Iwebema returns as does RB Powell

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2011 – 1:09 pm

The Cardinals have brought back a familiar face, re-signing defensive lineman Kenny Iwebema Monday. Iwebema has been sitting on the sideline since his contract ran out this offseason. Iwebema blew out his knee in November and had been rehabbing. Iwebema said he will begin being limited in practice — special teams and the like — but rehab has gone well. He added that his playing weight is back to normal, in the 280-pound range.

The Cardinals are also bringing back running back William Powell, who was with the team earlier in camp. He’s the body everyone was expecting when Ryan Williams went down; I think the Cards will continue to look at their running back options going forward and even through the rest of the NFL’s final cuts. Finally, the Cards are signing cornerback Thad Turner, who was on the Patriots’ practice squad last season.

The Cards already had a spot open on the 90-man roster. So to make room, the team released cornerback Desia Dunn — who was victimized by a 97-yard touchdown pass in Green Bay — and punter Derek Epperson.

— Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure if QB John Skelton (ankle sprain) will practice this afternoon.

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Less Dockett means more Dockett?

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2011 – 11:34 am

A little earlier today, Darnell Dockett tweeted out this message to the world: “ONE of my weakness is I have to rotate EARLY in the game! I feel like I can’t come out but watching this film its to my advantage that I do!” It’s an interesting self-evaluation by the Pro Bowl defensive lineman, and one that speaks to the importance of depth.

While Dockett did make the Pro Bowl as an alternate, there is little question is impact was not as great in 2010 as it had been in 2009 (Dockett still had five sacks, five quarterback pressures, 11 quarterback hits and three fumble recoveries this past season). When you have a high-end player, you’d rather have him out there. And Dockett isn’t the kind of guy who wants to sit either, something I am sure probably was ramped up even more after he signed his large contract extension.

But if he can rotate out more early in games, that could make a difference late in games. Again, depth will be a factor — as of now, defensive linemen Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, Kenny Iwebema and Alan Branch are not under contract for 2011 — but shuffling Dockett is a good idea. The fact it came from Dockett himself might even be more important. The self-awareness to see weaknesses is always a good thing.

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Considering change

Posted by Darren Urban on March 7, 2011 – 11:29 am

One faithful reader e-mailed me this weekend, asking for details on restricted free-agency rules and what it would mean to have tendered more of the possible restricted guys. His concern was the amount of turnover there could be on the roster.

A quick recap: Seven players were tendered RFA offers. Of those, four have already played four NFL seasons, meaning if the new collective bargaining agreement reverts back to its pre-2010 form as it regards to free agency, the tender offers will not matter and those players (Breaston, Lutui, Sendlein, Branch) will be unrestricted. Bringing them all back in that scenario is not a lock by any stretch.

There’s also the analysis of the rest of the list and those RFAs who weren’t tendered, which will make them UFAs when a new CBA is reached — guys like Ben Patrick (a four-year guy) and Stephen Spach at tight end, Kenny Iwebema at defensive end and cornerback/special teamer Michael Adams. I’d expect some of them to come back, although not all. It’s impossible to know what the salary comparisons were to tender or not to tender because that is all TBD with the new CBA.

Regardless, there is potential for major roster change. That probably shouldn’t be a shock after a 5-11 season. Churning the bottom of the roster always is possible after every season, and with so many free-agents-to-be NFL-wide, it may be even more likely this offseason (once the CBA is determined). What that will mean specifically for the Cards is impossible to know. They’ve already plotted out free agency — they, like every team, needed to be ready by last weekend when free agency was originally supposed to start — and have players targeted. Does that mean current players would be on the backburner in case replacements are signed? Sure it could. It will also be interesting to see the demand on certain lower-tier players in a flooded market.

UPDATE: Bob in the comments has asked me to explain tender offers. In a nutshell, a tender offer to a restricted free agent gives teams the right of first refusal or at least compensation for a player if he leaves. For instance, take tendered Tim Hightower. We don’t know exactly what level he was tendered, but for the sake of argument, let’s say he was tendered at a second-round level. That means, for a set salary (last year it was in the  ballpark of $2 million, if I recall correctly) the Cards hold his rights. If Hightower signs as a free agent elsewhere, the Cards have two options: Match the contract he signed, or let Hightower go and receive a second-round pick in return. If he didn’t sign anywhere else, he can sign the tender offer for the scheduled salary (or, in theory, sign a long-term deal).

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Who is expiring?

