With QBs hurting, Cards going after help UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2011 – 11:07 am

Quarterback John Skelton sprained his ankle in the Green Bay game and missed practice yesterday, while Max Hall had to come out after getting tripped up on a scramble and landing on his left shoulder. Down to two healthy QBs in Kevin Kolb and Rich Bartel, it’s no surprise to see Kent Somers’ Tweet that the Cards will sign former Chiefs QB Brodie Croyle.

— UPDATE: Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Hall has a subluxed left shoulder, the same injury — and same shoulder — that sidelined Hall at the end of last season. It’s a type of slight dislocation. The Cards will have to get someone, but they are “exploring options.” Whisenhunt said he couldn’t say if the replacement would be Croyle. The good news is that if the shoulder problem is chronic — and again, it’s the same shoulder as last year — Hall may only need a few days to recover depending on the pain tolerance. Whiz said Hall will  be further evaluated to find out his return timetable. Skelton looks like he has a high-ankle sprain, so it seems like it will be tough for him to play Saturday.

Wide receiver Early Doucet, by the way, is the emergency quarterback.

At this point, nothing is official. I don’t know what the extent of Hall’s injury is right now. But for those asking, I’d still expect Bartel and Skelton to back up Kolb this season, unless Croyle — or whomever the Cards might sign — is fantastic. The other two guys have been in the system, a new quarterback is playing heavy catch-up, and the only reason he would be here is because of injuries and not because they were looking to add a QB. Croyle could be an option because he played in Todd Haley’s system, which is similar to Whisenhunt’s, for obvious reasons.

Croyle has played in 18 games over five NFL seasons, throwing eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He was 8-for-19 for 38 yards in two appearances for the Chiefs last season.

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Fitzgerald avoids “future” talk

Posted by Darren Urban on February 3, 2011 – 2:38 pm

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald just did an interview with Mike Jurecki and Dan Bickley on XTRA 910 out at the Super Bowl. Since it’s a local show — and both have long-standing relationships with Fitz — who better than to ask him about both his contract situation and his future with the Cardinals?

Yeah, exactly. Fitz was having none of it. When it was suggested he use his leverage to force the Cards to improve, Fitzgerald said “I hate that word, leverage … I’ll be a diva then.”

As I have found myself, Fitz will never be rude about it, but he can’t get away from such questions fast enough. I don’t blame him. The only realistic answer right now is that he probably has to keep his options open, given where the Cardinals’ roster sits, the labor uncertainty and, in a direct impact of Fitz, the situation at quarterback. But where’s the upside in Fitz (who is headed to Israel and Turkey on vacation next week) saying that? I’m guessing he sees none.

Q: People have been writing … (they don’t) think you’re going to be in Arizona. It’ll be tough to keep you.

Fitz: “Naw. You can’t believe rumors like that.”

Q: You have made it clear you want to be on a winning team. This offseason is important for this organization … it’s important you let them know you’re not a guy who tolerates losing.

Fitz: “I’ve been in the playoffs the last two years … We are getting used to something there. To go backwards isn’t something any of us want. We wall want to move in the right direction. I know Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt, it’s been a tough year for him, it’s been a tough year for all of us. We want to get this thing back on the right track.”

Q: What is some of the criteria though to get better …

Fitz: (interrupting): “I’m not a diva like that. It’s not about what I want.”

Q: But you have to have personal goals, things you want to achieve, and if you don’t have the quarterback, it’ll be hard to do, so what are the criteria (you need) …

Fitz: “I’m not setting criteria. I think there are a couple of positions we need to upgrade, we need to continue to improve and add more pieces to the puzzle, and that’s all I’m going to say on that. I’m not trying to call out anybody, I’m not trying to ruffle any feathers. I’m not the GM or the coach. I’m just a guy out there catching passes occasionally.”

Q: Are they (the team) tapping into your perspective with the quarterback situation?

Fitz: “Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable doing that. As a player, there’s a fine line. I love my franchise and I love my coaching staff, but I am still a player at the end of the day. Max Hall is a good friend of mine. John Skelton is a good friend of mine. I really enjoy Rich Bartel. For me to say I want someone to come in and take their job, that’s not right of me.”

Q: Have the Cardinals made you a new contract offer?

Fitz: “What do you mean?”

Q: A contract offer.

Fitz: “We’re discussing some different options … There is dialogue, yes.”

There was a follow-up about whether Fitz would consider talking about a contract into the season if something wasn’t done by say, Aug. 1, and Fitz did a nice job diverting that into the worry about a work stoppage that could eat into the season. He never did answer the original question. He mentioned he wants to bring his fellow wideouts to Minnesota — Steve Breaston, Stephen Williams, Andre Roberts, Max Komar, Early Doucet — if there is a work stoppage to keep them all moving in the right direction.

