Taylor, Fleming quiet during Jags’ time

Posted by Darren Urban on November 14, 2013 – 12:24 pm

The Jaguars, trying to rebuild their roster, have collected a handful of ex-Cardinals. None of them, at this point, however, have made much of an impact. The Jaguars signed wide receiver Kerry Taylor from the Cards’ practice squad 10 days ago. They claimed cornerback Jamell Fleming when the Cardinals cut their former third-round draft pick early this season (coincidentally, to put Taylor on the active roster at the time). And going a little further back, the Jags also have former Cards wide receiver Stephen Williams (pictured below) on the roster, after coach Gus Bradley got to know Williams a little when Williams was with Seattle last season (when Bradley was the defensive coordinator).

Taylor was inactive last week for his first Jacksonville game. Coach Bruce Arians was blunt about losing Taylor, saying the Cards just didn’t have a spot for him on the roster. Fleming has been active for only four games and didn’t even get on the field in one of those. Williams just signed a month ago and has been inactive for two of his four games.

“We felt we had to compete all season long with the waiver wire,” Bradley said. “We felt we maybe couldn’t do as much at the top end of our roster but we felt like the bottom part of our roster we needed to compete in.”

Sound familiar? It’s a lot like the churning Cards GM Steve Keim wants to do.

“Kerry has come in and he’s been very impressive, as far as his work ethic, his attitude, his approach, all those things,” Bradley added. “We’re going to try and get him some more reps and try and find a way to make him active. … Fleming, the same thing.”


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Kerry Taylor released

Posted by Darren Urban on October 8, 2013 – 2:07 pm

The Cardinals made a roster move Tuesday, and decided to release wide receiver Kerry Taylor and promote wide receiver Brittan Golden from the practice squad. Taylor burst out in his first game, making three catches against the Lions in a game where Larry Fitzgerald couldn’t finish because of hamstring problems.(Taylor even got a game ball after that performance.) But he was inactive this past weekend. Bruce Arians was already trying to figure out how to get Andre Roberts back in the mix. Now, the Cards clearly want to see what Golden can do.

There are open spots on the practice squad now, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cards put Taylor back on the practice squad, assuming he clears waivers.

The team also made practice squad moves at linebacker Tuesday, releasing Bruce Taylor and adding Orie Lemon. The Cards also released practice squad wide receiver Devon Wylie.


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Taylor gets his chance, and hopes to stick

Posted by Darren Urban on September 17, 2013 – 3:51 pm

Kerry Taylor smiled. The NFL, “it’s definitely a roller-coaster ride” the wide receiver said, and there’s little question Taylor is one of the guys who has been strapped in for all the loops and inverted rolls in his short career.

He’s on a high now, the wind whipping through his air as he races down the fun part of the track. It took a hamstring injury to Larry Fitzgerald to get him on the active roster from the practice squad, and for now, he’s sticking around. The Cardinals filled their practice squad Tuesday with two new receivers – bringing back Dan Buckner and bringing in Brittan Golden, cut by the Bears – meaning Taylor is safe.

Will he stay there? Bruce Arians isn’t saying for certain. First, Fitz has to get completely healthy, which won’t be before the Saints game. “So much will determine on injuries at that point in time,” Arians said of Taylor’s active-roster future. “Those last five guys (on the 53-man roster), they can flip-flop every week.”

That’s far from security. But Taylor will take it. This is the first time Taylor has gotten a real opportunity to play in the league, having bounced around to a handful of teams since his 2011 rookie season. There was a week in San Francisco, a few weeks in New England, a training camp in Green Bay. That’s the league for many players, just trying to hang on to a job.

He was thrilled to sign with the Cardinals last year for the practice squad. In those other places, it was “waking up in a new city, getting a rental car, and basically it was ‘Good luck,’ ” Taylor said. In Arizona – where Taylor grew up, went to high school at nearby Chandler Hamilton and attended Arizona State – he already knew where the Cards’ complex was, how to get home, and where to buy groceries.

Then Sunday, he made his first NFL catch, remarkably not from a quarterback but a cornerback: Patrick Peterson’s first NFL pass, a 17-yard throw. His second catch of three was for 16 yards and allowed Carson Palmer to surpass 30,000 yards passing in his career. So a couple of important milestones.

