There has been a ton of roster movement for all four teams in the NFC West this offseason, and it was hard not to notice the most recent by the odds-on division favorite L.A. Rams. They signed Ndamukong Suh to add to Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers as an incredibly formidable defensive line. It does not bode well for the rest of the division, including — obviously — the Cardinals.
“I commend the Rams for what they are doing,” Cardinals coach Steve Wilks said Tuesday at the NFL owners’ meetings. “You know how they are on offense already with (Todd) Gurley and (jared) Goff, and they are trying to shore up that defense. It’s going to be a very competitive year in the west with some difficult games in the division. But the biggest thing we will do, we are always going to keep the focus on us. That’s the most important thing.”
Wilks is still in the middle of getting together his initial roster. The draft hasn’t even occurred. To be clear, at some point, the focus will be on the Rams — or Seahawks, or 49ers — when those teams come up (twice) on the schedule. The Cardinals were already trying to upgrade the offensive line, so it’s not like a new Rams’ defensive line is changing that thought process. Wilks still hasn’t gotten a chance to fully outline his philosophy and culture with the players (that comes next week when the players return for the start of the offseason program), so there is still a lot to do before getting to opponents, division or not.
Tags: Ndamukong Suh, NFC West, Rams, Steve Wilks
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It’s easy to think of the Lions and wide receiver Calvin Johnson and get locked in on him, but Bruce Arians tried to zoom out a bit when talking Wednesday about the Cardinals’ Sunday opponent.
“Everybody that they have is capable of beating you,” Arians said. “You can’t just look at one guy.”
Of course, Johnson is the guy people think of first. Patrick Peterson will not cover Johnson one-on-one all the time, Arians said, but he will do it some. That will likely work for Peterson, who cherishes these matchups (Peterson was not available during the media session today, so we’ll have more on this tomorrow.) Arians smiled with that assessment of Peterson, though. “You have to watch what you wish for sometimes,” Arians said.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz did say, if officials hadn’t overturned two touchdowns in the opener, Johnson would have come out much better than his four-catch-for-37-yard day. “If he has those two, it’s a Megatron game.”
— The ability of Detroit DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will mean the pressure this week will be on the Cardinals’ interior line of Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein and Paul Fanaika, as opposed to the pressure the tackles were under in St. Louis, Arians said.
— This from Arians, which was important to note: He said newcomer tackle Bradley Sowell can play both sides. But he said Bobby Massie cannot play left tackle — which would be a reason, for all of you who have asked, why he has not been tried there. Arians did say he thinks Massie “has all the talent in the world.”
— Arians, asked for his evaluation of Suh’s reputation as a dirty football player, said he only thing he goes off of is the video. “When I watch tape I see a great football player,” Arians said. “All the rest of the stuff, I don’t have to deal with.”
— Arians said the only player sitting out of practice was tight end Rob Housler, whom Arians already said would probably miss the Detroit game. Some players will be limited today. We will see the official injury report later today.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Calvin Johnson, Daryn Colledge, Lions, Lyle Sendlein, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson, Paul Fanaika, Rob Housler
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Sunday, the Cardinals have a chance to fully wipe away last weekend’s loss in Seattle. But that’s all it was, a loss, and given the tragic events in Connecticut today, it’s difficult to get worked up over it as any more than that. The Lions come to town also as a 4-9 team, and this is one – if the Cardinals are going to get one – to get. Ryan Lindley will be back at QB, and if he can play more like the guy in the first 30 minutes of his lone start at University of Phoenix Stadium and not the last 30 minutes, the Cards should have a chance. I definitely don’t see the defense melting down again.
— It’s amazing, and I know it’s because of the quarterback situation, but there has been very little discussion about the Cards’ offensive line in recent weeks. The unit is far from perfect, but rookie tackles Bobby Massie and Nate Potter have been doing well enough. Coach Ken Whisenhunt wouldn’t disclose who the new starting center will be Sunday – “I think we need every little element of surprise that we can get. We can certainly use it,” Whisenunt said – but we’ll see if that group can hold up.
— As for needing a new center, “there’s continuity with the quarterback and the snaps and that’s something you can’t always simulate or get in practice,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve struggled with that a little bit the last couple of games with adjusting to (now injured) Rich (Ohrnberger). Then just when he starts to get comfortable and you feel good about that, he goes out.”
