LS Leach, LB Walker agree to new contracts

Posted by Darren Urban on March 26, 2012 – 1:54 pm

The Cardinals continued to take care of free-agent housekeeping Monday, getting long snapper Mike Leach and linebacker Reggie Walker to agree to new three-year and two-year contracts, respectively. Both have been key players on special teams. Leach becomes the second of the three free agent specialists to return (kicker Jay Feely was back last week) and is a good component both on the field, in the locker room and in the community. Punter Dave Zastudil remains the unsigned specialist.

Walker was second on the team with 16 special-teams tackles (O’Brien Schofield had a team-best 17) and continues to be a contributor after arriving as an undrafted free agent, although he played little at linebacker most of last season.

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Some dates as the offseason commences

Posted by Darren Urban on February 6, 2012 – 11:10 am

Obviously the Cardinals have already been working on offseason business for more than a month. Such is what happens when your team doesn’t make the postseason.

But the final play of the Super Bowl officially ends the 2011 season and allows the whole league to turn the page. With that in mind — and knowing a new coach (probably for receivers, with receivers coach John McNulty sliding over to coach the quarterbacks) still will be hired sooner rather than later, here is a look at some of the key dates over the next few months:

Feb. 20 — First day teams can attach the franchise tag (That process goes through March 5. The Cards could end up using theirs on defensive end Calais Campbell.)

Feb. 22-28 — Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

March 13 — Free agency begins (2 p.m. Arizona time)

April 26-28 — NFL Draft

Usually the team’s first on-field work is the minicamp the weekend following the draft. While no dates have been announced, I don’t see why that wouldn’t stay the same this season. While we have a long time to get into free agency — more than two weeks from the end of the combine, which is much different than years past when it used to start right after the Combine ended — one thing to note is on restricted free agents. The Cards have four restricted free agents (guys who could leave but the Cards, if they tender an offer, have right of first refusal): running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, linebacker Reggie Walker, safety Rashad Johnson and cornerback Greg Toler.

There are three tender offers that can be used in the new CBA: $1.26M to receive a player’s original round pick as compensation, $1.927M for a second-round pick, and $2.742M for a first-round pick. Just a guess, but I could see Toler (originally a fourth-rounder) and Stephens-Howling (a seventh-rounder) each getting a second-round tender. Johnson (originally a third-round pick) would probably get an original-round tender. I think the Cards want Walker back but I could see them declining to tender and then signing him later.

If the player is tendered and signs with another team — and the Cards didn’t match — the Cards would receive the compensatory pick when the player left.

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Day after with Whiz

Posted by Darren Urban on September 12, 2011 – 11:41 am

Soon the locker room will open for player availability, but first, a few notes from coach Ken Whisenhunt’s day-after presser:

— No updated injury info on LB Daryl Washington (calf) or RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hand/bicep). I don’t think we are talking anything catastrophic, otherwise I think we would have gotten a hint. Does that mean both will be healthy this week? No way to know right now. Washington is getting an MRI.

— Much talk about the defensive issues (and admittedly, much easier to talk about after a win). Whisenhunt acknowledged there were too many mistakes, too much yardage, and too often guys played what they were supposed to do the wrong way. Given the lack of work under DC Ray Horton, that’s not a big surprise. Realistically, it’s going to be tough to judge them until we are a few games in to the season. It has to be better. The Cards think it will be.

— LB Stewart Bradley is still trying to make the transition (after a short offseason) from the 4-3 to the 3-4. It was interesting to hear Whisenhunt praise the play of Reggie Walker, who came in for the injured Washington. “Stewart needs more reps,” Whisenhunt said. If Washington is down, Bradley will figure into the game plan more, Whiz said. If Washington isn’t hurt, we will have to see if Bradley’s play time grows or if Paris Lenon — who continues to play well — just stays in front of him.

— Whisenhunt noted that QB Kevin Kolb still made some mistakes, like leaving the pocket too early a couple of times. But that knowledge will come with a growing trust of the offense, Whiz added. Kolb knows his mistakes as soon as he makes them, Whiz said — he infrequently has to be told what he did wrong.

