There is no official depth chart until right before the first game of the preseason (which, given that the Cardinals play Aug. 3 in Canton against the Cowboys, is sooner than normal anyway), but after the first practice of training camp, we get an idea at least of how the players are stacked for now.
Among the areas to note: The base defense and the offensive line.
On the line, the first unit was pretty plain during offseason work:
LT D.J. Humphries
LG Mike Iupati
C A.Q. Shipley
RG Evan Boehm
RT Jared Veldheer
The second unit lined up this way:
LT Ulrick John
LG Kaleb Johnson
C Cole Toner
RG Tony Bergstrom
RT John Wetzel
Interesting to see that rookie guard Dorian Johnson is not even second unit right now, considering so many have talked about him challenging Boehm for a starting spot. But realistically, it’s not a surprise. A lot can change over the five weeks of camp, but this is where they are right now.
Defensively, here’s how they lined up in base (first-second unit)
DT Josh Mauro Robert Nkemdiche
NT Corey Peters Rodney Gunter
DT Frostee Rucker Olsen Pierre
OLB Markus Golden Kareem Martin
ILB Haason Reddick Gabe Martin
ILB Karlos Dansby Scooby Wright
OLB Chandler Jones Alani Fua
CB Patrick Peterson Jumal Rolle
CB Justin Bethel Brandon Williams
S Tyrann Mathieu Budda Baker
S Tyvon Branch Antoine Bethea
Things change in sub-packages — Bethea, for instance, is ahead of Baker at this point, on the first unit — but again, this will ebb and flow to a certain degree.
Tags: depth chart, training camp
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As mentioned the other day, the Cardinals still have a vacancy on their 90-man roster. Bruce Arians, during an interview on Arizona Sports, indicated that the Cards could still re-sign veteran running back Chris Johnson, which has always been a possibility as long as Johnson remained on the market.
With all that in mind, a quick look at the notable veterans General Manager Steve Keim has signed in the days prior or during training camp while the Cardinals are at University of Phoenix Stadium:
2013 — T Eric Winston (started all season), LB John Abraham (led team in sacks), K Dan Carpenter (signed as competition to Jay Feely, lost battle.)
2014 — T Max Starks (eventually released at end of camp), DT Tommy Kelly (had a solid season as a replacement for the injured Darnell Dockett.)
2015 — TE Jermaine Gresham (has been team’s top tight end since), C Lyle Sendlein (started all season), RB Chris Johnson (played well before late-season injury.)
2016 — LB Donald Butler (released during final cuts), CB Mike Jenkins (was in line to start until tearing ACL).
Odds favor a couple more signings in this camp, necessary either because of play or injury. Whether they make a difference (see: 2016) we will see, but as always, the roster is churning.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Dan Carpenter, Darnell Dockett, Donald Butler, Eric Winston, free agency, Jay Feely, Jermaine Gresham, John Abraham, Lyle Sendlein, Max Starks, Mike Jenkins, Steve Keim, Tommy Kelly, training camp
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As I come back off vacation, things are still quiet around the Cardinals’ facility. Coaches and players won’t start filtering in until next week (report day for training camp is a week from Friday, with the first practice on July 22, a week from Saturday.) This is the time when the radar gets raised for a potential veteran signing for training camp.
The Cardinals currently have one open spot on the 90-man roster, a vacancy created the last time the Cards made moves more than a month ago. Odds are that it would be more of a fringe guy to fill out a position heading into camp, a name that most won’t recognize. But it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to have someone with a better chance of making the roster. The last we heard from GM Steve Keim, the team was monitoring a bunch of veterans who were possibilities (assuming the price was right.)
There are cornerbacks out there, although if you are floating around right now, there are questions: Darrelle Revis is price v. age (and since he is already making $6 million this season and has offset language, he may not be motivated to play), Sam Shields has dealt with concussions, Brandon Flowers and Alterraun Verner are smaller. When last we heard from running back Chris Johnson, he said he was still in contact with the team. Maybe there is a guard to compete with Evan Boehm (besides rookie Dorian Johnson.)
One thing that seems certain: Adding whomever it is won’t be the only move of camp. Since Keim took over as GM, the Cardinals have averaged 18 roster moves from camp-opening week through the first cut to 75. (Again, don’t forget that a new rule means there won’t be a cut to 75 this season, only the final cut, which will take teams from 90 to 53.) The roster, through performance and injuries, will be churned soon enough.
