Arizona Cardinals: Ted Ginn
The soreness in Ellington’s left foot has gone down considerably from last Monday, Arians said. He hopes Ellington can practice Thursday and Friday before Arizona hosts San Francisco. With the Cardinals’ bye week coming in Week 4, that’ll give Ellington a couple of weeks to rest his foot.
“By after the bye week, he’ll be fine,” Arians said.
Recapping Bruce Arians’ Monday presser:
- Arians gave game balls to rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro, Ellington, Ted Ginn, Kenny Demens and Drew Stanton.
- Ginn will get one more chance at returning kickoffs, which comes against San Francisco, Ginn’s former team, Arians said. “We’ll continue to look at him,” Arians said.
- Arians said Darnell Dockett “was coaching his ass off” on the sideline of Sunday’s game in New York. “I liked it,” Arians added. When Dockett tore his ACL during training camp, Arians told him he was going to be like Bundini Brown, Muhammad Ali’s corner man. “He had to Google it. Really, his uncle told him who it was and he’s excited about it.”
- Linebacker Alex Okafor is still day-to-day with a thigh injury, Arians said.
- After watching the tape, Arians thought the defense played poorly.
- He was disappointed with the offense’s production in the red zone and on third down.
The Arizona Cardinals' backup inside linebacker was too busy celebrating Ted Ginn’s 71-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter when his breath -- or lack thereof -- finally caught up with him. Panting, Demens went to the sideline after realizing he was needed on the ensuing kickoff. There he found linebackers coach Mike Caldwell, who saw Demens was gassed but told him he needed to make a play regardless.
“It was one of those things that we were trying to get a spark going, trying to get a spark and then we got one,” quarterback Drew Stanton said after the Cardinals' 25-14 win on Sunday. “From my standpoint, we were trying to push the ball downfield. They were just doing a good job of being stingy in the red zone. They showed us a couple different techniques. We were trying to do some different stuff against them that it wasn’t happening the way we wanted it to.”
Stanton, who replaced Carson Palmer as the starter because of a nerve injury in Palmer’s right shoulder, led the Cardinals to a touchdown on the opening drive. In the 45 minutes that ticked away between that TD and the Ginn return, Arizona’s offense was abysmal.
The Cardinals had two three-and-outs to start the third quarter before a 13-play drive yielded three points on a 37-yard field goal by rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro, bringing them to within 14-13. Four plays later, Ginn broke loose and swung the momentum.
Ginn said he didn’t remember the specifics of what sprung him for the touchdown, except that he made one Giant miss immediately after he caught it. Demens credited the type of blocking scheme called by special teams coordinator Amos Jones, which required the special-teamers to hold their blocks a few seconds longer. It worked. Once Ginn got through the scrum, he was in a foot race that he wasn’t going to lose.
It was Arizona’s first punt return for a touchdown since Patrick Peterson did it in 2011.
“We actually needed a touchdown,” Ginn said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time than then. You know, like I said before, you just let the game come to you. You just play the plays.”
With momentum swinging toward the team from the desert, Ginn could see the Giants beginning to deflate. But New York’s Eli Manning, who had carved up the Cardinals’ secondary to that point, had enough time to orchestrate a comeback. It continued on the Giants’ drive following Demens’ forced fumble. Manning took the Giants 53 yards to the Arizona 17 when New York running back Rashad Jennings slipped and fell, losing the football, which was recovered by Arizona safety Rashad Johnson.
Arizona’s defense responded to the momentum swing even as Arizona’s offense managed just another field goal. The Cardinals held New York to two three-and-outs late in the fourth, as linebacker Larry Foote picked off Manning on New York’s final play. Even though it didn’t happen until the fourth quarter, the momentum delivered by Ginn and Demens was noticeable throughout the team.
“The team wins and it’s always the special teams, they set the tempo,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “That kickoff return, getting that fumble was huge.”
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- For 53 minutes, the hype was just that. Hype.
The Arizona Cardinals had talked all offseason about how this year's offense was leaps and bounds ahead of last season's. At one point leading up to Monday night's 18-17 win against San Diego, coach Bruce Arians compared the difference between 2013 and 2014 to an eighth grader sitting in a first-grade classroom.
But when the Cardinals unveiled their new-model offense, the engine barely revved. Until the winning drive late in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Carson Palmer finally kicked it into gear.
“It was the first game,” wide receiver Michael Floyd said. “It’s ups and downs. We knew that there’s going to be some bad series, some good series. We want more of the good and I think we stepped up great knowing that when they came out in the second half and scored, some offenses can just lay down like that.”
After San Diego’s Philip Rivers missed a snap from former Cardinal Rich Ohrnberger, forcing the Chargers to punt on fourth-and-22 from the Cardinals 43, Arizona came to life.
The Cardinals went 91 yards in 4 minutes, 25 seconds with Palmer using six different options -- in addition to his own two legs -- to orchestrate a drive that displayed the deep cache of weapons the Cardinals have been raving about for months.
“When you get into tight situations we know we got a receiving corps that can make plays,” Ted Ginn said. “That’s all that really mattered when we get into a dog fight like that. We know that one of the guys is going to come through and make a play, and it kinda happened today on that last drive. I believe everybody had some type of ball on that drive to keep it going, no matter if it’s first, second, third or fourth. That’s just our biggest thing: to be ready anytime.”
Palmer hit Ginn once for 4 yards, Floyd twice for 25 yards, Larry Fitzgerald once for 22 and then rookie John Brown for 13 yards on a screen pass that he turned into the winning touchdown.
“That’s what [Brown] does,” Palmer said. “He’s so shifty. It’s like somebody is controlling him with a joystick.”
Andre Ellington, who was questionable for Monday’s game because of a foot injury, added to the drive with an 18-yard run on second-and-1 and Jonathan Dwyer had one run for a yard. Palmer had the most critical run of the drive -- and maybe the game -- when he scrambled for 12 yards to convert a third down and keep the drive alive.
Despite the struggles that encompassed the first 53 minutes, the drive showed off how many options the Cardinals have added since last season.
“We’re capable of that, yes,” Arians said. “We were struggling to hear some at home, which has become a problem sometimes. We had some false starts. But that last drive was something we’re capable of doing.”
One reason it worked was because it included Palmer’s four primary receiving options -- one of which wasn’t targeted until the fourth quarter. For the first time in his career, Fitzgerald wasn’t targeted for the first three quarters of a game. Fitzgerald’s first recorded target was a running play gone wrong that led to a throw-away pass in his direction. Palmer went to Fitzgerald again to start the winning drive and again two plays after he caught the 22-yarder.
Those were all the yards Fitzgerald finished with, but they put the Cardinals inside San Diego territory. Through it all, Fitzgerald didn’t complain, Palmer said. He actually told Palmer to start running behind him.
“It was just kind of one of those games where he just doesn’t get a bunch of touches but has one of the biggest plays of the game,” Palmer said.
“Larry just comes up with big plays when we need them, like he did on that one.”
“Before they pushed the five-yard rule, people was making a lot of money on kickoff returns,” said Ginn, who was referring to the NFL moving kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 in 2011. “Once they did that and limited the chances of bringing it out, it’s not about the stats anymore.”
Now, it’s about giving his team the best starting position possible.
As Ginn prepares to start returning kicks for the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night against the San Diego Chargers, he brings seven years of understanding the nuances of kickoffs to the field. After Arizona struggled with returns in 2013 -- the Cardinals’ average field position after kickoffs was the 21-yard-line, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- enter Ginn.
He won’t have free reign over his returns but he doesn’t need it. He has the trust of his coaching staff to make the right decisions at the right times.
“It’s not really about the freedom, it’s more about being smart,” he said. “Just with them backing it up like they did a couple years ago, you really get pinned in the end zone a lot. Taking a ball eight, nine yards deep and only getting to the 15, and your team (has) to go on an 85-yard-drive, I mean that’s (a) hard (position) for a guy to put your team in.
“There’s nothing wrong with starting on the 20 on every drive.”
During training camp, Arians said Ginn needs to be aware of where his blockers are, and how deep the kicks are.
“We didn’t do a very good job of deciding those things last year,” Arians said, referring to last year’s returner, Javier Arenas.
Special teams coordinator Amos Jones feels Ginn will be more confident in when to bring a kickoff out and when to take a knee than Arenas was.
Ginn starts every kickoff standing at either the 7- or 8-yard-line. He leaves anything that goes over his head alone but makes sure it either goes out of bounds or is downed for a touchback. When the kick is in the air, Ginn begins a process of determining what his next step will be. He judges the flight of ball, which determines what kind of onslaught of he’ll be facing -- either three, four or five rushers.
“The next thing you know, you’re getting tackled on the 10 and it’s putting your team in a bad position,” Ginn said. “One penalty and you’re on the goal line and now you’re fighting to get off the goal line, and it just makes the whole drive difficult.
“It’s just being smart. It’s like not taking a sack in two-minute or getting out of bounds in two-minute.
“You got to be sorta like a quarterback and understand where you are and what you’re doing.”
And like a quarterback, Ginn needs to make sure he’s aware of the details, especially the clock.
“You might think you can make a play, you might be anxious to make a play and you get stopped on the 10 and there’s only 2 minutes left in the game and you got to go 90 yards,” he said. “It’s just being smart at the right time.”
Arians knows how potent his return game is this season. Give Ginn a sliver, and he could be gone.
“Hopefully we should be very explosive,” Arians said. “I think the guys that are blocking for him all know is (that) he just needs a crack, and when you have a guy back there with his pedigree it helps when you’re blocking for a guy like that.”
Ginn missed last weekend's game and most of this past week of practice with a knee injury suffered Aug. 7.
Recently signed linebacker Desmond Bishop also won't play against the Minnesota Vikings along with WR Teddy Williams, LB Kevin Minter, LB John Abraham, LG Jonathan Cooper, DT Bruce Gaston and T Nate Potter.
Ruled out prior to the trip were C Lyle Sendlein, S Tyrann Mathieu and NT Alameda Ta'amu.
Ginn (knee) and Floyd (groin) were listed as "not expected to dress" about 90 minutes before kickoff at University of Phoenix Stadium, along with safety Tyrann Mathieu, center Lyle Sendlein and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu. The last three were expected to miss this game. Mathieu and Ta'amu are both on PUP while Sendlein is out with a calf injury.
Ginn appeared to injure his right knee at the start of Thursday's practice while fielding punts. He walked off the field gingerly and spent the next few minutes stretching and working it out. He later returned to practice.
According to the Cardinals' depth chart, John Brown and Jaron Brown will slide up into the second and third receiver roles. Playing without two starters will shuffle the playing time and likely give receivers like Brittan Golden, Walt Powell and Dan Buckner more snaps.
@joshweinfuss: Depending on how he plays once his soft cast comes off during the next couple preseason games, I think it's possible that rookie TE Troy Niklas could be the starter Week 1. He brings more to the table than Rob Housler does when it comes to the offense Cardinals coach Bruce Arians likes to run. Niklas likes to - and is more than capable to - block off the line, but he also had good hands and receiving skills after a catch.
@joshweinfuss how long do you think it will take Niklas to become a starter? Deficiencies?— Andrew Maples (@Dmaples03114) August 6, 2014
@joshweinfuss: This is one of the best questions of training camp. Arizona didn't resign Matt Shaughnessy to make him a backup, so he's likely to keep one of the jobs. I think the only way John Abraham keeps his starting job when - or if - he reports to camp is if he's in better shape than last year. If there's any decline in his conditioning or ability, Arians won't hesitate to play Sam Acho after the way he's played this camp. Alex Okafor can make a case as well. He's been getting snaps with the first team. There will be two distinctive starters on the depth chart, but each OLB brings a different element to the pass rush and in all likelihood, they'll be rotating, depending on the offensive scheme they'll face each week.
@joshweinfuss How do you see the OLB position shaking out this season? Rotational or Abraham starting and Acho on the other side? Thanks— Brian Shay (@Th3RealBS) August 7, 2014
@joshweinfuss: No, I don't think rookie wide receiver John Brown will overtake Ted Ginn for the third receiver spot unless Ginn gets hurt. Ginn's experience and quickness trumps Brown's - but don't get that confused with Brown's speed. Brown might be a hair faster than Ginn, but Ginn's size and ability will help him keep the job for now.
@joshweinfuss Do you see Brown overtaking Ginn for the #3 WR spot?— Brian Shay (@Th3RealBS) August 7, 2014
@joshweinfuss: It's hard to say before the preseason games begin. Arians has said all camp that the kicking job will be won or lost during games. Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro could've put himself in a better position heading into Saturday's preseason opener against Houston had he not missed a slew of kicks in the last week. The way I look at challengers to an incumbent kicker is that it's their job to lose. There's a reason they were brought in. If Catanzaro can make all his field goals and put his kickoffs either in or out of the end zone, I don't see how he doesn't make the team over Jay Feely. If Arians was content with Feely, he would have let the veteran keep his job comfortably.
@joshweinfuss what are the odds of catanzaro beating out feely at this point?— Dave Miles (@ThePowaman) August 8, 2014
@joshweinfuss: I think it's possible, but he'd have to knock off a lot of rust after missing 15 games last season. If Foote has a career season, it would be more of a reflection on the scheme than anything else.
@joshweinfuss Do you think Larry Foote, like Dansby and Abraham before him, can come in and have a career year? Similar situation?— sacred reich (@SacredReich) August 8, 2014
@joshweinfuss: Arians seems to be very impressed with Gaston, but he'll have a hard time making the roster with Darnell Dockett and Ed Stinson ahead of him. Gaston could end up on the practice squad, however.
@joshweinfuss Haven't seen you say anything on Bruce Gaston yet... He have a shot to make the team or at least practice squad?— Dave Miles (@ThePowaman) August 8, 2014
@joshweinfuss: I don't see Justin Bethel taking on any of Jerraud Powers' minutes this season because they'll be on the field together most times. Powers will be the Cardinals' nickelback, a position Bethel isn't yet advanced enough to master as well as Powers. When Arizona goes to its dime package, Bethel will see the field as the sixth defensive back. His improved skill set is at cornerback, but he's still behind Powers on the depth chart.
@joshweinfuss how much time do you see justin bethel playing on defense over powers? Or do you think powers still has the edge?— Anthony Dunlap (@Anthony987sport) August 8, 2014
- It didn’t take long for Darren Fells to start climbing the depth chart. Handed an opportunity in the wake of Jake Ballard’s retirement, Fells took a few snaps with the first team on Thursday and it looks like Arizona will take advantage of his athleticism by using him in various positions and formations, including sending him in motion. He showed off his sure hands on a touchdown catch from Drew Stanton that he hauled in between two defensive backs. When Fells wasn’t working with the first team, he was playing on Stanton’s second-team unit.
- Wide receiver Ted Ginn appeared to hurt his right leg while working on punt returns early in practice. He walked off the field gingerly and spent the next few minutes stretching, but soon returned to practice.
- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians mentioned Thursday morning that Stanton and wide receiver Jaron Brown have been building a good rapport, especially on deep throws. It was on display Thursday afternoon when the two connected on two long passes.
- Cornerback Antonio Cromartie did not practice Thursday.
- Earl Watford worked at first-team left guard for a couple of series, but Jonathan Cooper took the majority of the snaps there.
- After consecutive days of not being able to finish practice because of fatigue, John Brown’s energy looked strong early. He had a nice catch on a Stanton throw, beating Jerraud Powers to the pass by a split second. He later split coverage to catch a touchdown from Stanton.
- The Cardinals have Friday off and will return to practice Monday from 2-4:30 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona hosts the Houston Texans on Saturday in its first preseason game.
- Injury report: Lyle Sendlein (calf) did not practice.
• He’s been one of the talks of camp, but Michael Floyd put his offseason improvement on display Tuesday. On one pass, Floyd got a step behind cornerback Patrick Peterson for a touchdown that sailed in just beyond Peterson’s reach. Floyd then hauled in another score over cornerback Justin Bethel. Earlier Tuesday, quarterback Carson Palmer praised Floyd’s size and his ability to overpower cornerbacks, which was the case Tuesday. Bethel is listed as 6-0 and Peterson 6-1, but Floyd played taller and bigger than the 6-2, 220 pounds he’s listed as.
• Arizona got a look at a few backups that were called upon in a pinch. With RB Andre Ellington (neck) and CB Antonio Cromartie (pectoral) out Tuesday, RB Stepfan Taylor and CB Jerraud Powers were inserted into their respective first-team spots. NT Christian Tupou (groin), who was already replacing Dan Williams, was replaced by a combination of players, including Anthony McCloud.
≺ Taylor filling in for Ellington was telling in terms of the battle for the second running back job. It’s between Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer, but with head coach Bruce Arians’ decision to run Taylor with the starters, it appears that he’s leading the backup running back race. The importance of winning the second spot this year is greater than past years because of Arians’ decision to use more two-back sets.
• Arians got what he wanted when it came to adding speed to the offense. On at least two occasions, Ted Ginn and John Brown had to slow down to haul in a Carson Palmer pass. That speed could be a blessing and a curse. Last season, Palmer had a knack for slightly underthrowing receivers, forcing them to come back for passes. Ginn and Brown will have to learn how to time their runs perfectly with Palmer’s passes.
• Rookie safety Deone Bucannon secured an interception that got the crowd riled up.
• Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro, who Arians praised Tuesday morning for being perfect through camp, missed three kicks in row during the afternoon practice. The three he missed were end-over-end kicks, different from his regular kicks. By my count, Catanzaro went 7-for-10, missing field goals from 41, 47 and 48 yards.
• After Catanzaro came off the field, special teams coordinator Amos Jones pulled his young kicker off to the side for a short talk near a water cooler. By Catanzaro’s body language, it was clear he wasn’t happy with himself.
As Arizona’s primary kick returner, Arenas struggled for the most part throughout the season, much to the dismay of head coach Bruce Arians. Arenas found trouble deciding which kicks to bring out of the end zone instead of downing them for a fair catch. He returned 23 kicks for 493 yards, but his season was marred by decisions that cost Arizona field position.
A perfect example can be found in Week 1 of last season when Arenas decided to bring out two kicks that were caught deep in the end zone. Arenas caught the first six yards deep in Arizona’s end zone and returned it 14 yards to the 8. He fielded the second eight yards deep and returned it 18 yards to the 10. In both cases, the Cardinals could have started at the 20 had Arenas just taken a knee.
To fill a much-needed void, the Cardinals signed and drafted a few potential replacements for Arenas. The primary choice to be Arizona’s new kick returner is Ted Ginn, who the Cardinals signed during free agency. He has earned his NFL stripes as a return man, having at least 25 returns in six of his seven seasons. Twice he had more than 1,200 return yards in a season and he has surpassed 6,000 return yards for his career. The Cardinals drafted John Brown, who returned 81 kicks for 2,118 yards and three touchdowns in college. Walt Powell, drafted in the sixth round this year, returned kicks his last two seasons at Murray State and could also be used on occasion. Another addition who could be used at kick returner is Antonio Cromartie, who has been used sparingly in the role during the past few years but peaked in 2011 with 417 yards.
Veteran long snapper Mike Leach, who's entering his 15th year in the NFL, and punter Dave Zastudil won't be competing for their jobs. The rest of special teams, however, will be decided during the next month.
Leach is one of the league's iron men, having played in 184 straight games entering this season. Zastudil is coming off one of his strongest seasons despite finishing 2013 with his fewest punts in 15 or more games since 2008. But his average of 45.7 yards and net of 40.1 yards were both the second highest for his career.
The battle at kicker is a three-legged race between incumbent Jay Feely, Danny Hrapmann and rookie Chandler Catanzaro. That Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is making Feely compete for his job comes as no surprise since Arians gave Dan Carpenter a shot to unseat Jay Feely late in camp a year ago. Feely hit 30 of 36 field-goal attempts last season, including game winners at Tennessee in overtime and at Tampa Bay. He missed two from 20-29 yards and from longer than 50 throughout the season. Hrapmann kicked in college in 2011 but hasn't caught on with an NFL team for regular-season action. Catanzaro missed 15 field goals during his four years at Clemson but just one in each of his last two seasons.
When it came to returning punts for the Cardinals for the past three years, there was no doubt who'd be deep to receive. Patrick Peterson made his name in the NFL as a punt returner as a rookie in 2011 but he's evolved into one of the league's top cornerbacks since. That's why Arians said earlier this offseason that Peterson's days as a punt returner are limited. His replacement will be determined during camp but it'll come down to either Ted Ginn, John Brown, Walt Powell or Bryan McCann. Jerraud Powers, Antonio Cromartie and Justin Bethel will also probably take reps during camp. Last season, Ginn returned 26 punts for 316 yards.
But when it comes to kick returns, it's likely Ginn's job to lose.
Arizona didn't re-sign last year's primary kick returner, Javier Arenas, and inked Ginn during the offseason as a third receiver and returner. In 2013, Ginn returned 25 kicks for 595 yards with the Panthers. Arians also mentioned during the offseason that John Brown will be given a chance to return kicks. While the battle will come down to those two, Ginn holds the upper hand.
And the faster he can go this season, the better for the Arizona Cardinals.
Speed has long been synonymous with Ginn, who has made a productive career out of being faster than the guy across from him, especially when it comes to returning punts and kicks. Anyone inside University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 8, 2007 during the first BCS National Championship Game remembers Ginn returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown -- then subsequently injuring himself during the post-touchdown celebration.
In all three of his NFL stops -- Miami, San Francisco and Carolina -- Ginn's primary responsibility was as a returner. The lone exceptions were 2008, his second year in the league, with the Dolphins, and 2013 with the Panthers. They were the only two seasons Ginn had more receptions than either punt or kick returns. In every other season, being a wide receiver was his secondary responsibility, at best. During Ginn's three seasons in San Francisco he caught 33 passes -- three less than he did last season in Carolina.
"He doesn't have that much experience as a wide out, surprisingly," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "I have no idea why."
Well, that's about to change. With the Cardinals Ginn will be primarily used as their third receiver, filling the void left by Andre Roberts, who signed with Washington during free agency. Ginn will still be charged with returning kicks and some punts, but his main duties will be alongside Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd.
Aside from his 56 receptions in 2008, the most catches for Ginn in a year was 38 a year later. In Roberts' last three seasons as the Cards' third receiver, he caught at least 43. Since Ginn is faster than Roberts, he'll be running deeper routes that take the cover off the defense. Last season they were given to Teddy Williams and Brittan Golden.
The 29-year-old Ginn is ready for more responsiblity.
"It ain't like I haven't played the game," he said. "It's just that I haven't had that many minutes.
"As far as being a receiver, you can't be in this league and not be active or attentive to different things. I just go out and keep continuing to push."
Early in offseason practice, Ginn showed his teammates what he picked up from his former teammates.
Ginn came in running bench, semi and bang routes, Fitzgerald said.
"It's not like it's a foreign language to him," Fitzgerald said. "He knows and understands where he needs to be. He understands the splits.
"He's very sharp in terms of picking things up. He learns really fast."
Ginn has been learning a lot from Fitzgerald, who in 2007 and 2008 combined for almost as many receptions (196 for Fitzgerald versus 197 for Ginn) and for more yards than Ginn has in his entire career (2,840 for Fitz versus 2,604 for Ginn).
Ginn is relishing the opportunity to play with Fitzgerald and quarterback Carson Palmer, both of whom have played in the NFL for 10 seasons. Ginn played with five quarterbacks in Miami, including Chad Pennington and Chad Henne. In San Francisco, Ginn caught passes from Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick and Troy Smith -- his Ohio State teammate. And during his year in Carolina, Ginn paired with Cam Newton. He's played with a handful of quality quarterbacks but none who have the longevity and experience of Palmer.
And the most experienced receiver he shared a huddle with was Steve Smith with the Panthers -- talented but no Fitzgerald.
"Oh man, you can never not learn from a big-time guy like that," Ginn said of Fitzgerald. "I haven't been with a lot of vets, no matter if it was quarterbacks or wide receiver. You just go out and you just pay attention, and you just learn. A guy like that that has been in this league for so long and holding it down like he do, he knows something.
"You'll be a fool not to pay attention to what he do and what he say. I'm a learner. I've always been like that so I just go in and pay attention.
Palmer has taken notice.
It didn't take long for Ginn to correct any mistakes he made when he first started working with Palmer and Fitzgerald. Palmer said Ginn had the "exact right mindset" when he signed with the Cards and has been "a complete professional."
"I was surprised at how quickly he grasped a lot of those concepts," Palmer said. "You can tell he's been studying in his off time and put in some time cause the mistakes he made early, he's really cut out. You rarely see his name on the correction sheet. He's been a true professional.
"I think we've all been a little bit surprised at how explosive he is and we knew he's explosive, coming in. Excited about what he can do and bring to your offense."
What Ginn adds can be summed it one word: speed. And it can kill defenses.
"Anytime you can hit a home run in one play, it's easy," Arians said. "The threat of those guys being out there is that every play you can hit one. What they do to the defense to open up everybody else, you don't have to throw it long. You hit a fast guy going across the field, it's easier for him to turn it up and go to the distance."
Arians has been pleased with Ginn's route running and catching ability, which has led to more confidence for Ginn. He'll need it as he embarks on a season as primarily a receiver. He'll still have special teams' duties and Palmer hopes Ginn will be able to give the offense shorter fields to work with.
But the Cardinals are relying on Ginn to use his speed off the line of scrimmage.
"He's a receiver first to me," Palmer said. "I'm glad he's going to be doing some special teams. I hope it's not too many. I hope he returns a punt here and there, but I want him running with the ones. We need him on the field. He makes us very dynamic."
Here are a few notes from practice and the pressers:
• Arians said Monday would be the last time he would address Washington.
• Arians said Larry Foote -- right now a leading contender to replace Washington -- can be a two-down linebacker but not likely a three-down backer.
• Foote filled Washington’s role at inside linebacker alongside Kevin Minter.
• Rookie tight end Troy Niklas was back on the field Monday going through drills.
• Monday was Bobby Massie's day to work with the first-team offense.
• Arizona had Ted Ginn, John Brown, Walt Powell and Jerraud Powers returning punts during practice.
• Safety Deone Bucannon, defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu, linebacker Matt Shaughnessy, running back Zach Bauman, wide receiver Teddy Williams, wide receiver Jaron Brown and offensive lineman Anthony Steen didn’t practice for either all or part of Monday’s session.
As the Cardinals’ offseason team activities (OTAs) begin Tuesday, there’s a lot to ponder from the past year and much to speculate on going forward. The next month will begin determining the fate for a lot of players on the current 90-man roster. As Cardinals coach Bruce Arians loved saying last year, this is when they have to put it on tape.
Here are 10 observations as the Cards begin OTAs:
- The top three running backs are established with Andre Ellington, Stepfan Taylor and Jonathan Dwyer sitting atop the depth chart, but after that is a major drop-off. As of now, there isn’t is a viable option for the fourth back, which was occupied by Alfonso Smith a season ago. He’s gone and so is Ryan Williams, leaving the fourth spot up for grabs. That running back, however, may not be on the field Tuesday.
- There’ll be a lot of eyes on the newcomers this offseason, such as quarterback Logan Thomas, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, safety Deone Bucannon and left tackle Jared Veldheer. But the most intriguing position battle of the offseason starts Tuesday with two returning offensive linemen at right tackle. Arizona hasn’t re-signed Eric Winston for a reason: It wants to see what Bradley Sowell and Bobby Massie can do. The two were college teammates at Ole Miss but neither are the clear-cut choices to assume the starting job. There have been questions about Massie’s ability to pick up the playbook for the last few seasons and Sowell was able to hold his own at left tackle last season but there’s a reason Arians didn’t keep him there. It’s yet to be seen if he’ll fare better on the right side.
- Losing Karlos Dansby was a major blow to the Cardinals’ inside linebackers but it could get worse. Having Daryl Washington practice with the first team may be for naught if he’s suspended for a significant amount of time by the league for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The Cardinals are already in tryout mode with second-year linebacker Kevin Minter but if Washington is lost for more than a game, what was a strong point of the Cards’ defense will be its liability. Veteran Larry Foote may need the reps this offseason to get ready for a larger role next year but this is also a chance for an unknown inside backer to get noticed.
- It’s one thing for Cromartie to say his hip is better but it’s another for him to go out and show it. He’ll have the eyes of the media – although it’s not quite like New York – on him this offseason. If Cromartie’s hip isn’t an issue, he’ll be half of one of the league’s top cornerback tandems. If his right hip flexor is still hampering him during OTAs, he’ll be wise to just sit and let a young cornerback earn some time. But next up on the depth chart is the man Cromartie replaced, Jerraud Powers, who is likely itching to win back his spot.
- The top three wide receivers are a shoe-in. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn will have jobs in 2014. It’s the other eight receivers on the roster who’ll be fighting for their jobs starting Tuesday. Arians clearly likes small, speedy receives -- he drafted two -- but now he has an abundance of them on the roster and will start weeding through them this week. One or two will make the cut but the rest will left fighting for the final few spots on the roster as a gunner or a special-teams machine.
- What a difference a year makes. Last May, the Cardinals were as confused as ever when it came to learning Arians’ offense. This year they know the wrinkles and intricacies of his complex offense. The days of Fitzgerald and Floyd lining up in the wrong places are over. The next step can be taken, which could mean a quicker start for the Cardinals than a year ago. And the result of that could then a game or two in January.
- Throughout the smokescreens before and during the draft, there was one truth that rose above it all: Arizona wasn’t drafting a quarterback unless he could win a spot on the roster. After the Cardinals picked Logan Thomas, Arians made it clear the first two quarterback spots are taken. That means Ryan Lindley’s third-string job is up for grabs. He’s been lending a helping hand to Thomas but when practice gets going Tuesday, he’ll need to turn it up to show Arians that he made a mistake. That may be harder than anticipated because Logan was drafted to not get cut.
- One of the few players with the most to lose and the most to gain during OTAs is tight end Rob Housler. He fell short of expectations last season and never grew into the player Arians had envisioned him being. It doesn’t help Housler, cut from the receiving tight end mold, that he isn’t fond of blocking. The Cardinals went out during the offseason and added two tight ends who are tailor made to fit Arians’ two-tight end scheme. Add in Jake Ballard, who joined the team around midseason last year, and Arizona has a three-tight end rotation that could see Housler as the odd man out.
- Tuesday will be the first day that left guard Jonathan Cooper can take the field for since he broke his leg against San Diego in the Cardinals’ third preseason game. How much Cooper can do starting this week will be an indication of how far along in his rehab he is. If he’s practicing in full, training camp will be a sure thing. If not, then training camp may be the first time Cooper will work out at full capacity.
- Another offensive lineman the Cardinals are anxious to see on the field is guard Earl Watford. The second-year player feels he has a better grasp of the playbook and the offense in his second offseason. He’ll be given a chance to win the starting job over last year’s starting guard Paul Fanaika. If he does, the job may be Watford’s for the foreseeable future.
During his exit interview with Arians in December, Peterson was informed about the upcoming move. In some ways, Peterson was more than OK with the decision because the goal was to keep him healthy.
"I think it's going to save my body tremendously," Peterson said. "Last year, I had too many friendly fires by getting hit by own teammates. I don't want to say it wore me down. It kinda made me skeptical about, 'OK, am I going to get hit by my own teammate? Am I safe when I fair catch this ball if I need to run up real quick to catch one of those high hang-time but short kicks?'"
Peterson returned 33 punts in 2013 for 198 yards, both of which were career lows. His 22 fair catches were the second most of his career. And for the second straight year, Peterson didn't return a punt for a touchdown.
Last offseason there was talk that then-rookie Tyrann Mathieu would share some of Peterson's punt responsibilities, but the first and only kick Mathieu returned in 2013 was also his last. Against the St. Louis Rams in Week 14, Mathieu fielded a free kick and suffered a torn ACL and LCL during the return.
That was all Arians needed to see.
"Even when [Mathieu] got hurt [Arians] was always telling me, 'Obviously, we know you want to make a big play but be safe,'" Peterson said. "This game is rough and ruthless as it is, that's kinda tough to do because our goal is and our passion is and with the competitiveness is always to make a big play happen. And we know freakish accidents happen like that but [Arians] doesn't want to put his No. 1 corner in harm's way by having him back there punt returning knowing guys in our division are picking up guys just for special teams.
"I think he wants to get me out of that limelight in the punt return and just kinda save my body on the defensive side of the ball."
Since he tied an NFL record with four punts for touchdowns in 2011, teams have figured out ways to neutralize Peterson. Arians didn't want Peterson's ability to go to waste last year so he tried playing Peterson at wide receiver, but those days are all but over.
With the signing of Ted Ginn during the offseason and drafting John Brown and Walt Powell, the need to use Peterson's speed has decreased.
"That's cool as well," Peterson said. "Whatever it takes to help this team win ballgames, I'm all for it -- except for taking me off cornerback.
"I'm quite sure I'm still going to get a couple reps here in the offseason to kinda see if I still got it. But we'll see where it takes me. I don't think he's completely taking me off the offensive side. We'll see when camp comes around."