The roller coaster ride isn’t over, of course. Taylor thought he made the roster after the preseason for one day, until he was cut the next. Then he was brought back to the practice squad. He has gotten much more of an opportunity in Arizona than he ever has anywhere else, but that guarantees nothing in this business.

“I thought I made it, I didn’t,” Taylor said. “Now I hope I can stay up.”


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Quick hits after Arians

Posted by Darren Urban on September 16, 2013 – 1:03 pm

The Cardinals have changed up availability times for Mondays, so the players aren’t talking until later on, but a few notes from lunch with Bruce Arians:

— Rookie running back Andre Ellington continues to impress and it’s not like Arians only sees him has a third-down, change-of-pace guy. “This kid can carry the load,” Arians said. (And to clarify: “Can” carry it doesn’t mean he will. Rashard Mendenhall is the starter.)

— Of the seven game balls awarded for the Lions game, three went to special teamers: kicker Jay Feely, punter Dave Zastudil and Justin Bethel, who blocked a field goal and who has to be in the discussion as best gunner in the NFL. The others went to DE Calais Campbell, CB Patrick Peterson, WR Kerry Taylor and QB Carson Palmer.

— Palmer did have the pick-six interception, but Arians praised his leadership, especially late in the game with no Larry Fitzgerald and the offense struggling on third downs. “He sent the best signals (that) ‘We’re fine,’ ” Arians said.

— Arians was happy with the play of Taylor but he did not commit to keeping Taylor on the roster once Fitz returns to full strength. That, he said, will depend on injuries. The bottom five roster spots are always churning.

— The hope is tight end Rob Housler (ankle) will play this week. But it’s still we’ll-see mode, as it will be with the rest of the injuries. Arians said he wants to see where the Cards are Wednesday before talking about anyone else.

— Safety Yeremiah Bell actually was playing some linebacker Sunday (I can’t wait to hear from everyone who always wanted Adrian Wilson to do the same). It was part of the package to handle the Lions’ offense. “He played great,” Arians said. “We asked him to learn linebacker in two different fronts. I can’t say enough about the guy. He’s the ultimate pro.”

— Arians said the decision to stay back East after the Saints game came with the knowledge the team has back-to-back 10 a.m. Arizona time kickoffs. This will hopefully alleviate some of the issues with the early kickoff in Tampa.

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Lions aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on September 15, 2013 – 9:30 pm

Karlos Dansby was still trying to make sense of that interception he didn’t get Sunday. That one where Matthew Stafford lasered into Calvin Johnson in between Dansby and DansbymissUSEPatrick Peterson. Johnson got a 72-yard touchdown and Dansby – who said he knew the pass was coming and jumped the route and did everything right but actually pick off the pass – was left with air.

“I still got a fine to pay,” Dansby said, in a reference to the Cards’ kangaroo court. “I got a big fine to pay. You don’t understand. That’s a fine out of this world. That’s the crazy part about it. Oh man, you don’t understand this fine I gotta pay. You really don’t understand. It’s huge. It’s huge, bro.”

Dansby could smile. Always easier to talk about the bad after a win, and, especially with the way the Cards’ defense stepped up in the second half and shut down the Lions. The Cardinals had to have a win Sunday. Couldn’t go 0-2 heading into two straight road games back East. They got it. So, before I shut down for the night, some notes and thoughts from today’s win:

— Bruce Arians has said it before, and he said it again. “I have no problem with young players,” he said, and it’s not just the high picks. We already know the impact third-round draft pick Tyrann Mathieu has had, and it was Mathieu’s solid tackle of Nate Burleson on fourth-and-4 a yard shy of the line that sealed the win Sunday. Running back Andre Ellington has already proved to be a weapon as both a runner and receiver and a blocker, nice from a sixth-round rookie (who scored his first TD Sunday). And undrafted safety Tony Jefferson had three tackles in his first NFL defensive work as part of a dime package that was used for the first time.

“It’s  a huge opportunity for us (young players) and you have to make the best of it,” Jefferson said. “To put a young rookie in and going against an explosive offense like that and they trust in you. You have to perform.”

