Talley is roster replacement for Schofield

Posted by Darren Urban on November 7, 2012 – 9:00 am

The Cardinals officially put linebacker O’Brien Schofield on injured reserve, ending his season, but the man they brought in to replace him on the roster wasn’t a linebacker. Instead, the Cardinals re-signed defensive end Ronald Talley, who was released by the team at the end of the preseason. The Cardinals already were carrying an extra linebacker after promoting Zack Nash recently, so numbers-wise, it’s not out of whack.

The Cardinals also lost cornerback Crezdon Butler off the practice squad when the Buffalo Bills signed him to their active roster. So the Cards brought back cornerback Greg McCoy to the practice squad, whom they had released from that spot recently to bring back Butler.

The team also officially announced the injury settlement with offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges, releasing him off of injured reserve. Bridges is free to sign and play with any team other than the Cardinals. In theory, Bridges could come back eventually, but I’m not sure that will happen.

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Potter to start, Kolb “sooner” and some bye notes

Posted by Darren Urban on November 5, 2012 – 12:23 pm

With the bye week underway, the Cardinals have a slightly different schedule. Coach Ken Whisenhunt met with the media today but the players are off. They are in tomorrow (normally a Tuesday off day) for a practice and again Wednesday before being off Thursday through Sunday. But with this basically being the halfway break of the season, Whiz had some good tidbits coming out of his press conference:

— Nate Potter not only did “real well” at left tackle in Green Bay but he has likely earned the starting left tackle job. That is not a surprise. Whether he can keep it long-term — or, as I am already being asked, whether he could supplant the injured Levi Brown and have Brown move back to the right side in 2013 — are all questions that can’t be answered right now. Potter has had a good game and a good start is important. Let’s see how that plays out the rest of this season.

— That means two rookie tackles now, with Bobby Massie on the right side.

— Whiz talked more about making changes, but there wasn’t a lot of specifics. There won’t be either — even if Whiz does make changes, I’m sure they will stay fairly hush-hush for the sake of the Falcons’ game.

— Whisenhunt still doesn’t have a timetable on the return of quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs), although he said it would be “sooner rather than later.” Practicing right now for Kolb would be about managing the soreness, which is always something kind of important when you are talking about a QB who can and will be hammered by 290-pound linemen. The next home game, Thanksgiving weekend against the Rams, would be the six-week mark since Kolb’s injury. Possible? I have no earthly idea right now.

— There was no update on the ankle injury to linebacker O’Brien Schofield, although Whiz confirmed Schofield’s comment that he’d have an MRI today. If he has a John Skelton-esque ankle problem, that could cost him a game, although if you’re going to get hurt, doing it right before the bye is supposed to be the right time.

— Running back Beanie Wells can’t play again until the Nov. 25 Rams game, but he can begin to practice this week. “Just seeing him go through the process … I’m sure there will be some soreness in the toe,” Whisenhunt said. “I just want him to get started so he can have a good week of practice next week (before the Falcons) as well.”

Whiz said he expects the off time has also helped Wells’ knee, which did not seem right even before his toe injury. “He’s got to put the helmet and the pads on and actually do it from a football perspective to know for sure, but it appears that way, which is a big benefit,” Whisenhunt said.

— I’ve gotten a lot of questions on this, but yes, it appears the Cards have released or are about to release offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges. Bridges confirmed this on an Instagram account. Bridges had been on injured reserve after hurting his thumb in the preseason, so the only way he could be released would be through an injury settlement. If so, he is free to sign with another team, and he did indicate in comments he is hoping to play again. There has been no official word but that is not a surprise. The Cardinals did not make an official announcement when they injury settled with quarterback Rich Bartel earlier this season. (UPDATE: The move was confirmed Monday afternoon when the NFL released its daily transactions list.)

— Wide receiver Michael Floyd will continue to get more playing time, Whisenhunt said. That is not a surprise at all.

