Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:37pm
Cards RB Chris Johnson went through a full practice Tuesday at full speed and is on pace to play in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Denver. A hamstring injury suffered two days before Arizona’s second preseason game, against San Diego, has kept sidelined.
The plan is for Johnson to get at least between 10 and 12 carries, coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday. But Arians will be cautious with Johnson, keeping an eye on his condition. Too many plays, Arians said, could fatigue Johnson and could lead to him re-pulling his right hamstring.
In his first football since December, Johnson just wants to re-acclimate himself with being on the field.
“Just go out there and try to get in the groove, get some carries,” Johnson said. “I haven’t been tackled since last year. I haven’t played in a full-speed game or anything."
It appears Cardinals WR Michael Floyd is on the right track, as he was on the sideline catching "soft passes" before Tuesday's practice, according to Kent Somers. Floyd dislocated three fingers during the first week of training camp and later underwent surgery.
Baltimore placed tight end Dennis Pitta on the physically unable to perform list, as Head Coach John Harbaugh previously indicated would happen.
Pitta, who is still rehabbing after his second major hip surgery, will not be eligible to play until Week 7 against the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26. Pitta could make his return on Monday Night Football, but that’s still in question.
“There’s more to it than just, ‘Can he play?’” Harbaugh said two weeks ago. “Should he play? Will he be cleared to play? And what is being cleared to play entail in terms of liability and things like that? There’s a lot to it that has to be worked out.”
Pitta participated in individual and position drills during Organized Team Activities, but once the Ravens put the pads on for training camp, Pitta was held out. He hasn’t had any contact since dislocating and fracturing his hip on Sept. 21, 2014. Pitta has also run routes on the field before each of the Ravens’ preseason games. He appears to have good mobility and explosion, but still needs to gain permission from doctors to suit up, the story all said. Crockett Gillmore and rookie Maxx Williams are expected to carry the load. Williams is a rookie so Gillmore is ranked higher but perhaps the upside falls with Williams. Keep in mind, rookie TEs don't always have an immediate fantasy impact, but this will be a little more of a pass-friendly offense under Marc Trestman.
Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 8:59am
Montee Ball, who was the team’s No. 1 back this time last year, is expected to play plenty in Thursday’s preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Ball said Monday he’s hopeful the potential extra carries will help him find a groove in the new offense.
Ball is trying to make a final impression before the Broncos trim the roster to 53 players by Saturday. And he is auditioning as well if, for some reason, the Broncos elect to move on from their second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
“That's an important thing for a running back, to get that lather," Ball said. “To just figure out how the linebackers are flowing and stuff like that, but I'm not complaining at all. I'm not complaining.”
There are plenty of rumors surrounding Ball getting traded this offseason thanks to the emergence of Ronnie Hillman as the team's RB2 and C.J. Anderson's play last year. Ball now finds himself on the third team looking to make an impression. Ball was actually a second round pick that went a few spots higher than Eddie Lacy in the 2013 draft. If the team decides to part ways, someone will be interested, but given the injury problems the Broncos have faced last year they may not want to separate just yet.
Arizona gained 11 yards and a first down on two runs and a pass. Quarterback Carson Palmer stayed upright. Arizona looked like it was on its way to another offensive outpouring.
Then on the Cardinals' fourth play from scrimmage, right guard Jonathan Cooper got beat by Oakland defensive end Denico Autry, which ignited a chain of events that led to the offense crashing down. Autry then bulldozed Cardinals running back Andre Ellington, who nearly fell into Palmer, who had to tuck the ball for a moment to avoid getting hit and losing it. Palmer then missed the opening to hit Larry Fitzgerald, which led to an interception.
And it didn't stop there.
Palmer was sacked three times and threw two interceptions in the first half before backup Drew Stanton replaced him in the third quarter. After weeks of promising practices with air-tight pockets and pinpoint accuracy, the Cardinals' offense looked scattered. The tackles -- both Jared Veldheer on the left side and Bradley Sowell on the right -- were consistently beat, which led to Palmer getting hit 14 times in the first half.