— As for Ellington, he played more than any of the running backs not named Rashard Mendenhall. Does that mean he made a move up the depth chart? “I’m not sure how that works,” Ellington said. “We don’t really have a set depth chart. Coach just kind of calls you out there when he wants you out there. Whenever my name is called, I want to make the play.”

— After failing to come up with a pair of crucial third-down conversions late in the St. Louis game, the Cards never could get that going Sunday. They had just one third-down conversion in 11 tries (by contrast, they got two first downs on penalties that came on third downs) and it stalled the offense too often.

Asked if he was frustrated by that on the sideline, Arians said “I’m always frustrated. I’m pissed the whole game, nothing satisfies me. … We weren’t three and out, three and out. It was first down, first down, chunk play and manageable (third downs). We just didn’t convert.”

— Wide receiver Kerry Taylor, promoted Saturday from the practice squad, made his first three NFL catches. His first? Seventeen yards, from the arm of none other than Swiss Army knife Patrick Peterson. “It was brought to my attention that it was my first catch in the NFL thrown by a corner,” Taylor said. Taylor was impressive with Fitz down. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cards keep him up on the roster.

— There was better pass protection from the Cardinals. Some of that had to do with the Lions, some had to do with scheme, but for the most part, the offensive line kept Carson Palmer clean enough to throw his passes (although Arians said Palmer was hit too often.)

— The Reggie Bush injury, which basically took him out of the game in the second half, definitely seemed to impact the Lions. They couldn’t run – 49 yards total in the game – and getting Bush in space on pass receptions had been a major threat for Detroit in their Week One win.

— I know it’s early, but it seems Justin Bethel should already be getting attention as a potential Pro Bowl special teams player in the NFC. He’s been excellent in coverage, and then he got the big block of the David Akers field goal in the fourth quarter to keep it a two-point deficit. Bethel got an earlier running-into-the-kicker (which didn’t hurt when Akers missed a second straight try) but it gave him confidence for the fourth-quarter block.

“You’ve got to take the right angle, especially with a kicker who keeps his leg out there,” Bethel said. “(On the penalty) I saw his leg. I jumped and thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to leave his foot out here.’ I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ But I had a good takeoff and I was thinking, ‘OK, I know I can get there.’ And I got another chance.”

— Now, about that Dansby “fine” …

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Taylor promoted as Fitz insurance

Posted by Darren Urban on September 14, 2013 – 1:17 pm

The Cardinals did a not-altogether surprising roster move today, promoting wide receiver Kerry Taylor from the practice squad and cutting cornerback Jamell Fleming. It makes sense with Larry Fitzgerald ailing from a bad hamstring. Does this mean Fitz isn’t playing? Not necessarily. But it does give the Cards an option for a fifth wideout if Fitz should suffer a setback.

Fleming was the sixth cornerback. He could in theory be signed right back next week (and Taylor sent back to the practice squad) if he clears waivers. He might be claimed by someone, but for the Cards he has been pushed further down the depth chart than you would’ve expected from a former third-round pick.

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Moch highlights practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2013 – 11:04 am

The Cardinals have picked five of their possible eight practice-squad players, including pass rusher Dontay Moch — an intriguing prospect and former third-round pick who has been limited to one regular season game in two seasons because of migraines, a broken foot and a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. Moch would be a linebacker in the Cards’ scheme. He’s had 6.5 sacks the past two preseasons, so he has flashed. It makes sense as practice squad potential.

The Cardinals also brought back both their Taylors from the preseason roster — wide receiver Kerry and safety Curtis — to the practice squad, as well as linebacker Kenny Rowe. Rowe, like Moch, is part of the Cards’ perpetual quest to find edge rushers.

The other spot went to center/guard Philip Blake, recently cut by Denver.

There are still three practice squad spots left. One could go to linebacker Kenny Demens, cut yesterday by the team. Tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb, cut by the Cards, ended up on the Bears’ practice squad.

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A few cuts left to go, and no more Coop

Posted by Darren Urban on August 30, 2013 – 2:14 pm

The other day, Bruce Arians was saying he was hoping Jonathan Cooper could come back this season. He didn’t want his first-round draft pick to be a rookie again next season. Turns out, that won’t be the case. The guard was put on the season-ending version of injured reserve Friday. Each team gets just one spot for the IR-to-return list each season, and Arians said the Cards felt it was smarter to hold it open than save it for the possibility of Cooper.