Tags: Alterraun Verner, Brandon Flowers, Chris Johnson, Darrelle Revis, free agency, Roster, Sam Shields, Steve Keim, training camp
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Larry Fitzgerald has already created a legacy that would look pretty nice even if he walked away from the game tomorrow, but that didn’t stop him from being angry (enough that he bellowed an expletive) for not being able to bring in a catch at one recent practice of what was basically an errant throw. That’s what you notice about Fitz, how much he works whenever he is on the practice field.
You also notice that he’s always on the practice field. He doesn’t get banged up often, not in the offseason. Not every player can say the same. It’s something Bruce Arians said he noticed when it comes to soft-tissue problems.
“He knows how to train,” Arians said of Fitz. “He’s tweaked (hamstrings), but he keeps going. He knows how to train. These young guys, they don’t know how to train when they go by themselves, or they hire somebody who trains them to run track. Not move around and hit the ground and push things. So they get soft-tissue injuries when they get to (training) camp.”
Arians said there was a “long conversation” Thursday morning on the topic with the team in their final meeting of the offseason.
“You get a soft-tissue injury this year (in camp), you’re probably going to get cut,” Arians said. “It’s just too competitive.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Larry Fitzgerald, training camp
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As minicamp wraps up today with a final practice before the veterans scatter for the summer, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said in terms of signing a veteran to help the roster, options are still on the table.
“(Team president) Michael (Bidwill) and I talked about six to eight players, who are still on the street, who could potentially come in and help us,” Keim said in an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7.
Keim didn’t get specific, either in name or position. But he noted the obvious, based on Keim’s past veteran signings in this regard: It’s not just about a scheme fit or need, it’s also about price. The Cardinals see a value in these signings, and even if a player intrigues them, they have weighed the cost-benefit. They are only going to play “x” amount for any particular player, and they won’t blow their salary measurement out of any perceived need.
(To clarify — the Cards won’t sign as many as six or eight. That’s just the number of players that are on the radar. I’d guess some play the same position, so if one signed, the others are out. As usual, I’d anticipate one or two Keim camp specials at most, barring injuries.)
We’ve talked about this before. Maybe a cornerback makes sense (that’s the position I’d look at first). Maybe a guard if Evan Boehm doesn’t keep moving forward. Maybe a running back to fill out the room, depending on what Andre Ellington and/or Elijhaa Penny do. But to think there won’t be a signing or two around/into training camp just doesn’t do the history of Keim any justice.
Tags: free agency, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim, training camp
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The Cardinals will get a fifth preseason game. That was announced Thursday, with the Cards facing the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game (the Cardinals also have to play Dallas during the regular season). While the game likely eases the problem of having to be out of University of Phoenix Stadium Aug. 4 for a concert — the game in Aug. 3, and it’s possible the Cards could just take a couple days off and start again Aug. 6 or 7 — it does make camp longer. The official start date of camp won’t be announced for a while, but teams can begin up to 15 days before their first game. Mid-July, anyone? OK, it probably is going to play to mixed reviews.
Worst news ever! 5 pre season games & an extra week of training camp. Smh…
At least we can go to the @WGC_Bridgestone. Lol
— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) February 23, 2017
Another interesting part of this is Bruce Arians’ recent comments about hitting/tackling more in training camp. An extra week of practice plus another game adds to the risk.
But it also plays into a 2017 season that will already feature a trip to London. Those dates and length of the trip still have to be announced, but it seems likely the Cardinals will be across the pond for a week or so. The schedule also includes trips to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia (which could be wrapped into the London trip, possibly), Indianapolis, Houston and Detroit, the two remaining NFC West rivals, and whomever the Cards may play on the road in the preseason. The miles will add up.
Tags: Cowboys, Hall of Fame game, Larry Fitzgerald, London, training camp
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It’s been no secret — Bruce Arians made it pretty clear the day after the season — that the Cardinals are planning on using the franchise tag on linebacker Chandler Jones if necessary. Team president Michael Bidwill reiterated that Tuesday during an appearance on the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7.
“We’re not going to mess around with that,” Bidwill said. “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”
Some of the other points Bidwill made (aside from a concert moving training camp for a few days):
— On the Cardinals’ own significant free agents: “We’re going to be negotiating with these folks and we already are, and we’re hopeful to get everyone under contract,” Bidwill said. “If we get everybody under contract, that’ll be a huge win for us. If we get most of them, that will be very good for us.”
Bidwill wasn’t specific about the players, but among them are defensive keys, Jones, defensive lineman Calais Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson.