— The Lions have a good defensive line, although with DT Nick Fairley doubtful and unlikely to play, the Cardinals catch the break. They still have ends Cliff Avril and nearing-the-end Kyle Vanden Bosch, the one-time Cardinal. They have defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who can be dominant at times. It will be a good test for the Cards’ line.
— On the flip side, the Lions’ secondary isn’t stellar. If Larry Fitzgerald is going to be anything more than a leader for this team and actually contribute to the offense on the field, Lindley hopefully can make that happen this week.
— Speaking of Fitz, I’m not sure acting is in his future.
— He turned 91 today, so former Cardinals star back Charley Trippi can’t help on the field, but he will be at UoP Sunday so the team can celebrate his career and his place in the Ring of Honor. If you don’t know about Trippi, check out Josh Weinfuss’ great story.
— FYI, the security screening locations will be opening early (10:45 a.m.) for both the Detroit and Chicago games, with portable food and beverage stands open on the plaza for those that get there early. Actual stadium access for non-premium seat holders remains the same (90 minutes before kickoff).
— There is a toy drive at the game. Bring unwrapped toys and donations to any stadium entrance to help needy children at this time of year.
— Speaking of good stories, all the state high school championship football teams will be honored Sunday, including Queen Creek High School. If you haven’t heard, the Queen Creek team befriended a very special girl this season, and she too will be at the festivities. Check out the story – although it might get a little dusty wherever you are.
— Because people want to know, here is an early list of offensive free agents-to-be. Chew on that if you’d like.
— Finally, I just want to send thoughts and prayers to those affected in the Connecticut shootings. It’s been tough making sense of writing about football today given what happened, especially when I think of my own kids and my wife – who is a teacher – and worrying about what could happen to them.
Just remember there are bigger things when we sit here and talk about football losses or bad play or whether someone should be fired. I’m not saying you can’t say that. This is a site about the Cardinals and that’s what we all talk about. I’m just asking to be civil when talking about it, when addressing others, when criticizing players, coaches or management. We are all just people — fans, me, guys on the team — trying to get along here. The vitriol isn’t necessary to get the point across. If it’s frustrating you that much, imagine what some back East are going through this weekend.
That’s it. I’m climbing off the soapbox. On to Sunday.
Tags: Bobby Massie, Charley Trippi, Ken Whisenhunt, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Larry Fitzgerald, Lions, Nate Potter, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, Seahawks
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Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who was named a Pro Bowl alternate last month, is headed to the game. He’ll replace Minnesota’s Kevin Williams (who had already replaced Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh) and join teammate Adrian Wilson in Hawaii (plus, if the Packers beat the Bears in the NFC Championship, Larry Fitzgerald is expected to replace Green Bay’s Greg Jennings for the Pro Bowl, since Jennings will obviously have other things to do next week.
This is Dockett’s third Pro Bowl.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, Greg Jennings, Kevin Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Ndamukong Suh, Pro Bowl
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I tried to track down some video of Darnell Dockett during his various stints on ESPN on Friday, but alas, I was informed those things only remained on the network’s servers for 24 hours, so unless you TiVoed it, you’re out of luck (and that includes me, actually). I am sure it was epic. It had to be if Darnell remained in the flow of the chat he gave on ESPN.com during his “carwash” (Thanks to KTAR’s Dave Burns for informing me of that term, used to describe bouncing around to multiple shows in one day).
Dockett was at his quip-worthy best, whether talking about his contract extension (“I’m waiting like Rip Van Winkle”) or his workouts (“As intense as the hot dog eating contest July 4”). Then he closed with this mini-monologue: “Please don’t judge me. I love you all. One day Jim Rome will let me on his show. Until then, I’m going to play basketball in Connecticut on ESPN. My crush for Oprah Winfrey still exists. We are now in the process of going through relationship counseling. I look forward to having a successful season trying to win our third straight NFC West title.”
In the meantime, Sporting News, in an edition talking about the best athletes under 25 years old, also put together an NFL under-25 team. Two Cardinals made the list: Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and defensive end Calais Campbell. Both picks are appropriate — I expect both to have big years. One thing struck me as strange, though. While I get that rookie Ndamukong Suh is a defensive tackle (he is universally expected to be an NFL success), I am surprised 49ers rookie guard Mike Iupati made the list. Iupati may be good, but there are no other young guards in the league that have already played that couldn’t beat out someone who hasn’t played a down yet?
