Tag:Arizona Cardinals
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:14 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 6:30 pm

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 1

Posted by Will Brinson

Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 1 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

It's rather unfair to the rest of the NFL to expect a legitimate follow-up to the Thursday night spectacular that was New Orleans and Green Bay. To the extent that folks wanted drama, the most spine-tingling moments came before the action on Sunday, as the NFL and the nation honored the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

Fantastic job all around by the NFL and the various broadcast partners and the players and Reebok and everyone involved for really making Sunday a touching tribute to one of America's greatest tragedies. Can you really imagine what would have happened if there hadn't been football on the anniversary because of the lockout?

Obviously the nation would have moved on -- it's just sports. But the public relations hit would have been 100-percent inverse of the boost the league received on Sunday.

Not that it matters. There was football. And it was good and there were lots of stories. Many of whom we'll break down below. In the words of Jay-Z, "let's rock."

1. Yes We Cam
What did you expect from Cam Newton in his first start as an NFL player?

Because, no offense, but it doesn't really matter -- Newton set the world on fire en route to throwing for 422 yards and two touchdowns, plus rushing for another score.

Carolina still lost to Arizona in a close game, but that's not really important, as they're not a Super Bowl contender right now. What's important is that they appear to have finally gotten their franchise quarterback. And that makes one guy -- Steve Smith -- pretty happy.

"He was everything everybody didn't expect him to be," Smith said after the game. "He was on point, he made some great runs, he made some great reads, made some fantastic throws. He made some throws out there that honestly as a receiver it made it easy to catch them."

In case you missed it, Smith wanted out of Carolina all of last year while catching (or, if you prefer not catching) passes from Jimmy Clausen but after the Panthers drafted Newton, Smith eventually got back on board with staying in Carolina over the long(ish) haul.

It worked out pretty well for him on Sunday, because he caught eight passes for a 178 yards, numbers which should have the same effect on Smith as Newton's totals have on fans: obscuring the win-loss column.

As we noted on Sunday, Newton's 422 yards was the highest passing yardage total by a rookie, in their season opener, in NFL history. It's tied for the highest total for a rookie in any game, with Matthew Stafford's 422 in 2009 against the Browns.

And perhaps most crazy of all, it's the fifth-highest season opener total in NFL history. Not rookie history -- NFL history. Damn impressive stuff is what it was -- maybe Bo Jackson was right after all.

Newton, by the way, is already 11th on the Panthers all-time passing yards list.

2. Most Valuable Peyton

In a brutal twist of irony, while Kerry Collins was starting his first game as a Colt, stinking up the joint and causing Colts fans to start researching Stanford's schedule in 2011, he somehow managed to pass Joe Montana for the 10th-most passing yards in NFL history. That Collins did so was the lone bright spot for a Colts team that got absolutely drubbed by the Texans in the first game without Peyton Manning at the helm since 1998.

Sunday was just the second time since Indy drafted Manning that they trailed 17-0 after the first quarter, and the 34-0 halftime deficit for Indy was the largest in franchise history.

Look, everyone knows that Peyton is really good. And everyone knows that Peyton meant more to this team over the past few years than anyone could possibly imagine, and that the Colts wouldn't have won as many games as they have without him.

But is it possible to give someone an MVP award when they don't even play for an entire season simply based on how poorly their team plays without him? Of course not. If it was, though, Manning would warrant consideration in 2011 just based off what we saw in Week 1.

As for the long-term issue of Manning's health, it's really hard to imagine that the Colts would even consider trying to bring him back in 2011. There's a very good chance that by the time we get halfway through his aggressive rehab schedule the Colts are 0-4.

At that point, the season's over for all reasonable intents and purposes. By Week 8, when Peyton might be ready? Yeah, there's a good chance Indy's done then. And if they are, there's little-to-no sense in bringing him back at the risk of busting up his career to try and ruin a good shot at landing Andrew Luck.

