The Cardinals made their last couple of moves to get to the mandated roster limit of 75 today. With one cut necessary, they actually added a player — tight end Richard Quinn, recently released by Cincinnati. With two cuts to make, the team released tight end Mickey Shuler and safety Javon Harris.
Quinn was originally a second-round draft pick by Denver in 2009. He played two seasons in Denver before being waived/injured in the 2011 preseason. He was signed much later in the season by the Redskins, playing one game for them, before signing with the Bengals, although he did not play in a game last season. At 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, Quinn is considered more of a blocking specialist. At this point, the Cards are going to be searching for tight ends, with Rob Housler (ankle) hurting, Jeff King (knee) just getting back to practice and other unknown quanities available. Jim Dray, with Housler down, is probably the No. 1 tight end right now. Kory Sperry and D.C. Jefferson struggled last game.
Tags: Javon Harris, Mickey Shuler, Richard Quinn
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When Bruce Arians walked in the door, one of the first things he emphasized was that he was a two-tight end man.
The tight end was a key in his offense. Fullbacks were unnecessary (and in this case, a surprising bargaining chip of the offseason, after Anthony Sherman was traded for the impressive cornerback Javier Arenas.) The roster was shaped, a (seventh-round) draft pick was spent on a tight end and Arians went about building his offense. As training camp comes to a close, tight end remains important to the Cardinals. But questions swirl around the position, especially since they are so important.
Tight end starts with Rob Housler. He’s had a quiet preseason, but Arians said that is because he wanted to look at other players. “It’s more blocking and I think he’s improved tremendously,” Arians said. “He’s had some he could have finished better, but I think he’s improved in his all-around. We know he can run and catch. We’ve got a bunch of packages where we can feature him. He’s a given to me. I don’t need to see that part.”
Housler will be a given as receiver (and in my opinion, he has improved as a blocker.) Beyond him? Right now, factoring in practice reps, health, production, the under-the-radar Jim Dray is No. 2. Dray is fascinating in some regards. The one-time seventh-rounder keeps sticking around, an excellent special teams player under Ken Whisenhunt and now the kind of guy drawn up perfectly for Arians — with the ability to drop into the backfield as an H-back/fullback if needed. Veteran Jeff King was supposed to be in the mix, but continuing knee troubles have kept him sidelined a ton, and you have to wonder about his future. Kory Sperry was impressing Arians early and he’ll need to be around.
D.C. Jefferson, the seventh-round rookie, looks the part and seems like he has promise. But he is so raw he may be better suited to the practice squad, if he can clear waivers. I’m not sure Mickey Shuler has made enough in-roads to stick around.
You figure the Cards need at least four tight ends on the active roster. Tight end remains, in my mind, the number one position Steve Keim will watch as cuts are made across the league. While it’s no lock the Cards claim/sign another tight end, it wouldn’t be surprising at all. It’s too important to Arians not to keep searching.
Tags: Anthony Sherman, Bruce Arians, D.C. Jefferson, Javier Arenas, Jeff King, Jim Dray, Kory Sperry, Mickey Shuler, Rob Housler
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Here’s one way to look at it, and a good one, from coach Bruce Arians when talking about gaining team chemistry in training camp: “This is not a time for chemistry. My philosophy is, we’re not the Cardinals yet. Now we are 90 guys trying to get a job. We’ll become the Cardinals when 53 of them are picked. Then we will be a team.”
Along those lines, since we are talking about guys winning jobs, here are some observations a few days into camp that could play into that:
— One cornerback who has made a lot of plays is Javier Arenas. It could turn into a nice pickup given the price to get Arenas — FB Anthony Sherman — was going to be released anyway. Arenas broke up a bomb to Patrick Peterson yesterday and fought Larry Fitzgerald into one incompletion today. He’s not perfect, of course, but given all the other cornerbacks, he’s just going to make cutdown harder. The fact he could be the kickoff return man also plays into his favor.
— I think CB Jerraud Powers has made some plays too.
— Michael Floyd has looked good. Not that it’s a surprise. It’s a continuation of what he did this summer.
