Thanks to a new coaching staff, the Cardinals are allowed to have an extra couple weeks of offseason work. That means Tuesday, players will return for the beginning of the voluntary offseason program (azcardinals.com will have coverage). This is only Phase One of the three-phase offseason, which includes Phase Two (on-field work without helmets) and Phase Three (OTAs). There is also the mandatory minicamp in mid-June and a voluntary minicamp in just a couple of weeks — April 17-19 — which will be the first time the players will be doing football-related things on the field.
It’ll also be the first time the new coaching staff and Steve Wilks will be able to interact with players on more than just a cursory hello, because meetings can start. The heavy lifting of the offseason is still to come, but the relationship between staff and roster begins this week.
Tags: minicamp, offseason, Steve Wilks
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There wasn’t a lot of time for reflection — Steve Keim did his radio spot just about five hours after the Cardinals landed on their return trip from Carolina — and the Cardinals General Manager was not surprisingly muted after his team lost in Sunday’s NFC Championship. But Keim made clear that despite Carson Palmer’s bad game, Palmer was the man who would lead the Cards into 2016.
“There is nobody I respect and appreciate more than Carson Palmer,” Keim said during his appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7. “In a league full of teams who are looking for a quarterback, I’m certainly proud he’s our guy.”
Keim was asked directly if Palmer choked.
“I don’t think he performed particularly well but I would say that goes for a lot of our players,” Keim said. “You look at the big picture and some of our stars had a rough night. But make no mistake, we wouldn’t have been in the position we were in without Carson Palmer and his play this year.”
Keim was asked again if Palmer’s finger was a problem. “He would be the only one who can tell you that,” Keim said (and Palmer has insisted every time it has come up that it was not an issue, including again last night.)
Going forward, Keim remains bullish on his QB: “I feel strongly he will bounce back and be ready in 2016.”
— Keim’s take on the NFC Championship overall: “It’s a bitter ending and the harsh reality of the NFL … 2015 was a special year for all of us, yet at the end of the day there are 31 teams that end the season in disappointment and unfortunately we are one of them.”
— “Experiences like this only fuel me,” Keim said, noting that this game will be a lot like the 58-0 loss in Seattle did a couple of months before Keim became GM. Keim said he is flying out to Mobile soon to do work at the Senior Bowl. “I couldn’t be more excited to put this team back together.”
— Asked what the first thing is on his priority list, Keim didn’t hesitate: “Create a pass rush.” The Cardinals didn’t do that enough, either last night or most of the season, and Keim noted that when a team has to blitz a lot to do so, problems can easily happen. He acknowledged the secondary did not play well in Carolina, but added part of that was because Cam Newton had too much time to throw.
— The offseason has already started. Keim said he and coach Bruce Arians were already discussing various offseason moves on the plane ride back from Charlotte.
— Keim’s final thoughts were simply that he and the team appreciate the fan support all season, including more fans coming to road games than Keim could remember. “I apologize we let them down at the end.”
Tags: Carson Palmer, offseason, Steve Keim
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The Cardinals started their second week of OTAs today after the long weekend, a session that coach Bruce Arians said started a little slowly in mental and communication terms before the Cardinals straightened things out. Quarterback Carson Palmer continues to sit out 11-on-11 work but in 7-on-7, on a play where coverage was good, he even took off on a scramble. Now, obviously there is no contact anyway and in 7-on-7, there are really no defenders matched up with the QB anyway, but still, a scramble.
“I’ve watched him run all over this place for the last month,” Arians said. “That part doesn’t bother me at all.”
Now for a couple of offensive line tidbits, with the caveat that, in the offseason, little can be determined about the offensive or defensive line.
— Arians, for that reason, didn’t have much to say about how new guard Mike Iupati looks. “Mike’s not a soccer player,” Arians said. “He’s a physical guy and now’s not a time to be physical.”
It doesn’t mean the Cardinals don’t have high hopes for Iupati. But that’s a discussion for training camp.
— As for the battle at center between Ted Larsen and A.Q. Shipley, there is a little more to that because the center can at least snap the ball. “It’s been back and forth every day,” Arians said. “Teddy had some problems snapping the ball in shotgun the first couple of days. ‘Q’ knows the offense inside and out. It’ll be a battle until the end.”
— As for first-round pick D.J. Humphries, Arians said the tackle “needs to mature a little bit” and that his progress has been slow.
