In what isn’t a surprise, running back Ryan Williams is indeed inactive today for the Cardinals. You figured one of the backs would be down. Since there is special teams aspects to the other guys, Williams was a natural choice. Defensive end Calais Campbell (quad) is active. In fact, tight end Rob Housler (ankle) is the only inactive based on an injury. Another interesting move: Bruce Arians has kept all three quarterbacks, including Ryan Lindley, active today.
Eight offensive linemen are active, but all three backups can give multiple looks: Nate Potter can play G/T, Mike Gibson can play C/G and newcomer Bradley Sowell not only could play T but also blocking TE. Jim Dray is the lone starting tight end. Andre Roberts will be a third starting wide receiver.
The other first-week inactives for the Cardinals:
— CB Jamell Fleming
— LB Alex Okafor
— DT Alameda Ta’amu
— T Bobby Massie
— G Earl Watford
Tags: Bradley Sowell, Calais Campbell, inactives, Milke Gibson, Nate Potter, quarterbacks, Rob Housler, Ryan Williams
Posted in Blog | 32 Comments »
First year with a new coach, tough division, players still getting comfortable with schemes. Maybe, just maybe, as the Cardinals prepare to fly to St. Louis tomorrow for the season opener against the Rams, a little patience is called for.
“No,” Bruce Arians very bluntly put it. “There’s no patience. I have no patience.”
If the Cardinals believe anything, it is that. Waiting around for success, or to build up to it, makes no sense to plenty of people, including the head coach. “Those days of building for the future in the NFL, I see them as gone,” Arians added.
When you put together the veterans like the Cardinals have, holdovers like Larry Fitzgerald and Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell and mix in guys like Carson Palmer and Karlos Dansby and Yeremiah Bell, no one wants to talk about down the road. That’s what makes this season so interesting. I’ve seen some pundits picking the Cards to have a three-win season, in large part because of the division they play within. I’ve seen many picking the Cards to have nine or 10 wins and sneak into the playoffs. If there is another team whose potential season holds with it such a wide berth, I’d like to see it.
It’s good the Cardinals open in the division, but against the Rams. There’s a certain symmetry to it. The Cards have, over the last decade, had their most road success in St. Louis. The Edward Jones Dome is also where the Cards’ season went off the rails last year, their first loss in what turned out to be a string of many.
So it’s time to start anew, with a new staff, a new offense, a (slightly) new defensive scheme, a new quarterback, a ton of new players and a new optimism.
“It’s win now,” Arians said. “Too many teams have done it, I’ve been around teams that have done it, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t get it done.”
Sounds like a pregame speech to me.
— This is Arians’ offense, but offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin has his role too. Arians is obviously the playcaller, but “leading up throughout the week a lot is on my shoulders,” Goodwin said. “So far, so good.” Goodwin, however, still focuses on coaching the line, which has always been his primary job in his coaching career.
“At the end of the day, in my belly, I’m still a line coach,” Goodwin said.
— The rumblings that Nate Potter would be tried at guard came as far back as the start of Arians’ first minicamp before the draft. But Potter didn’t get any work there until this week, when it became necessary. And it becoming necessary is why it took so long.
“We didn’t expect Coop to get hurt,” Goodwin said of the out-for-the-season guard. “That threw a monkey wrench into a lot of things.”
— Potter has gotten enough work at guard that he could play there Sunday if someone were to get hurt, Goodwin added. That means Potter will be in the mix to be active. All along, Arians has said he will have seven linemen active for the game, but he wouldn’t commit to that number Friday.
— Good story from Jim Trotter about Arians, based around the anecdote about how close he came to cutting Robert Gill this summer after Gill accidently hurt Patrick Peterson during a practice. I didn’t know Gill might be cut, but I saw the play and I remember thinking that’s not a good thing for a guy trying to fight his way on to the roster. The day before, Peterson had made a one-handed interception over Gill on the same play. The next day, the ball was well overthrown Gill, Peterson was beyond him, and Peterson gathered in the interception over his shoulder. In the same motion, Gill leaped to tackle him, dragging him down from behind.
