Breaking down the roster

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2010 – 12:35 pm

Right now, the Cards are knee-deep in offseason meetings, meaning I haven’t had a chance to talk to general manager Rod Graves for a story. That will be coming. In the meantime, I have collected all the contract situations (at least, organizing what year each player is signed through, or their free agent status) in a file you can find right here. It doesn’t cover every single player on the roster but it has everyone I considered a contributor this season or someone who needed to be addressed.

Officially the Cards have 14 unrestricted free agents and 10 restricted (the numbers would have been 17 and 7, but Gabe Watson, Deuce Lutui and Jerheme Urban all are going to be hamstrung by the new rules when the NFL deals with an uncapped offseason). On offense, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Starters Dan Kreider (FB), Anthony Becht (TE), Sean Morey (special teams) and Mike Gandy (T) — along with Jeremy Bridges (G/T) are unrestricted. Bigger questions are on defense, where Karlos Dansby (LB) and Matt Ware (S) could walk away, and the Cards are in transition with veteran UFAs like Bryan Robinson, Chike Okeafor, Bertrand Berry, Ralph Brown and Monty Beisel.

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Cards in Pro Bowl dwindling UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on January 20, 2010 – 11:19 am

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t going to play in the Pro Bowl because of injuries (Fitz is citing the knee he hurt against San Francisco), news that came out when the New York Giants announced Steve Smith is going to replace Fitzgerald. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is already out because of his knee injury, and safety Adrian Wilson has said, with his wife expecting, he isn’t going to go. That would leave defensive tackle Darnell Dockett as the only Card, unless one of the Cards’ alternates ends up getting to play.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mike Sando, it’s been hashed out that alternates Kurt Warner, Antrel Rolle and Sean Morey still have a good chance to be invited to the Pro Bowl, given other possibly dropouts. Their status will be resolved based on who wins the NFC Championship game, since the Vikings and Saints each have multiple players that would have to drop out. Warner, it turns out, is a second alternate behind Donovan McNabb. So I guess that finally clarifies my ramblings of the other day. Sando suggests injuries would stop Rolle, but my guess is that Rolle — who said he was fine after getting concussed against the Saints — would desperately want to appear in his first Pro Bowl, especially since it’ll be at home in Miami.

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Warner’s possible last game might not be

Posted by Darren Urban on January 19, 2010 – 9:26 am

I’ll have a story analyzing Kurt Warner’s situation later today, but I wanted to mention this first — even if Warner does eventually retire, that game in New Orleans might not have been his last. Remember, Warner is an alternate for the Pro Bowl — which alternate was never announced, but given that he was fourth in the fan voting, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think he’s the first alternate — and the NFC is guaranteed to lose one of its three Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is a Pro Bowler, but so are the Saints’ Drew Brees and the Vikings’ Brett Favre, and one of those guys are going to the Super Bowl. Since the Pro Bowl is the week before the Super Bowl this year, all Pro Bowlers on the Super Bowl teams will be out.

And that should put Warner in the game. UPDATE: As has been pointed out by Emmett below, Donovan McNabb is apparently the first NFC alternate quarterback. I checked with the NFL and the teams are the ones left to decide whether or not to announce which alternate spots their players are named, and the Cards are a team that does not specify. UPDATE II: Now Emmett is saying Romo is the No. 2 alternate. Guess Warner doesn’t have much of a chance to go.

Other Cardinals could still sneak it. There’s still a chance tackle Levi Brown could get in, depending on what alternate he was, since the Vikings’ Bryant McKinnie and the Saints’ Jon Stinchcomb are among the three tackles. And with the Saints’ Darren Sharper at free safety, Antrel Rolle has a shot as an alternate. It works the other way too. The Vikings’ Antoine Winfield was named as a replacement at cornerback today; while nothing official has been released it is a safe bet Winfield is replacing injured Cardinals’ cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

UPDATE III: I did forget to mention special-teamer Sean Morey, who is an alternate somewhere behind Vikings special-teamer Heath Farwell.

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Rolle, Berry to sit

Posted by Darren Urban on January 3, 2010 – 12:46 pm

With the Vikings crushing the Giants today (New York never really put up a fight) and the No. 2 seed possibility gone, the Cards are going to back off against the Packers today at some point. With that in mind, S Antrel Rolle (thigh) and LB Bertrand Berry will be inactive.