It's not good news for Palmer and his owners, but it is just the preseason. The team had concerns about keeping Palmer upright and healthy this season all through the offseason. As we saw last year, Palmer is the key to making this talented offense run.
I would still lean toward CJ being on this roster heading into the regular season. But it’s not necessarily a lock, with what David Johnson has shown and Kerwynn Williams still lingering in the background and Stepfan Taylor so valuable on special teams. Can’t keep ’em all.
Johnson may be expendable with the way David Johnson is playing and how Williams played last season.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015, 5:56pm
Niklas reinjured a hamstring injury he initially suffered training this offseason, coach Bruce Arians said. He began training camp on the non-football injury list because of the injury but returned two weeks ago. There isn’t a timetable for Niklas’ return from his current injury.
“We don’t know how long that’s going to be,” Arians said.
It was a sign of progress, but coach Bruce Arians said there is still not an estimate on when Floyd will return.
"He’s doing extremely well, so no, I don’t think there is an exact timetable," Arians said. "I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s ready (for Week 1), knowing Michael."
The Cardinals open the regular season Sept. 13 at home against New Orleans.
Floyd’s stitches were removed on Aug. 18, almost two weeks after he had surgery to repair three dislocated fingers in his left hand. Floyd has been working on his conditioning with assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom before and after practices.
Monday, August 24, 2015, 8:26pm
"He's healing," Arians said. "He's had these [minor injuries] in the past, and they only lasted a few days, so hopefully it's one of those."
Johnson did not practice Monday.
Johnson hurt his right hamstring on the last play of Thursday's practice, which caused him to miss Saturday's preseason game against San Diego. Arizona plays at Oakland on Sunday.
His rookie speedster had gained a step on cornerback Richard Crawford, but the veteran quarterback has thrown countless bombs in his career, and knows an overthrow when he lets one fly.
Except, this time, he was wrong. As the ball ended its descent, Nelson sat there waiting for it, actually slowing down in order to complete the 57-yard gain.
“I can’t wait to watch it on film,” Palmer said. “He must have hit the nitrous button because he took off.”
When the Cardinals selected Nelson in the fifth-round of the draft, they knew he had speed. The Alabama-Birmingham star had the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting combine and figured to come in and compete for kick and punt return duties immediately, the story said. His playing time at wideout was less certain, with Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown taking up the majority of the snaps and Jaron Brown and Brittan Golden battling Nelson for the fourth receiver spot. But with Floyd recovering from three dislocated fingers in his hand, it was Nelson who started alongside John Brown and Fitzgerald in a three-receiver set in the 22-19 preseason loss to the Chargers. Much like John Brown last year, Nelson could be a guy who comes out of no where on the Cards deep list of WRs.
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim was impressed by his team’s deep threats at receiver last Saturday night against the Chargers. But he’s also concerned that quarterback Carson Palmer won’t have enough time to pass the ball if the Cardinals don’t protect him better.
The Chargers had six sacks in the first half of the victory, including two on Palmer, who dropped back just nine times.
“If we can protect Carson, we have some guys who can not only create separation, but can be explosive,” Keim said Monday morning on his weekly appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The story said both tackles gave up sacks, even though Keim didn't blame the offensive line entirely. He also pointed to missed assignments by running backs, which also happens to be an area bit by the injury bug so far in camp for the Cards. Palmer is a potential late-round starting option at QB who has a lot of weapons to throw to . But as the story said, he needs to be protected to allow his talented WRs to get open - on top of staying healthy.
Chris Johnson wasn’t able to stay healthy for long in Arizona.
Johnson, the running back signed by the Cardinals last week, did not play in last night’s preseason game against the Chargers even though the Cardinals had initially planned to get him at least a few carries. Afterward, coach Bruce Arians explained that Johnson pulled a hamstring in Thursday’s practice and will be out for a week or two.
Johnson has been very healthy in his NFL career: The only game he’s ever missed was a meaningless Week 17 game. The Cardinals will try to get him healthy in time for Week One, when they hope he looks like the Chris Johnson of old.
