NFC West: Arizona Cardinals

Updated Cardinals’ depth chart

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
9:15
PM ET
Arizona announced its 53-man roster amid minimum fanfare. Most of the roster was expected, however there were a few moves that raised eyebrows. The decision to keep six receivers likely caused there to be only four cornerbacks kept. Six outside linebackers was also interesting, however there weren't enough options to keep more at inside linebacker.

A lot can still happen between Saturday night and "Monday Night Football," but here's my first stab at the Cardinals' depth chart for 2014.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, Logan Thomas

Running back: Andre Ellington, Jonathan Dwyer, Stepfan Taylor, Robert Hughes

Wide receiver 1: Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Walt Powell

Wide receiver 2: Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn, Jaron Brown

Left tackle: Jared Veldheer, Bradley Sowell

Left guard: Ted Larsen, Jonathan Cooper, Earl Watford

Center: Lyle Sendlein, Ted Larsen

Right guard: Paul Fanaika, Earl Watford

Right tackle: Bobby Massie, Bradley Sowell

Tight end 1: John Carlson, Darren Fells

Tight end 2: Rob Housler, Troy Niklas

 

DEFENSE

Nose tackle: Dan Williams, Alameda Ta'amu

Defense end: Calais Campbell, Kareem Martin

Defensive tackle: Frostee Rucker, Tommy Kelly, Ed Stinson

Left outside linebacker: John Abraham, Alex Okafor, Lorenzo Alexander

Left inside linebacker: Kevin Minter, Kenny Demens

Right inside linebacker: Larry Foote, Desmond Bishop

Right outside linebacker: Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho, Glenn Carson

Left cornerback: Patrick Peterson, Justin Bethel

Right cornerback: Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers

Strong safety: Tony Jefferson, Deone Bucannon

Free safety: Rashad Johnson, Tyrann Mathieu

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro

Punter: Dave Zastudil

Long snapper: Mike Leach
Most significant move: Linebacker Marcus Benard was squeezed out because of the numbers game, but he has been an effective pass-rusher during his time in Arizona. He's also had a knack for getting his hands on the football, which is something Cardinals coach Bruce Arians covets. He would've provided depth behind John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor, but Benard's roster spot went to a rookie.

LBU in AZ: Rookie linebacker Glenn Carson nearly had an interception Thursday night against San Diego, and even though he didn't come down with it, it was enough to keep him on the roster. Carson was among six outside linebackers kept and joined the NFL's active sack leader John Abraham in the group. Lorenzo Alexander was officially listed as an outside linebacker, which added depth to that group.

Teddy for Walt: Rookie Walt Powell was kept on the 53-man roster, a move that ended up being mildly surprising because the Cardinals kept just four cornerbacks. Powell finished training camp strong and looked impressive as a backup kick returner. With six receivers, Powell might lose the numbers game on Sundays but he's a viable backup.

What's next: The roster, as it is likely, won't be the same on Sunday or Monday or even for Week 1. Arizona might look to improve a few positions, including depth at both linebacker and defensive line -- meaning a rookie such as Carson might not be safe just yet -- and tackle.

Cardinals moves: RB Zach Bauman, LB Marcus Benard, C Philip Blake,LB Jonathan Brown, WR Dan Buckner, C John Estes, DT Bruce Gaston, WR Brittan Golden, TE Andre Hardy, CB Jimmy Legree, CB Bryann McCann, T Kelvin Palmer, T Nate Potter, RB Jalen Parmele, DT Isaac Sopoaga, G/C Anthony Steen, S Curtis Taylor, LB Adrian Tracy, DT Christian Tupou, S Anthony Walters, CB Eddie Whitley, CB Teddy Williams.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Besides closely watching a host of bubble players during Thursday night’s preseason finale against the San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was keeping a close eye on a handful of potential starters who were returning from injury.

Minter
Cooper
Arians wanted to see how linebacker Kevin Minter, guard Jonathan Cooper and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu looked after missing significant time during training camp. For the first two, it was their first preseason games since Week 1, and for Ta’amu, it was his first game action since tearing his ACL in Week 17. Arians wants to see more of them -- he included safety Tyrann Mathieu in that -- in pads, but that will be tough with CBA restrictions.

Teams are allowed just 14 padded practices per season, 11 of which have to take place during the first 11 weeks of the season. Though there is a maximum of one padded practice per week, teams can choose to have two padded practices in one week as long as it's in the first 11, according to the CBA.

"They need to have their pads on and play football," Arians said. "You really can’t do it at this time of the year anymore."

Cooper would benefit from added practice time in pads, Arians said, because he needs to knock the rust off not just the past two weeks off, but the last year, having missed all of last season because of a broken leg.

Even though Cooper was beaten badly on a first-quarter sack of quarterback Logan Thomas, Arians felt he progressed Thursday.

"He got a little bit better as the game went on," he said.

Minter, who was out with a pectoral injury, finished with four tackles while wearing a protective sleeve on his left arm, which Arians said didn’t affect his play.