Good to see Kerry Rhodes has made it up to Fitz’s camp in Minnesota. The two went back and forth on who would “win” one-on-one drills; Rhodes dropped this tweet today: “So to all the haters me and @Lfitzgerald11 first 1 on 1 match up went in favor of me! I’m 1 and 0! And workouts were great!”
Then again, Dockett — who zinged Rhodes recently about making sure he’s working hard — isn’t letting up on his new teammate: “@kerryrhodes -much luv I just want u to bring it! That’s all and We boys but if u don’t bring it, It will be my honor to whip yo ass!! Ok?” Responded Rhodes, “@ddockett so am I and that’s why I was elected captain b4 I would think and all pro and that’s what I’m getting back to. U?”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, DRC, Kerry Rhodes, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Iupati, Ndamukong Suh
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Ken Whisenhunt admits it. If Sam Bradford is there as the 26th pick overall, the Cardinals will draft him.
OK, so it isn’t going on a limb. Bradford isn’t making it out of the top three, and at this point, it’ll be an upset if he isn’t selected No. 1 by fellow NFC West tenant St. Louis. But the Cards are, not surprisingly, going to look and see if they can find a quarterback somewhere in the draft. That’s something the Cardinals’ coach acknowledged the team has considered the last couple of years. Whisenhunt also admitted figuring out if a quarterback will truly fit and succeed is one of the toughest jobs for a team. Any team.
“Sometimes it’s the scheme, sometimes it’s the talent around the quarterback,” Whisenhunt said. “I think early in a quarterback’s career there are a lot of things that can determine where his career is going to go. If he has a strong team around him, he can turn into something good. There are quarterbacks who are high picks coming out and don’t have a good team around them and they take a beating and they never seem to recover. There are a number of factors involved.
“There are things important to us that we have learned over the years – technique, drops, how they throw the ball, knowledge of the game, how they do reads, the things that would make them successful. But once again, we never know how they are going to react to the stress of this level.”
That’s why quarterbacks like Bradford end up going No. 1 overall because teams can’t afford to pass on them when they are franchise quarterback-less.
In other breaking news, Whisenhunt said if defensive tackle studs Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy is sitting there at No. 26, the Cards would be willing to select them. Offensive tackle Russell Okung too. I’m sure you’re stunned at such information.
Three other quick draft related points:
— General manager Rod Graves, acknowledging it is a personal preference, said unless there is an exception player on the board like a left tackle, he prefers to stay away from drafting an offensive lineman in the first round. I always thought the Cards would go defense in the first round anyway, but anyone mock drafting the Cards will take a tackle or someone like guard Mike Iupati is probably off-base;
— Whisenhunt said the team will obviously be looking for defensive depth but he feels the defense is helped by some of the offseason moves, notably linebacker Joey Porter’s signing. “It helps when you get a guy like Joey, who you feel brings a lot to the table not only as a player but as a guy who can help with the mentality of your team,” Whisenhunt said. “To me, that was something as a team we needed to improve on. We did at times and other times we didn’t.”
That said, the Cards’ braintrust sure sound like defense will be an important factor in the draft. Whisenhunt stressed they won’t pass up an important offensive piece they can use if such a player were highly rated just to reach for a defender, but I think defense will be the focus.
— Speaking of defense, Whisenhunt disputed the idea there weren’t a lot of quality inside linebackers, noting that the lack of inside guys projected for the first round may be more a result of the draft’s overall talent, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
Don’t forget, live chat with yours truly tomorrow (here’s the link), 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST).
Tags: draft, Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh, Rams, Russell Okung, Sam Bradford
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“Dear Ndamukong Suh I know u might be the 1st pick but can u whine like eli manning and go to another team like the cardinals”
“If u wait till we pic ill make sure u with us, me and u will dominate together something serious, thx NINE-0 –please fwd to SUH”
I’m not sure Suh would fall all the way to No. 26, but Dockett is at least efforting.
Tags: Darnell Dockett, draft, Ndamukong Suh
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