The rest of the Cards’ list:

  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • FB Dan Kreider (neck)
  • OL Herman Johnson
  • WR Sean Morey (concussion)
  • TE Ben Patrick (concussion)
  • DE Kenny Iwebema (concussion)

It also looks like the Cardinals will have a Saturday playoff game against the Packers, in all probability the early game. But of course, that’s not set in stone and won’t be until all the playoff matchups are set.

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An “irritating” scenario for Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on January 1, 2010 – 1:02 pm

The Vikings lose Sunday, and the Cardinals are playing for the No. 2 seed and a bye. The Vikings win, and fighting hard for No. 3 or No. 4 — when you’re making key players susceptible to injury or showing trends to make it easy for the Packers to scout you — doesn’t make as much sense.

It’s made getting ready this week, with everyone knowing all the different possibilities, difficult. And not an ideal situation.

“It’s irritating,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “This type is irritating, because it is more the unknown. Listen, I am glad we are in this situation because we know we are in the playoffs and all we’re doing is working to get a better seed, and that’s always a good thing. I’d like to have the two or the one seed already locked up. That’s the best.

“But this is different because we’re waiting on another game just to see if we even have a chance at the No. 2 seed. That determines a lot of what you do going forward.”

Interestingly, the teams with the first-round bye the last four seasons are just 7-9 in their initial playoff games. The bye teams lost three of four last season, including both NFC teams (the Giants and the Panthers).

“We were a benefactor of that,” Whisenhunt said. “Who knows? There is a theory it’s better to play in the Wild Card games to keep your routine going. It worked for us last year. But it’s always great to have a week off, especially when you are a team like us where you’ve had how ever many weeks straight since our bye week.”

Safety Antrel Rolle (thigh) didn’t practice today and he probably will try and go if the No. 2 seed is on the line. Otherwise, nope. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) will kick. The other five guys listed as questionable — TE Ben Patrick (head), WR Sean Morey (head), FB Dan Kreider (neck), DE Kenny Iwebema (head) and RB Beanie Wells (groin) — all will likely be subject to the same What-did-the-Vikings-do scrutiny.

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After practice Wednesday

Posted by Darren Urban on December 30, 2009 – 2:07 pm

Safety Antrel Rolle sat out practice today with a bruised thigh, but coach Ken Whisenhunt sounded like he wasn’t that worried about the situation. Defensive end Kenny Iwebema was limited with a head injury as well. A handful of guys that were listed as limited — K Neil Rackers (groin), TE Ben Patrick (head), FB Dan Kreider (neck), CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe), special-teamer Sean Morey (head) and RB Beanie Wells (groin) — should be fine. Also fine are WR Larry Fitzgerald and CB Greg Toler, each of whom hurt their elbows Sunday.

Much of the talk today was about the same subject as Monday — what to do against the Packers when there is a good chance the Cards will see them a second time. The answers were all the same: We play hard, but it’s the coach’s decision. Whisenhunt reiterated he will likely make choices Sunday.

(Packers coach Mike McCarthy, by the way, said on the conference call the Packers will play to win and keep momentum.)

The Cardinals also had a change in the practice squad after guard Trevor Canfield — one of the Cards’ seventh-round picks this year — signed with the Seahawks. Replacing him was guard Jonathan Palmer, who has bounced around the league.

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Monday’s Whiz reflections

Posted by Darren Urban on December 28, 2009 – 11:54 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt talked about what his plans are for the Packers since it’s likely the Cards will play them not only in the finale but also in the playoffs. Right now, Whiz’s answers are he doesn’t know. The Cards will game-plan like it will be a game of significance, but may pull back if something changes in the early games depending on the outcomes. That goes for the amount of detail in the game plan and with how much the starters will play. I’ll have more in a homepage story later today on the subject. It helps the Cards to prepare this week anyway because the playoff game might be on Saturday and the Cards can jump-start playoff prep.