It was scary, with Peterson down on the ground for what probably seemed like longer than it was. You don’t want your Pro Bowl corner getting a major injury in May. Needless to say, Peterson ended up OK. Gill stuck around (only to be cut later). But those are the kind of plays that make coaches hold their breath every offseason (and practice and OTA and anytime their players step off a curb.)
— How much will we see Peterson on offense? “I can’t tell you that,” Goodwin said with a smile. “He’ll be in there some.” I’m looking forward to seeing Peterson in that role.
— Maybe it’s because everyone has been factoring it into the equation so long, but it seems like the absence of Daryl Washington has been under the radar. His suspension will hurt. Rules let Washington be at the facility and be around the team, but no practice, and no games.
— Peterson is anxious not to play offense or defense, but to get a shot at punt returns again. He clearly isn’t happy – nor should he be – after what he went through returning punts last season. He wants to get back to 2011 levels.
— There has been some speculation that the Rams, adding Tavon Austin and with Chris Givens, etc., might start throwing the ball a lot more often. That would be against everything coach Jeff Fisher has done in his career, and because of that, veteran safety Yeremiah Bell doesn’t see it.
“For the most part, coach Fisher is coach Fisher,” Bell said. “Once you are a coach in this league a long time and you kind of do things your own way, you are set in that. I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say he’s going to stray from anything he’s done in the past.”
— Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to predict anything for himself, but you know the wide receiver wants to get back to his pre-2012 lofty heights. I expect he will.
“Last year is last year,” Fitzgerald said. “I put that to bed. Every year is different. When you see things in the rear view mirror, you can’t see what’s in front of you. Obviously I am aware of what happened last year and I don’t ever want to repeat last year, but moving forward I have to focus on what’s asked of me.”
That’s usually at least 1,200 yards and double-digit TDs. Anything short of that? Hey, we have no patience for that.
On to St. Louis.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, Harold Goodwin, Jeff Fisher, Jim Trotter, Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Rams, Robert Gill, Yeremiah Bell
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The Cardinals have named their captains for the season, and they really come as no surprise: On defense, it is cornerback Patrick Peterson and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. On offense, it is quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. And on special teams, it is linebacker Lorenzo Alexander and kicker Jay Feely. Center Lyle Sendlein isn’t a captain for the first time in a couple of years, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind. There had been a void since there really hadn’t been a quarterback to step into that role. Palmer is definitely that guy. The choices were made through a player vote.
— Tackle Nate Potter will start playing guard as well in practice. It’s something Bruce Arians has long hinted at, but Potter is just now starting out. The more you can do …
— Tight end Rob Housler remains day-to-day with his bad ankle. He’s getting better, Arians said, but the coach added the Cards do not want this to be a lingering problem and would rather have him miss time now and knock it out than deal with it long-term. We’ll see whether Housler does anything at practice today. Otherwise, the Cards are healthy.
— Arians had his line of the day, when asked if patience was needed when judging this team out of the gate. “No,” Arians said. “I have no patience.”
— The Cardinals are just getting out to practice now (media availability this season will be before practice on Wednesdays.) More bubble work today.
Tags: captains, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Lorenzo Alexander, Nate Potter, Patrick Peterson, Rob Housler
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The Cardinals ended up with two linemen today awarded on waiver claims: tackle Bradley Sowell (late of the Colts) and defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu (cut by the Steelers). The corresponding cuts were linebacker Kenny Demens (who is practice squad eligible) and cornerback Bryan McCann (which takes the Cards down to six cornerbacks).
Bringing in a nose tackle-type like Ta’amu is no surprise. The Cards had been looking for one behind Dan Williams. Adding another offensive tackle is interesting, since the Cards already have four on the roster. You have to wonder if they check out Sowell, see if he fits their bill, and then choose between him and another (Nate Potter, perhaps?) Sowell had also been used sometimes to line up as a tight end with the Colts — I’m sure in jumbo packages — so there’s that aspect. He played 10 games last year for the Colts, so offensive coordinator/O-line coach Harold Goodwin and coach Bruce Arians are both very familiar with him.
