Contents

FEATURES

Current Highlights

Rumors & Innuendo

Depth Chart

Roster

Player Evaluation

2012 DRAFT ISSUE

Draft Summary Page

OTHER TOPICS

History of the Cardinals

About the Big Red Sheet

Welcome From the Editor

About the Editor

Memory of a True Card Fan

Order Cardinal Tickets

Links to  Cardinal Related Sites

 

Gollin's Blog - by Jeff Gollin

The 2014 "Bite Me" Hall of Fame
(Reserved for media pundits who unfairly slam the Cardinals)

  • I wasn't thrilled that, during coverage of Aeneas Williams' being named to the HOF, the NFL Network announcers never failed to mention that "of course, Aeneas played on some really awful Cardinal teams." Really? Seriously?

  • I've got a problem with PFF's "sabremetric" analysis of NFL defenses - that ranked the Cards somewhere around #25 and ignored some of the more bread & butter aspects of defensive play - like turnover ratios, total yards and points allowed etc. etc. Based on the tried and true basis called "performance", the Cardinal defense deserved a higher ranking.

Game Blacked Out in SD
Typical of the slipshod way the NFL and the TV networks handle preseason telecasts, there's been a last-moment schedule change - The DirecTV grid has replaced the 10 pm ET telecast of Cards vs. Chargers (preseason game #4) with regular network programming. I'm guessing that the game was blacked out due to lagging ticket sales. Fans will have to turn to a paid-for I-Pad App or wait until the replay of the game is aired later in the weekend (close-to or after the final cutdown date) on NFL Network.

This is one more example of insane thinking on the part of the executives who represent the networks, League and its teams. Think about it: We have this preseason game that only a small, hard-core segment of football watchers care about. Most of the starters will be benched. The game doesn't count in the standings. It's all about some 3rd stringer from Dingaling University battling a second stringer from Big Moose College for a backup roster spot. You'd think these smart suits would figure out that (1) blackout policies shouldn't apply "because this isn't a "real" football game and shouldn't be expected to be a sell-out; (2) a small, loyal group of local and out-of-town fans (who, incidently, buy obscene amounts of merch) really want to watch this game "in real time" before the final cuts; but (3) are far from large enough to be considered a "mass market." Therefore, (4) there must be a way to air the game at discounted ad rates so that it at least matches standard Thursday night programming in revenue so that they can air the game without risking financial exposure. By changing the schedule less than a week before game-date, a lot of hard-core fans from coast to coast (who, no doubt, had planned their long Labor Day weekend around watching the game) will now have to change their weekend plans accordingly. It's nuts!

Memo to The Suits: I'm told this problem has a lot to do with arcane contracts drawn up at the dawn of the Single Wing. Take a look at this rat's nest and put together a more rational way of dealing with unsold seats, broadcast rights, blackouts etc. (End of rant).


Kelly a Card
Cards signed FA defensive tackle, Tommy Kelly. To make room for Kelly, the Cards dropped newly signed FA defensive lineman, Ryan McBean (thereby demonstrating that just because they just signed you doesn't guarantee you job security). Kelly was signed by the Raiders as an UFDA in 2004. His bio indicates flashes of potential interspersed with years of underachievement. At Oakland, he got to play next to stellar inside defensive line leaders and mentors as Warren Sapp and Richard Seymour. He was released by the Raiders in March, 2013 and picked up by the NE Patriots, but wound up on IR in Game #8 and was released by NE a couple of days ago. His best years were between 2008 and 2012 when he appeared in all 16 games during the five-year stretch, with high-marks being 60 tackles in 2010 and 7.5 sacks in 2011. He can play all D-line positions and would probably fit best in a Darnell Dockett type UT/RDE hybrid role. He should add veteran leadership to the Cardinal lockerroom; the only major questions being the state of his knee and what he has left in the proverbial tank. Based solely on the limited information I have, I like the signing - it should represent a net-improvement over McBean in filling a backup role for the spot vacated by Dockett.


Preseason Game #4 - What I'm Looking For:
Tues. Aug. 26 - BA has already announced that (1) he doesn't plan to play his starters and (2) rookie QB, Logan Thomas, will get all the snaps. Guys coming off injury rehab (most notably, Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Minter and Alameda Ta'amu) will probably be a game-day decision (but, as I see it, in every case, it looks better than 50-50).