But either way, Cooper was going to be out the majority of the season. And as for the cuts Friday — the Cards still have seven moves to make, because linebacker Daryl Washington won’t count toward the 53 during his suspension — there were a couple of minor surprises. Defensive lineman David Carter was one, but he lost out in a battle with Ronald Talley. As I had noted a couple of times, Arians had turned up the compliments on Talley and his being “country strong.” It was tough not to notice. And indeed, when asked today about Carter, Arians said the strength was the difference.

“Talley’s strength at the point of attack and ability to play nose was better,” Arians said. “David has a lot of hustle, a lot of effort, but was struggling to hold the point.”

— The Cardinals still have seven defensive lineman, and there have been reports they are looking to find a nose tackle still. If that’s true, rookie Padric Scott still could be released and put on practice squad, for instance.

— Safety Tony Jefferson has been doing well in both games and practices, and the release of Jonathon Amaya probably means he’s going to stay, although Arians said Jefferson is “not through the woods yet.”

— Arians said he was “not totally, 90 percent sure” of the decision he is going to make on QB Ryan Lindley. I’ve said all along I thought he would stay, so I’m not going to change now. We’ll see.

— I found it interesting, after a training camp of talking about how inconsistent the young receivers are, Arians called both Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor consistent. If there is a pecking order, I’d still put Brown over Taylor, and we will see what happens on the waiver wire.

— No word on Jeff King, but having knee surgery again certainly seems like King could be an IR candidate. If that came to pass, then the Cards only have six cuts to make.

— No draft picks cut yet, and with Rachal being cut it means Earl Watford is your top backup guard.

— The roster is built as of now like this: 7 DL, 11 LB, 7 CB, 4 S, 3 specialists, 11 OL, 5 TE, 5 RB, 5 WR, 3 QB. Obviously, a couple of positions seem out of balance — DL, LB, CB, OL for sure — and are places to look for the rest of the cuts. Which, according to Arians, should be done by noon Saturday.

And then we wait to see if/when/who the Cards pick up from other teams.

UPDATE: Later Friday, linebacker Reggie Walker tweeted out what sounds like his goodbye after being cut (nothing official yet):

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Broncos aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2013 – 11:46 pm

Tony Jefferson still had his uniform on, his shoulder pads pushing out his grass-stained jersey. After his last showing of the preseason, getting five tackles, a sack, two tackles TJusefor loss, a fumble recovery and a special teams tackle while battling for a roster spot, he was left to … do nothing.

“I’m just going to leave that up to the coaches, whether I am a fit for the team or not,” the undrafted rookie safety said, noting he would be going back to watch his former University of Oklahoma teammates in their opener this weekend.

“I’m going to try and keep my mind off it,” Jefferson said. “Just wait. It’s a waiting game. Just like draft day.”

The wait won’t take long (which is why this aftermath is going to be pretty short and sweet.) Steve Keim said the initial 53-man roster will be set by noon Friday, and Bruce Arians will make it public at 1 p.m. No reason to overly analyze Thursday night, which will be old news soon enough.

Some thoughts on what is coming, in light on what happened in Denver with context through my initial 53-man guess:

— Obviously strong games for QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ryan Williams. Enough to be on the 53? It would make sense, yet you could easily see a scenario where they wouldn’t be. Williams, I suppose, still could be traded, although I don’t see him being simply released. Personally I’d like Williams to stay, but we’ll see. “We’re not cutting good football players,” Bruce Arians said. (Although he didn’t say he wouldn’t trade them.)

— Teams don’t have to be to 53 until Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. So they might still keep 54 or 55 tomorrow if a deal is percolating.

— Lindley is “light years” ahead of where he was, Arians said. “Early on he had trouble processing as the play was happening. Now he has a quarterback rating of (104) and that was with guys busting routes on him. I thought he played extremely well. He was very comfortable out there.”

— All that said, Arians still wouldn’t say if Lindley had made the team for sure yet.

— Speaking of trades, will a defensive back be dealt? I’ve said since the offseason I wouldn’t be surprised in a deal like the A.J. Jefferson trade of 2012.

— I thought rookie wideout Jaron Brown was already on this team. I feel even more confident in that now.