Posted by Darren Urban on March 3, 2011 – 2:53 pm

Regardless of the status of the CBA, the Cardinals have a chunk of players whose contracts will expire whenever the league year ends. What that means for free agency is uncertain because the CBA will address those rules. But as an FYI, here is a list of the current Cardinals who will have their contract run out this offseason. If a player has an asterisk, he has at least four accrued seasons in the NFL:

  • FB Nehemiah Broughton
  • RB Tim Hightower
  • FB Reagan Maui’a
  • RB Jason Wright*
  • WR Max Komar
  • WR Steve Breaston*
  • WR Early Doucet
  • TE Ben Patrick
  • TE Stephen Spach
  • T D’Anthony Batiste
  • C Ben Claxton
  • G Alan Faneca*
  • T Brandon Keith
  • G Deuce Lutui*
  • C Lyle Sendlein*
  • DL Alan Branch*
  • DL Keilen Dykes
  • DE Kenny Iwebema
  • DL Bryan Robinson*
  • DT Gabe Watson*
  • LB Curtis Gatewood
  • LB Cyril Obiozor
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Michael Adams
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • S Matt Ware*
  • P Ben Graham*

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A quartet of questionable

Posted by Darren Urban on November 12, 2010 – 12:35 pm

The Cardinals worked with everyone at practice Friday as promised, leaving four players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game: LB Clark Haggans (groin), LB Paris Lenon (ankle), RB Beanie Wells (knee) and DT Darnell Dockett (shoulder). I’d expect all four have a good chance of being active, but coach Ken Whisenhunt has a difficult decisions to make with his 45 men against the Seahawks.

If Beanie is healthy enough to shoulder some of the load, then he should play. But if you aren’t confident enough in his health, it’d be tough to burn a spot on a guy who doesn’t play special teams. Remember, with Kenny Iwebema out, the Cards have to do some special teams shuffling, and there has to be a thought in case Lenon — who should play — gets dinged up again in the game.

“It’ll be like last week,” Whisenhunt said of Wells, saying he wants to see how the knee reacts tomorrow. “We cut down on the run game (plays) this week from the standpoint of volume so he is a lot more comfortable with what he have in and hopefully that allows us to play him in that role if we have the opportunity Sunday.”

— Whisenhunt, on how he’d assess his team midseason: “I don’t think we’ve attained what we hoped after eight games. Somebody asked me at the bye week, if I would’ve taken 3-2 and I said ‘Yeah,’ based on how we had played at that point. It’s a little more difficult after this last stretch because we have lost three in a row and a couple of those games we felt we could have won. We’re not where we wanted to be, not even close, but we are committed to doing a lot better in the second half and know if we do that, everything can work itself out.”

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Iwebema to IR, Cards sign Obiozor

Posted by Darren Urban on November 9, 2010 – 12:50 pm

As expected, defensive end Kenny Iwebema’s knee ligaments are torn (surgery is to come), leading the Cards to place Iwebema on injured reserve and ending his season. The Cards went out and brought back linebacker Cyril Obiozor, who spent a little time on the Cards’ active roster earlier this season. Obiozor then moved to the practice squad, where the Chargers plucked him for their active roster — briefly. He then was moved to San Diego’s practice squad, from which the Cards have now signed him.

UPDATE: The Cards have signed DE Ronald Talley to the practice squad and they released LB J.D. Folsom. Talley was most recently with Green Bay.

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Iwebema likely done and Beanie’s situation

Posted by Darren Urban on November 8, 2010 – 11:37 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said DE Kenny Iwebema will have more tests done to his knee, but the coach said he is “not optimistic” and the fear is that he tore his ACL. If that’s true, Iwebema will be done for the season, a blow to the Cards’ special teams and a blow to Iwebema, who has dealt with his share of health issues (most notably the tumor he had removed from his chest during 2009’s offseason). If Iwebema is out, it likely opens the door for Bryan Robinson to play more end and to open up game work for Gabe Watson, who has been inactive most of the first half of the season.

LB Paris Lenon (ankle) is the other injury the Cards are watching after the game.

— Whisenhunt said the reason RB Beanie Wells didn’t play a lot Sunday was a lack of practice time. “The way the game went, with the offensive packages we were using to attack those guys, Beanie just hadn’t had a lot of reps on,” Whisenhunt said. “That was what it was about more than anything. Hopefully he won’t have any issues this week. I think if the game had gone differently and we had been able to run the ball a bit better later in the game, we would have used the packages he was comfortable with and we would have seen more time with him.”