— Whisenhunt said he needed to get the “clarification” on Richard Marshall’s unnecessary roughness penalty that negated an interception. I was thinking about this last night: It’s one thing to protect the quarterback, but then, when Joey Porter wraps up Cam Newton in the second half and Newton is allowed to stand (because he’s so freaking big and strong) and finally throw an incompletion, why isn’t that called down? Wouldn’t that have also protected the quarterback? It seems a contradictory thought process between the two.

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Sturdivant, Talley back on practice squad

Posted by Darren Urban on September 6, 2011 – 4:39 pm

As expected, the last two Cardinals to be released — rookie linebacker Quan Sturdivant and defensive end Ronald Talley — were brought back Tuesday and signed to the practice squad. That fills out the eight-man unit, and likely locks down the Cards’ top 61 (53-man roster plus practice squad) until after the game against Carolina.

Sturdivant is the only member of the 2011 draft class that didn’t make the team (running back Ryan Williams is on injured reserve). The Cards still have hopes he can develop, but he, out of the entire rookie class, was the hardest hit by the lockout and the inability to have an offseason with coaches. Right now, the Cards have stuck with veteran Reggie Walker as their main  a top reserve inside linebacker. (I probably should clarify. Obviously Stewart Bradley is the top reserve inside, but since I figure he will get a chunk of playing time in the rotation, I don’t see him as a reserve per se.)

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The fragility of the roster’s end

Posted by Darren Urban on September 5, 2011 – 10:34 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Friday the roster was “written in pencil.” Two days later, three new names were coming in, and two known names were moving out (because running back Chester Taylor hadn’t officially signed yet, the Cards could wait until today to clear a roster spot for him — and no, I don’t know who it is yet).

Everyone knows the top, say 47 or 48 guys who make the team are going to be around, assuming they don’t get hurt. For the most part, teams don’t want to churn too much. The guys they have are the ones they have taught all offseason. They know the system. If you have one guy who knows what he is doing and another street free agent who might just be a tad more talented, you generally will stick with the guy who knows the system.

But injuries play a factor. So too do guys who come available whom the team has had an eye on. You know when you are the guys constantly on the bubble. Going into the final preseason game, there was a lot of talk about position battles and either/or spots. Stephen Spach and Jim Dray. Quan Sturdivant and Reggie Walker. So when moves had to be made when the Cards claimed a couple of cornerbacks off waivers, it wasn’t a shock to hear Spach and Sturdivant were the ones released. Soon, we will hear who was released for Taylor, and that won’t be a shocking name either.

It’s a difficult existence. Last year, guys like Max Komar and Cyril Obiozor were the ones bouncing around (and on to the practice squad). It’s the ongoing reality for a few guys, however, that keeps the stress level up beyond just the “final” cuts.

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“Final” roster still in motion UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on September 2, 2011 – 1:52 pm

The Cards have made their cuts to get down to the required 53-man roster. Some interesting names, but nothing shocking. Punter Ben Graham was let go in favor of Dave Zastudil, and that was something that had been possible ever since last year ended. The hope was to find a guy who was more consistent in changing field position after the Cards’ offense stalled deep in their own territory.

They obviously don’t think rookie LB Quan Sturdivant is ready but didn’t want to expose him to waivers, so he is kept along with Reggie Walker. Five tight ends stay for now, making you wonder about the short-term availability of Jim Dray after Dray hurt his pectoral muscle last night. The backup center is now starting guard Rex Hadnot, meaning Ben Claxton could be let go and the team could take young offensive tackle D’Anthony Batiste as an eighth offensive lineman. And Matt Ware being cut has to bode well for Adrian Wilson’s rehab.

Regardless, I expect this roster to change. Over this weekend, maybe early next week, and again possibly after the first regular-season game. That’s not unusual, and the guys at the bottom of the roster can’t rest easy.

UPDATE: Whiz said the roster is “in pencil” and will definitely change before playing Carolina. So there’s that. Biggest surprise to make it thus far: DE Ronald Talley. The roster breakdown is like this:

  • QB – 3
  • RB – 3
  • FB – 1
  • WR – 6
  • TE – 5
  • OL – 8
  • DL – 7
  • LB – 9
  • CB – 4
  • S – 4
  • ST – 3

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Who is expiring?