3. The Steelers are terrible
Just kidding. But I really wanted to make sure we make at least one absolutely incorrect knee-jerk decision in this column. The Ravens might have been favored by a field goal against the Steelers on Sunday, but the consensus amongst all the experts was that the Steelers are a significantly better team, though because of the rivalry factor things would come down to a field goal in a close, bloody game.

Whoops on all counts.

Well, except the blood -- Pittsburgh strolled into M&T Bank Stadium and got absolutely stuck in the face by their rival and then spent all afternoon trying to figure out how to make the gushing stop, only it never did.

Ben Roethlisberger threw three picks and fumbled twice and the Steelers committed a whopping eight turnovers as they generally looked like a boxer against the ropes getting continually pummeled.

"That playoff taste, now it's over," Rice said. "Now we’ve got that burden off our shoulders, boom! We’re one up on them right now.”

The two biggest concerns for the Ravens coming into this season were the offensive line and the secondary.

The Ravens were mocked for their desperation in signing Bryant McKinnie shortly before the season began, mostly because McKinnie was reportedly clocking in around 400 pounds. (As reported Sunday, he's now making more money for weighing less. So that's nice.)

But he was a tremendous difference for Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, as he provided stability at the left tackle position and made some key blocks. He wasn't perfect, of course, but that's OK.

Especially because the most important benefit he provides Ravens is the ability to slot their offensive lineman in correct positions. If he's motivated, he could be a difference maker.

4. Falcons get mauled
Mea culpa time I guess: the Bears probably won't finish in last place in the NFC North. Ha. Yeah, I predicted that. They still could, and as long as that offensive line is as porous as it was against the Falcons, I'll stick by that prediction.

After all, New Orleans and Green Bay -- Chicago's next two opponents -- are not only good but they're not shy about blitzing heavily. That could mean plenty of Cutler getting tattooed six-and-a-half steps into his drops. If that.

And if Caleb Hanie has to play, the Bears will struggle mightily. But they'll have their defense which, well, yeah, per usual it's the reason the Bears are dominating.

"We still have to play up to the defense's level," Cutler said. "They're still carrying us."

Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers, in particular, were beasts on Sunday. Peppers picked up two sacks, recovered a fumble and forced another fumble that Urlacher scooped and took the house. And Urlacher himself looked particularly spry, picking up an impressively athletic interception.

I'd still argue that the Bears have the makings of the third-best team in their division, but they are the defending champs and for some reason they will just not go away. Which should mean one or two angry comments from Bears fans every week. Sigh.

5. Living the dream
Many a writer ruthlessly mocked the Eagles this offseason for hogging the headlines, particularly when backup quarterback Vince Young decided to refer to Philly's squad as "The Dream Team."

It's still a stretch and I remain adamant that the metaphor is largely irrelevant for the game of football. (Case: in point, Philly's linebacking corps wouldn't exactly be starting for most other NFL teams.)

But my goodness -- the Eagles are just as explosive as last season, aren't they? LeSean McCoy is so sneakily fast for an every-down back that you don't realize it until re-watching him take the ball around the corner, past a defender and into the end zone.

The defensive line will swarm opposing quarterbacks and obviously the combo of Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson gives the Eagles the ability to score from anywhere. Seeing how Andy Reid operates in a close game going forward will be interesting though -- I saw some chatter about the Eagles running the ball immediately after Vick would get touched.

That pretty clearly, um, is a tell. And even if it's not something the Eagles are going to do every single series, it's something they have think about doing, because exposing Vick to multiple shots in back-to-back instances during games simply won't work if the Eagles want to dominate the way Vince Young expects them to.

6. These are your brother's Cowboys
They are not your father's Cowboys. And they're not even your uncle's Cowboys. These Cowboys like to score frequently and play quite well for about three and a half quarters.

And then things get tight and they choke.

