Hayes, Schofield activated

Posted by Darren Urban on October 30, 2010 – 11:12 am

The Cardinals have decided to activate linebackers Gerald Hayes and rookie O’Brien Schofield off the PUP and reserve/non-football injury lists, respectively. Hayes is not a surprise, Schofield is a little — and still an amazing story given that he blew out his knee in mid-January and will now be available for more than half the season.

To make room on the roster, the Cardinals have released wide receiver Onrea Jones and linebacker Alex Hall. Neither are surprises. Jones was unnecessary given the health of the other six receivers on the roster, while Hall was always just keeping a seat warm until the Cards were sure Schofield would be able to contribute this season. Schofield is in an important spot; with the injury to Clark Haggans, Schofield will be the Cards’ lone pure reserve OLB in this game (although I am expecting the Cards to scheme up ways to work around that depth issue, including using three-safety sets and getting Adrian Wilson in the box).

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Extra wideouts and DRC’s look

Posted by Darren Urban on October 21, 2010 – 2:17 pm

Nothing changed on the injury front for the Cards today. The injury report remains the same, and nothing has changed my opinion that WR Steve Breaston will play this Sunday but it feels a lot more wait-and-see for WR Early Doucet and LB Gerald Hayes. The same goes for Doucet, by the way. “You don’t want to go back out there too soon and have a setback,” Doucet said. “We’ll take it one day at a time. (Today) felt good. I wasn’t sore after practicing (Wednesday) and I am continuing my treatment. I am doing real good compared to most people who have had the surgery.”

— Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he doesn’t know the odd receiver out yet when Doucet and Breaston are for sure back (figuring Onrea Jones probably released, and then six WRs for five active spots on game day). “It’ll depend on the plan, where we see guys fitting in. It’ll be a week-to-week thing based on how they fit. It’s a good problem to have.”

— Whisenhunt, talking about Hayes’ return off the PUP list, said he once had to do the same during his playing career six weeks in. “You can think you are ready, but the game speed is something different.”

— Whiz said “it appears that way” when asked about QB Max Hall getting comfortable with receivers he hasn’t spent much time with in Breaston and Doucet. But those guys are limited, too. “But I think back to training camp, and Max has had reps with all these guys,” Whiz added. “I don’t see it being an issue.”

— Finally, there was this sequence during a media moment with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. A reporter asked DRC if, given the crackdown on defenders for unnecessary hits, he would think twice about “administering a vicious hit.” DRC’s look to the side at the reporter was priceless, a very “are you kidding me?” stare. Personally, I stifled a chuckle. This is DRC we were talking about, with remnants of nail polish visible on his toes during the interview. DRC has played Pro Bowl football and is a good cornerback — but no one is ever going to confuse him with Adrian Wilson or Rodney Harrison.

Even DRC knows that. “Ain’t got to worry about that from me,” he said, shaking his head. Later, I wanted to clarify he was thinking the same as me. Yep. “That’s not me.”

So there’s one DB free from potential suspension.

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Thursday before the bye

Posted by Darren Urban on October 14, 2010 – 3:46 pm

There might only be one quieter day than this one in-season around here, and that will be tomorrow. But, as coach Ken Whisenhunt noted, there were a few players in to work out this morning. Included in the group was new quarterback Max Hall, who indeed was out in the early-morning sun throwing some passes. Unfortunately, most were to players he’s unlikely to throw to in a real game. Larry Fitzgerald was gone, and while Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Stephen Williams were out getting in some work running around, they weren’t in a place to do it with Hall yet. Max Komar, Onrea Jones and practice-squader Ed Gant were the targets.

(Although Doucet and Breaston did look decent jogging around and Breaston seemed like he had some proper footwork down when he briefly played “quarterback” on a handful of passes to Doucet as they were wrapping up. BTW, Breaston was killing the doughnuts in the locker room).

Doucet is hoping to be back for the Seattle game. He is clearly anxious to play again. He acknowledged it’s easy to feel good “going against air” and needs to see how he responds when there are actual defenders.

Speaking of all that, when all the receivers get healthy, the coaches have some interesting decisions to make. Fitz, Breaston and Doucet will play. You figure Andre Roberts — who flashed as a receiver as well as a punt returner against the Saints — will be the fourth. Is the fifth Komar or Williams? Komar does more on special teams, but since Doucet and Roberts both can play inside, Williams might be more needed.