"Rusty but he flew around good," Arians said. "He was a little bit late on a couple reads, but he flew around good. It was good to see him out there."

Even though Ta’amu didn’t record a tackle, he was active in the running game, Arians said. The Cardinals held the Chargers to seven rushing yards in the first quarter.

But Ta’amu needs to improve his conditioning before Week 1.

"He got tired too fast," Arians said. "He doesn’t get moved, but he needs to move a little bit better."
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 the roster Thursday night.

Here are three Cardinals whose stock rose Thursday night:
  • Walt Powell, WR: With 140 return yards and a catch on third down in the fourth quarter that Powell turned into a first down, I think he landed himself a job on the roster. Arizona has been flirting with keeping five or six receivers, but always left the door open by saying that someone contributing on special teams would make the team. Powell is that guy.
  • Teddy Williams, CB: The last cornerback spot came down to Williams and Bryan McCann but Williams broke up a couple passes Thursday night and used his size – 6-foot-1, 207 pounds – to make his presence felt. He established last season he can play gunner and his transition from receiver to corner should help him make the roster.
  • Glenn Carson, LB: While a long shot to make the team, Carson had 10 tackles Thursday night – eight of which were solo – and he missed a huge interception by inches. He’s put enough on tape this preseason to get a good look from another team, but if he can slide through waivers, he might find himself on the Cardinals' practice squad.
Even though Thursday night was the last time rookie quarterback Logan Thomas would be playing for a while this season -- pending any injuries to either Carson Palmer or Drew Stanton -- the expectations were still high.

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had a laundry list of things he wanted to see out of his fourth-round pick. Efficiency. Checkdowns. Avoid forcing it. Don’t take sacks.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Matt YorkRookie Logan Thomas was underwhelming in the Cardinals' final preseason game.
Thomas started out looking very good, hitting rookie tight end Troy Niklas for two straight completions to start the game. Then Thomas looked like a rookie, completing just seven more passes . He finished 9-of-21 for 73 yards as Arizona lost 12-9.

“Just very, very average,” Arians said. “You can’t take a sack there on the 1-yard-line patting the ball. It was a good learning experience for him.”

The sack Arians was referring to was in the first quarter when Chas Alecxih shed guard Jonathan Cooper at the line of scrimmage and then chased down Thomas for almost 15 yards before getting the sack. It was a situation like that one that Arians wanted to see Thomas, who was sacked three times Thursday night, throw the ball away or scramble out of it.

“We gave up some big hits on the quarterback,” Arians said.

Thomas said the offense couldn’t get clicking. The Cardinals finished with 98 yards compared to San Diego’s 347. They averaged 2.3 yards per play. They were 1-for-12 on third down.

“They played great defense and there were some things here and there that I could’ve have done better personally, but I’ve just got to watch the game and learn from it,” Thomas said.
Examining the Arizona Cardinals' roster.

QUARTERBACK (3)

Arizona will carry two active quarterbacks -- Palmer and Stanton -- again this season. Thomas was given the third job earlier in the week when Arizona released Ryan Lindley.

RUNNING BACK (4)

Dwyer continued to establish himself as the Cardinals' second back behind Ellington. He has the speed and power to be a third-down back that can catch a pass out of the flat. Taylor has been solid but has fallen behind Dwyer. Hughes' spot on the roster continues to be safe because of his ability to be a fullback.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

It's safe to say the top four spots have been locked up, especially after how John Brown has been playing. Jaron Brown earned his spot with an impressive training camp and preseason while Walt Powell solidified his job as a special-teams addition during the final preseason game.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Larsen appears to be the answer for now at left guard while Cooper continues to work on regaining the form he displayed before his injury last August. Bradley Sowell has played his way back into contention for a position on the roster, especially with how other areas on the team will shake out because of injuries.

TIGHT END (4)

Fells has earned a spot as the fourth tight end because of his upside, although his job isn't 100 percent locked down. He'll still have to look over his shoulder the day after final cuts though when other tight ends are on the market.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)

With Darnell Dockett out for the season with a torn ACL, the rotation shrunk by one but with Alameda Ta'amu’s return from injury and the addition of Tommy Kelly, the line’s depth grew to a good size for the regular season.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (5)

With Abraham back, outside linebacker becomes a focal point again. His starting job was promised to him but Shaughnessy, Acho and Okafor have all been playing above expectations in camp and the preseason. This unit is versatile enough to combat any offensive scheme it faces especially with Alexander playing more outside linebacker than inside.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (4)

With Alexander playing more outside linebacker, Desmond Bishop has been getting more reps and improving on a weekly basis. Arizona has time to see if Bishop can continue his comeback.

CORNERBACK (5)

Peterson and Cromartie are the starters. Powers is the nickel cornerback. Bethel will be in on dime situations. Williams won the fifth job with his performance Thursday and will find a role on special teams.

SAFETY (4)

Mathieu has returned to practice but has yet to play. Johnson and Jefferson continue to be steady at safety but Bucannon is learning the position and may become a starter before long.