The most disturbing thing about the way that Tony Romo handed the game to the Jets -- a pass intended for a gimpy Dez Bryant that Jessica Simpson could have intercepted, much less Darrelle Revis -- in typical, um, Tony Romo fashion.

As my man Mike Freeman wrote, it's precisely the kind of late-game debacling that causes people to think that Romo can't win big games or even close little games for the Cowboys.

"We win that football game if I don't do what I did," Romo said afterwards.

You simply can't fumble on the one-yard line (when a score would all but guarantee you victory) and then proceed to gift wrap a turnover for the other team when there's less than a minute remaining on the clock and the score is tied.

Going into what eventually turned out to be the final drive, Jason Garrett and Romo need to be on the same page regarding a few things. One, nothing stupid. Two, if you're going to force a pass, then you need to force the pass deep so the Jets don't get a free field goal. And three, nothing stupid.

Look, I get that the Jets used a defense designed to confuse Romo into thinking Dez was in single coverage and therefore force a ball his way. But he has lots of weapons. In fact, I was in the middle of writing how good I felt about my pick of Dallas to the Super Bowl because of their creative defense (Rob Ryan did outstanding work last night with limited manpower) and a high-octane offense so stocked with weapons that Kim Jong-Il is jealous.

All they need is Romo to put it together and stop being the stereotype that people put on him. He was doing all that until the Cowboys got in a position to put a tough road game against another Super Bowl contender on ice and he absolutely melted down.

7. Detroit hope city
Matthew Stafford's been getting pumped up all offseason long -- that he exploded in the preseason didn't help matters much, and that he was overdrafted by most fantasy football players helps even less.

So there were some funny moments in his eventual breakout on Sunday. First there was the early interception -- a pick-six by Aqib Talib -- against Tampa that made everyone realize that there were a lot of eggs in a basket. And no one really knew what the basket was built out of, except that it was probably the most fragile type of straw a man can find.

Then Stafford started going off ... except after his first touchdown pass he began cramping up. (Lots of cramping Sunday in case you didn't notice.) The world collectively held its breath as Stafford was examined on the sideline because, my goodness, it's early to be injured even if you're Stafford.

Instead, the former Georgia standout and No. 1-overall draft pick returned to the game and kept slinging teeters to Calvin Johnson, eventually finishing with 305 yards and three touchdown passes in Detroits 27-20 win over Tampa Bay.

Let's not get out of hand and start giving the Lions a playoff berth quite yet -- they certainly have problems, most notably in the secondary -- but there's reason to be excited for football in Detroit.

As long as Stafford can stay healthy anyway.

8. Rex Grossman is ... not bad?

I know, it's weird, but it might be true. Grossman appeared to be pretty darn competent most of Sunday. He threw for 305 yards on two touchdowns and backed up Mike Shanahan's seemingly inexplicable to name him the starter during the preseason.

It's not that John Beck is such a logical choice, it's just that, well, he's Rex Grossman. It seems to make no sense.

"Any typical kickoff weekend, your emotions are high," Grossman said after the game. "Being it's Sept. 11, 10th anniversary, Colin Powell's in the locker room giving you the pregame speech, and then coming out and the fans are chanting 'U-S-A.' I was overwhelmed. It was a fun day. It's a day I'll never forget."

Let's not get too high on Grossman just quite yet, because the Giants were basically trotting out a practice squad of players on defense after their starting lineup was ravaged by a ridiculous run of injuries during the preseason.

Maybe he is the answer at quarterback and maybe the Redskins could win the NFC East and maybe the Shanahans really are able to turn contaminated water into a Colt 45.

But we've seen Grossman light teams up -- like he did while tossing four touchdowns and 322 yards against Dallas in Week 14 of last year -- and immediately follow it up by laying an absolutely egg. Let's reserve judgment until we see his body of work over the span of a few weeks.

9. Go West, Young Man
We already covered Newton and his impressive rookie performance, but he wasn't the only rookie to have a big impact in Week 1.

