When the game ended and Tyrann Mathieu was leaving the field, Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett found his Sunday overtime nemesis for a moment.
Seems that when Mathieu was at LSU and Brissett was at Florida in 2011, Brissett’s first college start came against the Tigers and Mathieu picked him off that day. Then Sunday, in Brissett’s first start for the Colts, there was Mathieu again.
“He was like, ‘Damn, bro, every time I start, why you have to pick me off?’ ” Mathieu recounted. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know why you threw it at me then.’ ”
The Honey Badger smiled, because it was humorous and it was also the kind of story you really only tell after a win. The Cardinals did that with the 16-13 overtime squeaker – and props to my cohort Kyle Odegard, who on our podcast this week talked about how the Cards would be happy even with a 14-13 win and oh, was he close – and so Mathieu could be happy. He made the big play and Phil Dawson finished the rest.
No one is proclaiming the Cardinals in a good place. They have to score more, they have to force more turnovers. But if it wasn’t for a bad leverage penalty on a field-goal block try by Rodney Gunter, the Colts still would not have a touchdown this season. The defense did OK (the Cowboys are going to be a much sturdier test next week). The offense is what it is right now, trying to find itself through injuries and with a quarterback who is not playing anywhere near the level they need.
“The quarterback has to play better,” coach Bruce Arians said. “Simple.”
The protection has to be better too, Arians said, but everyone knows it starts at QB. Palmer got better when he needed to – that 45-yard throw to Nelson for the touchdown was gorgeous – but he can’t make the forced interception like he did, either.
— Kerwynn Williams has shown he can gain yards in this league, but it sure looked like the Cardinals’ best course of action at running back with David Johnson down will be to use veteran Chris Johnson. CJ2K gained four yards a carry on 11 carries, and looked comfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if Arians ends up more comfortable with a lot of CJ too.
— So many near-sacks again. Markus Golden had a couple early. Chandler Jones too. The defense did well most of the game, but they need to finish off some of these sacks. A turnover before overtime would help too.
— J.J. Nelson has become a significant weapon. Arians is right, it’s not important in John Brown’s absence, it’s important regardless.
— The Cardinals didn’t appear to get anyone injured, which is a good result after the carnage in Detroit.
— The Cardinals had a third-and-1 on the drive that ended up being Nelson’s 45-yard TD catch. Whatever the play was supposed to be, Palmer fumbled the snap on an awkward-looking play to begin with. Somehow, the middle of the defense parted, and Palmer picked up the ball and fell forward four yards for a first down.
“That wasn’t a quarterback sneak, that was a total FUBAR,” Arians said, “from the coaches on the sideline getting the right players in the game to the right players staying in the game and executing the play. We were lucky.”
— Not sure if Jared Veldheer is still having comfort issues on the right side of the line, but he was beat a couple of times. Not that the other guys don’t make plays – Jabaal Sheard is proving to be a pretty good player – but they are expecting more (and needing more) from Veldheer.
— Surprising Phil Dawson missed the first one. He also mentioned he had heard so much about last year’s Cards’ kicking woes it “built up.” The last thing the Cardinals need is for the new guy to be impacted. Hopefully the OT kick gets things smoothed over.
— Larry Fitzgerald had a big smile after the win. He didn’t do much – three catches, 21 yards – but they won. And that made everyone happy.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chandler Jones, Chris Johnson, Colts, J.J. Nelson, Jacoby Brissett, Jared Veldheer, Kerwynn Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Markus Golden, Phil Dawson, Rodney Gunter, Tyrann Mathieu
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Calais Campbell didn’t mean to hit Cam Newton low. The Cardinals defensive tackle made that clear when, during Thursday’s “Big Red Rage with Calais Campbell“, he talked about the hit heard round the world (thanks to Newton’s angry comments postgame and subsequent talk with commissioner Rogert Goodell.)
Campbell was fined $18,231 for the play, which was not flagged. The fact it wasn’t flagged is what got under Newton’s skin after the game.
“Honestly when I watched the play, I beat my man pretty clean but I kind of tangled my feet,” Campbell said. “I was trying to catch my balance. I always know you can’t hit a quarterback below the knees, you try to get him in the thigh. And actually, my initial hit was in his thigh but my momentum carried forward and I got him below.
“It sucks. I never want to get a guy in an awkward position like that, especially a guy that I respect as a football player. I respect everybody who gets out there. I know how hard everybody works to be an NFL football player. It’s not easy. We go through a lot of preparation, a lot of training to be where we are at. I never want to see a guy go down and be out for the season, especially at my doing. I definitely talked to him and apologized because it was definitely an accident.”
