Palmer says offense needs to be team’s backbone

New Orleans Saints Brodrick Bunkley Youth Elite Black Nike Jersey A better offense could offset any problems that surface Mark Barron Authentic Jersey for what has been a stout defense in Arizona.
Quarterback Carson Palmer says he’s not sure you can fill the shoes of the three players the Cardinals lost up the middle on defense. Tackle Darnell Dockett was lost for the season with a knee injury in practice Monday.

The team already was without both inside linebackers. Karlos Dansby left for Cleveland as a free agent and Daryl Washington is suspended for the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

”There’s not a bunch of Darnell Docketts out there,” Palmer said. ”There’s not a bunch of Karloses. There’s not a bunch of guys out there that are athletic freaks like Daryl was.”

Palmer said he knows there will be replacements who bring talent to those positions, but he thinks the offense is ready to bear a bigger responsibility.
”We need to be kind of the backbone,” he said. ”We need to be counted on to win games at the end of games. We’ve got to pick up and continue to improve week after week. Who knows how the season’s going to shake down, but we need to be ready offensively to carry.”

The offense, coach Bruce Arians said, needs to pick up from where it was in the second half of last season, when Arizona went 6-2, then build from there.

In each of the first two preseason games, Arizona’s first-team offense has mounted a long touchdown drive on its first possession.
In the opener against Houston, Palmer was 5 of 5 for 84 yards, culminated by a 7-yard TD pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Last week at Minnesota, the Cardinals went 93 yards in nine plays for a score the first time they had the ball.

But it was only a brief appearance. This week against Palmer’s old team, the Cincinnati Bengals, Cardinals starters will play longer. Arians said they will go no more than a half, less than that if they play well.

”It’s hard to be perfectly comfortable when you know you’re only getting a couple of shots,” Palmer said, ”because you have to have every one be perfect. First downs got to be great, second downs got to be great. because third-and-10 can be so difficult.”

Palmer has not had one of his top targets, Michael Floyd. Floyd, who topped 1,000 yards receiving in his second NFL season a year ago, has been sidelined with a groin injury but is practicing. He’s expected to play against Cincinnati on Saturday night.

New wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and rookie John Brown bring a speed element that was lacking a year ago. Getting in sync with players who run so fast takes time.

”I like the speed,” Palmer said. ”I think it adds a new facet to our offense and is going to make some of the underneath stuff a little better. It’s going to make the run game a little bit better.”

The running game hasn’t produced much statistically. Arizona is averaging 2.5 yards per carry, but Arians says he isn’t concerned.

”The running game’s been fine,” he said. ”There haven’t been very many long runs but they’ve been very efficient. When you go for it on fourth down four times and you make it four times that’s a pretty good running game.”

The team is keeping starting running back Andre Ellington mostly under wraps to avoid injury. He’s had four carries for 12 yards and caught one pass for 16 yards. Ellington is counted on not only as a dynamic ball carrier but as a receiver. He’s learned every wide receiver spot.

A year ago, Palmer and the rest of the Cardinals were struggling mightily to learn Arians’ intricate offense. This year they know how to correct their own mistakes.

”There’s no comparison,” Palmer said. ”You go from totally trying to learn an offense and doing something wrong and getting screamed at and yelled at to now we’re correcting things on the field and talking about things on the field.”

Not that there still isn’t screaming and yelling. That’s just the way Arians’ staff is.

”It’s the same sound in that room,” Palmer said. ”You would think we didn’t complete a pass or make a run past six inches, but that will never change and we know that. That style of coaching has been very successful.”

After 10-win season, Cardinals push for more

A 10-win season is usually enough to get a team into the playoffs.
Not last year. Not when you’re playing in the NFC West.
Coach Bruce Arians, in his first year in the desert, directed the Cardinals Lavonte David Authentic Jersey to just their second 10-win season in the 26 years they’ve been in Arizona. And all that got them was third place in the toughest division in football.

Confidence is palpable in the Cardinals’ locker room as the new season approaches, but the players know last year’s 2-4 record against NFC West foes has to improve.

Quarterback Carson Palmer calls this ”by far the most talented team I’ve ever been on, top to bottom.”

Arizona added speed in Ted Ginn Jr. and rookie sensation John Brown, then bolstered an already good secondary by signing free agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie and drafting hard-hitting safety Deone Bucannon out of Washington State in the first round.
The Cardinals filled their biggest need on offense by signing massive Jerad Veldheer to play left tackle.

But a defection, a suspension and an injury created trouble up the middle of a defense that ranked sixth last season, second against the run.

Inside linebackers Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington are gone. Dansby left for Cleveland as a free agent, Washington is suspended for a year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Then in practice last week, tackle Darnell Dockett tore his ACL and is out for the season.