Ryan Kerrigan returned an interception for a touchdown to help push the Redskins over the Giants, J.J. Watt terrorized the Colts defensive line, Patrick Peterson returned a punt for a touchdown that proved to be the difference maker against Carolina, A.J. Green caught the go-ahead touchdown pass for the Bengals, Randall Cobb trended on Twitter Thursday night thanks to his holy return, Tyron Smith was big on the line for the Cowboys, and Andy Dalton started out white hot … until Phil Taylor knocked him out of the game.

So yeah, very impressive week -- thus far anyway -- from an impressive group of young NFL players, especially given the shortened time frame they're working on.

10. Injured Rams
Not a great day for Steve Spagnuolo, huh? The Rams were seen by many, including yours truly, as a team on the rise in 2011. They play in a terrible division, they have anchors on both sides of the line, they have a franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford and they easily could have been a playoff team in 2010.

But a number of injuries during Week 1 are a quick reminder of how fragile success is in the NFL.

Steven Jackson pulled his quad which has "lingering" stamped all over it, Danny Amendola dislocated his elbow and could likely be done for the year and most terrifyingly, Bradford hurt his finger.

We don't know precisely what will happen to Bradford, but there was discussion of "nerve damage," which is scary as hell. Bradford downplayed the injury after the game.

"I don't see any way I'm not going to be on the field, to be honest with you," Bradford said.

Well, here's one way: if you're at risk for a bigger injury, the franchise won't let you near the Big Apple, even it's for a matchup against the would-be hapless New York Giants.

Put an APB out for:
Charlie Weis. Because from what I saw of the Chiefs offense on Sunday, they might be missing the guy who turned Matt Cassel into a Pro Bowler, Jamaal Charles into the best running back in the NFL last year, and Dwayne Bowe into a touchdown monster. We've touched on the fact that the Chiefs had a REALLY easy schedule in 2010. That's fine. But the offense has too many weapons to be scoring seven points against the Bills and not consider "If we did X last year and we're doing Z this year and Y isn't there anymore, gee what could be the difference?"

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday ...
... Anyone ever notice that Rex and Rob Ryan really look like George and Oscar Bluth?
... 49ers punter Andy Lee posted the third-highest average for punts in one game, smoking his 59.6 yards per punt.
... How does Joe Torre -- the Yankees coach during 9/11 -- not let baseball players wear NYPD and NYFD hats?

Worth 1,000 Words

Hot Seat Tracker

I'm hoping to have my fancy mathematical formula to track who's most likely to get canned up and running by next week, but in the meantime, we can break down coaches in trouble pretty simply. (That's mainly because of all the first-year head coaches -- it's pretty unlikely we see a lot firings between now and next season.)
  • Tom Coughlin -- Coughlin's got a plethora of injuries to fall back on, so maybe he can buy some more time. But the way the Giants lost to the Redskins Sunday, it's hard to imagine New Yorkers won't continue the annual tradition of calling for Coughlin's head.
  • Todd Haley -- What's worse: showing up for work without wearing pants or getting beat by the Bills 41-7 at home? Gotta be the latter.
  • Jack Del Rio -- Yeah, he won, but we need people to add to this list. Plus, he beat the Titans.
  • Jim Caldwell -- The "Manning Factor" for his job will be fascinating to watch this season.
MVP Watch
Peyton! No, but seriously, in the way-too-early glance at the MVP race, I'll go ahead and throw Philip Rivers out there, since he's fourth in passing yardage right now and the Chargers are 1-0. Also: Michael Vick.

And Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What? It's Week 1.

Posted on: September 11, 2011 8:19 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 8:33 pm

Cam Newton sets NFL rookie passing record

Posted by Will Brinson

Cam Newton's been the most scrutinized rookie quarterback since ... well, since Tim Tebow. But that's beside the point, since the point was most folks either love or hate Newton and no one really knew what to expect out of his NFL debut, an eventual 28-21 loss in Arizona.

