On the field for the first day of OTAs (organized team activities) Tuesday, Andre Ellington proclaimed himself healthy and ready to go.
"I'm not limited in anything," he said. "I'm out here running, running around, feeling good."
None of Ellington's injuries were the type that would keep him out long-term or inhibit him going forward. Once healed, he would essentially be the same player he was prior to getting hurt.
The Cardinals drafted David Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
"Coach Bruce Arians does a great job of calling plays, and it's actually designed for anybody to make plays and be that guy," he said. "Because it's just when the ball is in the air, you have to get it.
"And I think I'll be used more in underneath routes trying to turn and beat (the defense)."
Brown was the #49 receiver as a rookie and that's about where we have him ranked heading into the 2015 season. The main concern is his opportunity to find consistent playing time and targets behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, though he did lead the team in targets (103) and averaged a solid 6.7 T/G with Carson Palmer in the lineup. Fitzgerald averaged 6.8 T/G while Floyd averaged just 5.0 T/G in those six games.
Cardinals RB Andre Ellington on his recovery from a foot injury: "I'm close to doing a lot of things I've done in the past. Just (this week) I was able to do all my cuts and put a lot more pressure on my foot."
Ellington felt the opposite of threatened when the Cardinals drafted running back David Johnson in the third round last week. If Johnson, from Northern Iowa, is what the Cardinals think he is, he will lighten Ellington's load.
"I don't see why not," Ellington said when asked if he would be helped by the addition of Johnson. "It allows me to have more rest time, and it should keep the offense upbeat."
The Cardinals drafted Johnson to lighten Ellington’s workload, and a reduction in touches may actually help his effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
Carlson, who was going into his eighth year, wasn’t in training camp, but he had been a daily attendee of the Cardinals’ strength and conditioning program and was on the field Monday when the team opened up Phase 2 on-field workouts. In a statement released by the team, Carlson did not indicate a specific reason for his decision.
"After much thought and consideration, my wife Danielle and I know that this is the best decision for us," Carlson said.
Monday was an easy day for Palmer to soak in the here and now. The Cardinals began Phase II of their offseason workout program, which allowed the players to take the field and run plays for the first time. Palmer was right in the mix, participating with the first-team offense in all of the drills.
He not only handed the ball off to the running backs, but zipped short, intermediate and deep throws to his receivers. While the action wasn’t close to replicating game-like conditions, Palmer said joining the rest of the team on the field was a big mental boost after missing the last eight games of the 2014 season.
"Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to do everything once OTAs start, but I’ll be able to do just about everything."
Palmer looks like a man possessed. His rehab is ongoing, spending extra time doing footwork drills with Drew Stanton and finishing up with a plethora of knee-strengthening activities in a near-empty weight room.
“I’m always competing against other quarterbacks in the league in my head, and there are a lot of guys not coming off injuries,” Palmer said. “I have to work that much harder, spend that much more time on it. But that part’s easy for me. I like the work. I like the feeling I have when I go home, just knowing, ‘Man, I’m done. I couldn’t have done any more reps today. I don’t even want my kids to tackle me when I walk in the door today because I’m so tired.’ I enjoy that feeling. That part’s not an issue for me.”
Palmer averaged 271 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and 0.5 interceptions in six 2014 starts, or 17.2 fantasy points per game. Those are fringe QB1 numbers, so if Palmer is good to go for 2015, he'll be on the radar as a late-round value for those owners looking to stream or form a committee at the position. His presence is also huge for Larry Fitzgerald, who averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Palmer under center.
Cardinals RB David Johnson has the makings of a player who can have an immediate impact out of a small school. He’ll enter offseason workouts with an opportunity to be a three-down running back if he can learn the Cardinals’ offensive scheme, coach Bruce Arians said.
It’s unlikely, however, that he’ll supplant Andre Ellington as the starting running back.
“I think Andre will continue his same role,” Arians said. “We’ll keep him healthy and let him continue to develop as a player, but the nice thing David can do is he can do everything Andre does, so you don’t have to change if there was an injury.”