— On the run to LaRod Stephens-Howling run into the line on third-and-1 at the Green Bay 2-yard line that was stuffed, forcing a field goal: “There is no question a bigger body can help in that situation, but yesterday’s (issue) wasn’t because of LaRod,” Whisenhunt said. “It was because we didn’t block in the hole the right way. We weren’t physical enough at the point. That’s bad technique. That’s not the scheme, that’s the execution of the scheme.”

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The reality of injuries

Posted by Darren Urban on October 23, 2012 – 10:38 am

Talking injuries in the NFL is always about walking a fine line.

There are few coaches that don’t get particular the way their team’s injuries are discussed on a weekly level, and that includes coach Ken Whisenhunt. There is a reason as little information as possible is divulged as team’s go along, why a team like the Patriots used to clog the injury report with as many players as possible, why guys are often “game-time decisions” when some are and some probably aren’t. No one wants to give the other side an advantage.

But on a bigger picture, there is another way the fine line is encountered with injuries: When a team is undercut by the sheer amount that crop up, talking about how much it’s affecting the team can be a minefield.

That’s what the Cardinals are going through right now. It’s impossible to know what this team would be like with better health, especially on the offensive side of the ball. If Beanie Wells, Kevin Kolb, Todd Heap, Levi Brown, Jeremy Bridges and Ryan Williams were all still available, what would it mean? Then again — and this is the fine line part — no one wants to hear about it usually. One of the biggest cliches out there is a coach or player for an injured team noting of their upcoming opponents “The (fill-in-the-blank) aren’t going to feel sorry for us.” In the Cardinals’ case, the 49ers are in the blank this week.

“That’s the NFL,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “You face (injuries). I think part of our continuity on offense is struggling because of that. You can’t use it as an excuse. You have to move forward.”

Guard Daryn Colledge said during his years on the Packers, there were a couple of years when the team was crushed by injuries. One season, the Packers finished 6-10. The other, the Packers rallied on their way to a Super Bowl title. “It can go both ways,” Colledge said.

The reality is that no one sits at the end of the season and says, “Hey, the such-and-such only won the Super Bowl because injuries crippled such-and-such.” No, the team that wins will be the team that wins, with no asterisks. If the Cardinals can’t parlay a 4-0 start into the playoffs, no one outside of Arizona is going to care or even note it. Last year’s Bears probably make the playoffs if quarterback Jay Cutler doesn’t get hurt, but that didn’t stop the Bears from making a change at general manager. It’s a harsh world to live within.

The Cards aren’t getting Brown, Bridges or Williams back. Wells is gone at least three more games. Kolb is out indefinitely. The Cards have to keep progressing tight end Rob Housler, because Heap’s return remains an unknown. In the short term, the Cards have been missing fullback Anthony Sherman, and guard Adam Snyder was limping pretty good with a quad problem after the Vikings game. Have the injuries hurt the Cards? Of course they have. That’s not an excuse as much as a fact. But it’s also a fact the Cards can’t do anything about it.

“It would be nice to have guys out there more than a week and find some continuity on offense,” Colledge said. “But again, it’s on us to find the playmakers and find ways to win games.”


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Tackle signed, practice squad named

Posted by Darren Urban on September 3, 2012 – 9:52 am

The Cardinals officially announced all the moves swirling around over the weekend. Veteran free agent offensive tackle Pat McQuistan was signed to a one-year deal and reserve lineman Jeremy Bridges (thumb) was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. The team brought aboard outside linebacker Jamaal Westerman via waivers. And the practice squad is filled like this:

— LB Colin Parker

— CB Larry Parker

— DT Ricky Lumpkin

— TE Steve Skelton

— OLB Ricky Elmore

— T Steven Baker

— WR Gerell Robinson

— WR Isaiah Williams

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Bridges headed to IR

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2012 – 7:49 pm

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cardinals apparently have lost a potential offensive tackle to a season-ending injury.

After everything the Cards have been through losing left tackle Levi Brown (who is on injured reserve and is done for the year), veteran offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges tweeted out tonight he had tore ligaments in his thumb, needs surgery and is himself headed to injured reserve. Bridges actually began training camp as the starting right tackle on the other side from Brown. He was demoted in favor of D’Anthony Batiste and then, when Brown went down, Batiste actually migrated to left tackle and rookie Bobby Massie took over as starting right tackle.