Larry Foote will try to prove he still has it at age 34 at one inside linebacker spot. Second-year pro Kevin Minter, who took one defensive snap last season, is supposed to fill the other spot, although he was slowed by a pectoral muscle injury in preseason. At tackle, Frostee Rucker has had a strong camp, but behind him are two rookies and two players the Cardinals just brought in the past few days.
Palmer, who says he’s comfortable in Arians’ system after struggling last season, said the offense needs to become ”the backbone” of the team.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu, the versatile, disruptive ”Honey Badger” who recovered from a severe knee injury much quicker than anticipated, says the deep, talented secondary needs to pick up the slack.

”That pass rush might not be there this year,” he said. ”We may have to cover a bit longer.”

Here are some things to look for with the Cardinals this season:

RECEIVERS GALORE: Arians already had two pretty good ones in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Now he’s added Ginn and Brown, the speedy receiver from little Pittsburg (Kansas) State who emerged as the camp sensation.
”I’ve been through this so many times with small school, smaller receivers that are fast,” Arians said. ”A lot of guys like them 6-2, 220 that can’t run. I like those little fast guys.”

There’s another Brown, Jaron, who has made one big catch after another in preseason.

And dynamic second-year running back Andre Ellington will catch passes out of the backfield and has learned all of the wide receiver positions.

IS THERE A PASS RUSH?: Arizona has one established pass-rushing threat on the edge in 37-year-old outside linebacker John Abraham, who had 11 1/2 sacks last year and is the active career sacks leader. Abraham missed most of training camp while dealing with what he called ”personal stuff” following his arrest on a drunk driving charge in suburban Atlanta in late June.

Calais Campbell had nine sacks last season and seems poised for a big year after being passed over for the Pro Bowl last season.
PETERSON – BEST AND BEST PAID: Patrick Peterson, the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the NFL, is now the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, signing a six-year, $70 million contract, with $48 million guaranteed.

A Pro Bowl selection all three of his pro seasons, Peterson won’t return punts and have any plays for him on offense. He says that’s fine, giving him more time to ”hone” his cornerback skills.

PALMER AT 36: Palmer got off to a rough start last year as he struggled Lavonte David Elite Jersey to learn Arians’ offense. He was much better in the second half of the schedule, and not coincidentally, Arizona won seven of its last nine.

He says there’s no comparison to this year, when he has a total understanding of the offense and what he’s supposed to do in it.

Palmer, 34, has thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the last two seasons, including a career-high 4,274 last year.

KID KICKER: After four seasons, Jay Feely is gone as placekicker, beaten out by undrafted rookie Chandler Catanzaro. Arians liked the booming, soaring kickoffs of Catanzaro enough to risk sending a rookie into clutch field goal situations.

During a ‘TNF’

During a ‘TNF’ panel held in Beverly Hills, it didn’t take long for Roger Goodell to be pressed about a team returning to Los Angeles. But where does Patriots owner Robert Kraft see a franchise headed?

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor and Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney have formed a special bond over the years. In this interview from 2013, they talk about their friendship, Rooney’s years as United States Ambassador to Ireland and their hobbies.

Ike Taylor took a hefty pay cut this offseason to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is not too pleased about losing $4.25 million in the process.

“I’m pissed off about it, still am pissed off about it and I’m going to be pissed off until the end of the season about it,” Taylor told The Jim Rome Show on Monday. “Did it hurt me? Hell yeah. Does it still hurt? Yeah, it hurts, but hopefully I can go in and bounce back this year, do what I need to do on the field and we will see what happens after.”

NFL veterans often lament teams leveraging a “take a pay cut or be cut” ultimatum, but Taylor said he’d seen too many peers change teams and wash out of the NFL.

“I had seen a few guys who didn’t take pay cuts and went to other teams and it didn’t work out for them,” said Taylor. “So, at the end of the day, I didn’t want to leave Pittsburgh, point blank, period. I’ve got a lot of relationships — I have a lot of friends, I gained a lot of business relationships in Pittsburgh. Just hearing from other guys coming from other teams and being on the team with Pittsburgh, they say it’s like no other; it’s like day and night, so I’ll listen.”

Taylor is entering his 12th season and coming off a year in which his play drastically diminished as the Steelers’ matchup corner.

RGIII expressed concern over the “Thursday Night Football” schedule earlier this week. However, Roger Goodell pointed to injury rates that show a “slight decrease” on Thursdays.

The 33-year-old said he was surprised the team would force him to take a pay cut.

“It’s like you get to a point, why me? Like, I didn’t show my loyalty?” he told Rome. “I’ve been a good guy — not saying I’m flawless, I have my flaws, but you want to talk about a standup guy, who takes the blame even when he doesn’t have to. You want to talk about a guy who’s going to come in in-shape, not waiting to build up into shape when he gets to camp.

“Or you want to talk about a guy who’s unselfish and puts his team before his family and friends, you want to talk about a guy who has loyalty, yeah it’s me,” Taylor continued. “It’s me you’re talking about. When you come to me and ask me for a pay cut, I’m like ‘Damn, out of all these people, you want to ask Ike.’”

And a plethora of over-30 NFL veterans nod in agreement.