— Bruce Arians noted that Paul Fanaika, the Arizona State product who signed as a tackle, has done well in transition to guard. Lo and behold, he’s second-string right guard, which means he’s starting while Daryn Colledge is sidelined with his leg injury.
— That also means fourth-round pick Earl Watford is pretty far down the depth chart right now. Watford looks the part but he’s raw. He’s got work to do and it will be interesting to see how he does in preseason games.
— Didn’t see tight end Jeff King, who sat out Sunday’s practice, at Monday’s afternoon practice. Not sure what it is. Maybe it is related to the knee issue he was rehabbing from this offseason. Alex Gottlieb is already nursing a sore hamstring. And then Kory Sperry left the field early in Monday’s work. Newly acquired Mickey Shuler was there but he had arrived so close to practice he wasn’t even wearing Cardinals gear yet, much less practicing. The Cards are thin at the spot right now. Rookie D.C. Jefferson got a ton of reps (along with Rob Housler and Jim Dray.)
— The defensive coaches continue to mix-n-match a lot of the lineups. One nickel package had four linemen, although John Abraham was on the right side standing up, with Calais Campbell at RDE/RDT (depending on if you’re counting Abraham as a linebacker or end), Frostee Rucker as DT/NT and Matt Shaughnessy as LDE. Reggie Walker and Karlos Dansby were the linebackers (although Walker was in for Jasper Brinkley, sidelined with a sore knee).
— The first-string base defense continues to include Campbell, Dan Williams, Dockett up front; Alexander, Dansby, Brinkley, Acho at linebacker; Powers and Peterson at cornerback and Johnson and Bell at safety. Tyrann Mathieu continues to get lots of reps, not only at safety but nickel cover corner too.
— Running back talk is always going to start with Mendenhall and Ryan Williams while Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington have impressed Arians too. But to me, Alfonso Smith is going to make it very hard to cut him loose. The guy competes and he’s looked good when he’s gotten chances. He may again run into a numbers game, but Smith has made an impression.
— Speaking of making an impression, the defensive linemen tend to do that when they hit the sled:
Tags: Alex Gottlieb, Alfonso Smith, Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Calais Campbell, D.C. Jefferson, Dan Williams, Earl Watford, Frostee Rucker, Jasper Brinkley, Jeff King, Jerraud Powers, Jim Dray, John Abraham, Karlos Dansby, Kory Sperry, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, Mickey Shuler, Paul Fanaika, Rashard Mendenhall, Reggie Walker, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams, Sam Acho, Stepfan Taylor, Tyrann Mathieu
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Jonathan Cooper will be here soon now that he has a contract, and it sounds like it couldn’t have come at a better time with Bruce Arians clearly not happy with the way his offensive line has looked thus far.
Arians said it was too early to truly worry about such things — this afternoon was the first time the team practiced in pads, after all — but he’s also looking at it from a fresh perspective and not of say, a fan who has been frustrated with recent offensive line play. There is probably a method to the madness as well, since with so many options on the line, every player knows a quick hook is possible.
“There’s no excuse right now making the mental errors we are making on offense,” Arians said.
Nevertheless, having Cooper in the fold is a detail that can only help going forward. Eventually he will be in place as the starter. Who will line up next to him, well, that story has a long way to go.
— A reinterpretation of a rule will help Cooper get on the field right away in pads. Rookies used to have to be in camp two days before putting on pads, regardless of when they signed. Not anymore.
— The Cardinals claimed TE Mickey Shuler off waivers. He had been cut by Buffalo and GM Steve Keim said the Cards had been looking for depth at the position.
— Arians said WR Robert Gill would probably miss seven to 10 days because of a hamstring strain. It’s the same hamstring that was bothering Gill early in the offseason and kept him out of some workouts.
— If you want to ask a question of LB Lorenzo Alexander, send it via Twitter to @AzCardinals with the hashtag #Take5Lorenzo. It’s all part of a new video feature called Take 5. The first one will be up soon, with QB Carson Palmer.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Jonathan Cooper, Mickey Shuler, Robert Gill
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