Turns out, all we got was the single-biggest passing yard performance by a rookie in his debut in NFL history as Newton slung the ball around to the tune of 422 yards and two passing touchdowns on an impressive 24 of 37.

Newton surpassed Peyton Manning's previous first-game record of 302 yards, a pretty remarkable coincidence given where Manning's career currently stands.

Additionally, the 422 yards ties a rookie record for most passing yards in a single game, as Newton equaled Matthew Stafford -- hey, he had a nice day too! -- and his total from Week 10 of 2009 against the Browns.

And Cam didn't pile up junk yardage, either -- the Panthers were absolutely competitive for most of the game against the Cardinals and Newton was calm and poised most of the time, save for his lone interception.

He also picked up a rushing touchdown on a designed option-type draw near the goal line, and ended up with 18 rushing yards on eight attempts. And it probably warrants mentioning that Newton ripped off a sick air guitar celebration with the ball following his rushing touchdown, which netted him a 15-yard penalty.

Clearly things could have gone better for the Panthers, and clearly Newton won't throw for 400 yards every single game. (That wouldn't be a good thing, anyway.) But there's at least hope for Panthers fans one game into the 2011 season considering it appears as if they've finally found a franchise quarterback.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: September 4, 2011 4:50 pm

Tracking Tebow: Preseason, Week 4 -- Cardinals

Posted by Ryan Wilson

That's right, we're tracking Tebow's performance throughout the preseason because, well, like a slow-motion train wreck we can't look away. And who knows, maybe this experiment doesn't derail and it has a happy ending. Wait, what's that? You don't care about Tebow? Then what are you doing here?

It took four preseason games, but Tim Tebow finally resembled the player Josh McDaniels thought he might be when he selected him in the first round of the 2010 draft. By now, Tebow's recent travails are familiar to everybody, even those with just a passing interest in football. And while he's been out of the running for the Broncos' No. 1 job for weeks now, the backup gigs have yet to be decided by head coach John Fox. 

If we're working from the "what have you done for me lately?" premise, Tebow wins in a landslide. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals, while starter Brady Quinn managed to go 4 of 12 for 26 yards, including an interception. Denver lost to Arizona, 26-7.

Tracking Tebow: A Retrospective

But as the Denver Post's Mike Klis notes, Quinn outpaced Tebow by a wide margin in the first two preseason games (proof here and here).

Tebow was asked about his place on the depth chart after the Cards game. "I don't know," he said, via Klis. "I've never gone through something like this before, so I'm not really sure." And Fox, as he's said before, "more than likely not name a 2 or 3, because I believe it's a competitive issue."

Yes, because the obfuscation would be too much for opponents. No way they could prepare for both Quinn and Tebow. Either way, Klis makes a good point: "Long term, it would make sense to push Tebow along because both Orton and Quinn are free agents after this season. Tebow will make $6.7 million this year (he has already collected $6.28 million in salary advance), and will then have three more years left on his contract."

For now, all we can do is analyze Tebow's last start. That's right, it's the final edition of the Tebow Tracker, where we chart every one of his preseason snaps, the result, and what it all means for him and the Broncos in 2011. This installment is the most laudatory yet. That's right, people, the power of positive thinking at work. Alright, let's get to it...