There is time to talk about all this later. The flow of information — at least from me — is going to trickle to nothing soon. I’ve got a long weekend myself, and given the grind since training camp started and days off I can count on one hand in that time, I too plan to enjoy the break.

Then comes the sprint to the finish. Eleven games in which to lock down an NFC West three-peat. Should be an interesting journey, regardless.

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Fitz’s hair, the receivers and some racing

Posted by Darren Urban on September 30, 2010 – 3:11 pm

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was going over his probable wing mates in San Diego — mentioning all the rookies — when it was pointed out that’s all he has to play with him.

“There’s OJ,” Fitzgerald said, referencing Onrea Jones. Then Fitz ran with it. “Early might play this week. Steve is probable. We’re going to go with that.”

Obviously, Early Doucet and Steve Breaston aren’t playing, as both come back from surgery. But Fitz was effusive in his praise of Stephen Williams and Max Komar, talking about Komar’s “moxie.”

Of course, Fitzgerald has to worry about himself too. “I just want to double my catch performance from Sunday and I’ll be a happy man,” Fitzgerald said of his two-catch day against the Raiders. “If I can just get four, I’ll be …”

“We are 2-1 and that’s what it is all about. If we were 0-3, I might pull my hair out but I’m good right now.”

Good thing. That’s a lot of hair to yank out.

— Linebacker Paris Lenon was added to the injury report when he was held out of practice with a sore pelvis.

— Running back Beanie Wells (knee) and guard Alan Faneca (back) both returned to practice fully.

— Rookie Andre Roberts continued to field extra punts after practice at the Tempe facility once the team returned from ASU’s bubble.

— The locker room loudly exploded with racing challenges among the younger defensive backs. Twice players ran outside ready to defend their trash talk. A.J. Jefferson (re-signed to the practice squad earlier this week) won one race over Michael Adams. A second took place but I couldn’t tell who was involved. DRC was not in either race. Proven wrong again: I have been told the second race was DRC, Jefferson and Stephen Williams — and that’s the order in which they finished. I’d guess DRC is going to win most of his races. He didn’t even look like he broke a sweat when he walked in the second time.

The world awaits the true matchup, a battle first suggested by the potential combatants back at around playoff time of the Super Bowl run — DRC and Breaston. Of course, Breaston isn’t doing any racing anytime soon.

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For now, no new receivers

Posted by Darren Urban on September 28, 2010 – 8:59 pm

With the surgery and subsequent short-term shelving of Steve Breaston, the Cardinals re-signed receiver Onrea Jones and will see how their current wideout group does Sunday in San Diego before considering any other veteran additions, general manager Rod Graves said in a text message Tuesday night. The team will re-evaluate the position again after playing the Chargers, Graves added. The Cardinals feel if they can get through the next two games with the current group — Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams, Max Komar and Jones — then both Breaston and Early Doucet can likely return after the bye (which comes in three weeks after a home game against New Orleans).

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Breaston has knee surgery

Posted by Darren Urban on September 28, 2010 – 1:41 pm

Wide receiver Steve Breaston has had arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee (first reported by XTRA’s Mike Jurecki). The Cards are unsure of exactly what Breaston’s return time frame will be, but it isn’t believed to be extensive. Not to compare the surgery of Breaston and Beanie Wells — who also had a meniscus repair — but Beanie missed two games and the Cards do have a bye week after the next two games in San Diego and home against New Orleans.

Obviously, not the best news. Breaston was hobbled a bit in the locker room yesterday but that was to be expected after he was banged up in Atlanta and then played against Oakland. Apparently, it was a little more than being banged up.

With WR Early Doucet still out, that certainly thins an already-thin receiving corps. The Cards did re-sign Onrea Jones yesterday, but even with all his back and forth with the roster, he has yet to play a regular-season game. I’d guess this puts Stephen Williams as the No. 2 and Max Komar as the No. 3, and I was told Andre Roberts had a great week of practice on offense last week. That’s a lot of rookies for the trip to San Diego.