The release of Ta’amu was notable in Pittsburgh. He was a fourth-round pick in 2012 who didn’t have much of a rookie season after being involved in an auto accident after which he was placed on probation. The Cardinals now have six defensive linemen and 10 offensive linemen.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bradley Sowell, Bryan McCann, cuts, Dan Williams, Kenny Demens, Nate Potter, practice squad, waiver claim
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With the injury of Jonathan Cooper, the Cardinals have gone with with the Daryn Colledge-Paul Fanika guard combination. There has been a lot of speculation on the outside that the Cards, at some point, could end up trying one of their tackles inside. Maybe Bobby Massie. Maybe Nate Potter. Maybe, even, Levi Brown.
None have been a consideration. Bruce Arians was asked specifically about Brown being considered inside. “Not until I find someone to take his place at left tackle,” was Arians’ reply.
The reality is that Brown is going to be the left tackle. It doesn’t look like Nate Potter has made any in-roads in displacing Brown (in fact, Potter seems to has struggled.). Arians, meanwhile, wasn’t showing any panic about Brown even after San Diego’s Dwight Freeney got to him — and therefore, the quarterback — some Saturday night.
“Overall, pass protection has not been a problem, until the other night,” Arians said. “We didn’t game-plan Dwight Freeney as much as we would have and Dwight beat Levi. It comes down to a one-on-one game. If we feel that way going into a game (that the tackle might get beat), we’ll help the guy.”
One of the things Arians liked the most of his Colledge-Fanaika decision was it was only moving one player — Colledge, to left guard. And Colledge has experience there. Brown hasn’t ever played guard and hasn’t practiced there. Neither have Massie and Potter for that matter (Arians gave a quick “nope” when asked if one of those guys could be moved inside.) Arians had said this offseason that the time for that experimentation was during OTAs. We’re well past that now.
Clearly, Brown’s work at left tackle will remain under the spotlight. It’s hard not to notice. Could the Cards find someone to, as Arians said, take his place? Even with all the tackles that likely will make this roster (Brown, Massie, Potter, Eric Winston) I’m sure the Cards will continue to look at the spot.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Daryn Colledge, Eric Winston, Levi Brown, Nate Potter, Paul Fanaika
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Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe what happened to the Cardinals Saturday night. If the Cards could have only left it at the stadium. If only a bad night for special teams or dropped passes or anything like that was the worst that happened.
But the long list of injuries the Cards had been avoiding – they only had five guys not able to play coming into the game, for goodness sake, and frankly, only Jeff King was among those guys who have a shot at the roster – came back hard. The most devastating is Jonathan Cooper’s broken leg. Here’s the guy who was drafted to jump start an offensive line resurgence. And now he could be out for the season.
There are lots of ways to look at this and we won’t know exactly what can happen with Cooper yet. There are options to put him on short-term, bring-’em-back IR if the prognosis goes the right way. But that doesn’t make it any easier to replace him. Do we get more Chilo? Do we get a Paul Fanaika-Daryn Colledge guard combo? Bruce Arians isn’t sure yet. There will be much brainstorming tomorrow, I am sure. But it hurts.
“To see a guy like that go down, a young guy trying to go out there and prove himself, that’s always hard,” Colledge said. “Especially with an offensive line that lost a lot of guys last year. We’re used to this, but it’s always hard to see a friend and a teammate go down. I know it hurts him. I know he’s probably emotionally distraught right now.”
— It can’t be easy for Cooper. It might not be easy for the Cards. MRIs are coming for all the other injuries, but the offense alone saw Cooper, Rob Housler (ankle), Andre Roberts (quad) and Rashard Mendenhall (ankle) leave the game. Scary.
— As for the game, not good. The Rashad Johnson lateral was bad. Funny, Arians actually praised the lateral linebacker Jasper Brinkley made to Patrick Peterson earlier in the game following an interception, saying it was a legitimate choice. Johnson’s lateral? “Absolutely asinine.”
Johnson knows that. He was upset after a pass interference call on teammate Jerraud Powers a couple of plays before and let his emotions ride the moment. “I just felt like we needed to make a play, which we did, instead of thinking of the situation we were in and playing smart football,” Johnson said. “Coach is always talking about ‘Cardinals beating Cardinals.’ That was a big Cardinals-beating-Cardinals play.”