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Carson Palmer, D.J. Humphries, Mike Iupati, offseason, OTAs, Ted Larsen
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The Cardinals had the first of their 10 organized team activities of the offseason this morning. Coach Bruce Arians called it crisp and noted the work got done quickly enough that the team ended early. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked good in limited work — more on Palmer’s drive to get back on the field in a bit when I have a story on the homepage — and Arians said there is a chance that Palmer could be back for even more reps (regular reps?) by the time the Cards reach their minicamp in mid-June. I’ll admit, when they said that once upon a time I was thinking it was much too optimistic, but clearly, Palmer has a good chance to prove me wrong.
Some other quick notes/thoughts from the first OTA:
— The draft class is doing work on Field 2 during 11-on-11 (except for OLB Shaq Riddick, who tweaked his hamstring last week.) D.J. Humphries is the third-string left tackle for now, a long way from usurping Bobby Massie. Arians said the rookies have a lot of work to do to get on Field 1, although it could happen as we go. (This is the first of the draft classes from Keim/Arians that I can remember all the draftees on Field 2. Usually someone is working on the main field.)
— Arians praised everyone’s conditioning but he particularly noted the good shape of guard Jonathan Cooper and wide receiver Michael Floyd.
— Speaking of Cooper, Arians was asked if Cooper was better at knowing when to “gut it out” and play. Arians said it’s tough to gut it out when you are simply injured as Cooper had been, including his broken leg. “You can’t gut out broken bones, unless you’re Jack Youngblood,” Arians said. “Then the coach gets sued these days. Back then, it was cool.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, D.J. Humphries, Jonathan Cooper, Kareem Martin, Matt Shaughnessy, Michael Floyd, offseason
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The rehab of the quarterbacks are going to be a main storyline for the Cardinals this offseason and well they should — for all the injuries the team suffered last season, it was the quarterbacks going down that were at the core of the team’s late struggles. Starter Carson Palmer continues his rehab from a torn ACL and that will likely be taken slowly during the offseason. He needs to be ready for training camp. But backup Drew Stanton was in a good mood Tuesday talking about coming back from his knee injury.
“I’m getting to the point where I am feeling really confident in my knee,” Stanton said, emphasizing he has “no limitations” in terms of football heading into workouts. He will not be wearing a knee brace.
Stanton did say he and the Cardinals have set up a plan for offseason conditioning work that will allow Stanton to “be smart” and cut down on some of the pounding the knee might normally take. But that’s about preventative maintenance as the Cards try hard to make sure their quarterbacks stay healthy this time around.
— One other quick note with the Cards in their second day of strength and conditioning work. As always, the only work that is mandatory in the offseason is the minicamp in mid-June. This is all voluntary. While it wasn’t possible to do a roster checklist this morning, I can’t think of any player of note that wasn’t here today.
Tags: Drew Stanton, offseason, voluntary workouts
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One of the things that frustrates Bruce Arians is the inability to talk football with players during certain parts of the offseason. It’s reality, though, under the current collective bargaining agreement. Today, those shackles come off.
The players have returned to begin Phase I of the offseason work. (It’s voluntary, don’t forget, although one player here was Patrick Peterson, as you can see below.) The big part of that is the strength and conditioning program, but it also includes meetings. Players can be around for four hours total (90 minutes on the field) so Arians and his coaches can finally start discussing the playbook. The new free agents can start getting the information about their duties. New defensive coordinator James Bettcher can start explaining his system and its tweaks from what Todd Bowles did.
The 2015 is here.
— The full NFL schedule will be released at 5 p.m. Arizona time on Tuesday.
— Meanwhile, the return of the players isn’t the biggest news of the day here at the team facility. There is a 1 p.m. press conference with Adrian Wilson, team president Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim. No official word on what it’s about.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bruce Arians, James Bettcher, NFL schedule, offseason
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The players will be returning a week from today to begin the strength and conditioning program. While it is voluntary, I’m sure it will be well attended as guys stream back for the offseason. The workouts start Monday, with Phase 2 — which allows players to get back on the field with a ball — May 4 and then Phase 3 — which is OTAs and minicamp — beginning May 19.
And it looks like the work will take place in the team’s new weight room, too.
As the construction upgrades on the team’s Tempe facility begin to wind toward completion, workers began moving the weight equipment from the practice bubble — where it has been since right after the Super Bowl — into the team’s new and much more spacious weight room. Strength and conditioning coaches Buddy Morris, Roger Kingdom and Anthony Piroli were down there today (pictured below) discussing the new layout while that part of the rehab is finishing up. It all should be in place when work starts Monday. The new locker rooms remain work-in-progress, so players will continue to use their temporary lockers in the bubble for now.