A couple other notes:

— Whisenhunt said, after he went back and looked at the tape, he was actually not as upset with the offensive line’s protection — and he was asked specifically about tackles Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges — as he twas originally. “I think for the most part our line played a very good game yesterday,” Whisenhunt said. “We had one or two plays on the edge with Jeremy and that’s going to happen in a game. We will continue to work on correcting those things. Anytime you spread out like we do and expose the edge, you have to be aware those things can happen. It’s a risk-reward thing.

“We just have to be a little more aware, like we did against Minnesota, that we give those guys some help in certain situations as far as chips or body presence. I’m not disappointed at all in the way those guys played. I was upset after the game because my perception of how our line played was not what it actually was. If you look at how Levi played and how physical he was and some of the things he did in protection, I actually was impressed with how he played and Jeremy … for the most part, did a nice job.”

— Injury-wise, the Cards seem to be in good shape. Whisenhunt had no new updates on the left elbow injuries to Larry Fitzgerald and Greg Toler, but neither are expected to be serious. Fitz certainly doesn’t think so. Kicker Neil Rackers (groin) kicked a little Saturday and will kick again today to see where he is in his rehab. Fullback Dan Kreider (neck) should be fine, and tight end Ben Patrick and receiver Sean Morey (both have concussions) should be back this week.

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Kreider inactive, as is Steven Jackson UPDATE

Posted by Darren Urban on December 27, 2009 – 12:45 pm

The Cardinals’ inactive list has one surprise — fullback Dan Kreider, who wasn’t hurt so I can only guess right now is out for strategic purposes (Beanie and Hightower playing together?). There is a bigger surprise for the Rams: running back Steven Jackson won’t play, taking away the Rams’ one weapon. UPDATE: Kreider woke up with a stiff neck today and was held out of the game as a precaution.

For the Cards, tight end Ben Patrick and wide receiver Sean Morey are both out with concussions, meaning receiver Jerheme Urban and tight end Stephen Spach are active for the first time in a while. The rest of the inactives:

  • K Neil Rackers (groin)
  • QB Brian St. Pierre
  • S Hamza Abdullah
  • OL Herman Johnson

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On losing Gandy, injuries, and Beanie

Posted by Darren Urban on December 24, 2009 – 1:29 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the decision to put Mike Gandy on IR was tough but “the fact we were probably looking at the (NFC) championship game (for his return) and then to throw him in and compete in that situation is a difficult situation.” Jeremy Bridges is the starter at left tackle now but Whisenhunt said if something were to happen to Bridges, Levi Brown would move from right to left tackle and Brandon Keith would take over at right tackle.

Tight end Ben Patrick and wide receiver Sean Morey (concussions) remain out and will be game-day decisions if cleared. Spach can play for Patrick. Linebacker Will Davis (knee) had another good day and it looks like he will be available this weekend, although we will see if Whisenhunt makes him active.

On a non-injury note — and because I know the Beanie storyline remains topic A for many — Whisenhunt was talking about Wells getting more carries than Tim Hightower of late. Part of it is because Beanie is running well, Whisenhunt said, part is because Hightower’s thumb has been an issue. But, and I know this will bother some out there, that doesn’t mean it won’t balance out again. “It’s play-driven, package driven,” Whisenhunt said. “They can go in and out on a play-by-play basis. It’s really not a conscious effort (to give Beanie more carries) as much as it is a game-plan-type thing.”

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Kurt loses a TD pass, and after practice

Posted by Darren Urban on December 23, 2009 – 1:56 pm

Every week, the NFL goes over the official scoring of each game and makes corrections. Rarely do they make much of an impact, other than changing whether a player gets a full sack or half-sack. But it did Wednesday, when Kurt Warner’s five-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to win the game in Detroit was changed to a five-yard touchdown run by Boldin. It was ruled that Warner threw a backward pass, meaning it was a lateral and a rush attempt. It changes Warner’s TD passes for the season from 25 to 24, becomes Q’s first career rushing touchdown, and costs the Cards five passing/receiving yards while adding five rushing yards.

Not a huge deal — unless, of course, Warner was your fantasy QB and you needed those points.

As for practice, the Cards have brought back linebacker Ali Highsmith to the practice squad. Linebacker Will Davis returned to work and said he actually did more than he originally was going to do. And WR Sean Morey and TE Ben Patrick seem to have suffered concussions Sunday, making their availability Sunday in doubt.

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