Thursday before the bye

Posted by Darren Urban on October 14, 2010 – 3:46 pm

There might only be one quieter day than this one in-season around here, and that will be tomorrow. But, as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted, there were a few players in to work out this morning. Included in the group was new quarterback Max Hall, who indeed was out in the early-morning sun throwing some passes. Unfortunately, most were to players he’s unlikely to throw to in a real game. Larry Fitzgerald was gone, and while Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Stephen Williams were out getting in some work running around, they weren’t in a place to do it with Hall yet. Max Komar, Onrea Jones and practice-squader Ed Gant were the targets.

(Although Doucet and Breaston did look decent jogging around and Breaston seemed like he had some proper footwork down when he briefly played “quarterback” on a handful of passes to Doucet as they were wrapping up. BTW, Breaston was killing the doughnuts in the locker room).

Doucet is hoping to be back for the Seattle game. He is clearly anxious to play again. He acknowledged it’s easy to feel good “going against air” and needs to see how he responds when there are actual defenders.

Speaking of all that, when all the receivers get healthy, the coaches have some interesting decisions to make. Fitz, Breaston and Doucet will play. You figure Andre Roberts — who flashed as a receiver as well as a punt returner against the Saints — will be the fourth. Is the fifth Komar or Williams? Komar does more on special teams, but since Doucet and Roberts both can play inside, Williams might be more needed.

There is time to talk about all this later. The flow of information — at least from me — is going to trickle to nothing soon. I’ve got a long weekend myself, and given the grind since training camp started and days off I can count on one hand in that time, I too plan to enjoy the break.

Then comes the sprint to the finish. Eleven games in which to lock down an NFC West three-peat. Should be an interesting journey, regardless.

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Bringing back Gant to practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on October 5, 2010 – 3:58 pm

Now that his four-game suspension is over, the Cardinals have re-signed wide receiver Ed Gant to the practice squad. They had a spot when linebacker Cyril Obiozor was signed to the 53-man roster of the San Diego Chargers. Gant served his suspension after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

The Cards needed to fill Obiozor’s spot at linebacker, so Curtis Gatewood was brought back to the practice squad (he was released from the practice squad a couple weeks ago), and wide receiver Tim Brown was let go.

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Receiving corps dwindling

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2010 – 8:26 am

I noted yesterday wide receiver Darren Mougey hurt his hand at practice yesterday. Kent Somers found out Mougey broke his hand, which obviously, sidelines him (and probably cost him any chance of sticking around). The Cards were already going to be without receivers Larry Fitzgerald (knee), Early Doucet (abdomen) and Andre Roberts (shoulder) against the Bears and now this. I wouldn’t think the Cards want to expose Steve Breaston too much given the circumstances, so it’ll be interesting how the playing time is divvied up in Chicago. Besides Breaston, the remaining healthy wideouts are Stephen Williams, Max Komar, Onrea Jones (pictured below), Ed Gant and Mike Jones.

Anyone looking for the quarterbacks to distinguish themselves through the air, by the way, should keep in mind that, besides Breaston, the remaining healthy receivers have a grand total of zero NFL regular-season receptions.

“It’s a good opportunity,” quarterback Matt Leinart said. “It is tough with the timing (of the passing game), but with Larry and Early out, we are building our chemistry as we go. This will be good for us in the long run, that’s the positive for these guys. They are making plays. It’s tough as you go along so it’s tough as a rookie when you are thrown in the mix.”

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Over at the Titans’ facility …

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2010 – 4:48 pm

Just got back from the Cards’ practice with the Titans. There will be a story up in a bit, but I have to say, it was cleaner than I expected — no scuffles at all. But it was still interesting. Unfortunately, with three fields, each team’s offense was taking on the opposing defense simultaneously on the two outside fields, so you had to pick and choose what battles to watch. Given the circumstances, I watched more of the Cards’ offense. The offensive line versus the Titans’ defensive line was fun to see. It’s clear the Cards have some nasty cusses on the second unit — Rex Hadnot (pictured below in a one-on-one battle), Deuce Lutui and Jeremy Bridges — who like to stir things up. That always lends itself to intensity.

Some quick other notes from today:

— The injury list was expected — WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee), WR Early Doucet (abdomen), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP), TE Ben Patrick (knee) and WR Andre Roberts (shoulder). LB Will Davis left during practice after aggravating his right knee bruise, but coach Ken Whisenhunt said he will be OK.

— Greg Toler was running with the first unit at CB with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he had told me earlier in the day there would be some shuffling. Whether that is “permanent” (which is a term that must be used loosely this time of year) or not, we will see. I also notice rookie NT Dan Williams getting a couple of first-unit snaps, but I didn’t see enough of the defense to know if that meant anything, or if it was just a sub-package or maybe veteran Bryan Robinson was just getting a blow.

