WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–General manager Steve Keim was suspended for five weeks and fined $200,000 by the Cardinals following his guilty plea in Chandler on July 17 to extreme DUI following his arrest on the night of July 4.

During his suspension, Keim will be barred from the team’s facilities and prohibited from any contact with the team. According to terms of the suspension announced by the Cardinals, Keim will not be allowed to return to the team until after he has completed counseling and evaluation in addition to taking a DUI educational course.

His fine will be donated to the Arizona chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and his duties will be handled by multiple members of the personnel department with Terry McDonough, the club’s vice president of player personnel, likely handling the daily roster decisions.

“As stated at the time of the incident, this behavior is indefensible and completely unacceptable,” the Cardinals said in a statement. “While Steve has accepted full accountability and responsibility for his actions, that does not diminish their gravity nor the severity of the consequences that result from them. Those who work within the National Football League – particularly those in leadership positions – bear a greater responsibility and are held to a higher standard than simply a legal one and we feel that these measures are reflective of that.”

Keim released the following statement after Tuesday’s news: “Once again, I apologize to everyone who has been negatively impacted by my actions and incredibly poor judgment, in particular the Cardinals, our fans and my family. I fully deserve and accept the punishment that has been issued. My goal is to do everything I can to grow from this personally and help others learn from my inexcusable behavior.”

–Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told Minnesota reporters during his youth football camp in his home state that watching fellow older, established athletes such as Serena Williams and LeBron James continue to dominate in their respective sports has made him think twice about retiring anytime soon.

“It doesn’t matter about the age, it’s about what you put into it and your mindset,” he said. “Everybody kind of takes numbers and assume this is when it’s supposed to end. As an athlete, fortunately, you write your own script. If you still produce and you play at a high level, you kind of determine how long you want to play. If I can stay at a high level, I still keep destiny in my own hands.”

Fitzgerald has averaged 108 receptions and 1,131 yards over the past three seasons and is 92 catches away from surpassing Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for second on the NFL’s all-time receptions list and 390 yards shy of moving past Terrell Owens (15,934) for second on the league’s all-time receiving yards list.

Asked how long he might continue to play, Fitzgerald couldn’t say.

“I just take it year by year,” he said. “Honestly, I feel good. I really, really enjoy the competition still. I love being around the guys and being able to do something that’s bigger with me.”

–Running back David Johnson is scheduled to earn $1.9 million in the final year of his rookie deal, but it’s impossible to say with any certainty at this point how much he can expect to get paid if he comes to terms on a contract extension with the team. It didn’t help matters much for Johnson, either, that fellow running back Le’Veon Bell couldn’t agree on a contract extension with the Steelers earlier this month. That could have helped set the bar for elite running backs seeking new deals like Johnson.

Earlier this summer, however, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim made it sound as if Johnson will be taken care of if he just remains patient and is willing to negotiate in good faith.

“I don’t think there is any question David is one of our core players and someone we look forward to having a long-term future with,” Keim said. “It’s no different from in the past when we’ve rewarded players like Pat Peterson, Chandler Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, Carson Palmer, just to name a few. There’s no doubt in my mind moving forward that we will keep a positive outlook and again, look forward to rewarding him just like we have players in the past.”

–“This guy is extremely smart. I mean, his ability to see certain things from the defense, and pick it up quickly and execute. … I don’t want to say this, but he has the mindset of a vet, the way he sees the game. He’s not playing like a vet. Make sure you guys understand that. He’s still a rookie, OK? But he sees things, like I said before, through a different lens and he picks it up quickly.” – Coach Steve Wilks on the progress made this offseason by rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.

What are the chances of Rosen starting Arizona’s season opener against Washington on Sept. 9? History shows the odds aren’t that bad, even though it’s assumed he will enter camp as third string behind Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon.

In the last 20 years, there have been 56 quarterbacks that ended up being first-round picks and all told, they combined to appear in an average of 9.7 games and start in an average of 7.4 games their rookie seasons. As for Rosen’s chances of starting the season opener, 16 of those first-round picks – or 29.1 percent – started the first game of their rookie season. Ten of them – or 18.2 percent – managed to start all 16 games.

Rosen’s former college coach at UCLA, Jim Mora Jr., suggested during an appearance on the NFL Network this summer that Rosen should be the Cardinals’ starter in Week 1 regardless of Sam Bradford’s health.

“But I might be a little biased,” Mora said.