                                                   Play by Play

Preseason, Week 4: Arizona Cardinals
Situation Down/Distance Result
1st series, 9:55 left in 3rd qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 6 Tebow handoff to J.Johnson to DEN 8 for 2 yards. (Note: you can see the entire play-by-play log here.)
  2nd & 8, DEN 8 Tebow scrambles left end pushed ob at DEN 16 for 8 yards. Play-action, steps up into pocket, takes a hit but remains on his feet. Reminscent of his Florida days.
  1st & 10, DEN 16 Tebow handoff to J.Johnson up the middle to DEN 20 for 4 yards.  
  2nd & 6, DEN 20 Tebow handoff to J.Johnson up the middle to DEN 21 for 1 yard.  
  3rd & 5, DEN 21 (From the shotgun) Tebow sacked at DEN 19 for -2 yards.
Doesn't show patience in the pocket, steps up and is dropped. The lack of awareness is recurring theme throughout the preseason.
  4th & 7, DEN 19 PUNT  
 2nd series, 4:35 left in 3rd qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 20 Tebow handoff to B.Minor up the middle to DEN 28 for 8 yards.  
  2nd & 8, DEN 28 Tebow handoff to Minor left tackle to DEN 32 for 4 yards.  
  1st & 10, DEN 32 Tebow pass incomplete short middle to B.Minor. Play-action, stands tall in the pocket, gets the ball off just as blindside pressure arrives. May have affected the pass.
  2nd & 10, DEN 32 Tebow handoff to B.Minor up the middle to DEN 35 for 3 yards.  
  3rd & 7, DEN 35 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short middle to D.Anderson to ARZ 48 for 17 yards. Three-step drop, flushed left, throws across his body to middle of the field, finds Anderson who gets absolutely annihilated by a Denver defender.
  1st & 10, ARZ 48 Tebow handoff to B.Minor up the middle to ARZ 47 for 1 yard.  
  2nd & 9, ARZ 47 Tebow pass incomplete deep left to G.Orton. Play-action, stands tall in the pocket, throws a rope (that came out of his hands looking like a kickoff instead of a spiral) to Orton that should've been caught.
  3rd & 9, ARZ 47 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short right to D.Gronkowski to ARZ 42 for 5 yards. Three-step drop, he scrambles around the pocket before finding Gronkowski, who made a nice one-handed catch to save a possible pick-6. 
  4th & 4, ARZ 42  FIELD GOAL NO GOOD  
3rd series, 9:41 left in 4th qtr.  1st & 10, DEN 32 B.Minor up the middle to DEN 40 for 8 yards (B.Nnabuife). PENALTY on DEN-D.Rosario, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DEN 33.
  1st & 19, DEN 23 Tebow sacked at DEN 16 for -7 yards. Play-action that never had a chance; LT was beat off the snap and Tebow eventually dropped.
  2nd & 26, DEN 16 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass incomplete short right to D.Goodwin. Tebow fumbles the snap and is lucky to avoid a turnover deep in his own end. 
  3rd & 26, DEN 16 (From the shotgun) B.Minor up the middle to DEN 31 for 15 yards  
  4th & 11, DEN 31 PUNT  
4th series, 4:33 left in 4th qtr. 1st & 10, DEN 6 Tebow pass short left to D.Goodwin to DEN 19 for 13 yards. Three-step drop, ball is out quickly, and 6-7 yards after the catch on a nice move by Goodwin.
  1st & 10, DEN 19 Tebow pass deep right to D.Goodwin pushed OB at DEN 45 for 26 yards. Great protection. Tebow stands in the pocket for at least five seconds before finding Goodwin.
  1st & 10, DEN 45 Tebow pass short middle to J.Johnson to DEN 45 for no gai Screen pass.
  2nd & 10, DEN 45 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass incomplete short middle to J.Johnson. Has plenty of time and good protection. Somehow misses a wide open Johnson running a crossing pattern 10 yards downfield.
  3rd & 10, DEN 45 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass short right to E.Riley pushed ob at ARZ 43 for 12 yards. Nice play -- stands tall in the pocket, steps into the throw and gets the first down.
  1st & 10, ARZ 43 (From the shotgun) Tebow pass deep right to E.Riley for 43 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Almost a replay of the previous play. Three-step drop, hangs in the pocket, and hits Riley in stride. 