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, but it sounds as if Arians feels Johnson is more of an Ellington clone. Arians confirmed that Ellington should continue in his current role with Johnson serving as his primary backup.
Coach Bruce Arians doesn't like the word "need", but the Cardinals were lacking a big, physical back. David Johnson will contend for the starting job, and at least should be a nice complement to Andre Ellington. Johnson is big and he ran the 40-yard dash at the combine in 4.5 seconds, which is plenty fast for a man his size.
The Cardinals have been trying to add a bigger back to complement Ellington, and Johnson fits the bill. It’s starting to look like a committee in Arizona, so keep an eye on this camp battle to see if Johnson’s able to unseat Ellington. For now, Ellington should be able to hold onto the job with Johnson serving in a change-of-pace role.
The San Francisco 49ers may only be two days into minicamp and a few weeks into the offseason program, but Torrey Smith said Wednesday that the chemistry is already building between him and his new quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The two aren’t new acquaintances; Smith said that he and Kap had trained at the same facility in past offseasons. He referenced Kaepernick’s “cannon” and how it differs from the strong arm of his former Baltimore Ravens teammate Joe Flacco.
“Joe (Flacco) has a great arm, probably the strongest arm in the league, but Kap’s is something different with that velocity,” Smith said. “I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s something different.”
“He’s doing a great job,” Smith said. “Ya’ll aren’t out there, but some of the throws he made yesterday were ridiculous.”
“It was cover two and I had a conversion,” Smith said. “It turned into a deep route and there was a small, a really small window for him to make the throw between (Antoine) Bethea and myself. If he put too much air on it, the ball is going to get tipped in a real game, and I’m going to get knocked out. But, he threw it where only I could get it and I didn’t break stride. And it was on a rope, 35 yards on a rope. It would have been a touchdown. It was ridiculous.”
It was reported earlier in the offseason that the team planned to utilize Kaepernick’s running ability to a greater degree. Kaepernick ran the ball 12 more times in 2014 than he did in 2013 for an additional 115 yards, so it's not like he abandoned the scramble. It sounds like it's more about utilizing the read-option as a larger part of the offense. If that's the case, it could be a boon to Kaepernick's fantasy value. He was the #14 QB in 2014 after finishing #9 the season before, though his overall production only dipped by 11 fantasy points. He's a bounce-back candidate provided new OC Geep Chryst can design an offense that can move the ball. Chryst previously served as the OC for the Chargers in 1999 and 2000, but his offenses ranked 26th and 28th overall in that span. Any gains that Kaepernick can make as a thrower (due to his offseason work with QB coach Dennis Gile and former Rams/Cardinals QB Kurt Warner) will only help his overall value, and early reports describe a 'radically different' throwing motion.
John Brown burst onto the scene with fire during his rookie campaign. The Arizona Cardinals' speedster posted 48 receptions for 696 yards and five touchdowns, with several of those scores being of the big-play variety.
However, his production waned late in the season. Brown posted just 127 yards on nine catches the final month of the regular season, including a goose egg in Week 14. He then compiled just 34 yards on four catches in the playoffs.
While the atrocious quarterback situation played a big part in Brown's production reduction, his body also began to break down.
"At the end of the season my body started going down, I started losing weight," Brown told the team's official website. "This year I'm trying to focus on being able to keep this weight on as the season goes on."
After playing at 173 pounds in 2014, Brown said he is already up to 183 and plans to add more weight through the offseason.
The hope here is that the added weight doesn't negatively impact his speed. Brown finished as the #49 WR in standard formats and #53 in PPR. He saw a hefty 103 targets as a rookie, and with Larry Fitzgerald back and Michael Floyd still in the mix, it's doubtful that Brown's usage will increase too much. If Carson Palmer is healthy, however, the whole passing offense could take a step forward, and that would push Brown into fantasy-relevant territory.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, who signed a two-year, $22 million contract in February, cautioned against expecting the same kind of production we saw during his prime, when at least 90 catches, 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns seemed to be the norm.