— Max Hall did run with the second unit at the end of the two-minute drill, but only after Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson each got some work. Hall could have (should have?) had a TD pass at the end, but a pass was slightly tipped, changing trajectory a little for WR Ed Gant, who had the ball bounce off his upper chest. Hall threw a nice long TD earlier to Stephen Williams during 7-on-7.

— No, during my time watching the QBs, I didn’t see anything much noteworthy from Leinart or Anderson, not to add to the chaos of a story right now.

— The Cards practice one more time tomorrow at Vanderbilt, and fly to Chicago Friday.

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Early will rest, battling the Titans and other stuff

Posted by Darren Urban on August 19, 2010 – 1:02 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked at lunch (it’s weird having so few morning practices, like again today). Among the topics:

— Wide receiver Early Doucet only has a “slim” chance at playing in Tennessee with his sore abdomen. Whiz said the Cards are just being cautious, and are going to be even more so with Larry Fitzgerald (knee) on the shelf. “Early could push through but you don’t know the long-term ramifications,” Whisenhunt said. “Our job is to make sure the main three guys (Fitz, Doucet and Steve Breaston) are available for the regular season.”

— Whisenhunt said after further review, he felt Wednesday night’s practice wasn’t bad. The Cards were throwing things in defensively that the offense hadn’t seen, he said, which was one of the reasons the defense was ahead. He also intentionally made things tougher for the offense. “It was a much better practice on tape than what the feel was,” Whisenhunt acknowledged.

— The Cards have three games in 11 days starting Monday, but Whisenhunt said it won’t be a huge deal. He did say it was important the team was staying in Nashville after the Tennessee game since the team wouldn’t have gotten back until the wee hours of Tuesday and then would have had to fly right back out three days later.

— The Cards are tentatively scheduled to practice with the Titans next Wednesday in the late afternoon in Tennessee and then have their own practice Thursday starting in the late morning.

— Whiz noted wide receiver Mike Jones made a couple of plays Wednesday night and it will be interesting to see, assuming Doucet is out with Fitz, if Jones can make any headway on the depth chart. Whiz wouldn’t commit to Stephen Williams running first unit in the Titans’ game either, saying he wanted to see where Ed Gant was in his recovery from a bad foot.

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Inside for the afternoon, Fitz coaches

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2010 – 6:01 pm

Larry Fitzgerald can’t practice, so he was out there coaching up the young receivers during this afternoon’s workout, which once again was in Walkup Skydome because of the rain. Even afterward, he was throwing passes to safety Hamza Abdullah on the sideline (in the picture below) as Abdullah worked on his interceptions. Fitz was reminding his teammates he was a quarterback once upon a time (not sure when, he had already broken out as gifted wideout in high school).

Anyway …

— The injury list remained the same. WR Ed Gant did practice, but WR Early Doucet (abdominal) is still out. So too were TE Ben Patrick (knee), LB Reggie Walker (hamstring, although Walker was running pretty good on the side), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP), LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP) and S Aaron Rouse (neck). Rouse is banged up from the car accident; the Cards may have to figure out if they can hang on to him while he recovers.

— There was almost another injury of the freak variety when LB Pago Togafau was undercut by WR Onrea Jones as Jones tried to come up with a catch. Togafau was slow to get up, but he turned out to be OK.

— WR Stephen Williams had another fine showing. He was open deep on one play although the ball by Matt Leinart was slightly underthrown, allowing CB Tru McBride to knock it away. Williams also caught a nice 42-yard bomb from Leinart in the back of the end zone during the two-minute drill that looked close to good (although McBride informed me via Twitter after practice Williams was out).

— CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came in to break up what looked like a sure long gainer from Steve Breaston from Leinart a couple plays earlier.

— There were two tussles between LB Stevie Baggs and TE Stephen Spach. The first was a little more intense — facemask-grabbing and all that. At this point, it can’t be a surprise Spach gets in the middle of such things. It’s what he does (although he must do other things better too, because he started in the Texans’ game).

— Don’t forget I will be hosting a live chat tomorrow — Wednesday — at 1:30 p.m. Arizona time (4:30 p.m. EST).

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More on the accident and Whiz tidbits

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2010 – 12:17 pm

Safety Aaron Rouse is back in Flagstaff after his car accident yesterday but he will not be practicing after suffering whiplash. Safety Rashad Johnson, who was driving, said the car in front of him had a rear tire blow out. That car began to fishtail and actually flipped a few times in front of the Cardinals. Johnson — who had never been in an accident before — was able to avoid that car, but in the process hit another vehicle.