Newton was having none of the apology at the time, which came immediately after the play. “I probably should’ve waited until after the game,” Campbell said. “But it’s a natural reaction.”
(Cardinals DL Rodney Gunter was also fined $18,231 for his unnecessary roughness takedown of Newton prior to the Campbell hit. Some have asked about this hit by Panthers defensive back Daryl Worley on Carson Palmer was also illegal. Worley was not flagged, and he was not fined either. Cornerback Leonard Johnson was fined $9,115 for the hit in which he “removed” Palmer’s helmet. Johnson was flagged.)
Newton was already angry in the game. On an earlier running play — in which Newton dove head-first to get more yards and was met by flying safety D.J. Swearinger — Newton was upset at Swearinger’s hit, which appeared clean. Newton had words with Swearinger, Kevin Minter and Markus Golden at various times.
Later this week, Newton said he understood he doesn’t get QB protection as a runner, but felt he didn’t get enough protection from the officials when he was in the pocket — for example, the Campbell hit.
As for Campbell, he is appealing the fine.
“You have to appeal it,” Campbell said. “It wasn’t on purpose, it wasn’t malicious. And 18,000 dollars is a lot of money to spend for a bad football play.”
Tags: Calais Campbell, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Daryl Worley, Leonard Johnson, Rodney Gunter
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The Cardinals’ first game is Friday night against the Raiders, so that means the first depth chart of the season was put out today. As always, it’s a preseason depth chart, and there is a ton of wiggle room in what it says and what happens once the games start and who plays on the field.
“It’s (in) invisible ink,” coach Bruce Arians said, laughing. “It ain’t even in pencil.”
That said, it’s always interesting to take a look at where the players are at this point.
— On offense, there is nothing really wacky. The starters, given what Bruce Arians has said about both A.Q. Shipley and D.J. Humphries, are as expected. Perhaps the only notable thing is that, as of now, tryout rookie Chris Hubert — who has flashed multiple times in practice — is ahead of veteran Brittan Golden at one of the wideout positions (behind Fitz and Jaron Brown.)
— On defense, even though Ed Stinson has been with the first-unit much of the offseason and camp, it is Rodney Gunter listed as a starter with Calais Campbell, and the now-injured Corey Peters as the starting nose tackle. Given the depth at the defensive line, the rotation will show starting means little since so many guys will be moved in and out.
— Brandon Williams, the rookie, is the starter at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson. That’s not a surprise since Justin Bethel has been hurt for so long. Bethel hasn’t been on the field to play since the NFC Championship, although he should be close to a return.
— At safety, something to watch. The starters are the injured Tyrann Mathieu, and he is backed up by Tony Jefferson. The strong safety starter right now is listed as D.J. Swearinger, ahead of Tyvon Branch. Before the offseason, you would’ve thought Branch or Jefferson would be penciled in there, but it is Swearinger right now. As much as the Cards have had to figure out their cornerback situation, their safety spot — especially with rookie Marqui Christian making strides — is pretty strong. There might have to be a tough choice made there too, especially once Mathieu is considered healthy.
Here’s the whole chart:
Tags: Brandon Williams, Brittan Golden, Chris Hubert, D.J. Swearinger, depth chart, Ed Stinson, Justin Bethel, Marqui Christian, Rodney Gunter, Tony Jefferson, training camp, Tyrann Mathieu, Tyvon Branch
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The draft is near. It’s one month away today, actually, and as part of the countdown azcardinals.com will have six videos to mark the time to this year’s selections. The #CardsDraft Gems will feature one player who was found after the first two rounds who has shown he can perform past the limits some of the draft analysts gave him when he was coming out of college.
The series starts with running back Andre Ellington — a 2013 sixth-round pick — today. Two weeks out from the draft (April 14) will be 2015 fourth-round defensive lineman Rodney Gunter. One week out from the draft (April 21) will be 2015 fifth-round wide receiver J.J. Nelson. Three days before the draft (April 25) it will be third-round wide receiver John “Smokey” Brown. Two days out (April 26), it will be third-round safety Tyrann Mathieu, and the day before (April 27) it will be third-round running back David Johnson.
Tags: Andre Ellington, David Johnson, draft, J.J. Nelson, John Brown, Rodney Gunter, Tyrann Mathieu
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There was more dancing for the Cardinals on a Sunday night. It doesn’t look like it’ll go viral, but that doesn’t mean that Smokey Brown’s post-TD celebration didn’t harken back to Drew Stanton’s shimmy-heard-round-the-world from last week.
“I had to bring it back,” Brown said. “I was in a little competition with Drew, but I didn’t want to tell him. I had to get my fans back.”