So on Thursday night, we'll be focusing on (a) Logan Thomas, (b) how good our returning-injured look and (c) who's winning (or losing) roster battles.

Regarding positions:

  • QB looks set at 3.

  • WR figures to be pared down from 8 players to 6, with (assuming BA doesn't throw us a curve ball and drop Ginn) Buckner, Golden and Powell fighting for a final roster spot.

  • TE needs to go from 5 to 4, with Hardy most likely to be whacked though Niklas isn't 100% home-free.

  • OL figures to top out at 9 offensive linemen (which means we'll have to shed 4 players). Five linemen (Palmer, Estes, Blake, Steen and Potter) figure to duke it out for one remaining open spot.

  • DL - We traditionally keep 6. This season, I think we keep 7; which means dropping 3. On the bubble: Gaston, Tupou, McBean, Stinson (Bottom line - at least one good guy will probably have to go).

  • LB - We're currently carrying 13 and figure to get down to no more than 7 or 8 - which means wholesale pruning of some pretty good players (but you can't keep everyone). Most vulnerable: Tracy, Jonathan Brown, Carson, Okafor, Benard and Demens. Demens has gotten the most quality playing time and looks safest. Okafor has drawn favorable comments by the coaches and would seem to be "next safest."

  • DB - Currently at 14; we figure to get down to 9 or 10. Six guys (Whitley, Legree, Walters, Teddy Williams, Taylor and McCann) figure to be fighting for the last one or two open spots.

  • ST - We're set at 3 (including long snapper).

BA cautions that who we keep or cut may, at least in part, be influenced by injury, so we'll just wait and see. Meanwhile, we should never forget that jobs and careers are at stake; (this ain't fantasy football).


Cards Cut Feely, Starks & 11 Others
Mon. Aug. 25 - "Coach wants to see you - oh yeah, bring your playbook": Ryan Lindley QB, Damien Thigpen RB, Reggie Dunn WR, Kevin Ozier WR, Tom Drahelm C, Max Starks T, Justin Renfrow DT, Jo Jo Dickson LB, Keenan Clayton, LB, Derrell Johnson LB, Brandon Sermens CB, Ohrian Johnson S and Jay Feely. As predicted, two established veterans (Feely - who lost his duel with Chandler Catanzaro- and Starks) were let go. Next cutdown will be the biggie and will take place after the final preseason game Thursday vs. the Chargers.


 

Palmer Lays Egg/Defense Shines in 19 - 13 Loss to Bengals
Mon. Aug. 25 - "Preseason is preseason." I get that. But the one thing that jumped out at me is that the Cardinals demonstrated that they are fundamentally capable of laying an egg if when they let their guard down (we've seen how good this team can be when they are operating on all-cylindars. Now we know how bad they can look when they aren't).
It is one thing for a team to attain a certain level of excellence; but it is equally as important that they play to that level consistently. This is what the Bengal preseason game should teach all of us.

Cutdown to 75 players should take place later today (actual deadline is tomorrow). I won't venture a guess as to who may be "Turk Meat" (because it's hurtful to players whose careers are on the line and because I'm no mind reader - we can see what a player does on the field, but it's hard to guess what BA or a position coach may be thinking about a young man's future potential within the context of possible team need). I do think, however, that the Cardinals are loaded at some positions and that we may find at least one "surprise cut" among the next 13 - 15. Stay tuned


Cards Sign Sopoaga and McBean
Thurs. Aug. 21 - As expected, the Cards signed FA nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and DE/DT Ryan McBean. While logically, you'd conclude that the moves were a direct result of Darnell Dockett's being placed on IR. things aren't that simple (Sopoaga is a NT. Dockett was a hybrid DT/DE with a "Swiss Army Knife" skill set that will be difficult for one individual to replace). Either the role of
the DE opposite Calais Campbell will change or the void left by Dockett will have to be filled by two or more different defensive linemen in rotation. Frostee Rucker is slated to move up into Dockett's starting spot on the Cardinal depth chart. McBean figures to compete with rookie draftees Ed Stinson and Kareem Martin to be backup DE's.