— Whisenhunt acknowledged two three-point hard losses are hard and “emotionally it takes a toll.” But the coach remained steadfast in the belief progress was being made and the goal of winning the division remains possible. As to whether the players buy into that, “the test will be on Wednesday” when they return to practice, rather than today when the raw wound of Sunday’s loss probably hasn’t healed yet.

I’ll have more later after the players’ availability.

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Beanie limited and the D.A. decision

Posted by Darren Urban on November 3, 2010 – 2:12 pm

Running back Beanie Wells was limited in practice Wednesday after suffered some swelling on the right knee within which he had had his meniscus surgically repaired. We will know more tomorrow on whether it impacts Wells’ status for Sunday but Whisenhunt said “I don’t anticipate it being an issue.” His back, which he hurt against the Bucs, is not a problem.

Linebacker Clark Haggans (groin) also sat out. Haggans will be day-to-day again, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he has to miss another game.

— As for coach Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to start Derek Anderson, a lot has to do with playing on the road this week in Minnesota (and, looking forward, at Kansas City in a  couple weeks). Whisenhunt said he hasn’t soured on Max Hall. And when he was asked about possibly making  another in-game change, Whisenhunt didn’t rule it out.

“We’re going to go into each game doing what we think gives us the best chance to win,” Whisenhunt said. “I’m not going to have a quick hook, if that’s what you are asking me. I told the quarterbacks I don’t think you can play the game worrying about that. But we will definitely do what we think gives us the best chance to win.”

— Also limited in practice were DL Alan Branch (back), WR Steve Breaston (knee), LB Will Davis (knee), WR Early Doucet (groin) and DE Kenny Iwebema (knee).

— The Cardinals’ players are holding an NFLPA meeting this after noon to vote on player reps and on decertification. Teams across the league are doing such voting — voting to decertify — in preparation of potential legal strategies in the event of a lockout.

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Breaston inactive, Doucet plays, Roberts to start at WR

Posted by Darren Urban on October 24, 2010 – 11:34 am

Early Doucet is playing but Steve Breaston is not, now that the inactive list has been announced for today’s game. Interestingly, with Breaston and Stephen Williams (back) inactive, it is rookie Andre Roberts and not Doucet who will be starting with Larry Fitzgerald.

Nose tackle Gabe Watson is also back to inactive now that Kenny Iwebema is healthy again. The rest of the inactive list:

  • QB John Skelton
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • C Ben Claxton
  • LB Alex Hall

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Noise and practice, signifying nothing (with the rehabbed)

Posted by Darren Urban on October 22, 2010 – 1:14 pm

No announcements yet on who is playing and who isn’t playing, which really is no surprise. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said after practice wide receivers Steve Breaston and Early Doucet will be checked out both Saturday and before the game before a decision is made. As for linebacker Gerald Hayes, he has to be put on the active roster first, and that can come no later than 1 p.m. Saturday. My guess? If Hayes is activated, he’s going to play, because otherwise, you might as well keep the roster flexibility another week while Hayes sits.

I am still pretty confident Breaston plays. Doucet has looked better, but I want to wait and see. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold off on Hayes for a week (although I won’t be shocked to see him play either).

— LB Will Davis (groin) was added to the injury report as questionable. Also questionable besides Breaston and Doucet are DE Kenny Iwebema (knee) and LB Reggie Walker (ankle).

— When everyone starts getting healthy, however, the eight-man inactive list (OK, seven, since third QB John Skelton will always be there) will be difficult to make.

“That’s a good problem to have,” Whisenhunt said. When you look at inactive list, especially with receivers, you think back to the first game. Larry (Fitzgerald) wasn’t 100 percent and three rookies were running around. It’s a lot different. Those (rookies) are a lot more comfortable, have a lot of plays under their belt. The decisions will be tough because now, you’re not sitting down a rookie, you are sitting down someone who has gotten reps and who you are comfortable with.”

— The Cardinals spend part of practices every week with simulated crowd noise, but they did try to ramp it up a little this week with the trip to Seattle (nice job, king of fake crowd Nate LoCascio).

“We’ve obviously tried to make it as loud as we could, to simulate it and make it as tough as you can,” Whisenhunt said. “We didn’t handle the noise as well earlier this year (on the road) and you could see as the week progressed that we got a little better in practice. That doesn’t mean we will do well in the game, but it at least helped prepare us.”

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