Depth charts and number changes

Posted by Darren Urban on September 3, 2013 – 9:59 am

The first depth chart of the regular season — officially unofficial that it is — is out. Yes, the team puts one out but let’s face it, there is nothing making the coaches stay true to it, so as usual, there is a grain of salt aspect that must come with it. That said, Ryan Williams, after everything he went through in training camp, is still listed as the No. 2 running back behind Rashard Mendenhall. Stepfan Taylor is three, Alfonso Smith four, Andre Ellington fifth.

The rest of the chart doesn’t change much. Jim Dray is listed as a starter now with Rob Housler in the two-tight end sets. That’s no surprise. Dray has been the steadiest tight end the Cards have had. New tackle Bradley Sowell is listed as a right tackle, third on the depth chart behind Eric Winston and Bobby Massie. As always, you can view the whole chart here: http://www.azcardinals.com/team/depth-chart.html

— The Cardinals had a handful of jersey number changes too, the most significant being veteran linebacker John Abraham’s ability to go back to wearing No. 55. That comes compliments of fellow veteran LB Karlos Dansby, who will take the No. 56 of the departed Reggie Walker. Also changing were Winston, who takes No. 73 from No. 65, linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who takes No. 52 from No. 54, and safety Tony Jefferson, who goes to No. 22 from No. 36.

UPDATE: The Cards filled out the final three spots on the practice squad with LB Kenny Demens (cut earlier this week), DT Anthony McCloud (cut by Minnesota) and WR Sam McGuffie (cut by Oakland).

— Don’t forget the first of weekly Tuesday chats today at 2 p.m. The link is right here.

— In case you missed it, here is a photo gallery from Larry Fitzgerald’s trip to Pitt last night to get his No. 1 jersey retired.

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Broncos aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2013 – 11:46 pm

Tony Jefferson still had his uniform on, his shoulder pads pushing out his grass-stained jersey. After his last showing of the preseason, getting five tackles, a sack, two tackles TJusefor loss, a fumble recovery and a special teams tackle while battling for a roster spot, he was left to … do nothing.

“I’m just going to leave that up to the coaches, whether I am a fit for the team or not,” the undrafted rookie safety said, noting he would be going back to watch his former University of Oklahoma teammates in their opener this weekend.

“I’m going to try and keep my mind off it,” Jefferson said. “Just wait. It’s a waiting game. Just like draft day.”

The wait won’t take long (which is why this aftermath is going to be pretty short and sweet.) Steve Keim said the initial 53-man roster will be set by noon Friday, and Bruce Arians will make it public at 1 p.m. No reason to overly analyze Thursday night, which will be old news soon enough.

Some thoughts on what is coming, in light on what happened in Denver with context through my initial 53-man guess:

— Obviously strong games for QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ryan Williams. Enough to be on the 53? It would make sense, yet you could easily see a scenario where they wouldn’t be. Williams, I suppose, still could be traded, although I don’t see him being simply released. Personally I’d like Williams to stay, but we’ll see. “We’re not cutting good football players,” Bruce Arians said. (Although he didn’t say he wouldn’t trade them.)

— Teams don’t have to be to 53 until Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. So they might still keep 54 or 55 tomorrow if a deal is percolating.

— Lindley is “light years” ahead of where he was, Arians said. “Early on he had trouble processing as the play was happening. Now he has a quarterback rating of (104) and that was with guys busting routes on him. I thought he played extremely well. He was very comfortable out there.”

— All that said, Arians still wouldn’t say if Lindley had made the team for sure yet.

— Speaking of trades, will a defensive back be dealt? I’ve said since the offseason I wouldn’t be surprised in a deal like the A.J. Jefferson trade of 2012.

— I thought rookie wideout Jaron Brown was already on this team. I feel even more confident in that now.

— Beyond Brown? Mike Thomas did catch a touchdown late but he probably should have caught a bomb from Lindley earlier. It would have been a tough catch but it was makeable – and it was the kind of catch that helps you make rosters. Kerry Taylor had a quiet night.

— Arians said TE Jeff King is headed for knee surgery. Not sure if that’s significant enough for injured reserve or not. With Rob Housler still trying to come back from an ankle issue, I’m thinking King won’t be on the roster.

— To my untrained eye, I think Jefferson flashed enough to make them want to keep him. Would it be in lieu of Jonathon Amaya? Other than Jefferson, I didn’t really think any of the defensive backs battling for the roster played particularly well Thursday.

— The lone injury was a shoulder problem for defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin, unfortunate for a guy trying to make the roster. Ronald Talley, the man Arians has been talking up, seemed to make a couple plays. Wondering what that might mean for David Carter, who is on the bubble. Arians said he’d need to see the tape to really give decent analysis on the defensive line play in the game.

