It’s all about learning

Posted by Darren Urban on June 8, 2010 – 2:02 pm

The Cardinals have benefited from having veterans give some help to younger players, a subject Steve Breaston touched on at the end of his chat today and I wrote about earlier this offseason. It’s not always automatic, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, but it is part of the reason the Cards are successful.

“I don’t know if it natural,” Whisenhunt acknowledged. “I know it’s always been a part of the good teams I have been around. It’s something we have encouraged. It’s not something that always takes off because there are veterans who are worried about their job. But I think the way our team has changed over the years, we have gotten a lot of the right guys here. Look out there now and see the older guys working with the younger guys, that’s an important part of your team chemistry and becoming a good football team. That unselfish quality will help you win.”

— The Cards continue to mix and match in the secondary. Justin Miller now was taking reps with the first unit with Greg Toler (DRC remains out with his sore toe). Whisenhunt said using multiple players in the first unit is both a reward for players playing well and an opportunity for coaches to check out players.

“Whenever you see someone who does something you like, you want to put him in positions with the first team or different situations inside in the sub-defensive packages where you can get a look at them,” Whisenhunt said. “That will continue through training camp. I think what I am more encouraged with now is feeling we have good players there (in the secondary). We have more depth than I thought. It was an area of concern coming in and we have a comfort level there now.”

— The play of the day today (at least, the one I noticed) was Breaston going up and over Toler — who had good inside position — to steal a bomb after quarterback Max Hall’s deep throw came out of his hand a little wobbly.

— The Cards had another (and probably final) team competition at the end of the workout — punt catching out off machine. Gabe Watson was the hero, making the final catch for the defense (seen below) after they had gotten out to a slow start and fallen behind, two catches to none. Guard Reggie Wells couldn’t pull in his try in the bottom half of the inning, and the offense was on the hook for a little extra work. There definitely was some intensity on the line (and a video upcoming later today on the site).


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Spirited in so many ways

Posted by Darren Urban on May 20, 2010 – 1:43 pm

One of the keys to the summer workouts — like today’s organized team activity, for instance — is to make sure the focus stays put even late in the week, when the guys are ready to blast out of town for a long weekend. So it helps to have something on the line. The Cards had their intensity at the end today when coach Ken Whisenhunt pitted offense versus defense in third-down situations. The “winner” — whichever unit did its job more often — got out of running.

So there was whooping and hollering from the defense when cornerback Greg Toler broke up the first Matt Leinart-to-Larry Fitzgerald pass. And there was the same from the offense when Fitz made a wonderful one-handed grab on the sideline. There was a lot of arguing when a first down pass from Derek Anderson to Early Doucet might have come after a “sack” of Anderson. And there was an explosion of happiness from the red shirts when Money Mike Adams broke up the final pass to Andre Roberts. The coaches from the offense had to run too, which made it even more interesting.

“From the chemistry standpoint, it shows how quickly it is building with the team,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Guys are getting along. They’ve already put in eight or nine weeks and I think when they get on the field and are able to do football things, there is always a lot of excitement. I said (to the team) today, the question is can we sustain this over the next three weeks. Based on what I have seen, it looks that way. The tempo, the enthusiasm is good. Guys are competing. If that becomes our nature, then this will have been very productive for us in the long run.”

Other stuff from today:

— Among the other plays that stood out were a beautiful 40-or-so-yard bomb from Anderson to Doucet over Justin Miller and a John Skelton 20-yard lob into the outstretched hands of 6-foot-5 WR Darren Mougey in between double coverage by Miller and Herana-Daze Jones. After the latter play, the air was filled with yelps of “MOO-gee.”

— At one point early in the practice, WR Ed Gant made a catch as he headed for the sideline. He gained control and sprinted upfield to finish the play — even as he was about three yards out of bounds on the field closest to the team headquarters. “We playing on an expanded field?” linebacker Monty Beisel said, turning to Gant and adding, “Watch out for the building!”

— Former University of Arizona football coach Dick Tomey — whose son, Rich, works for the team in business development — was on hand to watch practice.

— Rookie nose tackle Dan Williams continues to work with the first-team dime unit.

— Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett was clearly exasperated that his latest back-and-forth with 49ers tight end Vernon Davis caused a stir in some places, enough so that he put out this tweet right after practice: “Lol look people me and @VernonDavis85 are cool and been friends B4 the NFL and we will be after the NFL so yall stop taking shhh so serious.”

— WR Steve Breaston was sporting some very red gloves again and I figured there had to be a reason. An ability to get the attention of the quarterback easier, perhaps? Nope. Turns out that he got them from Adams. “I wore them a lot last year,” Breaston said, unsure why I was the third or fourth person to notice them today. “Maybe it’s because they’re clean.”


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What Miller means at CB

Posted by Darren Urban on May 3, 2010 – 1:00 pm

The Cardinals officially signed Justin Miller today to a one-year contract, after the veteran spent minicamp trying out for the team. Miller was a star kickoff return man for the Jets back in 2005 and 2006 — making the Pro Bowl once — but his career was derailed by injuries and he only played 12 games the past three seasons with the Jets and Raiders. He never really made an imprint at cornerback (he does not have a career interception), but he does give a veteran presence in an area where the Cards have little. This won’t rule out the Cards looking at other veteran cornerbacks. Of that, I am pretty sure. But as I have said before, I think the Cards will continue to sort through who is on the roster this summer and maybe not look at actually bringing in another veteran until training camp.


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Undrafted rookies and vet possibilities

Posted by Darren Urban on April 26, 2010 – 10:39 am

As expected the Cardinals are bringing in 10 undrafted rookie free agents. Many names have already been floated out there, but here’s the official list:

  • WR Juamorris Stewart (Southern)
  • RB Alfonso Smith (Kentucky)
  • QB Max Hall (BYU)
  • T Casey Knips (South Dakota St.)
  • WR Stephen Williams (Toledo)
  • CB AJ Jefferson (Fresno St.)
  • T Devin Tyler (Temple)
  • C David Moosman (Michigan)
  • WR Max Komar (Idaho)
  • CB Marshay Green (Mississippi)

The Cardinals are also bringing in two guys for minicamp on a tryout basis: WR Deryn Bowser and CB Justin Miller. Miller was a second-round pick in 2005 with the Jets and also has been with the Raiders. Bowser played at Akron this past season.

The look at Miller gives perspective of what the Cardinals are searching for cornerback support, if they actually sign a veteran. They aren’t going to chase a “name” free agent because they believe Greg Toler will be the starter. They want a veteran to serve in a reserve role, and many “name” guys would be looking to start I would think — and at least get some starter money.

The same goes with G Alan Faneca. GM Rod Graves told me this morning the Cardinals will likely touch base with Faneca’s agent, but I didn’t get the sense this is something the Cards will push for. The way I see it, Faneca definitely will be looking to start and I don’t think the Cards feel that’s the best direction to go in right now. If nothing else, it may spark Deuce Lutui to finally sign his tender offer, because at this point he surprisingly hasn’t and remains away from the team as minicamp approaches.


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