Still, Bridges is (was) a valuable component. He could play every position but center (and if you ask him, he’d probably say he could play center too). He was the catch-all as a backup and valuable in the locker room as a smart, veteran guy. He had a bit of nasty in him, which helped.

In theory, the Cards can use the same “bring-back” IR rule on Bridges if they want, but they would have to keep him on the active roster through the first game. Then the Cards could make him the one guy they could bring back later in the season from IR. If Bridges indeed goes on IR this week, he will definitely be out for the season (and, as a non-starter, he may not be the guy the Cards would want to use up their special spot upon.)

The Cards already had an extra lineman on the roster — usually they have eight, but they had kept nine — but two backups are fifth-round guard Senio Kelemete and seventh-round tackle Nate Potter. Those guys might have to grow up very quickly. Potter is the only backup tackle. Adam Schefter tweeted out the Cards worked out Cowboys castoff Pat McQuistan, who has been in the league since 2006, today as well. The Cards are definitely having to juggle around some pieces now.

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A guess at the 53

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2012 – 4:59 pm

Every NFL team must have it roster cuts in by Friday afternoon. To be exact, by 6 p.m. Arizona time. I expect the Cardinals – and coach Ken Whisenhunt – to have announced them before, since Whiz will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. that day. Until then, though, this is a guess at how this 53-man roster shakes out.

Whisenhunt made it clear the other day that this last preseason game does matter when it comes to a spot or two on the roster, and I believe that. It means trying to approximate who will be on the roster before that last game is somewhat fool’s gold. I’m certainly not Nostradamus here. Last year, for instance, I had Ben Graham holding off Dave Zastudil for the punter job. I was very wrong. And this only holds for as long as it might take for the Cards to claim/sign a guy or two over the weekend, which would obviously change things. That always happens.

But it’s fodder to chew on until Friday, speculation upon which this time of the NFL schedule is built around. So with apologies to those I miss on, and with a nod to old school Letterman, this is only an exhibition and not a competition, so please, no wagering.

QB – (3) John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley. No, we don’t know the starter yet. But it’s hard to believe that with everything Lindley has shown as a rookie he doesn’t get the nod over Rich Bartel (who is one of the best guys you’ll meet and someday will be a very good coach.)

RB – (4) Beanie Wells, Ryan Williams, LaRod Stephens-Howling, William Powell. This is one of the sticking points. Powell has had a good preseason, but as I have mentioned many times, I think Alfonso Smith has as well. It may come down to how Powell looks Thursday night. Will I be shocked if Smith is the choice instead of Powell? Nope.

FB – (1) Anthony Sherman. The Sherminator running unopposed. It’s like a boring political “race.”

WR – (6) Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet, Michael Floyd, DeMarco Sampson, LaRon Byrd. This is a close one, in my mind. The top four are obvious. I think Sampson has had a good camp and he can play special teams. Byrd versus Stephen Williams may just be about Byrd’s upside. I’m not sure Byrd would make it to the practice squad but — given some other positional issues, like, at say, offensive line – I’m not sure either if the Cards may try and keep just five receivers and use the practice squad for relief.

TE – (4) Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob Housler, Jim Dray. Given the injury history of, well, all of them, I think the Cards play it safe and keep four guys around again.

OL – (8) D’Anthony Batiste, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie, Rich Ohrnberger, Jeremy Bridges, Senio Kelemete. This is a very difficult one from the outside looking in. The Cards might keep nine linemen, given their . Has Kelemete shown enough, even as a draft pick? Would Nate Potter be possible given the tackle issues? Where might a free agent or waiver claim fit in? I could see Potter, D.J. Young and/or center Scott Wedige as practice squad material too.

DL (6) – Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Darnell Dockett, Vonnie Holliday, David Carter, Nick Eason. Seems fairly cut and dried at this position, one of the few like that.