— In the locker room, Larry Fitzgerald pointed out the Cardinals logo rookie seventh-round tight end D.C. Jefferson has tattooed on his abdomen. Now that’s confidence in your ability to make the roster.

— I thought before the entire draft class still here (Ryan Swope already having retired of course) makes the 53. I haven’t changed my mind on that.

We’ll see. We’ll know in a little more than 12 hours.


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Keim: Cuts coming Friday

Posted by Darren Urban on August 29, 2013 – 6:19 pm

There was no not-playing-tonight list from the Cardinals, probably because it would have been so lengthy. Most starters aren’t playing by design, including QB Carson Palmer. One notable absence: TE Jeff King. Bruce Arians said this was going to be a big game for King and he is not in uniform. I assume it is knee-related. It does not bode well for King’s future, I wouldn’t think.

Only offensive starters were WR Andre Roberts, WR Michael Floyd and TE Jim Dray. Only defensive starters to play were LBs Karlos Dansby and Jasper Brinkley.

General Manager Steve Keim went on the pregame show with Jody Jackson. It’ll be a busy time for him, obviously. He said the Cardinals should be able to pare the roster down to 53 by noon Friday. That will include moving Jonathan Cooper to one of the injured reserve lists.

“The next 24 hours to 48 hours we are going to have a lot of meetings,” Keim said.

Big game for Ryan Williams, although Keim didn’t seem like someone who is ready to cut the running back loose. “We need more consistency,” Keim said. “He’s frustrated, we’re frustrated. … We still think the guy has some ability.”

Keim also said the team has already fielded some calls from other teams about trading for surplus defensive backs. A deal like that would not be a surprise.


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Revisiting the Lindley option

Posted by Darren Urban on August 27, 2013 – 2:52 pm

After the Cardinals wrapped up their final practice before the Thursday preseason finale today, Bruce Arians talked about the importance of the game for the “Ryans” — QB Lindley and RB Williams. For Ryan Williams, we all know what that he needs to show where he is physically (although Arians said he was back at full speed.) For Lindley, it’s a little different. He’s been there, been playing. But Arians made it clear early in camp he might just keep two quarterbacks, and Palmer + Stanton = No Lindley.

Lindley’s Denver outing is about “making himself more valuable than the other four, five guys at the end of the roster,” Arians said.

Lindley is going to play a lot in Denver (and Palmer might not play at all.) Thus far, the second-year QB has completed 10-of-17 passes for 156 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions in the preseason. His 89.3 QB rating is actually best on the team. The decision is about “the other four, five guys at the end of the roster” and how Lindley stacks up. Is it worth keeping an extra linebacker over a third QB? An extra offensive lineman?

Arians has been on many teams with just two QBs. Here’s why I think they stick with Lindley: Because the alternative is dangerous. If they release Lindley, who isn’t practice squad eligible, they would likely need to find a practice-squad QB just in case, a guy who would have to play catch-up. Seems like it makes sense to keep Lindley for now.

— RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) and TE Rob Housler (ankle) didn’t practice today. But most of the banged-up players were out there, like WR Andre Roberts, DT Dan Williams, OLB Matt Shaughnessy and TE D.C. Jefferson. That’s a good sign heading toward the opener.

— Arians said there are still a handful of roster spots he considers still up for grabs, including wide receiver, safety, cornerback, tight end and even offensive line.

— The Cards practiced in their new bubble in Tempe today for only the second time:

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Coop could come back this season

Posted by Darren Urban on August 26, 2013 – 1:20 pm

Coach Bruce Arians said today that the surgery on Jonathan Cooper’s fractured left fibula was a success and the Cardinals are holding out hope he can return later in the season. His status is yet to be determined in terms of injured reserve. The Cards will wait to make that decision until the end of preseason. They still have to make one more roster move by tomorrow to get down to the league-mandated 75.

Cooper’s best-case scenario in coming back is 10 to 12 weeks, Arians said. If he could return for the last six games or so, that would makes sense. Arians wants him to get real regular-season playing time this year if at all possible.

“We don’t want him to be a rookie again next year,” Arians said.

— To replace Cooper, Daryn Colledge will be moved to left guard. Paul Fanaika will move into the starting lineup as right guard. “(Daryn) is not as athletic as Coop, but he’s more than adequate,” Arians said of Colledge’s ability to do the job in Arians’ offense, when the left guard pulls often.