                                     Quotes, Video Awesomeness

"What we all have to remember is that when Josh McDaniels traded up to get him in the first round, that was a minority opinion in a big way in NFL talent evaluation circles. Not to say there weren't other people who were high in Tim Tebow, but to go out and get him in the first round … Josh McDaniels was sort of out on an island there. However, it's not shocking to me that a new regime would not embrace him with nearly the same enthusiasm. So, I went to Denver expecting to write about Tebow, but I was just struck with how much things had changed." - Yahoo.com's Michael Silver 

"I just worry about what I can contro. I've gone out there every day with a great attitude, great effort and great work ethic. If I do that, I know I'll improve every day, and I'm not worried about what everybody else is saying." - Tim Tebow

"I just got done looking at the film (of the Cardinals game). And I've moved on." - Brady Quinn

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 01: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the preseason NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

                                                   Action Shots

Hey, it's like he never left college! We admit to giving Tebow a hard time tha last six weeks or so, but let's be honest: the guy looked nothing like an NFL quarterback for most of that time. And while we're happy that he showed well in the preseason finale, Kyle Orton deserves to be the starter. After 2011, when Orton and Quinn are no longer under contract? That's a different story. But this much is certain: there's no need to rush Tebow on the field now.

Feel free to relive all the preseason magic that was "Tracking Tebow." You know you want to.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 24, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 2:00 pm

Wilson returns to practice, hopes to play Week 1

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been more than two weeks since Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson suffered a torn bicep muscle. At the time, the hope was that he'd be ready for the start of regular season on September 11.

For the first time since the August 6 injury, Wilson was in shoulder pads and a helmet, taking part in non-contact drills during Tuesday's practice.

"No, it's all good," Wilson said, according to the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers. "Just getting some rust off. We'll see where I'm at in September. Hopefully there are no setbacks. Everything is on the up and up."

The goal remains Week 1, now 18 days away.

"Training camp is such a grind, and whenever you have an injury, it kind of takes a toll on you," he said. "The guys are very excited, and I'm very excited as well."

And there's plenty to be excited about. Arizona appears to have found their replacement for Kurt Warner in Kevin Kolb (in related news, team released second-year quarterback Max Hall, who started three games for the Cards last season). They also locked wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald up for another eight years.

As for Wilson, he's clearly an integral part of Arizona's defense, but ESPN.com blogger Mike Sando makes a good point: assuming Wilson's back for the season opener against the Panthers, what happens the first time he tries to deflect a pass or make a tackle?

We've seen the effect injuries can have on safeties who make their living dishing out licks and disrupting the passing game. Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, two of the best safeties in NFL history, not only haven't been effective when on the field at less than full strength, they've been targeted by opposing offenses. We saw it most recently during the Steelers' 2011 postseason. The question then becomes whether the injured superstar is better than the No. 2 guy on the depth chart.

And in most cases, they are. Which is why we'll probably see Wilson to open the season.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:53 am

Podcast: Favre to Colts, Fitz' contract, T-Pryor

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

You'll never believe this, but there are rumors about Brett Favre going to the Colts because Peyton Manning is hurt. In Monday's podcast (yes, we're running behind), we take a look at that silliness, discuss Jim Irsay's love of Steely Dan and debate when Peyton Manning will actually return to action.

We also discuss the new contract for Larry Fitzgerald, whether it was a good deal or not, if the Cardinals were wise to spend that much on a wide receiver and how it affects Chris Johnson's would-be deal with the Titans, talk about Terrelle Pryor's status (we actually recorded before the supplemental draft but knew he was going to the Raiders anyway) and much, much more.

Yapping starts … now (and while we have you, remember to subscribe to the podcast via iTunes). 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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 20, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 10:42 pm

Cards give Fitzgerald huge extension (VIDEO)

FitzgeraldPosted by Josh Katzowitz

You know that self-imposed deadline of Sept. 4 for Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals to get a contract extension done? Well, you can forget it. A new contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, has been completed.

And the figure is a mind-blowing number: eight years, $120 million with $50 million guaranteed.