Preseason TV Notes - Late Breaking - According to the DirecTV program grid, CBS - West (out of LA) changed its schedule at the last moment and is scheduling regular programming instead of the Cardinal - San Diego game. (I'm guessing they didn't sell out the game and blacked it out). Whatever the reason, it sucks. I've been blessed by the DirecTV gods who let me be grandfathered into receiving the West Coast feeds of CBS, NBC and ABC (all originating in LA). Which means I can watch the LA network channels from my distant perch 3,000 miles away near the New Jersey Shore. How cool, then, to discover that Preseason Game #4 (Thurs. Aug. 28th vs. the Chargers) is scheduled to be aired "live" on the CBS channel out of LA starting at 10:00 pm ET. So - if you live on the West Coast and receive the CBS Los Angeles channel or, like me, live in the hinterlands of the North American continent and are lucky enough to get the LA channel on your satellite dish - you too will get to see the Cardinal game "live."

Of course there are other ways to view preseason Cardinal games in "real time" - like paying for an I-Pad app courtesy of NFL.com. Or you can watch it "free" a day or two later on NFL Network. Of course, in none of these instances, are you guaranteed to enjoy local Cardinal announcers like Ron Wolfley and Dave Pasch. (You may be stuck with Charger "homers" - though probably not as obnoxious as the ones from Minnesota, but still less inclined to keep the fans of "the other team" up-to-speed on who made the tackle, who caught the sideline pass or who whiffed). Whatever the case, watching preseason games "live" is nice - especially when it's on a Thursday night when it doesn't conflict with Ray Donovan or The Knick.

As expected, the suits at FoxSports Arizona reeled us in by airing Preseason Game #1 (Houston) without blackout; but then came right back a week later and blacked out Game #2 (Minnesota). Stuff like that is why we continue to clutter our site with disclaimers about "check channel frequently for late schedule changes. This has been going on for well nigh a decade - you'd think the FSN, the Cards and the League would have fixed this by now.


Ta'amu and"Badger" Off PUP List/Sopoaga in Cards?
Wed. Aug. 20 - Alameda Ta'amu and Tyran Mathieu returned to the practice field after a long injury rehab stretch on the PUP list. Ta'amu's return comes precisely the right time -as the Crds cope with the gaping roster-hole left by Darnell Dockett's knee injury. (A word of caution: Ta'amu and Dockett are two different breeds of cat - Darnell filled the hybrid role of penetrating rush DT
and RDE opposite Calais Campbell. Ta'amu is pure nose tackle who splits time in rotation with fellow NT Dan Williams.

The Cards, therefore, get some quality depth back at NT but still have to figure out how to replace Dockett (either by a change in scheme or addition or promotion of personnel). It's reported that the Cards took a run at FA defensive tackle Brett Keisel, but he turned down the offer and is close to returning to the Steelers. Another report has the Cards setting their sights on 330 lb DT Isaac Sopoaga (formerly of SF, NE and Philly) and, if things go OK, plan to sign him. In addition, Cards are high on their rookie UDFA DT Bruce Gaston who's day to day on the Cardinal MASH unit.

Stay tuned.


Dockett Done for Season
Mon. Aug.18 - Darnell Dockett's cleat got stuck in the turf during practice at University of Phoenix Stadium, and, because of that one split-second hiccup, is out for the season. Darnell was a team-leader and also had a unique skill-set that will make his combo role as a 3-4
DE and penetrating passing down DT hard to imitate. You can't help but feel for Darnell, but, at the same time, if there's one player with the grit and fortitude to make it all the way back, it's D-Dock.

Judging from early media accounts, there's more than a little panic in River City. The injury has been described as "a crushing blow" to the Cardinal defense and, according to Calais Campbell, "a player we counted on week in and week out to be a leader."

But the tough reality is that injuries are a fact of life in the NFL and you never know when and where the Injury Gods will swoop down and confiscate a key player. But "life goes on"; we still have to play the games. D. Urban points out that the Cards had been quietly building depth on their DL and we could expect bigger roles for rookie draft picks Kareem Martin and Ed Stinson as well as undrafted rookie Bruce Gaston (due to return after being sidelined for 2 weeks with a knee injury) and Alameda Ta'amu (also due to return from knee-injury rehab). We're just going to have to do it.

The loss of Dockett (on the heels of the departure of Karlos Dansby and suspension of Daryl Washington) will strongly test the Keim and Arians doctrine of "everybody step up one spot." But let's not forget: the season hasn't even started, other teams will be hit with injuries and, rather than panic, we expect BA and his staff to find a way. (As Campbell summed it up: "Hopefully, if you have a good team, you don't miss a beat").