Tags: Buddy Morris, offseason, Roger Kingdom, voluntary workouts
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When the strength and conditioning program begins for the Cardinals (and around most of the league) April 20, the tendency is to wonder, “Who isn’t there?” Then becomes the rash of “Remember, it’s only voluntary” answers.
(The teams with new head coaches can begin sooner.)
As the years have gone on and teams have hoped that their players would show up to such voluntary work, many contracts have been drawn up with workout bonuses attached. For a pretty good chunk of change, the players just have to come to a high percentage of the voluntary workout dates. The Cardinals are no different.
A list of the players on the active roster that have workout bonuses. (NT Alameda Ta’amu has a workout-like bonus, but that money is tied to making weight, not just showing up to work):
P Dave Zastudil $270,000
DE Calais Campbell $250,000
QB Drew Stanton $250,000
LB Sean Weatherspoon $250,000
S Rashad Johnson $150,000
DT Corey Peters $150,000
LB Matt Shaughnessy $125,000
CB Patrick Peterson $100,000
LB Lorenzo Alexander $100,000
S Tyrann Mathieu $50,000
C/G A.Q. Shipley $25,000
C/G Ted Larsen $25,000
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Calais Campbell, Corey Peters, Dave Zastudil, Drew Stanton, Lorenzo Alexander, Matt Shaughnessy, offseason, Patrick Peterson, Rashad Johnson, Sean Weatherspoon, Ted Larsen, Tyrann Mathieu
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It’s a holiday. Kind of. And not Cinco de Mayo, but instead that day in the offseason when the players officially return to the field for football. It’s called Phase 2 in the parlance of the collective bargaining agreement. The rules are simple: Coaches can finally talk to players on the field. Offense can work with offense, defense with defense. No mixing. No helmets. The hour allowed on the field looks a lot like the first chunk of a regular practice, with individual drills and walkthrough-type situations with each unit.
There will be two weeks of this before organized team activities — the ones with the helmets and portions that are offense versus defense — begin May 20. Had the draft happened 10 days ago as usual, the rookies could have been out here but instead, they must wait. It also remains a voluntary situation, so while there was good participation, some players were not here. Interestingly — and not surprisingly — it was Paul Fanaika at first-unit right guard and Bradley Sowell at first-team right tackle to open things up.
We’ll have a photo gallery and a video up later today.
Tags: Bradley Sowell, CBA, offseason, OTAs, Paul Fanaika
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First, the facts: The NFL has made no decision about when the 2015 draft will take place. They have made that clear. But there has been plenty of speculation that the league has embraced the idea of a May draft instead of late April, in order to spread NFL news out even further across the calendar. This morning, it was floated the notion that maybe, just maybe the NFL would actually push the draft back another week next year, to mid-May.
The NFL is going to do what it is going to do. I’m not a big fan of a later draft, mostly because I’m not a big fan of the incessant pre-draft analysis even in the years before a late April selection. It seems like it’s going on forever this year (and we still have a week to go) and another week, well, you get the idea. More importantly, you wonder what it means to have these rookies essentially lose two weeks of transition time. Or three weeks if it moves another week later. As it is, the Cardinals’ draftees will arrive one week before OTAs start. That’s one week to kind of digest the playbook before going on the field with veterans. Do I expect Bruce Arians to again split the work into two groups much of the time? Yes. But less time for the rookies isn’t a good thing.
(Of course, it affects every team equally, so …)
You wonder if at some point it pushes the Cards’ summer work later too. Arians is keenly aware of getting his staff enough down time before training camp opens. Even though everything is a little later this year, the Cards’ final minicamp day is actually a week earlier than last offseason, giving the coaches a solid month-plus off before the grind really ramps up.
The Cardinals have been sensitive to how the later draft can impact their work in the draft room too. “What you have to watch out for now is not to overanalyze,” Arians said. “You have a grade on a guy, you go back and watch him, you try to find out some more stuff, and pretty soon there won’t be anybody worth drafting. You won’t like anybody. Fall in love with them and take them.”
Frankly, that paralysis-by-analysis has always been a pitfall even before the draft came later. There will never be any way to know how the date change impacts the picks and realistically, teams will adjust. They always do.
Tags: Bruce Arians, draft, offseason
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