“It was scary,” said Johnson, who still practiced Monday. “I was lucky to walk out feeling OK without any side effects besides being a little spooked.”

Johnson said it was about 75 miles out of Flagstaff, so speeds were around the 75-mile-an-hour limit — the normal traffic, but awful quick when all of a sudden someone flips in front of you. Johnson said so many teammates ended up stopping he couldn’t even name them all, although Johnson got in the ambulance with Rouse as they went up to Flagstaff. “It was a freak thing,” Johnson said.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt knows it’s not an easy drive to Flagstaff from the Valley but “it can happen from our (Tempe) facility to our homes,” he said. Being cautious on the 100-plus mile drive is “something we talk about all the time.”

As for other things Whiz touched on at lunch:

— He said the rehab of linebacker Gerald Hayes (back) is progressing well and there is a hope Hayes can return soon. Whiz said he wouldn’t rule out Hayes coming back for the start of the regular season, but “I wouldn’t say it is probable either. The next couple weeks is critical.” Hayes has missed so much time, you’d think he’ll need a chunk of practice time before he is ready to play in a game.

— Wide receiver depth is sketchy right now. Ed Gant (foot) may come back this afternoon on a limited basis. Larry Fitzgerald (knee) and Early Doucet (abdomen) have also been out. Whiz said the team is hoping to make it through, but if the non-Fitz injuries linger, there is a chance the Cards will have to make a move.

— He said guard Alan Faneca is getting better in pass protection. “There has been a lot of talk about the demise of Alan Faneca, and I haven’t really seen that,” Whiz said. “Have I seen him get beat in one-on-one pass protections in camp? Sure I have. But Calais (Campbell) is becoming a pretty good pass rusher.”

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Fitz wants to practice; car accident sidelines Rouse

Posted by Darren Urban on August 16, 2010 – 6:25 pm

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald wore a brace on his sprained right knee and he wasn’t thrilled. And while he is a multi-time Pro Bowler, he shook off the idea that he could afford to miss camp while he healed.

“It makes a big diference,” Fitzgerald said. “I play a position predicated on timing. We have a new quarterback and I need to be out there with him every single day, not just Sunday, but Monday through Saturday building our continuity.”

Fitzgerald said the injury is worse than the knee injury he suffered in San Francisco (which cost him no games). But he said this was a “minor setback.” He also said he wouldn’t set a timetable, only that he wanted to get back to practice ASAP.

“That’s what is frustrating, you work so hard in the offseason to get your body in shape and then something like this happens and you take a couple steps back,” Fitzgerald said. “It makes you count your blessings. It brings you back to earth and makes you refocus. It makes you be more cerebral, it makes you watch the splits and watch the coverages becasue you can run the routes. you learn from a different point of view.”

— A pair of Cardinals were in a minor car accident on the way up to Flagstaff today on I-17, when they were apparently behind someone whose tire blew. Safeties Rashad Johnson and Aaron Rouse were in the car. Johnson was OK and he practiced today (he actually made a nice play to jump one pass and dropped what should have been an interception) while Rouse was evaluated at Flagstaff Medical Center and then released. Rouse was then sent back to the Valley for further precautionary tests.

— The other Cards injured and sitting out were WR Early Doucet (abdominal), WR Ed Gant (foot), LB Reggie Walker (hamstring), TE Ben Patrick (knee), LB Gerald Hayes (back-PUP) and LB O’Brien Schofield (knee-PUP).

— The Cardinals had a short practice lasting a little more than an hour. The Cardinals put up a new depth chart for the week but it is officially unchanged; CB Trumaine McBride remains the starter over Greg Toler although Toler made a nice interception of Matt Leinart by jumping in front of rookie TE Jim Dray. After the play, Patrick was giving Dray advice on how to better run the route so Toler wouldn’t be able to step in.

— Leinart also threw a beautiful deep TD pass, some 45 yards, to Steve Breaston over McBride.

— With Fitzgerald and Doucet sidelined, rookie wideout Stephen Williams was running with the first unit.

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No inactive list, but inactives

Posted by Darren Urban on August 14, 2010 – 3:45 pm

In the preseason, teams don’t have to submit an inactive list, but that obviously doesn’t mean everyone plays. The Cardinals have five guys out of the 80 who won’t play tonight in the opener — LBs O’Brien Schofield (PUP-knee), Gerald Hayes (PUP-knee) and Reggie Walker (ankle), wide receiver Ed Gant (foot) and tight end Ben Patrick (knee). It’s too bad for Walker, who is trying to find a way to get into the starting lineup as an inside linebacker.

For the Texans, one name of note who isn’t playing is starting cornerback Kareem Jackson.

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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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