This is how it works when you win. Brown is still hurting with his bad hamstring, but he had three catches (and two jet sweeps) against the Bengals, and said his leg doesn’t hurt as much now as it did in Seattle. Winning always helps the pain. The Cardinals didn’t have Michael Floyd, but no worries, J.J. Nelson steps in with four catches for 142 yards and this team’s receiving depth is just underscored again.
Part of that is the quarterback, of course. Carson Palmer threw two bad first-quarter interceptions, and he knew it. But at the end of the night, he had four touchdown passes, and that doesn’t include the cool-as-a-cucumber, less-than-a-minute-left field-goal drive that he deftly orchestrated. That is why this team has so much faith in Palmer (and why I’m left shaking my head at the few fans who seem ready to hammer him with any early mistake.) It’s hard to believe any team who wouldn’t want him right now. Maybe the Patriots. The Panthers. Probably the Packers. Everyone else? They could use CP3.
Meanwhile, this team is 8-2 and opened the brutal second-half schedule with two wins against two playoff-worthy teams.
— It was a breakout night for the draft class. Markus Golden had a strip-sack. Nelson was great. Rodney Gunter had a sack. David Johnson had a TD catch. This is the time of year the Cardinals will need those guys.
— It would not be good, with Cory Redding down, if Frostee Rucker’s ankle injury kept him out. Rucker has been fantastic this season. But the hold-the-breath moment has to be with cornerback Patrick Peterson. No way to know how bad he’s hurt, and he wasn’t around to talk after. He’s having by far his best season as a cornerback. As much as there is belief in Justin Bethel, an extended Peterson absence would be bad news.
— I totally understand the Bengals not being happy with the final unsportsmanlike penalty call for barking the cadence. But I also like that they threw in that it shouldn’t have come to that. Way too easy for the Cards to complete three long passes in that situation. Palmer-to-Fitz seemed like the obvious go-to, yet twice it got big yards.
— Linebacker Kevin Minter was mad at himself for how Bengals running back Gio Bernard got off for 128 yards on eight catches. Minter said he should have played better technique in coverage. But that’s definitely a matchup that does not favor the Cardinals, technique or no.
— The Bengals had allowed exactly 10 points in each of their previous three games. The Cardinals scored 34, 10 more than the worst Cincinnati defensive performance previous this season.
— Getting Chandler Catanzaro a game-winning kick for the first time (pictured below) will be helpful down the road. A miss wouldn’t have meant a loss, necessarily, but that’s the first time Cat-Man has had to do that, and experience matters.
— Two exciting, nationally televised games in a row, both wins. Now comes a road game in San Francisco, against a struggling 49ers team and Blaine Gabbert. This week the story will be about not letting down, because the Cardinals will be heavy favorites.
“Bruce will tell us we haven’t done anything yet,” Palmer said. “I know that’s coming. He’s keeping us grounded, which is exactly what a great had coach does.”
Tags: 49ers, Bengals, Carson Palmer, Chandler Catanzaro, David Johnson, Gio Bernard, J.J. Nelson, John Brown, Kevin Minter, Markus Golden, Rodney Gunter
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The Cardinals are 3-0, and without any significant injuries coming out of the dominant win over the 49ers (go ahead, you can knock on wood) the appearance of General Manager Steve Keim on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 Monday morning was less about news and more about GM analysis. And, it is noted, also a shout-out from Keim to his scouting department, from vice president of player personnel Terry McDonough to director of college scouting Dru Grigson to director of pro scouting Quentin Harris and everyone down the line.
Keim noted the contributions the Cardinals are getting from college players found at Presbyterian (Justin Bethel), Deleware State (Rodney Gunter), Northern Iowa (David Johnson) and Pittsburg State (John Brown), and veteran free agents like Chris Johnson and Jermaine Gresham. “From top to bottom, (the scouting staff) is as good as anyone in the league,” Keim said.
— As if the statistics and score didn’t make the point, Keim liked his offensive line play. He said right tackle Bobby Massie played well, as did right guard Jonathan Cooper, and added that Gresham has made a big difference in the run game setting the edge as a blocker. Gresham, Keim said, has given the Cardinals something they haven’t had at tight end in while. (Side note: The Cardinals are hoping Troy Niklas develops into that kind of edge blocker.)
— The defensive line, with their major rotation, dominated on its end too. Keim specifically mentioned Gunter and defensive end Frostee Rucker.
— Not surprisingly, there was praise for the older guys like Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald and even Chris Johnson, who celebrated his 30th birthday Sunday with 110 yards on 22 carries. “Like fine wine they get better with age,” Keim said. “It’s fun to see.”