Here was one line that stood out to me from Fitz: “I don’t want to waste another year.”

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Porter not done, Anderson returns, a sellout

Posted by Darren Urban on December 22, 2010 – 2:11 pm

Turns out LB Joey Porter’s triceps injury is a strain and not a full tear as coach Ken Whisenhunt first feared. So Porter will rehab. He was out Wednesday and frankly, I will be surprised if he can make it back for Saturday, but the finale, perhaps. Whisenhunt said Porter already is feeling better, so who knows. LB O’Brien Schofield would get the chance to start in Porter’s place, an amazing turn of events considering where Schofield was earlier this season rehabbing from knee surgery. RB LaRod Stephens-Howling did pull a hamstring and sat Wednesday. Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure The Hyphen will be back for Saturday either, but he’s not being ruled out.

Quarterback Derek Anderson was finally back on a limited basis, but Whisenhunt wouldn’t declare him the No. 2 before seeing how practice goes this week. Even if Anderson is healthy, I won’t be surprised if they keep Rich Bartel as the No. 2, so if a change has to be made, they can take a look at Bartel.

The game Saturday, by the way, is officially a sellout. It will be televised on NFL Network and, locally, also over the air on KUTP MY45/Ch. 9.

Finally — and I will flesh this out in my notes on the homepage in a bit — QB John Skelton won Valley fans over quickly by declaring that, even though he is from Texas, he has always rooted against the Cowboys. Maybe he was born to be a Cardinal.

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Panthers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on December 19, 2010 – 6:50 pm

That high the Cardinals were on last week after beating up the Broncos? Gone today. In a season that has already been disappointing, to lose to a team with just one win hurts a lot. Plus, the Cards head into a short week and have to play a team Christmas night that has found its groove in the Dallas Cowboys.

It was tough not to notice the growing pains of quarterback John Skelton Sunday. The offense simply doesn’t have consistency – which was brought up time and again – and struggles to score touchdowns. “It’s just getting old,” Larry Fitzgerald said.

— The Cards actually seemed to do a good job putting themselves in manageable third downs, especially early. The Cards’ third down-to-go yardage in the first half: 4, 4, 3, 3 (after a five-yard penalty), 3, 4, 4, 4, 10, 5. Unfortunately, the Cardinals converted only four of those 10 plays (and one was the third-and-10.

“One of the things we’ve been battling is third downs and a lot of that is because we’ve had third and long,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We did a better job of getting into the third and (short) section.  We had good plays there and we didn’t execute.  We had guys open.  Part of that is a young quarterback and going through his reads on those things.  He’ll get better at that as he progresses.”

— Skelton was matter-of-fact about his day and his errors. He knows he is still learning. On his interception – a bad choice – he said “those are plays that at a lower level you can get away with but you come here and they’re going to make plays on defense. You know even though the plays might have gone the wrong place with the ball and they’re drops or incompletion or whatever, they are still plays I need to make.”

— One final note on Skelton: It was funny to see this quote from Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen about Skelton: “That’s what I told him after the game. I said, ‘Everything will slow down for you. Just give it some time. Just keep working.’ I was in that situation before. He’s going to be a heck of a player.” Nice words, but considering Skelton actually had an NFL win before Clausen did – Sunday was Clausen’s first – and considering Clausen is just as green, it just struck me as odd.

— In terms of the quarterback situation going forward, wanted to note that Rich Bartel signed a two-year contract. Does that mean he’ll be around in 2011? Not necessarily. But he will be around in the offseason as the Cards try to figure out how they are putting together the QB puzzle for next season.

— The Cardinals used four down linemen quite a bit to battle the Panthers’ running game. It worked at times, although early on, missed tackles didn’t help the defense much. The Cards sold out to stop the run most of the day; that’s what happened on the Panthers’ lone TD when Adrian Wilson was caught on play-action and couldn’t recover to cover tight end Jeff King.

— Drops hurt the Cards again early. TE Stephen Spach, RB Beanie Wells and WR Early Doucet each had passes they couldn’t come up with (a screen to Tim Hightower, in my opinion, was a little too hard in a tight space to be considered a drop) as the Cards had those issues. Again, it might not be more than the past, but when you have trouble moving the ball, those mistakes are magnified.

“I said to our team last night, watching the Thursday Night game, early in that game they put a ball up and their player comes down with and scores a touchdown,” Whisenhunt said. “That kind of got them going and kind of set the table for San Diego.  I said that is what has got to happen for us. We have to have some guys step up and make a play for us.  We didn’t make any plays until late in the game.”