— Powers was hit with three pass interference flags. He said he felt a couple of them shouldn’t have been thrown, but took responsibility for not adjusting to the way the officials were calling the game.
— Ryan Williams said he was “fine” after a pair of carries (for 10 yards) and a catch in his first preseason action of the season. I thought he looked aggressive for what little time he got. He needed to be. With Alfonso Smith coming out and looking good as Mendenhall’s backup, this running back battle is very interesting. Could the Cards keep five?
— Not a good night for the tight ends. Housler dropped a touchdown (Arians didn’t seemed all that concerned about it), while Kory Sperry and D.C. Jefferson also had drops. Jefferson’s miss ended up an interception.
— Not a ton learned in the kicking battle, since neither got much opportunity. Dan Carpenter had a field goal blocked on what looked like protection issues. Jay Feely made an extra point. Feely had both kickoffs.
— Arians wasn’t overly critical of Levi Brown’s play against Dwight Freeney because, well, it was Dwight Freeney. Nate Potter had his own issues, so it’s not like there is someone there that would step in.
— Michael Floyd made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Larry Fitzgerald’s one-handed catch to start the game was amazing. Other than that, a night to forget.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Chargers, Chilo Rachal, D.C. Jefferson, Dan Carpenter, Daryn Colledge, Dwight Freeney, Jay Feely, Jerraud Powers, Jonathan Cooper, Kory Sperry, Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Michael Floyd, Nate Potter, Paul Fanaika, Rashad Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams
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The Cardinals are getting healthier, although the main subject for Bruce Arians once again as his team starts a new week was the status of running back Ryan WIlliams. It’s only Monday, but already Arians said Williams “probably” will not play against the Chargers Saturday because of the knee. Answers are few and far between, but Arians was asked about Williams anyway.
About evaluating WIlliams, Arians said, “He needs to start playing. Can’t evaluate him unless you play.” Arians isn’t sure yet what it means for Williams’ chances at a roster spot, and there is still an opportunity for Williams to “play a bunch” against Denver in the preseason finale. That would mean Williams would actually have to come back first though.
“You can’t get these reps back,” Arians said. “He had an excellent OTAs, started with an excellent camp, running and cutting. Then just put the brakes on. You can’t get this back.” Asked if he thought it was more mental than physical with Williams, Arians said “I can’t answer that. He’s the only one who can answer that.”
UPDATE: Williams said it’s still the irritation under the “fatty pad” in his knee causing him sharp pain. He said he doesn’t even call it an injury. He also wasn’t willing to say he was nervous about his spot on the roster, mostly because he figures worrying about it wouldn’t help.
“I wouldn’t say nervous about my spot, I just don’t like taking time off,” Williams said. “But things like this happen. There was nothing more I could have done to prevent this from happening. I really not nervous, because I feel when I go out there, I’ll be able to erase the time that I’ve missed.”
Would there be enough time to convince the organization to keep him if he didn’t return until next week? “I don’t know,” Williams said. “We’ll have to see. I’d have to make a lot of big plays to erase the time that I’ve missed. I really don’t worry about things like that, because whatever is going to happen is going to happen.”
Williams added he was “pretty sure” the coaches are frustrated because he is too.
“I wouldn’t doubt that they were,” Williams said. “Can I sense it? No. If they are they are doing a good (job) of hiding it. I’m pretty sure they are, but it’s not to the point where they are mad at me. They are more mad at the situation like I am.”
— The good news is that Arians expects a handful of players to return to practice today. He didn’t name any particulars other than cornerback Javier Arenas, although he said last week he thought LB Karlos Dansby would be back on the field today. Those players may still be limited, but they will have a chance to play Saturday. TE Jeff King (knee) and WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion) remain out, although Arians said he thought King could play against San Diego.
— Backup tackles Nate Potter and Bobby Massie got extended playing time against the Cowboys because they needed extra work, Arians said, and he added he liked they way they played. They will get less work this week as the starters go longer, and while Arians said the depth chart at the position has not changed he still sees a competition not only between Massie/Eric Winston and Potter/Levi Brown but also at right guard between Daryn Colledge and Paul Fanaika.
