A week at camp, and closed practice Monday

Posted by Darren Urban on August 3, 2014 – 5:03 pm

The Cardinals are off today. They will practice Monday, but that practice will not be open to the public. The open workouts resume Tuesday. As always, the entire camp schedule can be seen right here.

Finally, a game week has arrived. The Cardinals open the preseason Saturday night at home against the Texans. Bruce Arians said there will be no game planning, no watching of any Houston video (not that it would matter, since the Texans have changed coaches since last year.) This is where the NFL season really becomes the NFL season, with the ebb and flow of a few days of practice before a game every weekend.

— Yes, it caused a stir when Bruce Arians said Jonathan Cooper has to play better. Like most coaches, Arians has a purpose to what he says. Sometimes he’s trying to show confidence in his guys. And sometimes, he’s trying to light a fire under them. Cooper is going to get his chances though. He’s the seventh overall pick. The leash is naturally longer. That said, you know Arians won’t hesitate to make a change. That is a threat that can be understood.

— The only downside of being embedded with Aeneas Williams over the weekend was missing Fan Fest and the goalline drill. One thing that has struck me watching those highlights and practice over the first week —  I will be surprised if running back (fullback?) Robert Hughes doesn’t make this roster.

— If you missed the story of Williams’ induction night in Canton, check it out here.

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Fan Fest moves to training camp

Posted by Darren Urban on June 3, 2014 – 4:55 pm

The Cardinals will finish up OTAs this week and conclude the offseason’s on-field work next week (it does seem like it went fast) with a three-day mandatory minicamp. Minicamp has historically been the time when the Cardinals have held their Fan Fest event. Once, that was on a Saturday morning. With the advent of the new collective bargaining agreement, which bars any veteran work on weekends, minicamp was moved to a mid-week time and Fan Fest to University of Phoenix Stadium on a weeknight.

That’s changed. Minicamp remains during the week, but Fan Fest is moving. Fan Fest this year will move to training camp, which will again be at University of Phoenix Stadium. The date of Fan Fest is yet to be announced — it should be coming sometime soon, when the complete training camp information is released — but it won’t be held in June.



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Wrapping a night at the stadium

Posted by Darren Urban on June 11, 2013 – 8:28 pm

Coach Bruce Arians wore thick white sunscreen on his nose even though indoors at night — thanks to the cancerous cells he had to have scraped off earlier — and also wore a smile. The Cardinals finished their workout right around 100 minutes after getting started, and Arians was satisfied with the first full day of the Cards’ mandatory minicamp that was capped by the Fan Fest at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“We had a little too much contact for my liking, but I knew it would happen, it always does when the fans come around,” Arians said. “I’m anxious to have training camp in this stadium with this many people every day, so we can have that kind of excitement.”

— Not a ton happened in the night practice. A deep catch by Larry Fitzgerald riled the crowd and Arians said the many deep throws weren’t an anomaly but how he wants to run his offense.

— Cornerback Patrick Peterson, who had been absent from voluntary OTAs for a month taking care of personal business, returned to the field.

— Wide receiver Michael Floyd sat out with a tight hamstring. Arians said it wasn’t serious. “We’ll be very cautious with him because he’s had a great spring,” Arians said.

— Arians said in terms of the training camp announcement that it would be at the stadium that the team will also have a separate 50-yard field in the dome to help in getting the work done.

— Nate Potter has gotten some work at right tackle and Bobby Massie at left tackle. Arians said he will continue to rotate the tackles so they get used to playing both sides.

— The Cards have two more days of minicamp before the veterans scatter for the summer. The walkthrough and the practice, which used to be separated into a morning and afternoon work, will instead both be in the morning because of the heat.


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“Lap” for Kitchens, God makes left tackles and OTAs end

Posted by Darren Urban on June 6, 2013 – 1:54 pm

Bruce Arians was planning on seeing recuperating QBs coach Freddie Kitchens in the hospital Thursday afternoon, as the Cardinals wrapped up their 2013 OTAs earlier in the day. Kitchens, of course, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday night to fix his aorta. Arians said he received a text from Kitchens’ wife Ginger that Freddie “took a lap down to X-ray and walked back and was breathing fine” Thursday morning. Doctors took the tube out of Kitchens last night, and while it was a rough night, Kitchens was doing much better today.