— The rest of the injuries aren’t nearly as bad. Arians described almost all of them as day-to-day, and the hope is that most will be OK by the time the Cards have to play in St. Louis for the opener. Defensive tackle Dan Williams re-aggravated the ankle he hurt earlier in camp, but he was not concerned about it. Running back Rashard Mendenhall has a knee sprain, he too is day-to-day although he won’t play in Denver. Tight end D.C. Jefferson (knee sprain) is going to try and play. TE Rob Housler has a high-ankle sprain, and is probably the most questionable of the bunch. WR Andre Roberts (quad) and LB Matt Shaughnessy (ankle) are “fine.”

— Arians said he cut K Dan Carpenter because he didn’t like the way he was kicking. Penetration was not a problem on Carpenter’s blocked field goal, Arians said — which leaves it to be too low of a kick by the kicker.

— Starters will probably play Thursday, but not much. QB Carson Palmer may not play, however.

— RB Ryan Williams will get the bulk of the work against the Broncos. Arians had no comment on the report the Cardinals were “shopping” Williams. “I’m shopping him as far as getting me some groceries,” Arians said with a smile.


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Chargers aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on August 25, 2013 – 12:22 am

Ugly doesn’t even begin to describe what happened to the Cardinals Saturday night. If the Cards could have only left it at the stadium. If only a bad night for special teams or dropped passes or anything like that was the worst that happened.

But the long list of injuries the Cards had been avoiding – they only had five guys not able to play coming into the game, for goodness sake, and frankly, only Jeff King was among those guys who have a shot at the roster – came back hard. The most devastating is Jonathan Cooper’s broken leg. Here’s the guy who was drafted to jump start an offensive line resurgence. And now he could be out for the season.

There are lots of ways to look at this and we won’t know exactly what can happen with Cooper yet. There are options to put him on short-term, bring-’em-back IR if the prognosis goes the right way. But that doesn’t make it any easier to replace him. Do we get more Chilo? Do we get a Paul Fanaika-Daryn Colledge guard combo? Bruce Arians isn’t sure yet. There will be much brainstorming tomorrow, I am sure. But it hurts.

“To see a guy like that go down, a young guy trying to go out there and prove himself, that’s always hard,” Colledge said. “Especially with an offensive line that lost a lot of guys last year. We’re used to this, but it’s always hard to see a friend and a teammate go down. I know it hurts him. I know he’s probably emotionally distraught right now.”

— It can’t be easy for Cooper. It might not be easy for the Cards. MRIs are coming for all the other injuries, but the offense alone saw Cooper, Rob Housler (ankle), Andre Roberts (quad) and Rashard Mendenhall (ankle) leave the game. Scary.

— As for the game, not good. The Rashad Johnson lateral was bad. Funny, Arians actually praised the lateral linebacker Jasper Brinkley made to Patrick Peterson earlier in the game following an interception, saying it was a legitimate choice. Johnson’s lateral? “Absolutely asinine.”

Johnson knows that. He was upset after a pass interference call on teammate Jerraud Powers a couple of plays before and let his emotions ride the moment. “I just felt like we needed to make a play, which we did, instead of thinking of the situation we were in and playing smart football,” Johnson said. “Coach is always talking about ‘Cardinals beating Cardinals.’ That was a big Cardinals-beating-Cardinals play.”

— Powers was hit with three pass interference flags. He said he felt a couple of them shouldn’t have been thrown, but took responsibility for not adjusting to the way the officials were calling the game.

— Ryan Williams said he was “fine” after a pair of carries (for 10 yards) and a catch in his first preseason action of the season. I thought he looked aggressive for what little time he got. He needed to be. With Alfonso Smith coming out and looking good as Mendenhall’s backup, this running back battle is very interesting. Could the Cards keep five?

— Not a good night for the tight ends. Housler dropped a touchdown (Arians didn’t seemed all that concerned about it), while Kory Sperry and D.C. Jefferson also had drops. Jefferson’s miss ended up an interception.

— Not a ton learned in the kicking battle, since neither got much opportunity. Dan Carpenter had a field goal blocked on what looked like protection issues. Jay Feely made an extra point. Feely had both kickoffs.

— Arians wasn’t overly critical of Levi Brown’s play against Dwight Freeney because, well, it was Dwight Freeney. Nate Potter had his own issues, so it’s not like there is someone there that would step in.

— Michael Floyd made a nice catch in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.  Larry Fitzgerald’s one-handed catch to start the game was amazing. Other than that, a night to forget.