— Colledge will get some snaps as center this week. Colledge said he has never played center in a game, but with only seven linemen that dress Sundays, having Colledge be proficient at the skill would mean the Cards wouldn’t need a specific backup center active on game days.
— Arians has mentioned a couple of times that Kerry Taylor dropped a touchdown pass against Dallas, as he did with tight end D.C. Jefferson in the first preseason game. In both cases, it looked like the pass from QB Drew Stanton was slightly off-target and would have made a grab difficult. Arians was asked if he ever thought about giving his receivers more slack. “No,” he deadpanned, before a smile crept over his face. “This is the NFL. When you get both hands on the ball, you’ve got to catch it.”
— The play of QB Carson Palmer was “average,” Arians said. “He’d probably say he was terrible,” Arians said. “He knows he can play better.”
— In the department of Ryan Lindley seems to have a good shot to stick, Arians said the third QB has done “extremely well” and his decision-making in games has been good. Lindley will get extensive time in the fourth preseason game, which will be important in his evaluation.
— Arians, asked to assess the camp of kicker Jay Feely, paused before calling it “solid.” But he said he made it clear to Feely missing a 30-yard field goal was unacceptable.
— Colledge, whose fractured leg was revealed last week by General Manager Steve Keim, said he was shaking off the rust. “A lesser man would have quit football,” Colledge quipped. As for the talk of the injury being a nerve problem and not a broken leg, Colledge said “What we tell people and what needs to be said are two different things.”
Tags: Bobby Massie, D.C. Jefferson, Daryn Colledge, Javier Arenas, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Karlos Dansby, Kerry Taylor, Nate Potter, Ryan Lindley, Ryan Williams
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Perhaps it’s a version of that age-old question: If a potential fourth receiver dresses in a different locker room, does he make
a sound the team?
Kerry Taylor spent all of last season on the Cards’ practice squad. While there have been other “unknowns” at receiver getting attention in training camp, it’s Taylor who is fourth on the depth chart and it’s Taylor who had the impressive game with four catches for 85 yards. Taylor said all the right things afterward, about continuing to work hard, but as he already mentioned, he’s noticed he’s been under the radar. But that’s in keeping with his locker room spot, which right now is in the secondary rookie room away from the main locker room.
“Larry (Fitzgerald) gives me some heat about that from time to time,” Taylor said. “ ‘What are you doing back there?’ They put me where they put me.”
Taylor did say the subjects talked about are totally different in the two locker rooms. “Up here there is grown conversation,” Taylor said. “Whereas back there, it’s like high school, with the jokes they make. It’s two totally different worlds. But it’s fun. I enjoy being back there with those guys.”
I’d guess Taylor would enjoy it even more moving back into the main room after final cuts. If he keeps making plays like he did Saturday – although he lamented only getting a couple fingers on what could have been a touchdown catch – the locker room space won’t be an issue.
— Coach Bruce Arians said there were no significant injuries. Knock on wood, the Cards have managed to escape that problem thus far in camp.
— Arians doesn’t like the “explosive plays” the Cards’ defense gave up, and that’s fair. But remember Arians said he didn’t give a “crap” about where his defense was ranked because of yardage. He doesn’t want to give up points and wanted turnovers. Well, after two games, the Cards have forced more turnovers (8) than given up points (7).
— Tony Jefferson remains a longshot to make the roster. But the practice squad may be possible. The guy makes two interceptions against the Cowboys and he made a couple in practice this week too. He also was credited with a pair of tackles for loss and a pair of passes defended.
— Rashard Mendenhall looked pretty good (32 yards on seven carries) and if he stays healthy, the Cards look like they will be OK at running back.
— Mendenhall would have had a nice fourth-down reception for a first too – if Carson Palmer hadn’t thrown a bad pass. Palmer took responsibility for the bad throw and Arians was clearly frustrated, after the perfect play call got Mendenhall wide open. Even the last two incompletions of Palmer – one to Fitz, one to Roberts – looked like they would be open, if the QB and WR had just been on the same page, instead of one zigging when the other thought about zagging.
