Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 4, 2011 – 12:27 pm

That change coach Ken Whisenhunt was talking about? It’ll come. How fast? That’s TBD.

“I wish we could do it all in a day, but it is not a quick fix,” Whisenhunt said. “You have to make sure that you do it within the constraints that are given to you and you do it the best you can.”

In the meantime, that leaves us to speculate and break down. As of now, the coaching staff remains intact and I have heard nothing yet to suggest otherwise. Will there be movement there? Usually, Whisenhunt has come out and said there will be no changes if there will be no changes. He didn’t say that yesterday, so the door is open. If anything does happen, I’d think it’d have to come in the next two or three days. I guess I’d be a little surprised if nothing happened given the outcome of the season, but not shocked.

As for the roster, I’ve broken down it all by player within positions right here. Included is each player’s contract status, and obviously, one of the first things you notice is the many players not under contract for next season — I count 29 all told, several of whom have played significant roles. One of the free agents, Jason Wright, talked yesterday about how talks have been slowed because of the CBA and how the Cards don’t know what the labor landscape will be going forward, making it harder to negotiate contracts right now. It’s not a unique situation, clearly; Panthers ownership came out today saying they are waiting to sign any of their own free agents until a labor deal is done.

The problem is that the labor deal might not be done for a few months. The free agency period might have to be a  very quick (Three weeks? Four weeks?) time frame late in the summer. There is no question until  that CBA is figured out (and when), it is a complicated offseason.

All that said, there are obvious players the Cards will have to look at at some point. Steve Breaston (pictured below), Deuce Lutui, Lyle Sendlein, Alan Branch, for example. And since there are players already under contract that seem to be long shots to return (thinking Anderson, Hayes, Porter off the top of my head), it puts the roster in an even greater state of flux.

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Hyphen, Patrick, Porter sit UPDATE Spach out

Posted by Darren Urban on January 2, 2011 – 12:43 pm

UPDATE: TE Stephen Spach hurt his left calf in warmups — after inactives came out — so he can’t play today. Jim Dray is the lone tight end. It’ll be interesting if long snapper Mike Leach gets a chance to play a little tight end today. It’s an injury that obviously hurts.

LaRod Stephens-Howling won’t get a chance to add to his NFL-leading kickoff return yardage today. He’s one of the Cards’ inactives, still nursing his hamstring injury after pre-game work showed it to be a no-go. Andre Roberts will return kicks in his place. And as expected, LB Joey Porter (tricep) will sit again, with O’Brien Schofield playing in his place. Tight end Ben Patrick (hamstring) is also sitting out after testing his leg out pre-game. The rest of the inactives:

  • QB Derek Anderson (third QB)
  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • CB Marshay Green
  • LB Gerald Hayes
  • C Ben Claxton

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Porter, Hyphen among inactives

Posted by Darren Urban on December 25, 2010 – 4:04 pm

As expected, linebacker Joey Porter (tricep) and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) are both inactive tonight with their injuries, while Derek Anderson is set to be the third quarterback. O’Brien Schofield starts in Porter’s place, and it will be interesting to see if the Cards use more 4-3 looks tonight — Gabe Watson is active while Gerald Hayes and Curtis Gatewood join Porter as inactive linebackers. Andre Roberts will return kickoffs with The Hyphen out.

The rest of the inactive list:

  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • CB Marshay Green
  • C Ben Claxton

As a reminder, the roof is open tonight as well.

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Anderson remains inactive

Posted by Darren Urban on December 19, 2010 – 9:30 am

Quarterback Derek Anderson (concussion) remains sidelined today, meaning the Cards will have just two QBs: Starter John Skelton and Richard Bartel. The rest of the inactive list looks familiar, including veteran linebacker Gerald Hayes on the bench:

  • WR Max Komar
  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • C Ben Claxton
  • DT Gabe Watson

For the Panthers, cornerback Chris Gamble, who has fallen out of favor with coach John Fox, is inactive.

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Skelton remains starting QB

Posted by Darren Urban on December 13, 2010 – 11:56 am

First things first: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said at quarterback, the Cards will go with the guy with the best chance to win, “and right now, that’s John Skelton.” So Skelton will remain the starter, which — after Sunday — is the way it should be. Quarterback Derek Anderson still is working to be symptom-free from his concussion for 24 hours; he can’t practice until he does so. When he does return, I’d expect him to be the backup and Richard Bartel to slide to third-string.

A couple of other quick notes:

— RB Beanie Wells was so sick yesterday with a fever that Whisenhunt was impressed with how much he did play. Wells ended up taking two IVs before the game started and then just ran out of steam and had to stop. “I admire how he fought through it,” Whisenhunt said.

— If Wells had been healthy, or if LaRod Stephens-Howling hadn’t been gassed, Whisenhunt wouldn’t have put Tim Hightower — who had fumbled — back in the game. “It was out of necessity,” Whisenhunt said. “But he did what he had to do.”

