Here we are after the Red-White practice, the annual first real break point of training camp. From here on out — save for the bye week — the Cardinals will have a football game every week. That starts this coming Friday with the preseason opener at home against Oakland.
But first, a few thoughts and analysis after the Red-White work, which featured a lot more live play than I was expecting. It was good to see real football again. I know Andre Ellington agrees.
— Among the “stars” Saturday was wide receiver Jaron Brown, who made several nice catches — including a 25-yard TD reception from Larry Fitzgerald on the WR option pass. Brown is one of those guys who could easily be with another team making more plays than he does in Arizona. He simply has too many talented guys ahead of him.
— Ellington also looked very good as a receiver. The Cards’ passing game looked pretty sharp all around.
— Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones caused havoc up front as the practice went on. Jones continues to show he will be a great pass rusher.
— Not a great sign considering both Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians have said short-yardage improvement is a priority, but during “live” play in the middle of the field Chris Johnson was stuffed for a loss on a fourth-and-1 run.
— And in the goal line “live” drill, the first-string offense failed to score in three tries. There was an incomplete play-action pass, and then David Johnson was swamped under on two other runs. Linebacker Kevin Minter got Johnson the first time (Minter had a smile about it, as you can see in the picture), while veteran DT Red Bryant led the charge to blow up the final attempt.
— The second-unit offense was more successful in goal line, scoring twice on runs by Chris Johnson and Elijhaa Penny.
— Despite all the hitting/tackling, no one seemed to get hurt, although guard Mike Iupati did go down on a play when it looked like someone rolled up on his legs. Iupati was able to get back in after one play though, so crisis averted.
— Crowd was estimated at 25,000.
— The Cards are off Sunday, and resume practice Monday.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Chris Johnson, David Johnson, Elijhaa Penny, Jaron Brown, Kevin Minter, Mike Iupati, Red Bryant, training camp
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Larry Fitzgerald met with the media today, and while there wasn’t much news out of it — OK, really no news — the Pro Bowl wide receiver was asked about retirement in the form of whether this would be his last training camp.
“I have no idea,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t even know what I’m having for dinner. Let’s start with the basics.”
That was the extent of the conversation, which figures to be a season-long topic that can’t be answered, because I think Fitz is exactly right — he doesn’t have any idea how his future is going to play out. Not yet.
Fitz did make clear how he feels about training camp though. He’s never been a fan, and that doesn’t change.
“Training camp stinks when you are bad (as a team), training camp stinks when you’re good,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s training camp.”
A reporter asked him about the grind of camp. That was a non-starter.
“Coach doesn’t allow us to call training camp a grind,” Fitzgerald said. “He says we stay in a five-star hotel, practice indoors. So it’s not a grind.”
— Bruce Arians said there was no new injury news. DT Red Bryant (Achilles) will miss one more day, while TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) is probably out another couple of days.
— Arians is looking forward to the players finally having pads in practice, which starts today. “A lot of the mental work is done, now it’s time to get the physical part of it started,” Arians said. “Making sure we get our pad level down and start playing football.”
Tags: Jermaine Gresham, Larry Fitzgerald, Red Bryant, training camp
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The injury bug didn’t take long to find the Cardinals in camp. Veteran cornerback Mike Jenkins, signed in part because Justin Bethel was going to miss time with a linger foot injury and who is on the PUP list, broke a bone in his hand Friday and is out indefinitely for now.
Arians also revealed that the ankle sprain of rookie defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche is of the high variety, meaning Nkemdiche will be out at least a couple of weeks.
— DT Red Bryant (Achilles soreness) and TE Jermaine Gresham (hamstring tightness) also aren’t expected to practice today.
— Arians said cornerback Brandon Williams “had a hell of a day” in his first practice. “He got beat by Smoke (Brown for a TD) but he was there, just turned the wrong way and got off balance. But he broke up some good balls. Nice thing was after the touchdown he came back and competed his ass off. Some guys would go in the tank.”
— Quarterback Matt Barkley has made steady improvement, Arians said, but there are things like seeing hots and sights that aren’t good enough. “As much as he’s grown, he’s still not making the progress I’d like to see him make,” Arians said. (An aside: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cards carry two QBs on the active roster either.)
— At one point in the first practice, QB Carson Palmer got partially rolled from behind by offensive tackle Jared Veldheer. Arians admitted he held his breath after that play, and a couple others. “There was a lot of ‘phew’ yesterday,” Arians said.
Tags: Brandon Williams, Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Jermaine Gresham, Justin Bethel, Matt Barkley, Mike Jenkins, Red Bryant, Robert Nkemdiche
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The Cardinals are able to have seven healthy inactive players today for the game against the Packers, which includes a couple of guys who have not been inactive of late: DT Red Bryant and RB Kerwynn Williams. The latter is important because it signals a comfort in the health of Andre Ellington in the backfield (although David Johnson is expected to remain the workhorse.) No Williams means the Cardinals will use someone different on kickoff returns (J.J. Nelson? Brittan Golden? David Johnson again?)