Weird Loss in "Homer City":
Sun. Aug.16 - What a strange football game.

First of all, we were held captive in the TV coverage by a Minnesota "homer" TV crew. They were loud. They were arrogant. And they barely acknowledged that they were playing the Cardinals. More than half the time, they'd fail to mention which Cardinal player made or (didn't make) the tackle or did (or didn't) break up a pass.

Their biggest gaffe took place early in the game when Jaron Brown went up high to catch a sideline pass and somehow managed to tip-toe down the left sideline for 51 yards. "Wow! We heard a lot about this rookie sensation named 'John Brown'" The announcers exclaimed. (And they continued to heap praise on #12 for about 5 minutes, failing to realize that there were "2 Browns" who played WR and that the dude who made the catch was Jaron and not John).

And then there was the weirdness surrounding the final minute or two of play - It was about 11 pm ET and I was busy scurrying around the house with final "before bedtime chores" (like cleaning the kitty litter box, flossing the old gums and sorting out various pills I'm supposed to take before bedtime). So there we are - at the end of a game we were about to lose - with just a couple of minutes before I'm about to call it a day and hit the rack. But no-o-o! A couple of penalties help move the Cards deep into Viking territory, but Lindley seems unable to move us past the goal line. Suddenly it's 4th & goal at the 6 with 1:25 on the clock, and Arians predictably decides to "go for it." But Lindley muffs the snap. (OK game over, I concede). But the ball somehow winds up under a pile of sweating bodies and comes out the side of the scrum to where RB Zach Baumann came up with the ball and ran it in for what should have been the winning score.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - first the officials have to have a nice long chat. (Frankly, I thought they'd overturn the call - which was that it was a touchdown - surely someone with his knee or elbow on the ground must have touched the ball while it was rolling around beneath the writhing heap of flesh. But the officials upheld the decision - that it was a "free ball" after the fumble and that it could be picked up and run in).

But that wasn't the end of the story - With little more than 1:00 to go, Teddy Bridgewater was able to mount a final game-winning drive made possible by Todd Bowles "dialing it up" and bringing the kitchen sink on a variety of blitzes on 5 or more consecutive plays. It is to Bridgewater's credit that he was able to handle the pressure and pick apart the Cardinal defense which - because it forced man coverage, didn't protect the sidelines and enabled Minnesota pass receivers to run out of bounds to stop the clock - gave Bridgewater ample time and room to mount the final scoring drive which put the Vikes on top 30 - 28.

I finally hit the rack around an hour later than I expected to. Thank goodness preseason games don't count.


Day Before Viking Preseason Contest - Minor Housekeeping:
Fri. Aug.15 - We've been around too long to place too much credence on the outcome of first preseason games. The win over Houston was impressive (some would say "near perfect"( but we come out of it not knowing much more about roster battles for starting spots or, for that matter, battles to merely survive on the roster. Too much can still happen that can turn any roster on its head. It will take this preseason game (& probably Game #3) to get a decent handle on the make-up of our starting line-up or what our 53-man roster will look like.

Within that context - we're going to pay extra attention to (1) whether Lindley performs as well or better than Logan Thomas did last week, (2) whether Coop (aching toe notwithstanding) will withstand a challenge from Watford to become our starting LG, (3) if last week's impressive offensive performance was "for real" or simply a one-shot phenominon that took advantage of a subpar Houston effort, (4) whether we can sack Minnesota passers 3 or more times, (5) how our 1Q run -defense looks vs. Adrian Peterson (if he plays), (6) how competent our LB's perform, (7) noise management in enemy territory, (8) (my favorite) who, if any, of the unsung guys on our roster step up and surprise us and, of course, (9) no major injuries..

Personnel Update - John Abraham is back in camp (but unlikely to be ready physically to play vs. Minny. Cards added veteran ILB Desmond Bishop.

Cutdown Dates - Rest easy (for now), young Cardinal studs. The first cutdown deadline - from 90 players (Cards now at 88) to 75 - won't be till Tues. Aug, 26 (which is after Preseason Game #3). Final cut (from 75 to 90) takes place Sat. Aug. 30 (after Preseason Game #4). Waiver claims and stacking of 8-player practice squad roster takes place one-day later on Sun. Aug. 31.

Go get 'em!