Before the final figures were tallied, the Cardinals front office said it had no problem making Fitzgerald one of the highest-paid players in the league -- and the best-paid player in team history -- and to see him retire as a Cardinals player. Now, it seems like there's a pretty good chance they’ve done it (Fitzgerald will turn 28 at the end of this month).

"It's interesting," Fitzgerald said. "I told Mr. (Michael) Bidwell how much I hate this part of sports. This is the game I love. I'm so passionate about it. When you talk about the business side, it makes me uncomfortable. I'm really happy to put it behind us."

Fitzgerald's Rich Deal
And though we all assumed that Fitzgerald wouldn't want to sign a long-term deal unless the Cardinals made marked improvements in free agency last offseason, Fitzgerald said that wasn't the case.

"I'm not one to try to hold a hammer over anybody's head," said Fitzgerald, who already owns most of the team's receiving records (as well as the league's playoff receiving records, accumulated during the team's Super Bowl XLIII run). "This is Mr. Bidwell's team. He's going to do everything he can to make this organization go. The activity in free agency this year is something I haven't seen since I've been here. That's a sign of things to come. We're going to continue to be aggressive making this team better. I'm confident that's going to happen."

And considering Arizona already has given QB Kevin Kolb a $63 million deal (with $20 million guaranteed), the Cardinals are a team that has to feel confident that they’ll have a high-powered pass offense for years to come.

And in case you want to see the entire news conference from Saturday night, here it is.

Watch live streaming video from nflcardinals at livestream.com

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 11:33 pm
Edited on: August 20, 2011 5:44 pm

Cards RB Ryan Williams officially out for season

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

UPDATED (Aug. 20; 5:39 p.m. ET): It's official: Cardinals RB Ryan Williams is out for the season, as Rapid Reporter Craig Morgan writes.

Said coach Ken Whisenhunt on Saturday: "The human element gets lost sometimes. You’re so excited about a young man like Ryan and you build a relationship with him over a short time. You want to see him have success and then that’s put on hold.”


While Tim Hightower was performing impressively for the Redskins on Friday night (six carries, 70 yards, TD), his former team might be longing for a backup to its starting RB.

Ryan Williams Injury
That’s because rookie Ryan Williams -- selected in the second round by the Cardinals to compete with Beanie Wells for the starting spot -- most likely ruptured the patella tendon in his right knee during Arizona’s preseason loss to the Packers. That was what coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters, via Cards Chatter, after the game, and if that injury is confirmed, Williams will miss the rest of the season.

Williams had to be carted off the field after he was tackled by Green Bay rookie S M.D. Jennings and awkwardly landed on his right leg. Williams’ teammates surrounded him before he left for the locker room, and he held his head in his hands as he left the field.

Without Williams in the lineup, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Alfonso Smith are the RBs that would back up Wells -- who was brittle himself last season. Either way, it’s a devastating loss for the Cardinals.

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 8:58 pm

Fitzgerald wants new deal with Cards by Sept. 4

FitzgeraldPosted by Josh Katzowitz

We know Larry Fitzgerald is happy with the team’s latest additions (QB Kevin Kolb and TE Todd Heap) and with the fact that his contract forbids the Cardinals to franchise-tag him once his deal ends after this season.

Now, Fitzgerald would like to be really happy by Sept. 4.

That, according to SI.com, is the date of his self-imposed deadline to get done a long-term contract extension with the Cardinals -- the club with which Fitzgerald has stated that he wants to retire. Fitzgerald apparently wants six years added to his deal, but if the two sides can’t come to an agreement by the end of the preseason, Fitzgerald said he won’t negotiate with the team until after the regular season is complete.

Fitzgerald told SI that the two sides were closer to a deal than they were last week, and when asked how far the sides were from reaching an agreement, Fitzgerald said, “Not too far away.”

The Cardinals, I’m sure, would like to continue making Fitzgerald happy by getting a deal done before the deadline. If not, there’s a chance Fitzgerald is going to be really, really sad heading into the season.

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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