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Welcome back Onrea Jones

Posted by Darren Urban on September 27, 2010 – 3:55 pm

The Cardinals have brought back, yet again, wide receiver Onrea Jones. Jones, who has been with the Cards on and off since 2008, is a little insurance for a banged-up wide receiving corps. Early Doucet (hernia) is still out and Steve Breaston was limping around Monday with his bruised knee. If Breaston is troubled on game day, at least the Cards will have another veteran besides Larry Fitzgerald to lean upon.

To make room on the roster, the Cardinals released cornerback A.J. Jefferson. The Cards also cut running back Ian Johnson from the practice squad (so that’s a possible spot for Jefferson, I’d suspect).

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Receiving corps dwindling

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2010 – 8:26 am

I noted yesterday wide receiver Darren Mougey hurt his hand at practice yesterday. Kent Somers found out Mougey broke his hand, which obviously, sidelines him (and probably cost him any chance of sticking around). The Cards were already going to be without receivers Larry Fitzgerald (knee), Early Doucet (abdomen) and Andre Roberts (shoulder) against the Bears and now this. I wouldn’t think the Cards want to expose Steve Breaston too much given the circumstances, so it’ll be interesting how the playing time is divvied up in Chicago. Besides Breaston, the remaining healthy wideouts are Stephen Williams, Max Komar, Onrea Jones (pictured below), Ed Gant and Mike Jones.

Anyone looking for the quarterbacks to distinguish themselves through the air, by the way, should keep in mind that, besides Breaston, the remaining healthy receivers have a grand total of zero NFL regular-season receptions.

“It’s a good opportunity,” quarterback Matt Leinart said. “It is tough with the timing (of the passing game), but with Larry and Early out, we are building our chemistry as we go. This will be good for us in the long run, that’s the positive for these guys. They are making plays. It’s tough as you go along so it’s tough as a rookie when you are thrown in the mix.”

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Don’t forget Stevie B, and the depth chart

Posted by Darren Urban on August 9, 2010 – 10:23 pm

After the mini-drama of Beanie this afternoon, a fun little anecdote. Seems wide receiver Steve Breaston was talking about going against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie this morning, and for the most part, Breaston was praising DRC. Then the question came about getting frustrated going against someone like DRC. Now, Breaston is as mild-mannered and relatively ego-less as they come. But you get to this level, and he couldn’t let it go.

“I don’t get frustrated,” Breaston said. “I beat him sometimes. I ain’t gonna say that, that he locks me down. I get some. I’m not going to short myself here.”

It was noted that DRC was holding Breaston something fierce on a play during the morning practice. “It happens,” Breaston said. “We compete. Lot of people think it’s Larry and DRC out there but we have several other talented receivers, Steven Breaston being one of them.”

Breaston punctuated that statement with a huge laugh. I mentioned the fact he went all third person on us. “I did, I am sorry I went third person,” Breaston said, still smiling. “I got lost in the question. (The reporter) was all over me, I took offense. I’m sorry about that. … I get open. I’ve got to speak a little bit.” Then Breaston paused. “I was watching the Bengals yesterday, and I think that’s what happened. I was watching Chad and T.O. Got caught up in the moment.”

Just don’t forget the Cards’ weapons — Steven Breaston being one of them.

P.S. Just to see where Steven Breaston ranks on his own team, check out the newly released depth chart with the first preseason game approaching. No surprises. John Skelton is third-team QB over Max Hall. Ben Patrick is the official starting tight end. O.J. Jones remains a No. 2 receiver while camp star Stephen Williams still has to prove some things as a fourth-unit wideout. Andre Roberts is officially the top punt returner right now.

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Gant suspended four games

Posted by Darren Urban on June 21, 2010 – 3:52 pm

Well, Ed Gant’s chances to be the Cards’ fourth receiver — and even to make the team — aren’t going to be helped by Monday’s announcement that he has been suspended for the first four regular-season games because he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

The suspension means Gant can participate in training camp and the preseason, but he has to disappear for a month once the regular season starts (just like tight end Ben Patrick last year). If he has a good camp, it makes roster choices harder at the end of camp. The one good thing is Gant wouldn’t count against the 53-man roster while he is out.

Still, with O.J. Jones having a better offseason and the Cards spending a third-round pick on Andre Roberts, this isn’t great timing for Gant — as if this could ever be timed well.

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