"No, it's not possible," he said. "And it's only that reason because of the role that I play. It's a different role. I just don't have the opportunities down the field. I'm more inside, I move the chains a lot more.
"In terms of putting up the big numbers, it will be difficult, but in terms of my effectiveness, of providing first downs, being able to make tough catches for my team, I'm still going to be able to do that."
Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season (85-1,296-5.3) and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. If Palmer stays healthy, Fitzgerald should be a great value at his current 9th-round ADP in early PPR drafts.
Cardinals beat writer Bob McManaman on WR John Brown:
He's got the hunger to strive to be better and I know how he cherishes the opportunity he's getting with the Cardinals. HC Bruce Arians loves him and the respect is mutual. I expect big things from Smokey this season.
Brown finished as the #49 WR in standard formats and #53 in PPR. He saw a hefty 103 targets as a rookie, and with Larry Fitzgerald back and Michael Floyd still in the mix, it's doubtful that Brown's usage will increase too much. If Carson Palmer is healthy, however, the whole passing offense could take a step forward, and that would push Brown into fantasy-relevant territory.
Housler, 27, recorded 84 catches and 871 yards from 2012 through 2013, but he saw limited targets in 15 games for the Arizona Cardinals last season, with only nine receptions and 129 yards.
Housler has one career touchdown in 55 games. He has elite speed for his position, recording a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL combine, helping him secure a third-round selection in that year's draft.
The Browns were in need of help at the position after Jordan Cameron signed a two-year deal with the Miami Dolphins earlier this offseason. The Browns' current depth chart at tight end also includes Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge, who combined for 30 catches and 398 yards and zero touchdowns, so Housler has a chance to emerge as the team's TE1. This isn't likely to make him a fantasy starter, however.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Peterson will meet with the NFL this week to discuss reinstatement, per a source informed of the situation.
The meeting is ahead of schedule for Peterson, who was supposed to be eligible for reinstatement on April 15.
Updated reports on Monday said the meeting will take place on Tuesday. Peterson, who agreed to a plea deal in November of no contest to one count of misdemeanor reckless assault, is still on the Commissioner's Exempt List. Having some clarity on Peterson's situation could soon answer some of the lingering questions surrounding the face of Minnesota's franchise and if he'll play for the Vikings again since there has been a growing sentiment from Peterson's camp that he'd prefer to play elsewhere. The Cardinals and Cowboys have both been rumored destinations.
His two touchdowns were a low for his career. His 63 receptions and 784 yards were the fewest since 2004. But there are reasons to think Fitzgerald can post better statistics in 2015, provided he and quarterback Carson Palmer stay healthy.
In Palmer's last five starts before a season-ending knee injury, Fitzgerald caught 31 passes for 461 yards. It was clear that he and Palmer were starting to click.
"Both guys were very comfortable in the offense," coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings last week.
"He has progressed so much, I don't think there is any doubt they can go down on an option route, and Carson will know where he is going and the ball is on time. Larry is going to make the big, physical catches inside. He's a true mismatch inside."
$11 million per season (Fitzgerald’s re-worked deal) is a high price to pay for a soon-to-be 32-year-old who is coming off of his worst fantasy season of his career. However, there is a reason for optimism: Fitzgerald averaged 5.3 catches for 81 yards and 0.33 TD in six games with a healthy Carson Palmer. Extrapolate that pace over a full season, and it's about what Mike Evans (PPR) and Golden Tate (standard) scored as last season's #13 WR. The Cardinals obviously believe that he’s worth keeping around.
Cardinals HC Bruce Arians on RBs: "We'd like to have a bigger back." Said team looking for big, fast back. Could come in 4th or 5th round.
It sounds like the Cardinals are looking to build a two-back system to lower the wear and tear on Andre Ellington, who played hurt for most of the 2014 season. A reduction in touches may actually help Ellington's effectiveness, though it's unlikely to help his per game fantasy production. Ellington averaged 22.0 touches per game, but only managed 3.3 YPC after averaging 5.5 YPC in his rookie season.
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