Doug Martin in the backfield, well, that all should equal some obvious offensive tendencies. That run defense we saw through the first two-and-three-quarter games – before the Saints game went sideways – is what the Cards need in Tampa.

— Looking back at that 2007 game, the seven-point loss – the Bucs had the ball for more than 43 minutes. How is that even possible in a 17-10 game? I’m sure the Bucs want to possess the ball again like that. The best thing the Cards could do is have another opening drive like the one in New Orleans. With Glennon and not Drew Brees, the affect would be much greater.

— Martin, whose nickname in college was the “Muscle Hamster” – a nickname Martin clearly hated – played at Boise State. His tackle was current Cardinal Nate Potter, and at one point, there was a story going around that Potter gave him the nickname. Martin said that wasn’t the case.

“He actually didn’t call me the nickname, and that’s why I like him,” Martin said.

— How the Cards deal with the loss of their starting linebackers is going to be a major storyline. It isn’t as if Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho were dominant, but they were starters for a reason. And they clearly will be missed on special teams, which has been the one spot that’s been pretty consistent up until this point. What you have to wonder about is the coverage skills of the outside guys on the roster. Shaughnessy, Abraham and Moch are all pass rushers first.

— It’s been a crazy week with the finger issue of Rashad Johnson, all the way to the very real possibility he will play Sunday. That just is unreal to me.

— The team will bus from Sarasota to Tampa tomorrow afternoon. Two-game road trips in the NFL – true road trips, not road games on back-to-back weekends – are rare. We’ll see if the Cards can come up with a split.

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Arians: LB Okafor is out for the season

Posted by Darren Urban on September 24, 2013 – 5:44 pm

Coach Bruce Arians just said on his weekly Sirius XM NFL radio spot that rookie linebacker Alex Okafor has suffered a torn biceps tendon — in New Orleans, like everyone else — and will miss the rest of the season. That’s another killer blow at a position the Cardinals cannot afford losses. That means the only two outside linebackers left on the active roster that were with the team going into the weekend are converted defensive ends Matt Shaughnessy and John Abraham. Brutal doesn’t begin to describe the outside linebacker situation.

Arians also said Kenny Demens will be promoted from the practice squad, but Demens has been an inside linebacker. The Cards signed linebacker Vic So’oto just today, and promoted Dontay Moch from the practice squad — and apparently those guys are going to play right away. Arians talked often this offseason about how the Colts suffered so many injuries last season he often as interim coach had to take a guy and play him only a few days after signing him. Now he unfortunately is in the same boat with the Cardinals.

Here’s the audio from the show.

Linebacker Daryl Washington — who arrived in Florida tonight to take part in the week’s meetings — returns from suspension next week, but that still doesn’t solve the outside issues.

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Cards add linebacker after injuries

Posted by Darren Urban on September 24, 2013 – 10:22 am

The Cardinals promoted Dontay Moch from the practice squad to aid with their linebacker woes, and today, they did more, signing linebacker Vic So’oto. So’oto has spent time with the Packers, Raiders and Redskins since arriving in the league in 2011. He’ll give them a body for now. Holdovers Matt Shaughnessy, John Abraham, Alex Okafor and Moch will be ahead of him on the depth chart. Officially, Okafor will be listed as the first-unit Sam linebacker, with Moch and So’oto behind him. At Will LB, Shaughnessy is first, ahead of Abraham.

The Cards also added linebacker Bruce Taylor to the practice squad. Taylor, an undrafted rookie, was with the Bengals in training camp.

Next week, the Cards will also get back linebacker Daryl Washington from suspension. Adding So’oto means they have filled the roster back to 53, meaning someone will have to be released to get Washington back and active.

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Moch highlights practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2013 – 11:04 am

The Cardinals have picked five of their possible eight practice-squad players, including pass rusher Dontay Moch — an intriguing prospect and former third-round pick who has been limited to one regular season game in two seasons because of migraines, a broken foot and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Moch would be a linebacker in the Cards’ scheme. He’s had 6.5 sacks the past two preseasons, so he has flashed. It makes sense as practice squad potential.

The Cardinals also brought back both their Taylors from the preseason roster — wide receiver Kerry and safety Curtis — to the practice squad, as well as linebacker Kenny Rowe. Rowe, like Moch, is part of the Cards’ perpetual quest to find edge rushers.

The other spot went to center/guard Philip Blake, recently cut by Denver.

There are still three practice squad spots left. One could go to linebacker Kenny Demens, cut yesterday by the team. Tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb, cut by the Cards, ended up on the Bears’ practice squad.

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