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King out, Williams in versus Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 24, 2013 – 5:55 pm

Tight end Jeff King (knee) is not going to play tonight after going through a limited practice Thursday. But running back Ryan Williams will play tonight — we’ll see how many snaps he’ll get. Actually, almost everyone will be available for the Cardinals, an impressive feat this deep in the preseason and perhaps indicative of the importance of the third preseason game. Here is the very short list of players not going tonight besides King:

— QB Caleb TerBush (undisclosed)

— WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion – there was a report earlier he has reached an injury settlement with the team, nothing official yet)

— LB Dan Giordano (PUP – toe)

— T Joe Caprioglio (foot)


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Friday before the Chargers

Posted by Darren Urban on August 23, 2013 – 2:27 pm

Darnell Dockett was asked if he would say hi to Ken Whisenhunt before Saturday’s game against the Chargers.

“Of course,” Dockett said of his former head coach, now San Diego’s offensive coordinator. “I have nothing against Coach Whiz. Wish him much success at San Diego. At the end of the day, it’s about the players on the field.”

Dockett and Whiz had butted heads at the end of last season, but time goes on. If Saturday’s game was in the regular season, if it meant something in the standings, Whisenhunt’s return to University of Phoenix Stadium would be a bigger story. It probably would help if there were some time and distance between his firing and now, too. But it’s tough not to notice too.

Patrick Peterson hasn’t forgotten he scored a touchdown on an interception in his first University of Phoenix Stadium game against the Chargers in the preseason of 2011. Reminded of that, Peterson said “hopefully I can get another pick-6 — especially on coach Whisenhunt.”

Peterson smiled. “It was a great two years with him. I’m happy for him he got another job. We miss him around here but we have a bunch of new faces that will help us turn the corner.”

Whisenhunt spoke to a couple of outlets in Arizona this week about his return trip, both with Kent Somers and Mike Jurecki. On Jurecki’s show (on Fox Sports 910 Phoenix), Whiz mostly talked about the support the fans gave him and the friends he made in the organization and said he wasn’t sure what response he will get in the stadium Saturday.

“It didn’t end the way we wanted it to but there are a lot of great memories,” Whisenhunt said. “I really don’t know. It will be different for me because it’ll be the first time I will be in the stadium where I am not a Cardinal.”

The holdover players will likely move over and greet Whiz before the game. That’s to be expected. From there, well, it is just preseason. Right?

“There will be a ceremonial dap or two, say hi,” guard Daryn Colledge said, “but then again I know he’ll have a mindset in making a point.”

As for the rest of the game – and the fact it is the “important” third preseason game on the slate:

— The starters are supposed to go into the third quarter against the Chargers. I don’t expect any surprises in the starting lineup and I’m not sure we’re going to get any changes before the opener, although Bruce Arians has not said for sure he’s settled on anything.

— Given the red-zone issues last week, that will be something very important to watch. The team worked on it again in practice Thursday and methinks the head coach needs to see progress in that area.

— The Cards were into practicing-like-it’s-regular-season-game-week mode this week, which makes sense going into the game where the starters will play the most. That included dressing linebacker Kenny Rowe in a red “93” jersey much of the week (the rest of the defense was wearing white) to know where pass rusher Dwight Freeney would be.

— Curious to see how much time Mike Thomas gets at receiver. He just showed up so he probably isn’t familiar with a ton yet. And Arians, earlier in the week, noted Jaron Brown and Kerry Taylor are next up beyond the “big three” receivers for playing time. Does Thomas have to wait to get much time, at least until Denver?

— Big game for Karlos Dansby, just in terms of seeing him on the field. Didn’t play the first two weeks, probably won’t play a lot against the Broncos. But he practiced all week and this will be a good tune-up.

— If this is the game in which the main players are going to get a lot of time, does that mean Patrick Peterson gets a few offensive reps? It’s going to be very interesting to see how much time on the offensive side of the ball he does get when games begin to count.

— Ryan Williams will likely be suited up. But again, if this is about the guys in the main rotation, Williams is going to have to cut in line to get much work. And you still have to wonder how much work he can handle with one practice in three weeks.

— Don’t forget about the bag policy if you are going to the game. Remember, the bag policy.

— Larry Fitzgerald turns 30 next week and is feeling the pinch of Father Time. If you didn’t see it, here’s my story.

— The Cardinals currently have 88 players on the roster. They must trim to 75 by Tuesday (although I’d guess their cuts will be before then. There will be practice Monday.) If you wonder about who is getting cut, keep an eye on the players who do not get a snap against the Chargers. If you are going to release someone, you don’t want them getting hurt.

— Once, as noted by Bob Glauber deep in this piece about Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez, reigning Super Bowl winning QB Phil Simms not only played in the fourth preseason game, but he played the whole game. As he noted, he’s not sure when the third game became the important one.

— Yet we do know, thanks to Denny Green, this game doesn’t count, but it matters. After all, who takes the third game of the preseason like it’s … well, you know.