— With “where we were” defensively, Whisenhunt decided the Cards needed LB Daryl Washington back in the starting lineup. Once that happened, the reserve linebacking corps came down to special teams, which is why Reggie Walker was the choice over Gerald Hayes. If Washington stays the starter — and Whisenhunt praised his play — I’d expect Hayes to continue to be inactive barring an injury.

— Whisenhunt on K Jay Feely’s Pro Bowl candidacy: “I certainly would vote for him.”

— Feely is the first player to score a touchdown and kick a field goal of at least 50 yards since Gino Cappelletti did it for the Boston Patriots on Nov. 20, 1964 versus … wait for it … Denver.

— Whisenhunt, on what he would say to those who wish the Cards would lose to secure a better draft pick: “I want to win football games. I think the most important thing for us is to play to win these games. I talked to coach Herm Edwards about that and he said, ‘Hello? You play to win.’ ”

Always easy to crack a joke after a big win.

(H/T to @burns620 for the Feely pic)

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Gerald Hayes, Derek Anderson both inactive

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

The Cardinals have put on the inactive list, and it carries one slight surprise: linebacker Gerald Hayes is out as a “healthy scratch.” So my thought Friday that Daryl Washington would get more defensive work comes true in a big way. Hayes has struggled of late, so I am sure they want to get Washington’s speed on the field. Quarterback Derek Anderson is also inactive (and not the third quarterback) due to concussion symptoms. So the Cards have just two QBs today.

The rest of the list for the Cards, who are wearing all-red today for the first time this season:

  • WR Max Komar
  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • C Ben Claxton
  • DT Gabe Watson

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Developing Daryl Washington

Posted by Darren Urban on December 3, 2010 – 1:10 pm

It’s a question that’s difficult to answer, because the hypothetical always is: Had Gerald Hayes not been hurt to start the season, would rookie linebacker Darryl Washington not have played as much this season? The second-round pick shined in the preseason and started from the outset with Hayes sidelined, but his impact was minimal and after Hayes returned, Washington’s role has grown on special teams and been lessened on defense.

“I think probably he wouldn’t have gotten as much, but you don’t ever know,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I know we would have worked to get Darryl reps, because he showed pretty early he’s got a chance to be really good.”

Whisenhunt said he is still happy with how Washington is progressing, although obviously there are times when mistakes are made. “But his future is really bright.”

Washington said he isn’t surprised at the playing time shift

“You knew Gerald was out and you wanted to make the bets of your opportunity,” Washington said. “With Gerald back, it’s time to continue to learn. … I just need to be prepared in case on of those guys go down. My time will come to play. You develop every day. You just have to keep learning.”

— In the bigger picture, Whisenhunt most definitely has a strong feeling on how to disseminate playing time the rest of the way — and it is not about preparing for 2011.

“We are trying to win games so that’s what we are going to do,” Whisenhunt said. “If the young players, or a rookie player, is expected to play, he’ll play. But we’re going in with the guys we feel give us the best chance to win. I’m not trying to play young guys to get a look at them. I’m more interested in getting this turned and getting a win.”

— On the injury front, four players are listed as questionable: DE Calais Campbell (ankle), CB Greg Toler (foot), LB Clark Haggans (groin) and NT Dan Williams (knee). I think the status of Toler and Campbell will come down to how they look at Saturday’s walkthrough and even pre-game warmups. But I think Toler should be ready and Campbell does seem to be walking better (he jogged off the practice field pretty well when he came over to say hi to Kurt Warner, who was here as part of Sunday’s broadcast crew). I expect Haggans too and probably Williams. Everyone else on the injury list is probable.

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Beanie plays, Hayes expected to start

Posted by Darren Urban on November 7, 2010 – 9:35 am

Running back Beanie Wells will be active today for the Cardinals, while safety Hamza Abdullah gets his chance to face off with his brother, Vikings safety Husain as the Cards inactivate fellow safety Matt Ware. Linebacker Gerald Hayes is also expected to be in the starting lineup finally, with rookie Daryl Washington coming off the bench in a rotation.

For the Vikings, hobbled wide receiver Percy Harvin is active, despite his injury and fight with coach Brad Childress Friday.

Besides Ware, the inactives for the Cards include:

  • WR Max Komar
  • QB John Skelton
  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • LB Clark Haggans (groin)
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • C Ben Claxton
  • NT Gabe Watson

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Friday before the Vikings

Posted by Darren Urban on November 5, 2010 – 4:13 pm

Steve Breaston isn’t going to brag. He doesn’t look all that comfortable when it’s suggested his presence “helps” Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz is a great player, Breaston knows, and that doesn’t go away whether Breaston is out of the lineup or not.

“That’s how everyone else sees it … I don’t know,” Breaston said. “I don’t know if I help him or not. I just do my part execute what the coaches give me. I hope I help everybody.”

