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Tag:Arizona Cardinals
Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:22 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:24 am
 

Former TE Ben Patrick plays role of hero

By Josh Katzowitz

The last time we heard from Cardinals tight end Ben Patrick, he had just suffered a displaced kneecap in August 2010, and though that injury might sound rather, um, unhealthy, he said he was determined to be ready for that regular season.

It turns out, he was right, as he started in Week 1 and went on to catch a career-high 15 passes that season for Arizona, and though he was out of the league in 2011 following his surprising retirement, that kind of determination clearly isn’t reserved just for the football field.

As AZ Family reports, Patrick played the role of hero last weekend when he helped rescue a group of people who were trapped inside their overturned van following an auto accident on Saturday.

Patrick was driving his Lamborghini on Interstate 17 near Black Canyon, Az., when he came upon a van lying on its side. He stopped his car, and he smelled gas leaking from the van.

"My first thought was just to help the people on the inside," he said. “I ran over and I looked in the front window and everybody was laying sideways and I debated on kicking the window in, but I didn't want to get glass over everyone.”

Patrick retired before the 2011 season, saying he needed to attend to some family and personal matters, but about a month later, he unretired. The Giants held his rights, but released them, making him a free agent. He worked out for the Chiefs but didn’t sign a deal for 2011.

Patrick said he hopes to sign with the Panthers this year. But if not, Patrick can take solace in the fact that he’s already put forth a heroic performance so far in 2012.

                             


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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:55 pm
 

OT Martin says he's top tackle 'without a doubt'

Stanford's Martin doesn't exactly lack for confidence. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stanford's Jonathan Martin is NFLDraftScout.com's third-ranked offensive tackle in the 2012 NFL Draft. He would absolutely disagree with that assessment, however.

And Martin, who measured in at 6'5" and 312 pounds, said as much on Thursday at the NFL combine, stating that he is "without a doubt" the best tackle in this draft. He then compared himself directly with NDS' top-rated tackle, USC's Matt Kalil.

"I don't know if there are specifics I can really name," Martin said when asked to compare the two. "I just think all around I'm a better player. He is own right is a really good player. We have similar offenses so I've watched a lot of him on film these past couple of years also."

Martin confirmed a report from Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com that he's been dealing with food poisoning and that he wouldn't do any lifting or field drills at the combine because he's "been sick the last couple of days," waiting until his pro day to workout.

When asked about contact with teams, Martin said he hasn't had "any formal interviews yet." He did say that he he spoke to the Redskins on Wednesday night and hasn't had any contact with the Lions as of yet.

In the latest slate of mock drafts, only Pat Kirwan has Martin "sliding" -- and Pat pegs Martin to the Cardinals at 13 (everyone else has Martin going eleventh-overall to the Chiefs). He's a top-end talent with plenty of upside. And, as Rang pointed out, missing the combine workouts won't hurt him too much.

There should be one or two pro scouts in attendance for Stanford's pro day.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:08 pm
 

Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their roster, are considered a candidate to land Peyton Manning if/when he's released by the Colts. CBS Sports Charley Casserly first talked about this way back in January, and with Arizona's freedom to get out of Kolb's contract before March 17, speculation has only increased.

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Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, speaking Thursday at the NFL combine, did nothing to quell that speculation, leaving the door wide open for the possibility of making a change at quarterback.

"We're about opportunities to get better," Graves said when asked about the Cardinals depth at quarterback. "Everyone out there associated with our team understands that this is a competitive game and we're all looking to get better. So if those opportunities present themselves, so be it. Otherwise we've got an outstanding group of quarterbacks right now.

"We believe we can win with those quarterbacks and we're preparing as if they're going to be the group we're working with and we'll see what other opportunities present themselves if that happens."

So what about the bonus due to Kolb on March 17? Have the Cardinals talked about whether or not they're going to exercise it?

"No, we haven't had any discussions about that," Whisenhunt, not looking entirely pleased to be asked about it, said.

Graves was less direct about the discussions surrounding the Kolb decision, but also made it pretty clear (without being too precise) that the Cardinals will explore options if and when they become available.