If he’s out two weeks, that means he won’t play at all for the Cardinals, and his first live action in their offense wouldn’t come until the regular season. HC Bruce Arians said about rookie David Johnson that he wouldn't play in the season without the proper time in camp, so it remains to be seen how the team treats CJ2K. The Cards RBs have been banged up all camp and the hope was CJ2K would add some stability.
The bulky black brace Cards QB Carson Palmer wears on his left knee is about the only sign he is less than nine months removed from his second torn anterior cruciate ligament.
That and, well, the way head coach Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians still sometimes shakes his head in disbelief that three weeks into training camp, Palmer isn’t just healthy, he’s better.
And maybe better than he’s been at any point since he made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Carson is in great shape, mentally and physically,” Arians told USA TODAY Sports.
Plenty of coaches gush these sorts of platitudes about their quarterback this time of year. But it means something coming from a quarterback guru like Arians, who has tutored passers like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck.
The story said that through three weeks of training camp, Palmer has been among the Cardinals’ most consistent players, something that backs up numerous reports we've had here at 4for4. In a recent fully-padded practice, he zipped pass after pass across the middle of the field to Larry Fitzgerald, and nailed several deep touchdown passes to second-year receiver John Brown — all while playing against a secondary that includes stars Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Then, in his first live action since suffering the knee injury on Nov. 9, Palmer went 4-for-4 for 77 yards to lead the Cardinals to a touchdown in his one series of work in the preseason opener against Kansas City last week. All signs are pointing to Palmer having very nice, later-round value at the QB position, definitely something to note if you're waiting to draft at the position.
Safety Rashad Johnson: “The timing, the zip, the placement of the ball. He’s just been on fire. I’m surprised to see how well he’s come back from the (knee) injury. I think it took us a week and half to get an interception off of him. With the secondary we have, that’s very impressive. He’s playing at a very, very high level. You can tell he understands the offense way better than he did a couple years ago. I’m excited, man. I’ve never seen a quarterback play this well in person, besides Kurt Warner.”
Safety Tyrann Mathieu: “His arm has gotten so much stronger. And just his confidence. He’s throwing the ball into double coverage and against our best cornerback. That confidence he has and the trust in his receivers, that’s what stands out to us the most. We practice against him but we don’t play against him. He’s on our team so we’re pretty excited for the season to get here.”
Cornerback Patrick Peterson: “The way he’s going through his progressions, as far as one, two, three reads. You can tell he’s much more comfortable within the offense and Coach Arians’ play calling. And his arm looks so much stronger than the years past. Just look at him, his demeanor, his confidence is different. I wish we could just wrap him up in a whole bunch of bubble wrap and keep him safe leading up to the season.”
In the 15 games since his team’s 2013 bye, Palmer is averaging 277 yards 1.8 touchdowns and 0.8 interceptions. Those are fringe QB1 numbers, and he has a nice receiving corps (including Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown) to throw to. Everything is going smoothly with his recovery from ACL surgery, so he's our favorite late-round sleeper at the QB position. For more on Palmer, be sure to read the Cardinals-qb-carson-palmer">Sleeper Alert that Senior Editor John Paulsen issued back in June.
In drills coming out of the backfield, no one has really been able to cover David Johnson, making one think about the matchup issues he can provide. Now, we wait to see what it looks like in a game.
“I’ve been waiting since January, since the draft, to prove what I’m worth,” Johnson said.
HC Bruce Arians likes to use his running backs as receivers, and this isn’t just about throwing swing passes to a guy — which is why it will be interesting to see how Chris Johnson adapts to the offense. Andre Ellington runs out of the slot and has shown good hands (remember, Arians has said he thinks Ellington could have been a wideout in this league) and that is something Johnson has already shown. There is no fighting the ball when it comes to him.
With the addition of both Johnsons, Ellington suddenly has to compete for touches. He should post solid RB2 numbers in PPR formats, but if he struggles to run the ball -- like he did last year with his 3.3 YPC -- he isn't likely to have a long leash.
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