Houston "Laugher" - Second Thoughts
Mon. Aug.11 - I thought I said everything I had to say in my post-game write-up but, having an extra day to re-watch the game (on a full size TV screen instead of my I-Pad) and chew over what I saw, here are some additional thoughts about the game:

A word about the TV coverage: It's been a tradition in past preseasons to record the FoxSports Arizona telecast of the opening game only to discover to our dismay that the coverage was blacked out to non-Arizona viewers. (A couple of times, FSN-AZ actually aired the first 5-minutes of the game only to then post the dreaded "blackout notice" on their screen). Well this time they aired the entire Houston game and deserve a "Yay."

And speaking of "Yays", kudos to the announcing duo of Dave Pasch and Ron Wolfey. While the Wolf upheld his time-honored tradition for waxing pollyannish about the Cardinals, he tempered it with even-handed analysis of both the pros and cons of each player he discussed. He also got a bit more technical than he had in the past - referring to such esoteric terminology as "12 Personnel" and "man coverage with a safety deep and a 'lurker' in the secondary." While I'm not totally up-to-speed on X's & 0's jargon, I'm glad Wolf used it. (It will be up to me to learn it).

In waxing poetic about all the good things that happened Saturday night, I missed a few other positives and glossed over some of the stuff that needs cleaning up:

  • Some of the penalties can be attributed to Ed Hoculy's crew of officials "trying to relay a message from the League", but we were still flagged too much.

  • Stepfon Taylor has to make better decisions and quicker decisions when he's in the hole. That's the only thing that's missing in his game, but it's a make or break thing.

  • As good as Smokey Brown looked, there were still a handful of times where he either failed to catch the ball or he got open but the QB underthrew him. He must understand that his role (as #3 receiver) is to catch 8 out of 10 passes thrown his way (a .500 "batting average" isn't high enough).

  • Darren Fells dropped a TD pass and let a pass rusher get past him. (Wolf said he also dropped a few in practice). For a while in during the weeks leading up to Saturday, it looked as if Darren would be second only to John Brown as "one of our rising hot new players." Instead, this is beginning to look suspiciously like make or break time when Darren either rises to the occasion or fades quietyly into the sunset.

  • I'm beginning to get nervous about Jonathan Cooper (& by the way, kudos to Darren Urban for his excellent piece breaking down Coop's performance on every snap. It made me feel a little better). But he wasn't 100% in pass pro and I'm not aware of any moments where he pancaked or otherwise dominated his opponent. And it wasn't helpful when he got up slowly after getting rolled-on in the 2Q. I think this is one of those cases where your medics and coaching staff combine patience with close-monitoring while, at the same time, make certain Watford is ready to roll at LG "just in case."

  • Kenny Demens is quietly compiling his own highlight reel on special teams.

  • I think a somewhat underrated hallmark of our corners is how physical they are from top to bottom (In one on one situations, I cannot remember any CB missing a tackle). Usually a corner is either good in coverage or a good tackler - but not both. All of our guys are "full service" DB's.

That's all for now - take one day to bask in the glory of the Houston win in a preseason game and then let's get ready for the Vikes.


First Card Preseason Game Kicks Off Tomorrow
Fri. Aug. 8 - We play Houston, Andre Johnson and Adrian Foster aren't expected to suit up for the Texans, but it looks like JadevionClowney (who was iffy due to injury) is now expected to appear. Meanwhile, the Cards are down two players - TE Jake Ballard retired and the Cards cut ILB Ernie Sims. This is how things go in preseason (guys nursing nagging injuries are held out. Your starters tend to only be in for a few early series, with the rest of the time devoted to evaluating the remaining guys on your 88 - 90-man roster. Playbooks tend to be abbreviated (because different teams install their schemes at different rates and according to different sets of priorities. They also will hold back stuff they want to hide until they use it during the regular season).

It would, therefore, be unwise to over-predict or over analyze our first preseason game. Three things I plan to zero in on are: (1) How crisp we look on offense, (2) If any unexpected players "flash" and (3) who if anybody gets injured (hopefully no one).

And, oh yeah, one other thing - Each player will typically have from between zero and a half-dozen or so opportunities to show what they've got. A QB - like Logan Thomas (who's expected to play an entire quarter in the second half) - may, by reason of his position have more opportunities to shine. At the other extreme, a 4th-string DB might only see action late in the 4Q and have little or none opportunities to make an impression. Nevertheless, what each player does with the opportunities he gets (i.e. the percentage of time he rises to the occasion vs. the percentage of time he "bolo's") will no doubt play a big part in shaping his future as a Cardinal.