Then again, it does make a difference with Breaston in there. “I don’t think teams were worried about some of those young players we had on the field,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said of the rookie wideouts playing when Breaston and Early Doucet were injured. Breaston does draw more attention. He does have the speed to stretch the field and open up holes for Fitz – and others – underneath.

Here’s another of my theories on Breaston and such a line of questioning (and Steve has never said this to me). Judging by his reaction, I think he’d like to start getting a little more respect for his game. He’s long been the overachiever, the guy who came out of nowhere to be so much more than a punt returner. He’s a very good receiver, a major playmaker, and I keep thinking there’s got to be a part of him who thinks, “You’re darn right I help Fitz because I will kill teams if they don’t pay attention to me.”

But hey, maybe I am over-analyzing.

— So the Cards head to Minnesota tomorrow with opportunity. Normally this trip to play the Vikings would seem to be an uphill climb, especially with the way the Cards have juggled QBs. But there is little question the Vikings are in a worse place as a team, after jettisoning Randy Moss and injury issues and stories all week about how coach Brad Childress is in trouble. If the Cards can handle Adrian Peterson – at least not let him run wild – and not turn it over, there is no reason to think the Cards can’t steal one. Here’s hoping they give themselves that chance.

— Peterson gets lost in the shuffle since everyone wants to talk about Brett Favre and, of late, Moss, but the Cards are paying attention. “He’s not a forgotten man with us,” Whisenhunt said. Peterson does lead the NFL with 776 yards rushing in seven games. “You never forget about a guy like that,” linebacker Joey Porter said. “Their offense still starts around him.”

— Tim Hightower has had his fumbling problems. So too has Peterson, although Peterson said this week the obvious: “Last year, yeah, I led the league in fumbles. It wasn’t because ‘Hey this guy is soft.’ It’s the way I play the game. I’m sure a coach would take me if I lead the league in fumbles five straight years.”

Peterson has none this year. And ESPN’s Chris Mortensen pointed out this great stat about Walter Payton (and not to compare Hightower, or even Peterson, with Payton): In Payton’s 14 seasons, he had at least five fumbles in all but one season. Payton had seasons of nine, 11, 13 and 16 fumbles. Astonishing.

— OK, so it’s in large part an indictment of the struggling offense at this point. But do you realize the Cardinals have more return touchdowns (KOR by The Hyphen, interception by DRC, four fumbles by Levi Brown, Kerry Rhodes (twice) and Gerald Hayes to total six) as they do rushing (five) or passing (five)? Those six return TDs, by the way, lead the NFL.

— When it was suggested the Cards might not have bothered to watch the Vikings games with Moss, since he is gone now, Whisenhunt said the Cards watched every game this season of the Vikings. Moss’ absence will definitely change how the Cards deal with them.

— I tried to ask about right tackle Brandon Keith’s play. It was actually praised this week by one-time offensive lineman Ben Muth on Football Outsiders. But Whisenhunt was having none of it. At least not yet.

“I’m not going to comment about that until after this game,” Whisenhunt said. “That’s a trap, because as soon as you ask me that and I say something … going into this environment … I’ll withhold comment.”

Fair enough. Noise has bothered Keith this season. The Cards need both he and Levi Brown to hold up on the outside.

— Cards quarterback Derek Anderson likes his humor. Talking about Favre this week, Anderson quipped, “Brett Favre is as old as my dad.” Anderson never necessarily idolized Favre, but liked the way he played because “he always played like a kid.” That’s what Anderson wants to be able to do. As for Favre’s crazy streak of consecutive games played, Anderson shook his head.

“It’s a testament to the lines he played behind because, whatever he’s done, 2,000 games he’s played straight, guys get beat up and a lot of times can’t even play 16 games,” Anderson said. (The streak, by the way, will be 293 once Favre takes a snap against the Cards).

— Don’t forget, with the rest of the country changing clocks in the wee hours of Sunday morning, the Vikings’ kickoff will be at 11 a.m. Arizona time and not 10 a.m. For me, it’s on to Minnesota. Guess we will hear that blasted horn soon enough.

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Hayes, Schofield activated

Posted by Darren Urban on October 30, 2010 – 11:12 am

The Cardinals have decided to activate linebackers Gerald Hayes and rookie O’Brien Schofield off the PUP and reserve/non-football injury lists, respectively. Hayes is not a surprise, Schofield is a little — and still an amazing story given that he blew out his knee in mid-January and will now be available for more than half the season.

To make room on the roster, the Cardinals have released wide receiver Onrea Jones and linebacker Alex Hall. Neither are surprises. Jones was unnecessary given the health of the other six receivers on the roster, while Hall was always just keeping a seat warm until the Cards were sure Schofield would be able to contribute this season. Schofield is in an important spot; with the injury to Clark Haggans, Schofield will be the Cards’ lone pure reserve OLB in this game (although I am expecting the Cards to scheme up ways to work around that depth issue, including using three-safety sets and getting Adrian Wilson in the box).

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