Posted by Darren Urban on March 3, 2011 – 2:53 pm

Regardless of the status of the CBA, the Cardinals have a chunk of players whose contracts will expire whenever the league year ends. What that means for free agency is uncertain because the CBA will address those rules. But as an FYI, here is a list of the current Cardinals who will have their contract run out this offseason. If a player has an asterisk, he has at least four accrued seasons in the NFL:

  • FB Nehemiah Broughton
  • RB Tim Hightower
  • FB Reagan Maui’a
  • RB Jason Wright*
  • WR Max Komar
  • WR Steve Breaston*
  • WR Early Doucet
  • TE Ben Patrick
  • TE Stephen Spach
  • T D’Anthony Batiste
  • C Ben Claxton
  • G Alan Faneca*
  • T Brandon Keith
  • G Deuce Lutui*
  • C Lyle Sendlein*
  • DL Alan Branch*
  • DL Keilen Dykes
  • DE Kenny Iwebema
  • DL Bryan Robinson*
  • DT Gabe Watson*
  • LB Curtis Gatewood
  • LB Cyril Obiozor
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Michael Adams
  • CB Trumaine McBride
  • S Matt Ware*
  • P Ben Graham*

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Skelton remains starting QB

Posted by Darren Urban on December 13, 2010 – 11:56 am

First things first: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said at quarterback, the Cards will go with the guy with the best chance to win, “and right now, that’s John Skelton.” So Skelton will remain the starter, which — after Sunday — is the way it should be. Quarterback Derek Anderson still is working to be symptom-free from his concussion for 24 hours; he can’t practice until he does so. When he does return, I’d expect him to be the backup and Richard Bartel to slide to third-string.

A couple of other quick notes:

— RB Beanie Wells was so sick yesterday with a fever that Whisenhunt was impressed with how much he did play. Wells ended up taking two IVs before the game started and then just ran out of steam and had to stop. “I admire how he fought through it,” Whisenhunt said.

— If Wells had been healthy, or if LaRod Stephens-Howling hadn’t been gassed, Whisenhunt wouldn’t have put Tim Hightower — who had fumbled — back in the game. “It was out of necessity,” Whisenhunt said. “But he did what he had to do.”

— With “where we were” defensively, Whisenhunt decided the Cards needed LB Daryl Washington back in the starting lineup. Once that happened, the reserve linebacking corps came down to special teams, which is why Reggie Walker was the choice over Gerald Hayes. If Washington stays the starter — and Whisenhunt praised his play — I’d expect Hayes to continue to be inactive barring an injury.

— Whisenhunt on K Jay Feely’s Pro Bowl candidacy: “I certainly would vote for him.”

— Feely is the first player to score a touchdown and kick a field goal of at least 50 yards since Gino Cappelletti did it for the Boston Patriots on Nov. 20, 1964 versus … wait for it … Denver.

— Whisenhunt, on what he would say to those who wish the Cards would lose to secure a better draft pick: “I want to win football games. I think the most important thing for us is to play to win these games. I talked to coach Herm Edwards about that and he said, ‘Hello? You play to win.’ ”

Always easy to crack a joke after a big win.

(H/T to @burns620 for the Feely pic)

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Toler, Campbell return to lineup

Posted by Darren Urban on December 5, 2010 – 12:47 pm

Defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle) is back in the lineup today for the Cardinals, meaning he will start again and putting DT Gabe Watson back on the inactive list. Cornerback Greg Toler (foot) is also back playing, sending CB A.J. Jefferson to the sideline.

The other inactives include:

  • WR Max Komar
  • QB John Skelton
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • C Ben Claxton

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Toler, Campbell inactive

Posted by Darren Urban on November 29, 2010 – 5:10 pm

Cornerback Greg Toler (foot) and defensive end Calais Campbell (ankle) are inactive for tonight’s game, no big surprise. Michael Adams and Alan Branch will start in their place. All the other guys listed as questionable this week are active and will play.

The rest of the inactive list for tonight:

  • WR Max Komar
  • QB John Skelton
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • LB Reggie Walker
  • C Ben Claxton

The key 49ers out are T Joe Staley, reserve CB William James and K Joe Nedney.

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