Other than that - I'm stoked! Football's back! Yay!


Training Camp Outlook- "It's Still Early"
Mon. Aug. 4 - We're moving thru training camp like an express train. FanFest was Saturday. We play Houston Saturday night. So what do we know? More than we think/less than we think. A cute statement, but what do I mean?

Well, we know how many players on our roster performed last year against elite teams. And we know how both these players and new additions to our roster have looked in mini-camps, OTA's and the beginning of TC. And, by reputation, we know how most newcomers are expected to perform from this point forward. So we have a pretty fair country idea of what to expect.

But we can't know all this with much certainty. Some players who "look good in shorts" will fade into the sunset at the first sign of contact (or vice versa). Injuries can erase a veteran fixture or top prospect from your depth chart. A bright prospect can find his way into a coach's dog-house. A massive interior lineman might eat his way off the roster. Or a guy previously thought to be "camp fodder" will stitch together a bunch of consecutive big plays to come out of nowhere & challenge an aging veteran for a roster spot. A lot can happen between now and early September. And - despite BA's words of caution - a surprise player or two might unfortunately wind up "tased in Miami."

Like I said - we know a lot, but probably a lot less than we think. (I know what you're thinking - "Football is back! It's training camp. Where's the fun in all this if we can't bring out our crystal balls and dream of big things yet to come?"). I'll drink to that but, instead of making fearless forecasts about which player will or will not rise to the occasion, I'd rather pose a series of "things I'm looking for" during the next month or so - position-by-position:

Quarterback
When our receivers are open deep, are our QB's connecting with them most of the time? How do our passers look under pressure? How smooth do we execute screens? Does Logan Thomas look good enough to be trusted as our #3?

Running Back
Do our RB's make consistently positive yardage or are they being stacked up in the backfield too often? Are we picking up first downs on running plays when we need to? 'Who's our best thumper? Is there anyone besides Ellington who can be a home-run hitter? Can all our guys be trusted in pass pro?

Wide Receivers
Who are the guys who (a) separate & get open the most, (b) catch the highest percentage of catchable passes and (c) can beat their man deep ( and can come down with the ball) most often? Is our mix of big guys, fast guys and good-hands guys as good as we think they are?

Tight Ends
Who are our lights-out blockers? As pass catchers: who has the speed to get deep? Who's money in the clutch? Are any of these guys dominating their defenders one on one? Who, if anyone, looks good sealing off defenders on outside running plays?

Offensive Line
How consistent is Veldheer at shutting down his man in pass pro? Are our linemen solid at handing off assignments on stunts and blitzes? How secure do our QB's look back there? On running plays do we see our guys (on either side of center) regularly driving their opponents 10 -15 yards down the field?

Defensive Line
Are we still consistently stopping the run? More specifically, are we blowing up running plays in the backfield enough of the time? Do we consistently get our hands up on the pass rush? Considering injuries to our NT's, are we still tough enough and deep enough up the middle? Do we look disciplined vs. sweeps and screens?

Linebackers
Do we have an outside pass rush? (I repeat - do we have an outside pass rush)? Are we regularly exercising good gap discipline? Is our tackling consistently sound? If Minter, Foote etc. have less range than Dansby, DWash etc., will we have to play less man and more zone in order to cover sideline to sideline? How does this year's group of LB's look vs. the run/vs. the pass? Are there any veteran or rookie newcomers who might emerge as important factors?

Defensive Backs
How "shutdown" is this unit truly? Is the Cromartie/Peterson tandem "as advertised? Are we looking at a Bethel vs. Powers roster battle for backup corner? Or has Powers pretty much nailed down his #3 role? Do we have a potential Honey Badger clone who can fill that role until Mathieu returns? Or will we have to change our schemes in Mathieu's absence? Will T. Jefferson be good enough to fend off a challenge from Bucannon at one of the safeties? Anyone else stepping up to provide more depth at safety?

Special Teams
How will be the final outcome of the Feely vs. Cat competition? Can our coverage and kick blocking units get any better than it's been the past couple of years? How explosive will our return game be with Ginn or Smoky deep? (i.e. real threats or mostly preseason hype)?

So that in a nutshell, boys and girls, is what I'll be watching for. (What fun)!