LB – (8) Sam Acho, Paris Lenon, Daryl Washington, O’Brien Schofield, Stewart Bradley, Reggie Walker, Clark Haggans, Brandon Williams. This is another spot that might come down to the Denver game. The backup outside linebacker spot figures to have two places for three guys: Haggans, Williams, Quentin Groves. Groves made some plays early. Williams plays some special teams and has been higher on the depth chart.

DB (10) – Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Justin Bethel, Rashad Johnson, James Sanders, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson. Usually, the Cards wouldn’t keep more than nine defensive backs, and that’s still possible. With 10, Bethel is a special teams keeper despite being a raw DB. Michael Adams is the odd man out there, but it will not shock me to see Adams stick around either and maybe someone like Jefferson out. Watching the reserve defensive backs closely in the finale, because I think that will be part of the equation.

ST – (3) Jay Feely (K), Dave Zastudil (P), Mike Leach (LS). Never should have doubted Leach’s return.

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Batiste in LT driver’s seat

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2012 – 4:42 pm

The preseason finale sounds like it will be very, very important for left tackle D’Anthony Batiste and, on a slightly lesser level, right tackle Bobby Massie.

They will get the start, as coach Ken Whisenhunt said yesterday. Today, Whiz said he expected them to play “a little bit.” Most importantly when it comes to Batiste and left tackle, when asked if this game the Cards are looking to affirm their belief that Batiste can be the left tackle, Whisenhunt said “I would say that was fair.”

“We felt very strongly about D’Anthony because of his work in the offseason and what he did last year,” Whisenhunt said. “Our hopes were he was going to take the right tackle position … and be a backup for left tackle. We just want to see him do it again this week.”

We’ll see what that means going forward. If Batiste plays well, the Cards may hold off on looking for veteran help, toward the Alex Barrons or Chad Cliftons of the world. No way to know how the Cards’ scouts, at this point, rate such guys. It’s safe to say Batiste will be around one way or the other. The key, actually, is Jeremy Bridges. The veteran can swing between tackle and guard, but it’s possible he could lose a spot if the Cards choose to bring someone in off the market.

Whisenhunt reiterated Bridges was a “known quantity” at tackle, so the Cards don’t need to test drive him out there in the preseason. But asked if Bridges was best suited to be the swing backup rather than potential Levi Brown replacement, Whisenhunt was blunt. “Make no mistake, I’m not uncomfortable with Jeremy at tackle.”

Massie has been improving, Whiz said, but that was expected. He clearly is better now than he was in the Hall of Fame game. “At times has looked very good as a right tackle,” Whisenhunt said. “At times he has looked very bad. It’s up to him if he wants to grab that (job) and hold on to it.”

The next 10 days will be interesting, especially for the line. The Cards could end up signing someone or grabbing someone off waivers this weekend (and I expect them to look at the waiver wire very carefully, not just on the offensive line but everywhere). Or they could wait until after the first regular-season game — veteran salaries aren’t guaranteed if they sign after Week 1, so a handful of vets will likely come to terms before Week 2 — to pick someone up.


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Torn triceps will cost Levi months

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2012 – 12:39 pm

It turns out T Levi Brown tore his right triceps, coach Ken Whisenhunt said Saturday, and the rehab time is usually three months. Brown isn’t necessarily done for the season but if Brown is put on injured reserve, he is done. Nothing is official, but if Brown doesn’t go on IR, it’d be an upset.

(There is a new possible PUP list that would allow a guy to come back later in the year, and Levi would be a candidate. But it has yet to be passed by the players association so it’s not an option. If passed, a player would have to be out for at least eight weeks.)

In the meantime, The Cards will look at D’Anthony Batiste, D.J. Young and rookie Nate Potter at left tackle the rest of the preseason. Jeremy Bridges is a possibility, but Whiz said the Cards already know what he can do on that side. The team will scan the free agent list too, but there was a reason they wanted Brown back this spring, because they didn’t like who was on the market, and the markets a lot more thin now.