— Rookie running back Andre Ellington made a couple of nice runs himself, including a good kickoff return. It was against the deep backups, but still, a nice debut.
— Tyrann Mathieu was credited with a team-high seven tackles, not a shock because he played more than any defender, I’d guess. One play didn’t work though – Mathieu tried to anticipate an interception, missed the ball, and Dwayne Harris took a short pass and got 16 yards out of it. “I said, ‘Hey, if you’re going to go for the pick, you better just make the tackle.’ ” Arians said, noting Mathieu had a similar error in practice this past week.
— Palmer was protected pretty well again, with only one real pressure and no sacks.
— Speaking of the offensive line, Nate Potter and Bobby Massie basically played the rest of the game after starters Levi Brown and Eric Winston left. Reps are what it’s about (and it’s hard to think there is any other tackle on the roster who is being considered.)
— Charles Hawkins was drilled pretty good fielding a punt late in the game. “Charles Hawkins will learn how to fair catch in the right instances,” Arians quipped. “It only takes one hit to learn how to fair catch, especially when you are told to fair catch before you go out there.”
— Arians did say he liked how his special teams played, and from Justin Bethel to Lorenzo Alexander to Dave Zastudil to Ellington and even Jay Feely with his 53-yard field goal (although Arians wasn’t happy with a 30-yard miss), special teams did shine.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Charles Hawkins, Cowboys, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Justin Bethel, Kerry Taylor, Lorenzo Alexander, Nate Potter, Rashard Mendenhall, Tony Jefferson, Tyrann Mathieu
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Bruce Arians continues to say the Cardinals are having close battles on the offensive line for starting jobs, including left tackle. Levi Brown played well in the opener but Arians did say he wants to see more consistency out of Brown in practice. Meanwhile, Nate Potter remains behind Brown on the depth chart, trying to see if he can find a way into the starting lineup — where he was down the stretch last season when Brown was hurt.
One of the issues with Potter has always been his weight and strength. Since the day he showed up as a seventh-round draft pick the Cardinals that’s been the goal. He’s put on 10 or 15 pounds since he got to the NFL — his target is to play around 315 — even though it’s not always easy.
“I’m one of those guys who has to keep eating to keep the weight on, because it’s easy for me to lose it,” he said.
That’s certainly something many wish were a problem for them, and Potter smiled at the notion. “Everybody is jealous when I tell them that,” Potter said. “I tell them, ‘You do it for 10 years, it’s not that great.”
At one point this offseason, there was talk of trying Potter at guard as well and expand his versatility, That didn’t materialize, and when camp started Arians made it clear he wanted Potter-Brown and Eric Winston-Bobby Massie at right tackle to stay put and battle for jobs.
Right now, Potter, 6-foot-6, said he’s around 300 pounds. Brown, for comparison, is 6-6 and 324.
Tags: Levi Brown, Nate Potter
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The Cardinals did a good job hooking up on big-chunk passes Friday night in Green Bay. That was in no small part of the pass protection. From Bruce Arians’ scheme to Steve Keim’s personnel additions to the coaching of the line from Harold Goodwin and Larry Zerlein, the Cardinals’ line did a very nice job.
To that end, I re-watched the first portion of the Cardinals’ offensive line play. As Arians noted, it seemed like the quarterbacks stayed pretty clean. After a look back on the plays in which the starting offensive linemen played – which took the Cards through both touchdowns they scored – proved Arians (and most of us watching) right. Here are the plays and how they went. The starters were, from left tackle to right tackle, Levi Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Fanaika and Eric Winston.
1st and 10, AZ 20 – Carson Palmer fades to pass, the Packers rush five. The pocket is perfect. LT Brown has no trouble dealing with Packers star Clay Matthews. Palmer hits Michael Floyd with an 18-yard throw.
3rd and 6, AZ 42 – After two runs, Palmer is the shotgun. The Packers rush four. Again, no pressure. Again, Brown deals easily with Matthews. Palmer launches a bomb to Andre Roberts. Despite no pressure, the ball is slightly underthrown and that allows the defender to catch up to Roberts. Roberts still had a chance to catch the ball.