Personnel Update the Morning of FanFest
Sat. Aug. 2 -- The Max Starks
rumor finally became fact. It seems as if every summer, his name would be at the forefront of trade rumors, but trigger never got pulled - until now. All indications are that the 6-8 345 lb tackle will line up with the second unit (the 10 year veteran has experience on both the left and right side). Coach Arians has been fairly open in his assessments of individual players, but you can never be sure whether he's being straightforward and candid or whether he's sending a motivational message to that player (or both). Reading between the lines, it sounds as if BA is happy with his starting tackles Veldeer and Massie and is happy with Potter but is not enthralled by last year's starting LT, Bradley Sowell (whom he described as merely "OK"). To give all this a solid dose of perspective, there is still plenty of time in training camp for a player to step up his game (or, conversely, to slide down the greased pole). All things being equal and barring anything major, the addition of Starks gives us experienced depth and veteran leadership at either tackle position - a very good thing since anything can happen in the National Football League.

Cards also cut OT Corey Brandon and K Dan Hrappman. They filled the remaining roster vacancy by signing rookie UDFA outside LB Derrell Johnson - 6-2 250 out of ECU. The kicking competiton therefore narrows between Jay Feeley and Chandler Catanzaro. The addition of Johnson makes logical sense as the Cards continue to look for additional pass rushing help.

On that last note, OLB John Abraham issued a brief apologetic press statement about his June 29 DUI incident and is expected to return to arrive at training camp "in 4 or 5 days." Coach Arians, Abraham and the team in general have been pretty closed mouthed about what actually happened, how Abraham has handled it and what (if anything) is likely to happen in terms of possible League action. Speculation is that John may have already spent some time at a rehab facility (which is why he missed the opening days of camp) and that is remedial action will be enough to satisfy the NFL - but that's all it is: "speculation." That plus a lot of hope that Abe is doing what's necessary to straighten out his life and that he'll be on the field for the entire season.


Abraham Faces DUI Charges
Wed. July 30, 2014 --
Last year's singular Cardinal pass rusher a year ago, OLB John Abraham was charged with DUI in suburban Atlanta June 29. Abraham has missed all of training camp thus far while he tries to sort out his legal difficulties. Despite some Pollyannish comments that "the legal system acts so slowly that Abraham probably won't face a League suspension during the upcoming season, my gut feeling is that "nothing about this feels good" and that the Cardinals would be well-advised to develop and follow an aggressive "Plan B."
The pool of existing FA pass rushers is non-existant or close to it, so Steve Keim, Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles may have to search our current 90-man roster to identify and develop potential pass rushers to replace Abraham. (maybe it will be Acho, Okafor or the rookie Kareem Martin). Moral of this story is that, in pro football, you never know how and when the Football Gods will find some new creative way to rain on your parade. The Cardinal brain trust is said to abide by the "next man up" approach to filling a positional vacuum. How well this works will be severely tested.

Peterson Extended for 5 Years
Wed. July 30, 2014 -- Patrick Peterson and Cardinal the Cardinals agreed to a deal that should make him a Cardinal thru Year 2020. According to Peterson's Tweat, deal was for $70-million total/$48-million guaranteed. Coming on the heels of the depressing news about John Abraham, this news about Peterson couldn't have come at a better time. Naturally, there will be a flurry of back & forths about "who's the best (& highest paid) corner back. Personally, I don't care. All that matters is how well PP21 plays between now and 2020 and whether that helps us get to the Super Bowl. One other positive side-benefit is that the Peterson-signing should help put to rest the traditional "Cards are cheap" media drumbeat we've been hearing for a gazillion years.

7/29 Mash Unit
Tues. July 29, 2014 -- Lyle Sendlein (calf) will be out for 3 weeks. Antonio Cromartie (pectoral) should miss 5 days. Andre Ellington (groin) is day to day. Ernie Sims (back spasms), Christian Tupou (groin) and Todd Washington (groin) were held out of action. And, of course, Alameda Ta'amu. Tyrann Mathieu and Dan Williams remain on the sidelines.


July 26th/27th Odds & Ends
Mon. July 28, 2014 -- Don't read too much into the following. We're only a couple of days into training camp and the squad has yet to put on pads. BA has cautioned that the difference between how guys look in "soccer" practice and how they look in full-pads is considerable.

