From Money Mike to Coach Adams?

Posted by Darren Urban on April 6, 2010 – 3:55 pm

The scene was straight out of something coach Ken Whisenhunt likely would have drawn up himself: Cornerback Michael Adams, on the practice fields after Tuesday’s workout, doing some extra agility work. He wasn’t alone, joined by second-year defensive backs Greg Toler and Rashad Johnson, as well as new linebacker Stevie Baggs.

And Adams was coaching them.

Not a lot. He was showing Baggs what drills to do and, perhaps more importantly, why the players should do them. It’s a part of the NFL offseason Baggs hasn’t been through, and neither have Toler and Johnson — both of whom were waiting to be drafted at this time last year. “I’m just trying to be a good teammate,” Adams said.”If I get better and the people around me get better, then the team gets better. That’s all.”

Adams said he has always planned on becoming a coach when his playing days are over, eventually finding leading what he promises will be “the best high school team out there.” For now, he’s sticking to the NFL, working off the precedent set by former teammate Ralph Brown, who was known for taking younger players under his wing. Now, Adams pays it forward.

“Ralph always would explain why were were doing it,” Adams said. “If I can learn something from Ralph, someone can learn something from me, that person can teach someone else, it’s an ongoing cycle and we keep getting pretty good players.”

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Filling in the roster gaps

Posted by Darren Urban on March 24, 2010 – 1:47 pm

With the owners’ meetings wrapping up today and the pace of free agency slowing down, it may be a good time to look at where the Cardinals’ roster stands — and where there are holes that need to be filled by the time minicamp begins April 30.

This topic crossed my mind after writing yesterday about the signing of wide receiver Darren Mougey, who may or may not pan out but certainly isn’t been seen (at least as of now) as a replacement, whether it’d be Anquan Boldin or even Jerheme Urban. He’s just one of many receivers that will be on the roster this summer. Today, the Cardinals officially have 60 61 players on the roster, leaving 19 spots to be filled by the draft/undrafted rookies (which figures to total between 14 to 16, depending) and then some free-agent spots. There are seven veterans un-signed who could still return: LB Monty Beisel, FB Dan Kreider, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware, K Neil Rackers, DT Bryan Robinson and WR Sean Morey (although I think Morey is more likely to end up in Seattle right now).

(On my 60-man count, I am including all the restricted and exclusive rights free agents who have yet to sign their tenders, because they eventually will.)

What spots need shoring up? The Cards need at least one more quarterback, and even if St. Pierre comes back, they need someone young, at least for camp. They need another receiver or two, although I am guessing whether they chase a veteran may depend on what happens in the draft. Remember, at that spot, a fourth receiver would likely need to play special teams and guys like Kevin Curtis or Torry Holt tend not to want to do such things.

The Cards definitely need to look at nose tackle, especially if Robinson doesn’t return. They need inside linebackers even if Beisel comes back (which I expect). They probably could use another young pass rusher at outside linebacker without knowing exactly what Cody Brown/Mark Washington/Stevie Baggs brings to the table. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get another cornerback — you can never have too many — and a return man is also needed if Steve Breaston is going to be the No. 2 wideout.

Numbers-wise, here is the current 61-man breakdown by position:

  • QB  2
  • RB  4
  • FB  2
  • WR  6
  • OL  11
  • TE  4
  • DL 9
  • OLB  6
  • MLB  4
  • CB  6
  • S  5
  • Specialists  2

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A number of options

Posted by Darren Urban on March 23, 2010 – 4:10 pm

Monday, second-year linebacker Reggie Walker — a one-time undrafted guy, although a player who earned time last season as a rookie — was working out when I asked perhaps the most important question … at least right now, given that on-field work is still weeks away, and given that the Cardinals just signed free-agent linebacker Joey Porter.

“Are you keeping 55?” I asked, as in the jersey number he currently wears and the jersey number Porter has had his whole career. “I hope so,” Walker said, before pausing and acknowledging, “I hope I get something.”

Officially, Porter hasn’t been issued a jersey number. I asked Clark Haggans, a good friend of Porter’s, and he just shook his head and said, “I’m staying out of that one.” My guess is that, eventually, Porter and Walker will come to a meeting of the minds and Porter will end up with 55, but you never know. Already, Paris Lenon started as 51 and got 53 got 51 from fellow newcomer Stevie Baggs, who is now 57. I’m expecting possible flip-flops in the secondary too, now that Antrel Rolle (21) is gone, newcomer Kerry Rhodes (currently 21) is on the lookout for the 25 he had in New York and last year’s 25, Bryant McFadden, suddenly may have the shot at his Steelers’ number (20) assuming Ralph Brown doesn’t return.

It matters. I mean, I remember Cardinals safety Ifeanyi Ohalete dealing with courtrooms back in 2005 when he sued former teammate Clinton Portis, who got 26 from Ohalete when Portis arrived in Washington and then didn’t pay off the deal after Ohalete was cut from the Redskins. It’s about more than a number. It’s about an identity. Just ask 9-0, er, Darnell Dockett.

That doesn’t mean a guy like Walker won’t have to carve out a different identity, though. Only one guy is going to be able to drive 55 in the Cards’ locker room.

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About the pass rush

Posted by Darren Urban on February 4, 2010 – 11:30 am

When you talk about the Cards’ pass rush, you can’t get away from the fact the Cards were very successful this season piling up sacks. They finished with 43, sixth in the NFL and easily the most the team has had since moving to Arizona. In fact, it was the third-most in franchise history, behind the 1984 (55) and 1983 (59) defenses.

The Cards had another five sacks in the Wild Card win over Green Bay as well. But that game was a microcosm of the way the pass rush operated. All five sacks — two by Bertrand Berry and one each by Chike Okeafor, Darnell Dockett and Michael Adams — came because Aaron Rodgers couldn’t make the throw on his initial read. Adams’ sack, which led to the fumble that ended overtime, came after Karlos Dansby got his hands in Rodgers’ passing lane, forcing Rodgers to wait. The other four all came after Rodgers was flushed from the pocket. There is a bit of irony that they could be considered “coverage” sacks, given the way the Packers were able to pass on the secondary.

But flashing forward, that’s what the Cards are searching to improve — they’d love to find an edge rusher who can get a sack because he quickly whips his man and the quarterback simply doesn’t have time to react. That’s what Berry was in 2004 when he went to the Pro Bowl, and that’s why the Cards are giving a shot to CFL star Stevie Baggs. The DeMarcus Wares and Elvis Dumervils don’t grow on trees of course, so it isn’t as simple as “just go get one.”

Dockett obviously can get to the QB from inside, and I think Calais Campbell should evolve into a double-digit sack guy. But in the 3-4 alignment, the Cards need speed and youth outside. Will Davis looked decent as a rookie before getting hurt. We’ll see on Cody Brown; he’s going to go through a rookie year all over again after getting injured in the preseason. The Cards think Mark Washington looks the part and could be a find after getting him on their practice squad. Baggs isn’t young (he’s 28) but maybe he has turned the corner in the CFL.

If one of those guys — plus whomever the Cards draft at the spot, and they will take a pass rusher, I’d think — pans out, the Cards’ pass rush could be formidable, given what they already showed they can do.

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