1st and 10, AZ 1 – Brown had been called for a false start, but the Cards were so close to their own goal line after their defensive stand the penalty was officially for zero yards. Arians calls for a play-action pass. Left guard Cooper pulls to the backside, somewhat risky given the spot on the field. After the fake, the Packers end up rushing only three with two other defenders backing out quickly to guard against the short stuff. Amazingly, it is wide receiver Michael Floyd, asked to stay in for protection, who locks up with Matthews. Even better, Floyd handles Matthews to a draw. Again, Palmer has plenty of time and space. He drills a wide-open Larry Fitzgerald for a 17-yard gain.
2nd and 9, AZ 19 – After another run, the Cards run a middle screen to Fitz in the slot. The Cards allow some pressure on the four-man rush as center Sendlein and right guard Fanaika jump out immediately to try and get some second-level blocks. The Cards get a modest four yards on the play.
3rd and 5, AZ 23 – Another four man rush. Matthews tries to stunt by looping from the far right side all the way inside. The Cardinals do a good job watching him as he is passed off responsibility-wise from Brown to Cooper to Sendlein. Brown does a nice job catching defensive end B.J. Raji on the hard push after Matthews leaves his sight. Palmer throws another long pass to Floyd. It’s incomplete and it doesn’t matter anyway. Floyd is called for offensive pass interference.
1st and 10, GB 38 – Following a Patrick Peterson interception, Arians goes for the jugular. Packers rush four and bring a fifth blitzer on a delay. Tight end Rob Housler, staying in to block, is prepared for the blitzer. Brown, Cooper and Sendlein all handle their men one-on-one. There’s a late chip on Matthews by the running back to help Brown, but it didn’t matter at that point. Matthews wasn’t going to get there, and Palmer was already delivering a 38-yard touchdown pass to Roberts on his final play of the game.
2nd and 8, 50 – The Cardinals had gotten the ball back on a John Abraham strip-sack. A run on first down got two yards. With backup quarterback Drew Stanton in the game, Arians calls for a play-action pass. Cooper and Fanaika remain in the game with new center Mike Gibson, left tackle Nate Potter and right tackle Bobby Massie. Packers rush four. Cooper pulls to right to take the edge rusher, and he has trouble getting over to make much of a difference. Gibson also fails to pick up his inside rusher heading into the gap Cooper vacated at left guard. Still, Stanton steps up in the pocket slightly right had has plenty of time to fire to wide-open tight end D.C. Jefferson. Jefferson ends up dropping the pass when he is hit on a play that should have picked up another 15 yards or so.
3rd and 8, 50 – Stanton in shotgun. The Packers rush five – three up front, and bring two linebackers after a brief delay. Potter and Massie easily handle their responsibilities, and Stanton has the perfect pocket. He completes a long pass to wide receiver Charles Hawkins for a 36-yard gain.
2nd and 7, GB 11 – After a run, the Packers rush four. Massie is in trouble from the start and ends up falling down on the rush by defensive end Mike Daniels. But Fanaika manages to jump back to help get a chip on Daniels, giving Stanton enough time to step up and complete an 8-yard pass to Hawkins.
2nd and G, GB 1 – After a two-yard run, Stanton runs play-action with both teams featuring goal line packages. Pressure isn’t a variable as Stanton lofts a pass to an open Jefferson in the end zone. Not a great pass, but Jefferson also needs to find a way to make such plays.
3rd and G, GB 1 – Again, with the Packers committing to the line and surging forward with eight, Stanton takes a quick drop and renders the rush moot with a quick back-shoulder lob to receiver Jaron Brown, covered one-on-one in the end zone. Brown makes the one-yard TD catch.
Again, the run blocking will need to be improved and will also likely be aided when starter Rashard Mendenhall is on the field. But the pass protection certainly gave the Cardinals and Palmer something to be encouraged about as the season begins.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Clay Matthews, Drew Stanton, Eric Winston, Jonathan Cooper, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Gibson, Nate Potter, offensive line, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »