Arizona Cardinals: Brittan Golden

With cuts looming hours away, at least 22 players are wondering if they’ll have a job by time Saturday night rolls around.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has been firm that five or six players were fighting for spots on Arizona’s roster Thursday night.

Here are four Cardinals whose stock dropped after Arizona's 12-9 loss to the Chargers:
  • Brittan Golden, WR: Deep in competition for a spot, Golden may have lost his shot at making the 53-man roster after Thursday’s outing. He had four receptions for 14 yards after being targeted nine times. But Golden didn’t have the big game needed to sway the Cards’ opinion.
  • Bryan McCann, CB: McCann got burned on a couple of critical passes as his size was exposed. McCann was openly competing against Teddy Williams for the last cornerback spot, according to Arians.
  • Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter, T: Both tackles needed to have clean games but neither was able to accomplish that. Both got beat badly on a two occasions which allowed defenders a direct path to Logan Thomas.

Cardinals Camp Report: Day 7

August, 2, 2014
Aug 2
8:55
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Arizona Cardinals training camp:
  • The battle of the day was at left guard between Jonathan Cooper, the expected starter, and Earl Watford, who has been the backup at right guard. Before Saturday’s practice, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he was “disappointed” with where Cooper’s progress is a week into training camp. Cooper and Watford began alternating snaps, but toward the end of practice they alternated series.
  • Saturday was the Cardinals’ Fan Fest, which meant live hitting, and the Cardinals ran a goal-line drill at the end of practice. Jonathan Dwyer looked good throughout practice, running in a couple touchdowns, including on a pretty sweep to the right.
  • Tight end John Carlson appears to be atop the depth chart and he has earned it. Carlson has been making catches all camp and that continued Saturday with a series of grabs off the hand of Carson Palmer.
  • With John Brown’s hamstring holding him out of practice Saturday, Brittan Golden became the Cardinals’ fourth wide receiver and Andre Ellington lined up as the fifth receiver.
  • Cornerback Antonio Cromartie returned to practice.
  • Quarterback keepers were emphasized throughout practice. Logan Thomas ran for a touchdown after rolling out to the right and keeping it uncontested. Later in practice, back-up quarterback Drew Stanton outran the defense on a keeper down the left sideline.
  • Saturday was rookie Chandler Catanzaro's day to kick and he went 7-for-8, missing a 49-yard field goal that was part of a drive.
  • Reggie Dunn returned punts Saturday, ahead of Ted Ginn.
  • Golden also lined up at gunner across from Justin Bethel.
  • A few leftovers from Arians' Saturday news conference: Thomas hasn’t yet won the third-string job over Ryan Lindley, Arians said, citing the fact that he has seen Lindley throw for a year-and-a-half and Thomas since May. ... The Cardinals won’t watch tape of the Houston Texans in preparation for their preseason game next Saturday because Houston plays a similar defense.
  • The Cardinals are off Sunday and their next public practice will be 2 p.m. PT Tuesday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- With about two-and-a-half weeks until the NFL draft commences in New York City, ESPN NFL draft Insider Mel Kiper broke down the needs Insider for each team in the league.

Overall, his findings for the Cardinals won’t shock anyone, but Kiper placed the need for a quarterback among Arizona’s top priorities. He called the Cardinals’ two back-ups, Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, “pretty uninspiring.”

“It'd be good to have a developmental option with at least the ceiling of a quality starter behind Palmer, and I don't think there's one on the current roster,” Kiper wrote.

Kiper also cited outside linebacker, safety and wide receiver as three other needs for the Cardinals to address.

While John Abraham is still able-bodied at 36, he won’t be able to play forever. With Arizona facing two mobile quarterbacks -- Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick -- twice each this season, Kiper sees the need to draft a quick, athletic edge rusher early.

Safety has been a major concern for the Cardinals from Day 1 of the offseason, but Kiper doesn’t think Tyrann Mathieu is the right piece to complete the secondary’s puzzle, which I agree with. Mathieu needs to be able to roam and by having his nose in as many plays as possible, the odds of the ball landing in the Cardinals' favor go up. Because of Mathieu’s versatility, he’s not a true safety which Arizona can land in the draft.

When Kiper wrote about Arizona needing another wide receiver option, he tempered the importance of adding to the position with the possibility of drafting a tight end, which may be a smarter option in Arians’ two-tight end sets. The Cardinals have a bevy of fast No. 4 options, such as Jaron Brown, Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden, who are reliable and cheap.

The position Kiper didn’t address that -- in my opinion -- is also a priority is a right tackle. The Cardinals haven’t re-signed last year’s starter Eric Winston which means they will let Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter compete for the job until either one or none of them earn the starting nod.
If the Arizona Cardinals try to lure a free-agent wide receiver to the desert this offseason, showing them a tape of their 2013 offense may not be the way to get them there.

Under coach Bruce Arians, the roles of the receivers are clearly defined: The first two are set for at least 2014 with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. The third, whoever it may be, doesn't play a significant role in the offense. That's a large reason why receiver Andre Roberts isn't expected to be re-signed by Arizona by time free agency starts. He earned more than a third receiver should have, especially one who played one-third fewer snaps than Fitzgerald and 40 percent fewer than Floyd did in 2013.

So trying to replace Roberts with a free agent may be easier said than done.

The Cardinals have a few options already on their roster with Jaron Brown, Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden. All are fast and cheap compared to who'll hit the market March 11 in what's widely considered one of the deepest free agency classes of receivers in recent memory.

But the Cardinals have strict criteria for that third receiver and the top priority is speed. Arians wants a receiver who can take the top off the defense and stretch the field, but he'll have to come for the right price. Last season, Roberts made $1.3 million in 2013, a price tag that's too high for someone who played just 576 snaps.

Of those on the roster, Brown is the most likely successor, having earned $414,000 in 2013 while playing 149 snaps. He caught 11 passes for 140 yards.

The Cardinals won't want to spend more than necessary on a third receiver, eliminating most options in free agency. Among the best receivers who could fit into the Cardinals offense for the right price are Carolina's Ted Ginn, Tampa Bay's Tiquan Underwood, Philadelphia's Riley Cooper and New Orleans' Robert Meachem. Only Ginn made more than $1 million last year and he would give the Cardinals a dynamic return option on kickoffs and a suitable backup on punt returns while Tyrann Mathieu continues his recovery.

One drawing point for a potential receiver, however, is that they could soon be the Cards' No. 2 receiver if Fitzgerald doesn't return in 2015 because of his contract.

Two other names that Arizona could get for the right price, who have solid speed are Detroit's Kevin Ogletree and Denver's Andre Caldwell.

Bethel questionable despite symptoms

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even though he’s cleared to play, Arizona Cardinals gunner Justin Bethel is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts, coach Bruce Arians said.

Bethel
“He’s much, much better,” Arians said. “He’ll be a game-time decision.”

Bethel missed Thursday’s practice because of “a little headache” but was back on the field Friday. He’s still experiencing symptoms from the concussion he suffered against Jacksonville.

If Bethel can’t play Sunday, a committee of about four players will fill his roles on special teams. Based on who has played gunner earlier this season, among the committee will be Jaron Brown and Antoine Cason. Brittan Golden could also be used if he’s active Sunday. He’s back at 100 percent from a hamstring injury that’s hampered him for more than a month.

Golden, who practiced at gunner on Friday, is also questionable.

Recently re-acquired Bryan McCann, who the Cardinals signed this week to replace Teddy Williams, will be one gunner, Arians said.

“Looks great, like he never missed a beat,” he said. “He was probably our second-best gunner and special teams player in training camp.”

Bethel clears protocol, plans to play

November, 20, 2013
11/20/13
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TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Cardinals gunner Justin Bethel has passed the league's concussion protocol, and he expects to play Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Yeah, that’s the plan,” Bethel said. “That’s my plan to play.”

Passing the concussion test was Bethel’s biggest hurdle to returning to the field. He was limited in practice Wednesday.

Bethel
“We’ll take it very easy with him,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

Bethel left last weekend’s game against Jacksonville after a vicious hit left him staggering. After finally getting to his feet, he had to take a knee again and eventually be helped off the field.

The second-year gunner, who Arians has said may be the best special-teams player in the NFL, said he didn’t know how bad the concussion was, but he was feeling better Wednesday.

“Just going to go out there and try to get better every day, do what I can,” Bethel said. “And just try to get ready for Sunday.”

Without Bethel, the Cardinals' punt-return unit would be in trouble. In the third quarter against the Jaguars, fellow gunner Teddy Williams was lost for the season with an Achilles injury. In Williams' place, the Cardinals signed Bryan McCann, who is expected to assume the gunner duties. But if Bethel can't return Sunday, the Cardinals' ability to flip the field won't be as strong as it has been and the defense will face more pressure to keep opponents from working in short fields.

Quarterback Carson Palmer was listed on the Cardinals’ injury report with a hand injury, but he practiced fully. The only Cardinal not to practice was center/guard Mike Gibson. Linebacker John Abraham (hamstring) and wide receivers Michael Floyd (shoulder) and Brittan Golden were limited.

Arians said Floyd’s right shoulder, in which he suffered a sprained AC joint against Houston, was sore. The coach also described Golden as at “about 90 percent,” an estimation the receiver agreed with.

“He’s still finding that last gear,” Arians said. “I think it’s more scar tissue than it is injury at this point in time. We hope to get him back soon.”
Flush the Pocket will be your daily morning dose of the Arizona Cardinals. It’ll recap the top storyline from the previous day and give you a look at what everyone is saying locally and nationally.

TEMPE, Ariz. – If Michael Floyd can’t play Sunday in Jacksonville, the Cardinals will be “a little bit slim” at wide receiver, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during his weekly appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

Floyd sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder in the first quarter of the Cardinals’ 27-24 win over the Houston Texans. On Monday, Arians said Floyd is day-to-day.

If Floyd can’t play, rookie Jaron Brown would take his place in the lineup, meaning the Cardinals would be sending out Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Brown and most likely Teddy Williams. Brittan Golden is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

Arians said Brown played “extremely well.” Roberts also stepped up with 72 yards, and Arians said the Cardinals “never really miss a beat when Andre’s in there.” But with Williams, who played cornerback last season in Indianapolis, the Cardinals have a project that’s not finished. They’re still teaching him how to play receiver, Arians added.

The Cardinals lost receiver Kerry Taylor last week when he was signed off the practice squad by Jacksonville.

A few other notes from Arians’ radio spot:
  • Arians is still surprised that recently signed tight end Jake Ballard played 22 snaps, but once the Cardinals started running the ball, they began using plays that were very similar, which helped Ballard adjust. “We believe if a guy can help us, we’ll find a role for him and don’t overload him,” Arians said. “Let him go out and let him play with his instincts while we’re teaching him on our techniques.”
  • Arians feels it helps the Cardinals’ preparations knowing that the Jaguars have won a game. When his team watches tape, Arians said they see a team that has a stout defense and a solid run game, and a squad that’s clearly capable of winning games. “I don’t think we’re full of ourselves to the point where we’re going to think we’re better than anybody unless we show up on Sunday,” Arians said with a chuckle. “Of course, I got to hammer them while [I] keep hitting them in the head about it.”

Tuesdays are always slow around Cardinals headquarters, but here are the top headlines:

Fitzgerald, Mendenhall getting better

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
7:30
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- It looks like the time off helped Larry Fitzgerald.

Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald
The Arizona Cardinals wide receiver wasn’t listed on Wednesday’s injury report, but coach Bruce Arians wasn’t sure if his star was back to 100 percent. Quarterback Carson Palmer said Fitzgerald didn't do much in practice Monday, most likely giving his left hamstring an extra two days to heal before Wednesday's practice.

Before the Cardinals play Houston on Sunday, they will have played just one game in the last 23 days, and that's been the best therapy, Palmer said.

"You can get treatment on a lot of things, but a lot of the time the best remedy is just rest," Palmer said. "For Larry to have a good 10-day period where he really didn't do much and just had a chance to let that thing heal up, that will be really good for us in the second half of the season."

Running back Rashard Mendenhall was still on the injury report, however. He was limited with turf toe. Arians said Mendenhall isn’t quite healthy just yet.

“It’s not completely healed, but it’s a lot better,” Arians said.

Two Cardinals – right tackle Bradley Sowell and linebacker Daryl Washington – missed practice because of illness. Wide receiver Brittan Golden is still recovering from a pulled hamstring and was on the stationary bike for the open portion of practice.

Linebacker John Abraham (shoulder) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf) were both limited. Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (knee) practiced fully.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was short with his answers Friday, about 15 hours after Arizona lost 34-22 to the Seattle Seahawks. The poor play of the offensive line dominated his day-after press conference, but that's been the topic du jour for a few weeks running:
  • Arians said Daryn Colledge left the game after twisting his back, which popped out his S1 vertebrae. It was fixed on the sideline but gave him spasms the rest of the game. He expects Colledge to return by Wednesday.
  • Arians is hopeful WR Brittan Golden can return next week. He missed Thurdsay's game with a hamstring injury.
  • Patrick Peterson suffered a jammed finger and could be seen on the broadcast with fingers taped together on his left hand.
  • Arians didn't see any hesitation in DE Calais Campbell, who returned to the field four days after being carted off the field in San Francisco after suffering a bruised spine. "He had a great game," Arians said.
  • Arians said he doesn't usually praise players after a loss but that Campbell and LB John Abraham, who had two sacks, had outstanding games.
  • C Lyle Sendlein was the highest-graded offensive lineman.
  • S Rashad Johnson isn't playing tentative, Arians said, despite playing with essentially eight fingers because his left middle finger is taped to another finger during games.
  • Arians said Thursday was the first time in 20 years he didn't come out of a game with an "explosive" play, meaning 20 yards or longer. The Cardinals' biggest play was 19 yards.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Speed has long caught the eye of Arizona coach Bruce Arians.

Golden
Couple that with the ability to catch the football and Arians will give a player a long look, hence why the Cardinals promoted wide receiver Brittan Golden to the active roster on Oct. 8. A few days later, he broke past San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers for a 53-yard catch during a three-play drive that ended with a touchdown.

But as quickly as Golden made an impact -- he also had a crucial block during Larry Fitzgerald’s 75-yard touchdown -- Golden was sidelined with a pulled hamstring, Arians said, and is doubtful for Thursday's game against Seattle.

“That’s exactly why we activated him and put him in and had his own package,” Arians said. “Then he pulls a hamstring on his first play, so we go back to another one.”

Golden said Tuesday he hopes to be out a week, but two might be a possibility. He received a cortisone shot this week and said he felt better. Golden didn’t practice during the open portion of Tuesday’s walk-through.

Sunday was his first NFL game after a rookie season spent bouncing between teams and practice squads. To injure his hamstring after that kind of debut was frustrating, he said.

Palmer
Second guessing 2-points: After Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer hit Michael Floyd for a 10-yard touchdown with 8:17 left in the third quarter, Arians opted to try a two-point conversion. It failed, the 49ers led 22-20 and the Cardinals could never make up the difference.

Arians’ decision was questioned far and wide for being too risky too early. But he defended his decision.

“It’s the feel of the game,” Arians said. “But it’s usually going into the late third. The points will add up and I felt like we were going to score again, so there was no need to do it.

“At that point in time, I felt like we had the right time, the right momentum and we just didn’t execute right.”

Arians called for cornerback Patrick Peterson to throw the pass, but he waited a few moments too long and missed an open Fitzgerald in the back of the end zone.

Smith
Take what you can get: When it comes to stretching for more yards in the second half of a two-point game, Arians wants his players to get what they can and nothing more. He was referring fumbles by Fitzgerald and running back Alfonso Smith, in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

“You would never anticipate that,” Arians said. “You would never anticipate ball security being an issue in that part of the game. When you’re fighting for this much, that doesn’t make too much sense -- reaching the ball out and it almost happened again later.

“Alfonso’s fumble, we were in a two-minute situation. You don’t fight for yards, get the first down and you get down and you hand the ball to the referee and you get back. You don’t keep fighting for a half of a yard. At this point in the game, a half-yard doesn’t mean crap. It’s playing smarter.”
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When the Cardinals sent out all four safeties for most of Sunday’s win over the Lions, not all of them were playing in the secondary.

Bell
Safety Yeremiah Bell lined up at inside linebacker as a counter to Detroit running back Reggie Bush and finished with three tackles. The Cardinals asked Bell to learn the linebacker schemes in two different fronts, and the 10-th year pro came through.

Bell gave up one big play to Bush, who appeared to make a move on Bell, freezing the safety.

“I can’t say enough about the guy,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s the ultimate pro, no matter what you ask of him. He got knocked around a little bit but he made a bunch of tackles.

“He gave up one to Reggie where he thought he had inside help and that was, I think ,the only negative play he had in the entire ball game.”

Fitz’s hammy a concern: Arians said there’s no way to predict how Larry Fitzgerald's hamstring will respond to treatment, rest and then practice later this week. But the coach wants to make sure it’s not an issue all season. He said he’ll trust his star receiver when it comes time to make a decision on Sunday in New Orleans.

“We don’t want it to linger, that’s for sure,” Arians said. “I trust his judgment on game day. We’ll just see how it goes and we won’t know until each day how it responds.”

Fast-paced plan: The Cardinals don’t want to play at quite the same pace as the Eagles under Chip Kelly, but Arians wants to see more plays per game.

His goal is 70 or more, and Arizona is averaging 64 through two games. They had 62 against St. Louis and 66 against Detroit.

“It’s one of those things, we’re not no-huddling right now but we still are getting a lot of snaps,” Arians said.

Practice squad moves: A few changes to the practice squad were announced Tuesday. The Cardinals released wide receiver Sam McGuffie and added receivers Dan Buckner and Brittan Golden. Buckner, an University of Arizona product, was an undrafted free agent this year and was cut on Aug. 30, when the Cardinals trimmed their roster to 53.

Golden spent the preseason with the Chicago Bears.

Technique still troubling Brown: Arians saw improvement out of left tackle Levi Brown, who was the highest graded offensive lineman, according to Pro Football Focus, but there’s still work to do.

“His technique wasn’t perfect,” Arians said. “He tried to use his hands more but not enough. He played a much better game but he can still play much better.”

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