"Every day you have to work with the information you have at hand," Graves said. "Right now as I look at it, we fully expect that Kevin's going to be with us so we'll honor the contract as it is, obviously. But we'll see what every day brings forward and we'll make that decision accordingly. Right now, as it stands today, we're not anticipating anything different."

Based on what Whisenhunt and Graves said, it's unfair to simply state that the Cardinals will ditch Kolb and chase Manning. But it's also pretty clear that such a process is something they haven't ruled out as of right now.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:25 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Ranking the free-agent QBs

Will Peyton end up in the Valley of the Sun?(CBSSports.com illustration)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The old saying goes something like this: yes, it's officially the NFL offseason but there really is no offseason. The Giants won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago but teams can already franchise would-be free agents, the combine begins this week and free agency the week after.

There are plenty of storylines, and Peyton Manning's future is among the biggest. On the latest Pick-6 Podcast, we talk whether the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense for Manning (he does look dashing in red), and where the other free-agent quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne) might end up this spring.

The conversation then turns to Big Ben and Todd Haley, and a possible theory for why the Steelers could let Mike Wallace leave as a restricted free agent.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:01 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Quarterback rankings

The 2012 free-agent quarterback class is an, um, diverse group. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the quarterbacks.

Though the list of free-agent quarterbacks for 2012 isn't necessarily the greatest crop of players in NFL history, it does have the potential to be one of the most intriguing in years, because of one man: Peyton Manning. Manning's saga is well-documented at this point; the back-and-forth between Manning's camp and Jim Irsay dominated the freaking Super Bowl.

Releasing him into the wild seems like a mere matter of timing. So we're going to take that assumption and add Manning to our lists of free agents. We're also including the Saints Drew Brees and 49ers Alex Smith on this list, since both are technically unrestricted free agents, until they receive the franchise tag from their respective teams. There's a better likelihood of Jimmy Clausen unseating Cam Newton than there is Brees not returning to New Orleans, but maybe someone in the Saints office will forget to fax in the franchise-tag paperwork.


Brees offseason could be interesting.  (Getty Images)

1. Drew Brees

Breakdown: The biggest problem for the Saints isn't that Brees might leave. He's not going to unless something really ridiculous happens. The biggest problem for the Saints is that if they're forced to use the franchise tag on Brees, they could end up losing Carl Nicks and Marques Colston. That won't make Brees any happier when it gets down to brass-tack negotiating.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints

2. Peyton Manning

Breakdown: Perhaps you've heard of Manning before. He's third all-time in passing yards (54,828). He's third all-time in passing touchdowns (399). He's won more MVPs than anyone in NFL history (four). And he's second in his own family with Super Bowl rings (one). That last item isn't a shot at Manning, though. It's the reason we believe he's not done when it comes to football, and that he'll come back to the game supremely motivated. No one knows whether or not he'll be fully healthy by the time the 2012 season begins. We do know he won't be fully healthy by the time March 13 rolls around, though. Which means that anyone who signs him will be engaging in a serious high-risk, high-reward game of chicken with Manning's neck.
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Dolphins, Seahawks, Jets, Redskins

3. Matt Flynn

Breakdown: Flynn's attempted just 132 passes at the professional level, but 81 of them are pretty impressive. Those came in the only two starts of his career, when Flynn managed to go 55 of 81 for 731 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. There are concerns that Flynn can't make every throw (right now) and that he might be a product of Green Bay's system. But that system's in Miami now, as former Packers quarterbacks coach Joe Philbin is the Dolphins head coach. If Miami doesn't make a run at Flynn when free agency opens up, that should be a big red flag for anyone else interested in Aaron Rodgers backup.
Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Seahawks, Redskins

4. Alex Smith

Breakdown: Smith resurrected his career under new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and, in the span of about two playoff minutes against the Saints, nearly flipped the entire narrative of his career. As it is, Smith's improvement in 2011 is impressive; according to Pro Football Focus, he had the third-highest accuracy percentage in the NFL (factoring in drops, throwaways and spikes) last year, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Smith's said he isn't interested in leaving San Francisco, and Harbaugh's gotten his back publicly, even though there's zero chance they'll use the franchise tag on him.
Potential Landing Spots: 49ers
Henne could surprise in the right spot. (Getty Images)

5. Chad Henne

Breakdown: Miami drafting a quarterback in the second round: an April tradition unlike any other! But no, seriously, Henne's in a long line of signal-callers that the Dolphins took in the second round who didn't pan out. He's had serious problems with interceptions; Henne's got a 3.5 percent INT rate over his career and only nine of his 36 NFL games have not featured him throwing a pick. And Henne tends to look particularly robotic at times in the pocket (these things go hand in hand). But he's only 26 and it's not fair to blame him for all of Miami's woes the past three years. Henne can make all the throws and flashed some serious potential at times during his tenure in South Beach. He's the highest-upside backup quarterback out there and he's got several former coaches -- Brian Daboll, Tony Sparano -- coaching in spots that could use a backup quarterback.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Broncos

6. Jason Campbell

Breakdown: It's hard not to feel sympathetic for Campbell. The former Auburn star and first-round pick has had roughly 25 offensive coordinators since he started taking snaps in college and he's about to start out on his third NFL roster once the free-agency shuffling begins anew this year. He's 30 and hasn't played a full season in the past two years, either because of injury or being benched. The latter was for Bruce Gradkowski, so it's hard to tell what's worse for his reputation. He makes a lot of sense for a team that wants someone to push their starter without making a stink in the locker room.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Eagles, Jets

NFL Free Agency

7. Kyle Orton

Breakdown: Orton's was a "winner" with the Bears, he was a stat-hog for a season with the Broncos, he flirted with the Dolphins and finally he was a streak-killer with the Chiefs. He's not going to be anyone's starter in 2011, unless Washington seriously misplays everything in free agency and the draft (not out of the question). But he's an above-average backup in the NFL and could certainly compete with the starters that various teams -- KC, Washington, Jacksonville, for example -- will trot out in 2011. Orton doesn't want to deal with being a "stop-gap option" but it's unlikely he'll have a choice next year.
Potential Landing Spots:
Redskins, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears, Broncos

8. David Garrard

Breakdown: Pete Prisco's second-favorite quarterback missed the entire 2011 season after the Jaguars cut him and he underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his back. There was interest in the 34-year-old last year after teams lost quarterbacks to injury, but he decided to recover from the surgery instead. While that's the smart move, Garrard won't find the market as friendly for his services this time, especially since his agent said on February 15 Garrard would be ready in "four to six weeks." Expect someone with a steady starter and tenuous backup to look to Garrard.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Rams, Raiders

9. Shaun Hill

Breakdown: Hill's 32 and not exactly a spring chicken. But he performed admirably in place of Matthew Stafford in 2010 and the fit between he and the Lions is a nice one. The Lions are tight with cap space, but Hill appears to like where he's at, and it's not like he'd break the bank in another location anyway.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions
VY's likely to remain a backup. (Getty Images)

10. Vince Young

Breakdown: Now seems like a good time to remind you that the guy who coined "Dream Team" in Philly was indeed the backup quarterback and someone on a one-year contract. His personality and turnovers will cause a problem for teams looking to sign him. Unless that team happens to run the read-option offense and could really use a mobile quarterback with success in the NFL to step in and freelance if/when Tim Tebow gets hurt/melts down.
Potential Landing Spots: Broncos

11. Rex Grossman

Breakdown: Did you know that Rex Grossman is actually "Rex Grossman III"? Poor Mike Shanahan had RG3 on his roster the whole time and didn't even know it. Sigh. Anyway, Grossman's not going to attract a lot of attention on the market, and nor should he. As the old saying goes, though, "love the one you're with." And Grossman and the Shanahans are with each other, even if Rex isn't starting next year. It would be surprising to see him playing anywhere else in 2012.
Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

HONORABLE MENTION

Unrestricted Free Agents: Dennis Dixon, Josh Johnson, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Donovan McNabb, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, Caleb Hanie, Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens

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Posted on: February 17, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: February 17, 2012 6:33 pm
 

Whisenhunt: Skelton, Kolb will get opportunities

Who ya got: Kevin Kolb or John Skelton (or neither)? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The 2011 season didn't go quite according to plan for the Arizona Cardinals or quarterback Kevin Kolb. The former started the season 3-7 before winning five of six to get to 8-8; the latter played in just nine games and put up numbers similar to his backup John Skelton. Kolb threw for 1,955 yards, including 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, and had a completion percentage of 57.7; Skelton went for 1,913 yards, 11 TDs, 14 INTs, with a 54.9 completion percentage.

Perhaps the most telling numbers: Skelton, 5-2 as a starter, counted $450,000 against the '11 salary cap while Kolb, 3-6 before being sidelined with a toe injury and later a concussion, counted $4,000,000 against the cap (it increases to $10 million in '12 and $13 million in '13). This comes months after he signed a five-year, $63 million extension and weeks before he's due a $7 million roster bonus.

All this explains the speculation that Kolb could be one and done in Arizona, at least if the right quarterback comes along. Peyton Manning has been name-checked, but that's a long shot for any number of reasons. e

Earlier this week, Cardinals general manager Rod Graves spoke about Kolb's future, particularly with respect to the $7 million bonus coming his way on March 17.

"There's no reason to think at this particular point that we wouldn't proceed with ... seeing the contract through, but things change as we go down the road," Graves said Thursday in an interview on KTAR-AM in Phoenix (via NFL.com).

Maybe Year 2 will be better than Year 1, but it's still not clear why the Cardinals thought enough of Kolb to send the Eagles Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and second-round pick, and then signed Kolb to a $63 million extension that included $20 million in guarantees. But what's done is done. And while it would be a mistake to stick by Kolb simply because Arizona owes him a lot of money, it doesn't sound like that's in the plans.

Head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who appeared with Rod Graves Thursday, was asked about the quarterback situation.

“Well the easiest thing to say right now is that we are in a heck of a lot better position at the quarterback position than we were a year ago today," he said via SportsRadioInterviews.com.

(By the way, this is what happens when you go from Kurt Warner to Derek Anderson, but only after giving up on Matt Leinart.)

"We’ve got two guys that we feel like can play (in Skelton and Kolb)," Whisenhunt continued. "They’ve shown at times that they can do things, they’ve shown at times that they are knuckleheads and it’s our job to get the players there on our team to play better. That’s what we’re going to do and I feel excited about that. I feel better about our quarterbacks on our team right now than I did last year from the standpoint of John Skelton; he won a lot of games for us over the last half of the season. At this time last year he was a rookie who played four games and that was it.

"Of course Kevin Kolb, we saw a lot of good things from him. The second half of the Dallas game was very impressive and more of what we were getting and the first game against Carolina and then against Washington, he made some plays for us and I think both of these guys are going to get better with having an offseason and being able to work on some of the things we feel is going to make them better. So I’m excited about it.”

So, will Skelton and Kolb compete for the starting gig?

"We’re always opening it up to let other guys compete for spots and the best players are going to play," Whisenhunt said. "That’s the nature of this league, that’s the nature of this game, and that’s the way we go about business. ... [W]hen you talk about the quarterback position that’s something that both guys are going to get opportunities because John certainly deserves it from the way that he played over the back half of the season and Kevin certainly deserves it from the reason that we went out, got him, and brought him in."

Which all seems perfectly reasonable unless Skelton actually wins the job. Then the Cards will have a guy on the bench counting $10 million against the cap (not to mention that $7 million roster bonus).

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Fisher, Murphy, Whiz now on Competition Committee

The NFL denied Harrison's appeal of his one-game suspension(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The NFL's Competition Commitee is responsible for studying "all aspects of the game and recommends rules and policy changes to NFL clubs." And on Tuesday, Roger Goodell and the NFL announced that Rams coach Jeff Fisher, Packers CEO Mark Murphy and Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt were added to the Competition Committee.

Fisher served on the committee from 2002-2010 before taking a year off after the end of his run with the Titans. During that time, he was co-chair of the committee along with current chairman, Rich McKay of the Atlanta Falcons.

Whisenhunt has previously served as a member of the Coaches Subcommittee, which makes recommendations to the Competition Committee. Murphy played for the Washington Redskins for eight years, reaching two Super Bowls and being named to the Pro Bowl in 1983.

The three additions for 2012 join McKay, Stephen Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, John Mara of the New York Giants, Ozzie Newsome of the Baltimore Ravens and Rick Smith of the Houston Texans on the committee.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com