GLENDALE, Ariz.—Tuesday’s practice was the first after a round of cuts for the Arizona Cardinals. It was announced prior to afternoon practice on Day 10 that three players had been cut and replaced with three others, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com.
Wide receivers LaRon Byrd and Tyler Shaw, as well as defensive end Everrette Thompson all were released; they will be replaced by a duo of centers—Deveric Gallington and Kyle Quinn—and defensive tackle Jonathan Mathis.
It’s sad news for Byrd, who had an up-and-down offseason and was done in by a concussion early on in camp. Shaw had not shown much in a week-plus of practice, and Thompson was injured (shoulder).
Here are the highlights and lowlights from Day 10 of Cards camp.
Note: All information used here was obtained firsthand by the writer.
Three Who Impressed
Tony Jefferson Picks a Pair of Passes
Undrafted rookie safety Tony Jefferson had a quiet first week and a quiet start to Week 2. Tuesday was vastly different, however.
He picked off Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley, both plays coming on poorly thrown balls over the middle while Jefferson played a single-high (free) safety.
The 5’11” Oklahoma product also was effective at least once in run defense, plugging up a hole by shoving his blocker into the running back.
It’s a step in the right direction for Jefferson, but as of now, he has a lot of work to do to make the team.
Will Batson Pins ‘Em Deep
Where else can you get in-depth coverage of an NFL team’s backup punter? You can search for an answer, or you can just read this:
Of 14 footballs Will Batson punted from midfield while gunners worked on downing kicks deep in enemy territory, seven were downed inside the five, two were downed at the 11, one was downed at the 16 and just two bounced into the end zone.
Granted, there was no defense of any kind on the field and no returner back to field the kicks. But that is very impressive and was fun to watch.
Batson likely won’t make the roster with veteran NFL-record holder Dave Zastudil ahead of him—he also had been having just an average camp up to Tuesday. But that kind of performance at a future workout with an NFL team could impress someone into signing him.
Jaron Brown Can't Be Stopped
A UDFA receiver out of Clemson, Jaron Brown had perhaps his best showing of Cards camp Tuesday. He was featured early and often and, even before scrimmage, he stood out with multiple one-handed catches where two hands would have sufficed.
Brown also took big shots from Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell, the two starting safeties, and got back up immediately both times. His toughness, speed and good hands were on display all over the field Tuesday afternoon, and if performances like that persist, he could be in the discussion for the last receiver spot.
He’s 6’2” and 205 pounds, but he played bigger with how he took hits and kept coming back for more.
“We” Who Depressed
Running Back Depth Not so Deep
Free-agent signee Rashard Mendenhall showed up fully padded and ready to go to work Tuesday, but he was not seen much after initially stretching on his own away from the team—as per his usual.
And with third-year running back Ryan Williams still sitting out with an apparent knee problem, the last thing the stable of running backs needed was another injured horse.
Andre Ellington then left midway through practice with what appeared to be some kind of neck issue. He was seen on the sideline getting treatment on the area before heading to the locker room.
That left only Alfonso Smith and rookie Stepfan Taylor the rest of the way, and while they both have had impressive camps thus far, losing a third back (of five in camp) for any length of time would be devastating.
What once was thought to be a deep and talented corps of running backs for Arizona is turning into just another rendition of typical Cardinals running backs issues.
Other News and Notes
—The Carson Palmer report will no longer be part of the daily camp updates unless something significant happens. Otherwise, it will just become redundant.
Take today, for example. Palmer was very accurate on down-the-middle passes to everyone. He tossed a touchdown pass to Andre Roberts and was picked off by Patrick Peterson while targeting Larry Fitzgerald.
Sounds like every other practice the past week, right? You’ll hear about it when something out of the ordinary happens—he was just fine, otherwise.
—On the day a report from Darren Urban about head coach Bruce Arians’ no-fighting policy came out, the Cardinals had their first fight of camp. Center/guard Scott Wedige and defensive end Ronald Talley found themselves in a heat-of-the-moment tussle Tuesday. It was brief but intense. No punches were thrown, just shoving and hurtful five-year-old insults (assuming the last part).
—Nose tackle David Carter, starting in place of the injured Dan Williams, had a quiet day until consecutive plays near the end of practice. That’s when he stuck his big mitts up and knocked away two Ryan Lindley pass attempts.
—Rookie second-round pick Kevin Minter showed up as being a stout run defender Tuesday. At least once, he was seen stuffing a play to the outside by forcing a runner out of bounds. That is great to see.
—UDFA receiver Robby Toma out of Notre Dame had a day, also. He’s shown solid route running all throughout camp and good hands too, but Toma was special Tuesday.
—The Tyrann Mathieu show continued Tuesday. He forced a fumble of tight end Jeff King early, and he notched a would-be sack of Carson Palmer later. At the rate he has generated turnovers the past week, he should probably start seeing more time with the starters. What can it hurt? He is a playmaking monster and a defensive coordinator’s best friend. It has been made clear that turnovers are the team’s top priority on defense, so getting Mathieu out there working with the starters seems like the logical next step after his performance of late.