— Keim was asked about some of the grumbling around the league when the Cardinals gave Fitzgerald $22 million guaranteed in February for two years, considering Fitz was older and his production was on the decline. It’s not on the decline anymore. Not that it matters, Keim said, because the outside talk can’t matter to him.
“Internally you have to continue to trust in what you believe in,” Keim said.
Tags: Dru Grigson Terry McDonough, Frostee Rucker, Larry Fitzgerald, Quentin Harris, Rodney Gunter, Steve Keim
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It’s a special two-headed blog post, combining a “Friday before” with an “aftermath.” We’ll see if I can get out alive. Seriously, camp is over, and thank goodness for that. I know I have tired of hotel life. Even if we are just a short drive from home, home seems so far away in the middle of the month.
What is there to say about camp? The Cards had their injuries, although beyond losing starting nose tackle Corey Peters to his Achilles tear — which is a big deal, but not crippling given the defensive line depth — the Cards came out OK. We’ll see where Michael Floyd and Mike Iupati and Sean Weatherspoon are in a week as the Cards prep for the Saints on opening day.
Best players in camp? Hard to go anywhere but Carson Palmer. Tyrann Mathieu was very good. I thought Patrick Peterson played well. There has been a lot of praise doled out to inside linebacker Kevin Minter, which is a huge deal given Weatherspoon’s absence. Of course, with still two preseason games to go, there is still some time before the roster is shaped. The Cards — at 88 on the roster right now — have to be down to 75 by Tuesday at the latest (although I expect those cuts sooner) and then to 53 a week from Saturday. All for a season where much is expected of the team.
“For us to reach where we want to go, we can’t be potential,” Bruce Arians said. “We have to be damn good.”
— I have a hunch running back Chris Johnson plays in Oakland. He practiced Friday, but he didn’t do a lot beyond individual drills, mostly running off by himself to keep loose. But Arians said he wants to be on the field, and while Johnson said he wasn’t sure if he’ll be ready, I just have a gut feeling he’ll get a little time. If not, it’ll be the Denver game.
— Let’s hope the MRI needed for rookie Xavier Williams on his left elbow isn’t a big deal. He got hurt at the end of practice Friday.
— Arians started calling CB Jerraud Powers “Milkman” because he wanted to needle Powers for needing so many days off with his hamstring injury. (Powers was milking the injury — get it?) Then Powers came back to practice Friday and made a couple of interceptions. “The Milkman delivered today.”
— The players aren’t the only ones who likes finally breaking camp to be able to sleep in their own bed. Arians does too.
“My liver likes a break too,” Arians deadpanned.
— Earl Watford will get second-team work at right tackle in Oakland Sunday. How much backup quarterback Drew Stanton will play will depend on how much Carson Palmer ultimately plays. In this game, Phillip Sims will get in the game first as third QB with Logan Thomas finishing up.
— Arians likes the depth that’s been created with the young inside linebackers, but I’d think the spotlight will still be bright on those guys Sunday (although it’ll be brighter in the preseason finale.) I’m interested to see how D.J. Humphries looks at left tackle, how DT Rodney Gunter looks in extended time and whether the Cardinals can put together a couple of sacks with their first-unit defense. Josh Mauro was getting a lot of work as an edge guy in first-unit sub-packages this week.
In a week, the preseason will be over, and it’ll be time to talk regular season. Finally.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chris Johnson, D.J. Humphries, Drew Stanton, Earl Watford, Jerraud Powers, Josh Mauro, Logan Thomas, Phillip Sims, Raiders, Rodney Gunter, training camp, Xavier Williams
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Is it me, or does it always seem to be this way about this time, where everyone is just so ready to have football games that count and instead there is still so much time left on the preseason schedule. The Cardinals still have a week left at University of Phoenix Stadium for training camp, three preseason games and another nine days before they even have to have first roster cuts. Yet so much has happened — including the harsh news that Corey Peters is out for the season, which covered up the less-harsh-but-still-harsh Mike Iupati injury news — it just feels like it’s time for the regular season.
But it’s not.
— The Cardinals will play their starters about a quarter against the Chargers, and let’s be real, everyone will cross their fingers on Carson Palmer’s uprightness on every play. The first offense looked so good in the first game. Let’s see how game two goes, with Ted Larsen in the mix at left guard. Another part to watch there is Earl Watford and how much time he’s given at left guard after playing right guard all camp. Can he make inroads to possibly get on the field? It’s year three for Watford. Eventually, he’s going to run out of time to show he belongs in the starting lineup, and Iupati’s injury opens a door.