“Something just didn’t seem right,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, echoing the thoughts of fellow QB Drew Stanton. “Freddie is about a tough of a guy as you are going to meet. We had the trainers come and look at him. Freddie is lucky we have a phenomenal training staff because they knew exactly what to do.

“We’ve just been praying and thanking God that he’s doing better … The first thing I thought of was his wife Ginger. She had to fly across the continent and I can’t imagine how scared she was.”

— As for the team in the meantime, assistant head coach Tom Moore (talking to the quarterbacks, below, Wednesday) is taking Kitchens’ spot for now. Moore has been a integral part of the quarterbacks’ learning curve up until this point anyway. “He’ll keep the seat warm until Freddie gets back,” Arians said.

— OTAs are over. The Cardinals have a three-day mandatory minicamp next week (with Fan Fest at the outset on Tuesday) before the vets scatter for the summer. The rookies will stick around a little longer.

— Arians said next week’s goal is just to “continue” and “watching the little mistakes disappear.” The offense is “97, 98 percent done.” The defense “might add a blitz or two.” Arians joked that the Cards worked on taking a safety during today’s workout and “usually that’s the end of training camp.”

— Arians was asked if he had any concerns about the struggles of Levi Brown in the past. Once again, Arians backed up his left tackle.

“I don’t really care (of Brown’s past),” Arians said. “I don’t care about anybody. You start with a new slate. It’s what you do now.”

Arians reiterated he sees Brown as “elite” when he is playing well. And there is little question Arians doesn’t use the term lightly when you consider how important he sees the position.

“If you have to protect your left tackle all the time you’re really game planning with one hand behind your back,” Arians said. “You can find guys who can run and catch, you can find guys who can play in the middle. But left tackle and quarterback, God makes them.”


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Massie’s secret (and a Fan Fest date)

Posted by Darren Urban on May 15, 2013 – 2:12 pm

So has a series they call “Secret Superstar” in which they try to highlight players who are under the radar or are poised for breakout seasons. This week, they named Cardinals right tackle Bobby Massie a Secret Superstar. You know who noticed? Bobby Massie.

“Oh yeah, I saw that,” Massie said.

Then again, he was also reading with a grain of salt.

“It doesn’t mean nothing to me, because the same people that wrote that were the same people that were talking bad about me (early last year),” Massie said.

There is no question Massie has rebounded from his rough rookie start. He was plugged in at right tackle from jump last season and for half-a-season, struggled mightily. It wasn’t hard to see, and PFF graded him among the worst in the league. Then, things changed for Massie. PFF noted that had Massie performed all season like he did in the final nine games, they would have graded him as the third-best offensive tackle — right or left — in the entire NFL. It’s that kind of performance that the Cardinals noticed, why he likely wouldn’t be moved inside to guard. Why when you already have a solid tackle?

“Last year was my rookie year,” Massie said. “I’m not using it as an excuse, but sometimes it takes some players longer to get adjusted than others. It took me eight or nine games to get everything down, and as Pro Football Focus said, I was one of the top three tackles in the league.”

(So clearly, Massie is reading what is being written.)

“I’m a lot more comfortable, even as I am learning this offense,” Massie said.

Massie will be the right tackle, barring something unforeseen. Levi Brown continues to be the left tackle option, with, by the start of the season, rookie Jonathan Cooper figuring to start at left guard next to center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Daryn Colledge (Right now, Chilo Rachal is holding down the first-strong LG spot). With Massie, the Cards would love to have a homegrown superstar on the offensive line, secret or not.

— Many have been asking, so here you go: Fan Fest 2013 will be held at University of Phoenix Stadium June 11. That’s a Tuesday during minicamp. Save the date. Further details TBA.


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Fan Fest info for June 13? Here you go

Posted by Darren Urban on May 23, 2012 – 4:08 pm

Many have been asking about Fan Fest, which we already knew would take place during the middle day of minicamp on June 13 at University of Phoenix Stadium.

Here is some of the key planning info:

— Doors will open at the stadium at 5:30 p.m.

— There will be, as usual, an autograph session for kids 12 and under — please note the age restriction — that will begin at 6:15 and run until 6:40. As in the past, certain players will be limited via selection of random wristband process.

— Practice will be held from 6:45-8:30 p.m.

It should also be noted that the event concessions will include $1 hot dogs and sodas, a good way to fill up the family. There will be more details to come when we get closer, but this will help fill out the calendar.

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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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