— Beyond Brown? Mike Thomas did catch a touchdown late but he probably should have caught a bomb from Lindley earlier. It would have been a tough catch but it was makeable – and it was the kind of catch that helps you make rosters. Kerry Taylor had a quiet night.

— Arians said TE Jeff King is headed for knee surgery. Not sure if that’s significant enough for injured reserve or not. With Rob Housler still trying to come back from an ankle issue, I’m thinking King won’t be on the roster.

— To my untrained eye, I think Jefferson flashed enough to make them want to keep him. Would it be in lieu of Jonathon Amaya? Other than Jefferson, I didn’t really think any of the defensive backs battling for the roster played particularly well Thursday.

— The lone injury was a shoulder problem for defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, unfortunate for a guy trying to make the roster. Ronald Talley, the man Arians has been talking up, seemed to make a couple plays. Wondering what that might mean for David Carter, who is on the bubble. Arians said he’d need to see the tape to really give decent analysis on the defensive line play in the game.

— In the locker room, Larry Fitzgerald pointed out the Cardinals logo rookie seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson has tattooed on his abdomen. Now that’s confidence in your ability to make the roster.

— I thought before the entire draft class still here (Ryan Swope already having retired of course) makes the 53. I haven’t changed my mind on that.

We’ll see. We’ll know in a little more than 12 hours.

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Wednesday before the Broncos

Posted by Darren Urban on August 28, 2013 – 10:57 am

The Cardinals are down to one preseason game. And by now, there probably isn’t much to determine. In fact, it’s tough to get past the words of Darnell Dockett going into this one: “You always want to play preseason games and make sure everyone gets out healthy,” Dockett said, and obviously, with Jonathan Cooper, that didn’t happen. “I’ve never been a fan of preseason games. I understand the games because young guys are trying to get on rosters and this might be their big chance, so I’m all for it. But guys who have to play 16 regular-season games … my biggest thing is getting out healthy.”

That’s why quarterback Carson Palmer may not play, and why I’m sure the Cards will be careful with what they do tomorrow night.

All that said, Bruce Arians did say there was still “four or five” roster spots still up for debate. The positions he named were the back end of wide receiver, safety, cornerback, tight end and offensive line. He didn’t name names, and that’s where the speculation comes in. At receiver, for instance, Kerry Taylor has worked hard for this team and is a smart guy. But Mike Thomas, the newbie vet, has the speed Arians so covets. At safety, can special teamer Jonathon Amaya hold off Tony Jefferson or big Curtis Taylor? Tight end is a very interesting spot too. Veteran Jeff King hasn’t been able to get on the field much, and Arians wants to see him play. When the offseason started I assumed he would be here, but with his balky knee, I’m not so sure anymore — not that the Cards have overwhelming options elsewhere.

That’s the thing about guessing about the 53-man roster (which I will attempt to do later today). It’s hard to know what a new GM and a new coach really like to do. It’s hard to know what they think about raw players like G Earl Watford and TE D.C. Jefferson, guys who probably aren’t ready to help right away but guys who may not make it through waivers to put on the practice squad.

— With RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and TE Rob Housler (ankle) sitting out practice yesterday, I’m sure that would basically rule them out. I am guessing there might be a couple other guys sitting as precautionary, but it did seem like the Cards are fairly healthy right now, all things considered.

— I don’t expect to see major Broncos players, like Peyton Manning. Doesn’t matter whether it was Mike Shanahan or John Fox as coach in Denver, the QB never seems to play that last preseason game.

— Arians has a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday. Not sure if cuts will come by then or not (teams must be to 53 by Saturday afternoon) but regardless, whatever this 53-man roster is on Saturday, I will be surprised if it is still the 53-man roster on Tuesday, after waiver claims and the like. Arians said he would probably warn “two or three” players that their spot on the 53 could change into a practice squad spot by Thursday. It’s the reality of the business.

— And as we have said many times, this team is is going to churn the roster. Director of media relations Chris Melvin is going to be a busy man putting out new bio after new bio this season, methinks.

UPDATE: The game, no matter what your TV guide says, will be live on Ch. 15 ABC Thursday. Pregame starts at 5:30 p.m.

— It’s good to know Tyrann Mathieu’s eyebrow is coming back. Time to end the preseason.

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