— The final defensive stats are always iffy, since coaches go back and tweak them for every team. But defensive end Calais Campbell had his best game of the season. He was credited with 11 tackles, a sack and four tackles for loss.

— Whisenhunt said he isn’t worried about losing the players or having them shut it down despite the record. “I haven’t seen it,” Whisenhunt said. And wide receiver Steve Breaston said you couldn’t think that way anyway. “You can’t cancel the season in the middle,” Breaston said.

Nope, you can’t. Fourteen down, two to go.

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Anderson remains inactive

Posted by Darren Urban on December 19, 2010 – 9:30 am

Quarterback Derek Anderson (concussion) remains sidelined today, meaning the Cards will have just two QBs: Starter John Skelton and Richard Bartel. The rest of the inactive list looks familiar, including veteran linebacker Gerald Hayes on the bench:

  • WR Max Komar
  • CB A.J. Jefferson
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • CB Marshay Green
  • C Ben Claxton
  • DT Gabe Watson

For the Panthers, cornerback Chris Gamble, who has fallen out of favor with coach John Fox, is inactive.

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Friday before the Panthers

Posted by Darren Urban on December 17, 2010 – 5:05 pm

We’re in the air on the way to Carolina for this edition of “Friday before.” Derek Anderson missed a second straight week of practices, so – barring something unforeseen – the Cardinals will have two QBs Sunday: John Skelton, and backup Richard Bartel.

So that leaves who as an emergency quarterback?

Coach Ken Whisenhunt hasn’t said. Maybe he’d rather not jinx it. But looking at the guys who could, wide receiver Early Doucet – who has played the spot from the wildcat position once or twice – seems like the guy.

“I think so,” Doucet said.

And what does he think about that? Like most non-quarterbacks, the idea of playing the spot in the NFL does bring a smile to his face.

“Obviously you want everyone to stay healthy but if that opportunity did present itself, I am confident enough and played the position all through high school and a couple times in college, so I don’t think it’d be something completely new,” Doucet said. “It would be fun, but at the same time I’d rather have the quarterbacks stay healthy.”

I think it’s safe to say the rest of the Cardinals are thinking the same.

— Speaking of quarterbacks …

I’m going to write on Donovan McNabb because, well, I have to. The news came down that not only is McNabb not starting for Washington, he’s not even the backup. Yikes. So obviously, he’s not going to be in Washington next season (unless the Redskins want to take this mess into 2011, which I can’t see why).

So everyone – again – wants to see him in Arizona. They try to connect the dots out there around the NFL. Here’s my non-Twitter take: It won’t happen. Will I say that 100 percent? No. The veteran list out there this offseason is very, very thin. The Cards still need one. But I will repeat what I have said many times: For the Cards to get him, it means two teams will have given up on McNabb in one year. If that isn’t a red flag, I’m not sure what is. The Cards haven’t had interest in chasing him before, and I don’t think that will change.

— It’s been quite the week for kicker Jay Feely, and deservedly so. Yet, as a kicker, he still was taking some good-natured shots this week. Why, I ask. Why? Here was Larry Fitzgerald talking about getting the offense going a little more: “We love for Jay Feely to get points but we need some touchdowns this week.” Then there was Panthers coach John Fox, who was asked in the conference call if he might, you know, scheme a little defense for our man Jay. “Our media ask me about that,” Fox said. “I told them, ‘No offense’ but I did giggle.”

— You want to see a cool interview, Paul Calvisi sat down with Fitz to watch some video of Fitz’s greatest catches after he broke the franchise record for catches. I got a sneak peek and it was worth the time. It’ll air on “Maximum Cardinals” Saturday on NBC (Ch. 12) at 4 p.m. If you miss it, it’ll be posted on the website Sunday.

— Strange note of the week: Fox is going to use music during Sunday’s broadcast of Cards-Panthers, as an experiment. According to the USA Today, it could include popular music, but this weekend will definitely have some original pieces. Kind of like a movie score, I’d guess. I’m a huge fan of movie scores, but not sure it’ll work in this setting. We’ll see. (Yes, the game will still have announcers).

— Loved this quote from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was praising Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and saying he enjoyed going up against someone that good: “He’s a little angry guy and he’s going to give you 100 percent.”

DRC came out ahead the last time these two saw each other in Charlotte. And the cornerback did have one of his better games last week. Having him finish strong is important.

— OK, that’s long enough. See you on the other side. Or at least when we land (love in-flight internet).