–Cornerback Patrick Peterson doesn’t get to make the decision, but he said if it were up to him, Sam Bradford would be the starting quarterback for the Cardinals regardless of how well rookie Josh Rosen performs during training camp or the preseason.

“Right now, I’d probably take Sam due to his experience, due to some of the records he has in the league,” Peterson told the NFL Network during the American Century Champion celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev. “Because when Sam is healthy and is on the field and has talent around him, he’s a top-tier quarterback.

“The biggest knock on Sam is just staying on the field. I think we have a pretty good opportunity to keep him on the field because last year he really didn’t have to fix anything, just cleaning up his knee. If he’s on the field, we’ll see where the chips stack and where they fall at the end of the season.”

–Defensive end Chandler Jones led the league with a franchise-record 17 sacks last season and is the only player to have posted at least 11 sacks over each of the past three seasons and yet, it’s edge rushers such as Denver’s Von Miller and Houston’s J.J. Watt that typically get nationally recognized as being among the best.

Jones, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice and earned his first All-Pro status last season, said he isn’t concerned about accolades. He’s more interested in securing his legacy.

“You never just want to be a one-year guy, you know?” he said. “Me having a decent season last year with 17 sacks, I don’t ever want to look back at the end of my career and say, ‘You know that one year I had 17 sacks and then oh, he kind of just fuzzed it away.’ I want it to be like, ‘Oh, after that year he got better. He got better and better and better and you can it statistically.
“When I say that, it just pushes me harder. Even though it’s hard for me to say, ‘Oh, how could you not be satisfied?’ You never want to sit there at yourself and say, ‘Darn, I could have done better. I could have had a better year, a better career.’ So at this point in time, at this point in my career, it makes me want to do better.”

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–Find a way to make star running back David Johnson happy enough to agree to some sort of contract extension that gets him into camp and ready for the start of the season. Johnson staged a holdout during the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp in June, but if he doesn’t report by Aug. 7, he won’t get credit for a fourth NFL season. That means he won’t become an unrestricted free agent after the season and instead, would only become a restricted free agent. The Cardinals have leverage in this situation, but need to be careful how they use it. It’s extremely doubtful Johnson won’t report before Aug. 7, which represents 30 days before the start of the NFL’s first regular-season game, but both sides need to nip this issue in the bud in a deal that makes sense for each party.
–Keep quarterback Sam Bradford as healthy as possible, but get Josh Rosen ready. The Cardinals followed a stout plan in slowly working the oft-injured Bradford into their offseason workouts, gradually bringing him along until the very end when the veteran with a history of knee issues finally saw some quality time with the first-team offense. Though Mike Glennon enters camp as the backup, it was rookie first-round draft pick Rosen who got the bulk of time with the first unit and it served him so well, speculation persists that he, not Glennon, will get first dibs on starting if Bradford is not able to go or gets injured at any point during camp, the preseason or the early portion of the season. Bradford can’t be tentative in camp, but he has to be smart and the Cardinals need to protect him however they can.
–Find at least one more tight end, maybe even more. Of all the position groups, the Cardinals couldn’t be much more understaffed and underwhelming than at tight end. Their best one, veteran Jermaine Gresham, is returning from a torn Achilles that still hasn’t fully healed and could keep him out of activity for some time. That leaves Ricky Seals-Jones, a second-year pro who had a nice three-game run as an undrafted rookie free agent a year ago, as their only viable option as a two-way tight end. Seals-Jones is being investigated after being arrested the weekend of July 13. The depth behind them is dreadful, meaning Steve Keim or someone is going to have to bring in a veteran or two to stabilize this unit before Steve Wilks has to resort to playing offensive linemen as tight ends.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE
–Who will step up and win the No.2 wide receiver job? Right now it’s veteran superstar Larry Fitzgerald as the clear-cut No. 1 man and nothing guaranteed at any specific spot after that. The good news for head coach Steve Wilks is that he has at least four and maybe five capable receivers ready to battle for the right to be the second-most important target on the team. Free-agent addition Brice Butler might have the inside track on the gig, but he will have to earn it and hold off challenges from deep threat J.J. Nelson, rookie Christian Kirk and veteran Greg Little, who’s fighting his way back into the league. There’s also second-year pro Chad Williams, who felt he was drafted for the job a year ago, but couldn’t get on the field enough to prove his worth.

 

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