Bryant’s name is somewhat of a surprise with the injury to Cory Redding — especially since Xavier Williams is still inactive. With rookie linebacker Gabe Martin active, maybe the Cards wanted someone to fill in on special teams since Kareem Martin will have to play more defensive snaps (and Jason Babin, who is active, doesn’t do that.)
The full list:
— QB Matt Barkley
— CB Corey White
— RB Kerwynn Williams
— LB Shaq Riddick
— DT Red Bryant
— T D.J. Humphries
— NT Xavier Williams
Tags: Gabe Martin, inactives, Kerwynn Williams, Packers, Red Bryant
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The first game of Russell Wilson’s career started with a loss at University of Phoenix Stadium. It was close, but the Cardinals held on as one of those wins in their mirage of a 4-0 start back in 2012. It was before anyone really knew Russell Wilson was Russell Wilson. It was also the last time the Cards beat the Seahawks at home.
The last two years haven’t been close, even though it’s been in a tremendous upgrade of the Arians era. It’s the only team the Cards have had issues with at home. The first game, Carson Palmer and the offense weren’t ready yet (and the Seahawks defense was at its peak in 2013). Last year, Ryan Lindley started and, well, you know.
We bring up this history lesson in part to understand why Arians is looking to play Sunday’s game straight. Sure, there’s a chance things will change as the game goes along, if the Panthers start to pull away (although Arians said that won’t be a factor) or if the game itself gets sideways.
But mostly, I expect Carson Palmer throwing to Floyd and Smoke and Patrick Peterson covering Doug Baldwin (mostly). Yes, there are risks. But there is still something to play for.
— Speaking of that something to play for, no, I do not expect the Buccaneers to win in Carolina. Never say never.
— The Cardinals aren’t going to get nine sacks a week – especially when Markus Golden, who quietly has had a very, very good rookie season, is sitting out – but their pass rush is rounding into form. Dwight Freeney has been impressive, clearly. But the Seahawks are without starting guard J.R. Sweezy and likely will be without starting tackle Russell Okung. There could be some opportunity to take down the slippery Wilson.
— Bruce Arians said the Cardinals will practice three days next week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Each day will be spent on different potential playoff opponents. The plus the Cardinals have is that, aside from the Redskins (whom the Cards did see in 2014), the Cardinals will have played every single other one of their possible playoff matchups in the last month – Vikings, Packers, Seahawks.
— Since the Cards beat the Seahawks earlier this season, Wilson has thrown for 21 touchdowns and only one interception.
— A bunch of potential milestones well within reach of the Cardinals going into this game.
* Larry Fitzgerald’s first catch will give him a franchise record 104 in a season.
* Palmer needs 73 yards to set a franchise record for passing yards in a season.
* Smokey Brown needs 42 yards receiving to reach 1,000 this season. (Michael Floyd needs 167 to get to 1,000 – I don’t see that happening.)
* Chandler Catanzaro needs four points to set a franchise record in a season.
— Defensive tackle Red Bryant, who played the first six years of his career in Seattle and won a Super Bowl, gets the first chance to play against his former team.
“It’s definitely going to be weird,” Bryant said. “I’m excited. I’ve got a lot of respect for them. I’m not bitter. I had six great years, accomplished a lot. Now I’m trying to help this team win. I’m not going to have a lot of emotion in terms of feeling I have to prove something. I’ll let my preparation do the talking.”
— With all of Arians’ talk about playing as normal, it doesn’t not look like first-round pick D.J. Humphries will be active for a game this season. And while Golden is down, I don’t expect to see fifth-round pick Shaq Riddick much if at all, given that Arians said Kareem Martin and even Alani Fua could see time in his spot.
— One more, and then on to the playoffs.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, John Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Markus Golden, Panthers, Red Bryant, Russell Wilson, Seahawks
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The defensive line is thin today, but the Cardinals will have safety Deone Bucannon (coming off concussion symptoms) active, as well as cornerback Patrick Peterson on defense. On offense, Ted Larsen will stay at right guard with Jonathan Cooper still out, but receiver Michael Floyd (hamstring) is playing as expected.
The defensive line will need newcomer Red Bryant to be a factor and Calais Campbell will probably be leaned on to play more than usual. The full inactive list:
— QB Matt Barkley
— LB Shaq Riddick
— G Jonathan Cooper (knee)
— T D.J. Humphries
— DT Cory Redding (ankle)
— DT Ed Stinson (groin)
— DT Frostee Rucker (ankle)
Tags: 49ers, Deone Bucannon, inactives, John Brown, Jonathan Cooper, Michael Floyd, Red Bryant, Ted Larsen
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