— I am interested to see Andre Ellington’s work a week later. He looked very promising in the first game. We are supposed to see Chris Johnson, but after he came off the field Thursday with a leg wrap, it’s possible his preseason debut will be delayed.
— Peters, by the way, was officially placed on injured reserve Friday. The Cardinals have two open roster spots.
— We definitely are going to see David Johnson for a good portion of two quarters in his debut. I know he can catch, and I think he’ll be fine there in the games. What I want to see is how he does running the ball.
— Jermaine Gresham ended up not playing last week. Does he make his debut? Bruce Arians didn’t say Gresham wasn’t going to play last week either, so that’s a wait-and-see. Seeing more game time for Troy Niklas, and the continued development of Ifeanyi Momah at tight end are other things I’d to which I’ll pay attention.
— If it turns out that rookie Rodney Gunter can do the job as a starting nose tackle, that will make his tremendous story all the better. (And quite the opposite of first-round tackle D.J. Humphries, although I thought Humphries did OK in the first preseason game, even though Arians clearly wants to see more in practice.) But I also agree with the vets like Calais Campbell who note that the Peters’ injury will be filled by committee. The plan all along was to have all these defensive linemen so there would be a steady rotation. That hasn’t changed.
— I don’t think the Cards will look for a free agent defensive lineman or free agent offensive lineman — at least not at this point — because of the injuries. I do think they will continue to scour carefully what’s out there, both in free agency and once teams start making cuts, to add another cornerback. This is a big game for any cornerback not named Peterson, Powers or Bethel.
— With a game on “Sunday Night Football” next week in Oakland, there is a funky start to the final week of camp. The Cards are off Sunday, practice Monday but then are off again Tuesday. They finish Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, but the Friday schedule has been adjusted to the morning (Check our camp page for details.)
Tags: Andre Ellington, Chargers, Chris Johnson, D.J. Humphries, David Johnson, Ifeanyi Momah, Jermaine Gresham, Rodney Gunter, training camp, Troy Niklas
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The Cardinals have a week left of training camp. The current week ended a little rough, with the Corey Peters and Mike Iupati injury news, but these things happen. And as harsh as it sounds, defensive line was probably the best position from which the Cardinals could handle losing a starter for the season. It’s just as Bruce Arians said, though, you don’t want a rash of injuries at the position.
We’ll see how Rodney Gunter comes out as starter. He’s a long way from between the orchard and the graveyard. He crushed Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray in last week’s preseason opener and the day Peters got hurt in practice, with Gunter at defensive end, he knocked back tackle Bradley Sowell so violently that it drew “ooohhhs” from the defensive players watching the play.
— Running back Chris Johnson came off the practice field when the workout was over Thursday with a wrap on the back of his upper right leg. Don’t know what it means yet. Earlier in the day Bruce Arians said Johnson would get five or six carries against the Chargers Saturday.
— Much deserved praise came Tyrann Mathieu’s way when he had his interception-fest in practice last week. It’s worth noting safety Tony Jefferson came up with his fourth pick in five practices Thursday. I do not expect anything to change with his Madden rating, however.)
— Many, many requests, both in the comments here and on Twitter, for Daryl Washington information. Arians too was asked for answers, with the reporter noting that many fans — the “Birdgang” — had been wanting to know what’s up.
“Ask Daryl,” Arians said. “I’m not allowed to talk to Daryl. The league hasn’t notified me of anything, so I would ask the Birdgang to please call Daryl.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Chris Johnson, Corey Peters, Daryl Washington, Mike Iupati, Rodney Gunter, Tony Jefferson, training camp
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It didn’t look good Wednesday when the news broke that guard Mike Iupati was probably going to need knee surgery and then defensive tackle Corey Peters left practice early with a lower left leg problem. Turned out, it wasn’t good. Peters is out for the season after tearing his left Achilles; he tore his right one at the end of the 2013. It’s a harsh blow, because Peters was looking very good in his role for the Cardinals, but the Cards do have depth on the defensive line. Now, it’ll be tested. Rookie Rodney Gunter will get first crack at replacing Peters in the lineup, and with the plays Gunter has made in practice at times, the Cards will see if they can mine such talent.
“I’m surrounded by greatness. I have no choice but to be great,” Gunter said.
The Iupati injury is less severe, and Bruce Arians said Iupati could miss as little as three weeks after meniscus repair in his left knee. Of course, Arians said it could be as much as eight weeks — every person is different in recovery. Ted Larsen steps into Iupati’s starting role.
We will have much more soon on azcardinals.com.
Tags: Corey Peters, Mike Iupati, Rodney Gunter, Ted Larsen
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