  • Ladies & Gentlemen - Rev up your DVRS! Cardinal Training Camp will be covered by NFL Network tomorrow (Tuesday) from 2:00 - 4:30 pm AZT (5:00 - 7:30 pm ET).

  • Injuries - (In addition to Mathieu and Ta'amulu), Dan Williams has an unspecified knee issue. Jake Ballard was held out with a thigh bruise.
  • Due to the addition of speedsters like John Brown and Ted Ginn Jr., Patrick Peterson will not be needed for spot-duty as a receiver or returner.

  • In nickel/dime situations, Deone Bucannon replaces Kevin Minter as a 3rd safety along side Johnson and T Jefferson.


     

Yay! Football's Back!
Mon. July 21, 2014 -- The annual media black hole between post-draft minicamps/OTA's and Training Camp is just about over. This year, there will be changes -

For the first time in recent history, Camp will be held in Glendale and not Flagstaff. Rookies report Wednesday the 23rd; veterans check in (and Camp officially opens) on Friday, July 25th. First practice (open to the public) will be held Saturday the 26th.Cardinal rookies report tomorrow. Moving Camp to Glendale, has its good and not-so-good points. Migrating "up the hill" to enjoy the cooler, laid-back clime of Flagstaff is finito; but, conversely, in Glendale, more practices will be open to more fans. Here's a brief rundown of the Training Camp schedule:

  • Practices will be open to the public 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm on nearly a daily basis between July 26th and Aug. 22nd.

  • There will be a handful of days when there will be no practices (on preseason game days, travel-time to away games or just plain ol' days off). Those days are: Aug 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 and19.

  • For those of you who are "calendar challenged", July 26th happens to be this Saturday.

  • When Camp was held in Flagstaff, practice-reports - from both fans or media - were kind of hit or miss (depending on which fan-correspondents happened to be visiting when). When practices were conducted simultaneously on separate fields, reporters would have to abritrarily decide which practice to cover. Plus - you never really knew which citizen-reporters carried individual biases about players they liked or didn't like and which reporters were truly objective. The hope this summer is that more fans = better objectivity. From my perch (2000 miles away from the action), I'm stoked about the amount of of solid, accurate information about players we'll have at our disposal starting Saturday.

  • I'm guessing that fans may miss the informal rubbing of shoulders between fans and players they had during off hours in Flag; but I selfishly like the trade-off

  • The temptation during the recent "black-out" has been for the media to "manufacture news" to fill up pages. (Most aggregious has been NFL's Top 100 lists. Second place goes to "Top Players by Jersey #" corresponding to days to go until the opening of regular season). I will continue to avoid writing stuff you already know about just to fill space. (As actual news occurs during Camp, I'll report on it; but I'll try to avoid speculation based on what the pundits say).

  • Now that Camp is about to open, you should see a significant uptick of news, rumor and info here. (Thank goodness, football is back)!

  • Side note - I just received a cryptic note from the Arizona Sportsfans (ASFN) website advising that they have "canceled my subscription" (I didn't know I had a subscription for them to cancel). I understand hat some of their regulars wonder why I stopped posting on the ASFN bulletin board. It was because the tone of too many ASFN posts took on a competitive "I'm cooler than you" slant, waiting in the weeds to attack other posters instead of providing info, insights or knowledge. I didn't want to be a diva and enter into a "tit for tat" snipe-fest with these snide yahoos (after all, it's a free country and everyone has the right to speak their piece). But that doesn't mean I had to like (or read) what they were saying. At Age 75, I've got better things to do with my remaining time on this planet than worry about some bush league attack from someone on ASFN. So, rather than make a big deal about this on their pages, I opted instead to find other perches on which to roost. My two biggest go-to Cardinal sources are now the Official Cardinal website and the "Revenge of the Birds' fan site. And for those who want to contact me, I'm pretty good about promptly answering e-mails.

The Big Red Sheet web site is not the official web site nor do we represent the official views of the Arizona Cardinals Football Club or National Football League. We are a forum for various input and opinions from a broad variety of sources, and our content will most likely will be a combination of fact, opinion and hearsay. While we will take reasonable precautions to avoid inaccuracies or misstatements and will issue corrections or retractions if warranted, we will not assume responsibility for the type of minor unintentional inaccuracies that are a natural part of web site publishing.

Click here with questions or comments about the Cardinals or this web site.

Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 08/31/2013