— On the London game against the Rams, which will be either Oct. 22 or 29. “We’ve been lobbying for us to get over there,” Bidwill said. “(The league) wanted us to give up a home game, which we will have to do as part of the next bid for the Super Bowl, but we really wanted to be a visiting team. This year we finally got the call.”
Bidwill said the NFL is “overdue” in making the announcement over the specific date, and he will be pushing for that decision so that the team and fans can plan for the trip.
— Wide receiver John Brown should regain his form after battling his sickle cell issues, Bidwill said. “He is very healthy,” Bidwill said. “It looks like they found the issue and we’ll get Smoke back the way we had him.”
Tags: Chandler Jones, John Brown, London, Michael Bidwill, Rams, training camp
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The NFL is testing out the ability to use Microsoft tablets and video on the sidelines, seeing what it could mean for the future of the game. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians noted they had them in the first preseason game against the Raiders.
“I watched one play the referee called holding and it wasn’t holding and I showed it to him,” said Arians, referring to a hold called on tight end Troy Niklas that Arians had previously complained about. The penalty negated a touchdown.
“I said (to the official) this would be your worst nightmare if I had this on the sideline,” Arians added.
That drew a chuckle in the press conference, but Arians was serious when he said he hoped video was never part of in-game use on the sideline.
“Helps bad coaches,” Arians said. “You spend six hours on a blitz (for your defense) on Tuesday, he can watch it … offensively you don’t run the same plays very often but defensively, you spend a lot of hours and time on a blitz that a guy can watch it on tape and show his guys and fix it in the first quarter.
“That’s not what it’s all about.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Raiders, rules, training camp, Troy Niklas, video
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The recent contract Larry Fitzgerald signed — keeping the wide receiver in Arizona in 2017, assuming he is still playing — wasn’t something he was looking for, but he emphasized that winning and the Cardinals’ ability to win played a role.
“It wasn’t my idea,” Fitzgerald said. “I didn’t go and stand on Steve (Keim)’s table and asked for an extension. If that’s what you’re asking, that wasn’t the case. I’m down for whatever is going to keep this thing going as long as we can.
“As you know, it goes in spurts in this league. A while back we had some teams that were pretty good, had a couple down years, and now we’re at that point where we have a really good thing going. We have a good mesh of older veteran guys and a mesh of good younger guys like Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu and Chandler Jones, D.J. Humphries. That’s a great blend to have.”
That wouldn’t be the only reason Fitz would want to play in 2017, but at this point in his career, it’s a must-have.
Other lunchtime stuff after a day off:
— WR Smokey Brown (headache) might not practice this afternoon. With Brown coming off a concussion, it’s something to watch.
— Fitzgerald isn’t practicing because of the slight MCL issue in his knee, but he waved off any concern. “I’m good,” he said. “I could probably go out there and be effective and do my job, but a setback now with less than two weeks to go would be less than ideal. I want to do what I can to help my team now but obviously Sept. 11 is when it really hits the fan.”
— QB Carson Palmer is getting a day off today. The injury list is pretty short right now, though. A good sign.
— Coach Bruce Arians shrugged off the idea the offense needs to get into a rhythm in a preseason game. “Not really,” he said. “I see it enough in practice.”
— Arians wouldn’t comment on the report he will be named the NFL’s competition committee. “Hasn’t been announced yet,” he said.
Tags: contract, Larry Fitzgerald, training camp
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Andre Ellington is now listed as the top kickoff and punt returner on the depth chart. The kickoff part isn’t that surprising. The punt return part is, since a) Ellington has never really done it and b) it wasn’t really a consideration when camp started. But Ellington, who finally got a chance to return one in a game in San Diego, is going to have the opportunity.
We’ll see how comfortable Ellington can get back there. This possibility has been building since the day Chris Johnson re-signed. When the three top running backs were healthy last season, David Johnson was returning kickoffs and there was a reason to have all three active on game days. Now that David Johnson is going to be the main back, he won’t be returning kickoffs — so to have all three active, someone has to play special teams. That’s not Chris Johnson. So you try and see what Ellington can do as the dual return man. (You don’t really want Patrick Peterson returning punts anymore either.)
Watching him in practice, Ellington looks very much like a work in progress. But Bruce Arians is right — if Ellington does get his hands on a punt, he’s the kind of player that fits such a return perfectly, getting the ball in space on what essentially is an extended stretch running play, in which Ellington can use his burst to blow up the field.
Tags: Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson, David Johnson, Patrick Peterson, special teams, training camp
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