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Posts tagged with "Keim"

The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is currently a mess, but there’s an array of available players who could provide help

Things have gone from bad to worse for the offensive line of the Arizona Cardinals. For the fans who feel that the group’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys was putrid, you should probably brace yourselves. If ever the club needed head coach Bruce Arians’ “next man up” mantra to ring true, it’s now.

Starting left guard Mike Iupati’s proclamation that he’s “100% sure” that he’ll play this weekend has turned out to be hogwash. A bone spur in the veteran’s elbow is cutting a tendon, and will most likely require surgery. An operation that could effectively end Iupati’s season, and possibly his career with the Cardinals as well.

The latest news on left tackle D.J. Humphries ailing knee has caused uncertainty. Just a couple of days ago, it looked as if the franchise’s 2015 first-round draft pick would return this Sunday. But when asked about it at the end of the week, Arians could only answer “we’ll see”.

Add in the injury to the recently-signed Alex Boone, and the Cards’ blocking unit has the makings of a disaster. There’s a strong possibility that the left side of the line will feature journeyman John Wetzel and rookie Will Holden versus the San Francisco 49ers. Certainly not an ideal scenario for quarterback Carson Palmer’s health or the squad’s running game.

While it’s too late to do anything about it for the Niners matchup, there’s help available for the final three quarters of the 2017 campaign. Time for general manager Steve Keim and his cronies to get to work.

Former Cardinal Earl Watford is available after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. His knowledge of Arizona’s offense and versatility make him attractive. The exact same thing can be said of Cole Toner, a former Card who was just cut from the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad.

Former New York Jet Nick Mangold is an intriguing name who’s still looking for work. He’s made the Pro Bowl seven times as a center, but there was offseason talk that he can also play guard. The same goes for 2016 Pro Bowler Jeremy Zuttah, an available free agent who can also play both center and guard.

John Greco, a veteran of 70 starts who played for the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns, also remains jobless. There are also two possible call-ups currently on Arizona’s practice squad. Dorian Johnson, this year’s fourth-round pick, and Vinston Painter, a former Denver Broncos’ draft selection, are the candidates.

All of the players mentioned in this article could provide help. Keim needs to attack this brutal situation aggressively. Before the losses pile up and there’s no point in righting the ship.

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The news Deone Bucannon won’t play Sunday — not a huge shock, even without the setback of an ankle sprain — puts on hold what the Cardinals will do with rookie Haason Reddick when Bucannon, Reddick and Karlos Dansby are all available. Reddick will be needed to play in Bucannon’s role, at least in certain packages.

But it also goes to that concern lingering as soon as the Cards cut to 53 and, at least outwardly, the team only kept three outside linebackers. What about depth? What about a fourth behind Markus Golden, Chandler Jones and Kareem Martin? Coach Bruce Arians mentioned that veteran Philip Wheeler, signed as an inside linebacker, worked in practice recently on the outside and can play both spots. Defensive lineman Josh Mauro has occasionally taken reps at OLB and could serve there in a pinch, especially on running downs. But then there is Reddick.

Reddick, who played defensive end in college, slowly has gotten some reps as an outside ‘backer to build on his work on the inside. And once Bucannon is back, Reddick makes the most sense as a dual-threat guy, someone who can play on the inside in certain packages, who can rush the passer in certain packages, and who can also serve as that fourth guy behind Golden, Jones and Martin.

Again, versatility has been one of the hallmarks of the players GM Steve Keim has sought, especially on the defense. The linemen can play anywhere. The linebackers, mostly, can switch around. The defensive backs are interchangeable. That is how the Cards will solve that fourth OLB issue.

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Starting with 13th pick Thursday, team ready to bolster roster with 2017 selections

Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche shakes hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the 29th pick in the first round during the 2016 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Chicago. (Perry Knotts via AP)

The draft is indeed the “lifeblood” of NFL teams, as Steve Keim said. If a team doesn’t draft well, trouble follows, because it is that cost-controlled part of the roster that allows for sustained success.

That’s the sustained success Keim, the Cardinals’ general manager, talks about often. As the team prepares to take part in this year’s draft – beginning Thursday at 5 p.m. Arizona time – the Cardinals will once again try and parlay picks into a roster foundation.

The Cards have eight choices, one in each of the seven rounds plus an extra compensatory pick in the fifth round. Maybe that changes with a trade or two. But as we stand now, the Cardinals will be 13th overall, and really, the top question is obvious.

Will the Cardinals draft a quarterback?

I believe at some point, yes, they will draft a quarterback. There has been so much talk given to the situation. That doesn’t mean a QB will be picked early. Maybe it will be a fourth- or fifth-round flier on a guy. But it just makes sense that a quarterback will be selected at some point.

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