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Raiders aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 18, 2012 – 12:31 am

Not only did the Cards win a game Friday night, but there was an awful lot going on beyond just an outcome. Some very, very good. Some potentially very bad. Whatever you want to say about Levi Brown, but if he is out for an extended period of time, it bodes poorly for the Cards. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has to look at the video, but asked specifically about tackles D’Anthony Batiste and D.J. Young after the game, the first things he thought of about both were plays on which they were beaten. Batiste, who started on the right side, would be a left tackle option. So would Jeremy Bridges. We’ll see.

— The Twitterverse was counting on the quarterback situation to be resolved tonight. Nope. Whiz made it clear he wants to see John Skelton in extended time in Tennessee first. Kevin Kolb started very well, but then it got worse. Some of that was blocking, some was field position, and I know many fans don’t care about that anymore.

— Center Lyle Sendlein was asked about the idea that Skelton seems to get a little better protection. It was awkward – I’m not sure he saw the question coming – but he answered it.

“I think it’s just pure chance,” Sendlein said. “It’s nothing done differently. We don’t block harder for one guy and not try as hard for the other guy. I think situationally we were backed up with Kevin a lot. With John we had some turnovers and short drives. It’s just pure chance.”

— Speaking of Kolb, Raiders defensive end Tommy Kelly took a shot at him after the game, calling Kolb “skittish” and “scared.” “He ain’t even trying to look at the routes no more.” Interesting analysis (although I’m not 100 percent sure how a lineman working hard getting to the QB can necessarily tell that on the field.) It’s a perception Kolb is going to be fighting going forward.

— With everything going on it felt like in my story I gave rookie Justin Bethel the short shrift. All he did was block a punt and return it for a touchdown and then block an extra point, giving him three blocked kicks this preseason already. He’s made the team. That seems a certainty.  My cohort Josh Weinfuss will have more on Bethel Sunday in a story he’s working on, but clearly, that kind of special teams production won’t be overlooked.

— Ryan Williams looked very good in his return. He took his hits, he broke off a 15-yard run, and he scored a touchdown – which, as usually happens, ended with Larry Fitzgerald making sure he got the ball. “I totally forgot about the football, because you’re not allowed to do that in college,” Williams said. “Larry grabbed me and hugged me and said, ‘I’m proud of you and I’m glad we got you back.’ ”

A great gesture. I am guessing the football from the first touchdown that counts will mean even more.

— Rookie CB Jamell Fleming had a rough night, with a unnecessary roughness call hitting a receiver (questionable) and a pass interference (questionable). But as questionable as they were, they still count against you.

— Safety Rashad Johnson was out of uniform by the time the game ended. Not sure if he got dinged or what the reason was.

— Raiders quarterback Matt Leinart’s return was cut short after he left needing stiches on a finger. He finished 5-for-8 for 66 yards. “It felt really good to be out there,” Leinart said. “It was kind of weird at first just to be back, but it felt good.”

— The first-team defense was much better. It needs to be. The turnovers were a good start. “We didn’t tackle well or play with any emotion (the first two games),” safety Kerry Rhodes said. “We wanted to come out here and be emotional, just play like a kid and have fun.”

OK, it’s late. Whiz said he hoped to have more info on Levi tomorrow (later today I guess, less than 12 hours).

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Levi Brown injures his triceps

Posted by Darren Urban on August 17, 2012 – 8:54 pm

Starting left tackle Levi Brown left Friday night’s game with a triceps injury. No way to know right now how severe — he was doubtful to return — but it could be a very big deal.

The last two Cardinals I recall suffering triceps injuries were tackle Oliver Ross and defensive end/linebackers Bertrand Berry, both in 2007. Both were lost for the season (Ross got hurt in the preseason, coincidentally, against the Raiders. Berry was hurt in November.) Until official word comes down, hope remains that Brown isn’t hurt that badly. But it’s tough not to think about it.

Brown’s backup is former undrafted youngster D.J. Young, who didn’t appear in a game last season, spending all but one week on the practice squad. The team could also use Jeremy Bridges at left tackle. Bridges played there a bunch in 2009 after Mike Gandy got hurt. For all the slings and arrows Brown has endured while playing, losing him would be a big deal. We’ll wait to hear.


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