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Keim delivers “pep talk” to Williams

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2013 – 10:09 pm

On the sideline during Wednesday’s practice, while his teammates practiced and Ryan Williams was sitting out yet another session, he had an extended discussion with General Manager Steve Keim. At that point, the running back had missed every practice since July 28. The next day — today — Williams was back on the field.

Williams, noting that the discussion was after the decision was made to have Williams return to practice Thursday, said it was “kind of a pep talk.”

“Me and Steve, we have a really, really good relationship,” Williams said. “You know the business side of things and the political side of things and all that, but I can honestly say, anything that comes out of Steve’s mouth, I believe.

“He was the one, when I came here on my (pre-draft) visit in April a couple years back, I remember vividly, he was like, ‘Hey, we really think you might be picked in the first round but if not, we have a pick at 38, and if you don’t go before then, you’ll be the pick at 38,’ ” Williams added. “People talk, but I was picked 38th, Ever since then, me and Steve have had a close relationship. So it was kind of a pep talk.

“He really wanted to see me out there, as well as the coaches and people in the upstairs offices. I’m ready to show what I’ve got. I’ve got a short amount of time to do it. That’s what I’m going to accomplish.”

Keim found Williams again Thursday as practice was getting started, to give him a handshake (pictured below) and some more encouraging words. Williams looked pretty decent during Thursday workout, although he wasn’t pushed much. He could get up to speed running but there was no hitting, and Williams knew that. How he will run knowing guys can start taking shots at his knee — which is what would happen if the plays against the Chargers Saturday.

But Williams had just said Monday he was feeling a “sharp pain” in his knee often — even getting out of a chair, for instance — and anyone feeling that discomfort wouldn’t have looked as comfortable as he did Thursday. Williams said he hadn’t been worried about practice because he had worked out enough Wednesday to know how it would feel. It’s a start. I’m sure Keim would like to keep around a former second-rounder who, even with all his injury problems, still has promise — if he can stay on the field.

— The injury list, as coach Bruce Arians promised, was short Thursday: WR Jarrett Dillard (concussion), T Joe Caprioglio (foot) and QB Caleb TerBush (undisclosed). LB Dan Giordano (toe) remains on the PUP list.

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Peterson hits 60 offensive plays; Williams returns

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2013 – 12:04 pm

Patrick Peterson has talked about playing offense before. At this point, it’s no secret. But the Pro Bowl cornerback revealed Thursday the number of plays in the Peterson offensive playbook has grown to 60.

“I didn’t know it was going to be this many,” Peterson said with a smile. “I am definitely getting my workload.”

But Peterson said he was on board with all the offensive work and relishes the chance. “The thing that intrigues me about the plays I am in there, I don’t go in just to get the ball. I can be in there as a decoy,” Peterson said. “I can be there to open up the field for other guys, to take the top off the coverage. That’s what I love about it most.”

Peterson knows the first concern would be that extra offense would take away from his defensive play. He insisted — multiple times — that wouldn’t be the case. “I’m positive,” he said. He referenced playing against St. Louis as a rookie, when the Rams ran a receiver on a go route three straight plays on him. On the fourth play, Peterson took back his famous 99-yard punt return.

Offensively, Peterson is “getting very comfortable. There are definitely things I can still learn. Playing offense on this level is very difficult from college and high school. There is a lot more terminology, a lot more reading, a lot more alignments, especially in this offense.”

— Coach Bruce Arians said RB Ryan Williams (knee) and TE Jeff King (knee) will both practice today. Obviously, it’s big news for Williams, who has been out since coming off the field with a sore knee July 28, the first Sunday of camp. Arians said both Williams and King could play against the Chargers Saturday depending on their practice, but it both cases it would seem like a long shot.

Williams is running out of time to show he deserves to be on the roster, which he has spoken about before (he was not available this morning.) Today would seem to be a big deal. King is in the same boat. King said the hardest part for him has been sitting out practice and watching his teammates because he misses the game. But he added he understands the livelihood component too.

“Anytime you miss time or a play … when I was a rookie (in Carolina) I had (offensive coordinator) Dan Henning, and he was cut from the same mold as Bill Parcells,” King said. “If you missed any time, you knew about it. Bruce has been great, but believe me, I know time is ticking.”

— The only other main injured guy right now is DE Frostee Rucker (toe).

— Arians said the kicking plan for the game is to have Dan Carpenter kick the first half and Jay Feely the second, “depending on the opportunities.” The kicking competition will go through the end of the preseason, Arians added.

— The game Saturday is officially a sellout. It will be broadcast live on ABC-15 locally.


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