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Skelton to start at QB Sunday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 10, 2010 – 12:27 pm

With Derek Anderson still not cleared to practice with his concussion and Richard Bartel here just since Tuesday, coach Ken Whisenhunt named rookie John Skelton as the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game. Whisenhunt hopes Anderson can be cleared to be the third quarterback, but Bartel will be the backup. “Both of them had a good week of practice and we’ll see how it goes in the game,” Whisenhunt said, admitting that in choosing Skelton, the Cards “didn’t really have a choice.”

I will have a full story up ASAP. (And here it is).

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On hog hunting and seeing Tebow

Posted by Darren Urban on December 8, 2010 – 4:59 pm

A few notes to finish the day:

— Richard Bartel was at home in Gonzales, Texas, when the Cardinals called. When asked what he was doing waiting for a team to call, he said he was hog-hunting. One media member was wondering if that was a euphemism for something like off-road racing or something. Nope. The new Cardinals’ QB was actually tracking down and taking out hogs.

There are javelinas in Texas, Bartel said, but these were wild hogs. “Bigger, slower, and they don’t have the tusks,” Bartel said, “but they are still dangerous.”

Bartel doesn’t use guns. Too dangerous for his dogs, who come along. Nope. “Hopefully none of you (media) guys are animal rights activists,” Bartel said.

The hogs will have to wait for now. Bartel is too busy playing football.

— The Broncos drafted Tim Tebow in the first round in large part because coach Josh McDaniels fell in love with his potential. Now, though, McDaniels is out. Where does that leave Tebow (who has played in goal line packages this season)? Maybe on the sideline, at least for the trip to Arizona Sunday.

“We’re going to evaluate every player on our team,” Broncos interim coach Eric Studeville said during a conference call Wednesday. “If something or someone can give us an advantage in a game, we’re going to explore it. … Tim has contributed this year and done some things for us that have benefitted us. We are going to continue to look at those things, but we haven’t decided at this point.”

This season Tebow has accounted for four touchdowns (three running, one passing) on just 13 plays. You’d think the coaches would know exactly what he brings to the table – or maybe they do and aren’t sure it’s enough right now.

— I’m not sure if Darnell Dockett is 100 percent healthy from his shoulder issues, but it’s a good sign he practiced fully today. As for the guys limited today, I don’t think any of them are “going to cost a chance to play Sunday” injuries.

— Speaking of Dockett, he will be Adrian Wilson’s guest on the Big Red Rage tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s in Chandler.

— The Cardinals filled the practice squad spot left vacant when Herman Johnson signed with the Bears yesterday by bringing in tackle Cliff Louis.

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No QB announcement yet

Posted by Darren Urban on December 8, 2010 – 1:48 pm

As expected, coach Ken Whisenhunt didn’t name a starting quarterback Wednesday. Richard Bartel and John Skelton split the quarterback reps and Whisenhunt said he will evaluate as the week goes along as to who will start. Derek Anderson has yet to pass his concussion tests, so his candidacy is a moot point for now. Given the situation, I think Whisenhunt would like to have three available QBs, regardless of who starts. Asked if Bartel was in the mix, Whisenhunt said “I think he has to be. Even if John is the guy, he could go one play and get hurt and (Bartel) would be in there playing.”

Skelton wouldn’t say he is expecting to start, only that he wants to continue to work and let everything develop as it will. Asked about getting so many reps, Skelton smiled. “There’s only two of us,” Skelton said. “Someone has to get the reps.”

As for Bartel, he knows he has a steep learning curve on a short week if he were forced to play. Is there enough time to prepare? “There better be,” Bartel said. “Nobody’s waiting on me.”

Anderson was the only player not to practice at all Wednesday, not bad news for a team that has been struggling (and here is the full injury report).

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Skelton vs. Bartel for now

Posted by Darren Urban on December 7, 2010 – 2:21 pm

For those waiting for an official starting quarterback announcement, it isn’t coming today. The situation is this: Derek Anderson has yet to pass all his concussion tests and thus has not been cleared to practice. He will be evaluated again Wednesday. Because of that, John Skelton said he and Richard Bartel will compete for the vacant starting job (and yes, I’d think Skelton would get it, simply because he has been around all season). Even if Anderson was healthy, I’m not 100 percent sure he would still be in the mix for now, but since he is hurt, it’s impossible to tell where he stands.

I know Skelton feels confident. This morning, before he took part in the Cards’ annual “Teddy Bear Express” at St. Joseph’s Hospital (story in a bit), he said his parents were flying in for Sunday’s game. You don’t do that to watch your son sit on the bench.

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