PUNTER (1)

Zastudil has been steady and strong the past few seasons, and this year shouldn’t be any different.

KICKER (1)

Catanzaro won the job as Arizona’s kicker earlier this week and he looked good Thursday night.

LONG-SNAPPER (1)

Leach, who is as consistent as they come in the Cardinals’ locker room, will be their long-snapper until he either says it’s time to retire or he can’t walk anymore. Whichever comes first.

 
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Thursday night was Logan Thomas' chance to show Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians the progress he's made during his first training camp. But Thomas struggled to get the Cardinals' offense going, missing receivers short and high. The Cardinals' 12-9 loss to San Diego wasn't all on Thomas' shoulders, but his 73 passing yards on 9-for-21 passing didn't help. Arizona's offensive line didn't keep Thomas clean, but it was a chance for Thomas to find out what running for his life was about.

Here are some other thoughts on the Cardinals' final preseason game of the year:
  • Rookie wide receiver Walt Powell looked to have earned a spot on the 53-man roster with his special teams play Thursday. He returned five kicks for 140 yards and made a nifty move after his only reception. Before the game, Arians said three receivers are playing for one spot and Powell had the best showing Thursday night. The only major flaw he showed against the Chargers was how he carried the football during his returns, away from his body and reckless.
  • By the way he was trying to tackle, it doesn't look like linebacker Kevin Minter is back to 100 percent. He was wearing a black sleeve on his left arm, which could've limited him somewhat but his ability to grab and drag down didn't look like typical Minter.
  • In his first game since becoming the Cardinals kicker, rookie Chandler Catanzaro picked up where he left off, hitting all three of his field goals and scoring all of Arizona's points. He also fared well in kickoffs, including one that led to the Cardinals forcing a fumble.
  • Guard Jonathan Cooper played much of the first half and needed it. He looked adequate for the majority of his time on the field but there were a few instances where Cooper looked rusty. He was beat on a rush in the second half that led to Thomas getting hit.
  • Neither tackle trying to make the team looked impressive. Bradley Sowell and Nate Potter both got beat throughout the game, which led to Thomas having to scramble.
  • Arizona did a good job of protecting the end zone, deflecting potential touchdowns by the Chargers four times in the first half before Jimmy Legree came down with an interception.
During a pregame interview, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he won’t be calling the offensive plays Thursday night against the Chargers, instead handing the duties to offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.

Goodwin, Arians said, put together the gameplan for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas, who’s slated to play the entire game.

It’s the first time since at least 2004 that Arians hasn't called the plays, according to the coach.

“It’s good growth for the staff and for those guys to expand themselves as coaches,” Arians said. “Again, you want to break all the tendencies that you can possibly break going into the season. This will screw up the computers pretty good for about three weeks.”

Arizona opens the regular season Sept. 8 against the very same Chargers.

Not calling the plays will give Arians a different perspective from the sideline.

“I’ll be able to look some players in (the) eyes on defense and special teams and not be as involved in calling the plays as much as watching the players, especially these young players, perform and see who has the look that you’re looking for,” Arians said.
Standing next to each other, it’s easy to see how Arizona Cardinals running back coach Stump Mitchell and rookie Zach Bauman are similarly built.

But their connection goes deeper than just looks.

[+] EnlargeZach Bauman
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinZach Bauman has impressed the Cardinals with his willingness to get physical.
Mitchell, 5-foot-9, went to The Citadel and Bauman, 5-10, to Northern Arizona. Both are Football Championship Subdivision schools, the second tier of Division I. Even though Mitchell was drafted in the ninth round by the Cardinals in 1981 and Bauman was signed as an undrafted free agent in May, they both needed to impress in two specific areas to make their respective rosters: pass protection and special teams. Both came into their first training camp as an underdog to make the team.

But at 55, Mitchell can look back on a nine-year career that ended as the Cardinals’ franchise leader in all-purpose yards, and second in rushing yards, punt return yards and kick return yards. At 22, Bauman is a day or two away from finding out if he’ll be allowed to start such a run.

His final chance to impress upon the Cardinals that he’s worthy of being kept on either the 53-man roster or practice squad comes Thursday night at San Diego. Final cuts will take place either Friday or Saturday.

For the past few months, ever since offseason workouts began, Bauman, a Chandler, Arizona, native, has paid close attention to the best example of how to make it as a small back from a small school.

“He understands how the process works and being a back, he’s a little thicker than I am, but same height, kinda similar stature,” Bauman said of Mitchell. “He’s helped me out with that a little bit.”

With Bauman coming from a small school, Mitchell’s primary concern was how Bauman would adjust to pass protecting in the NFL, something he didn’t do much of in college. Bauman set school records in rushing yards, all-purpose yards and touchdowns. Blocking wasn’t a priority.

But it’s how he’ll earn his keep in the NFL.

Bauman has all the skills necessary to be a productive running back, Mitchell said, such as great vision and the ability to make defenders miss. His size, however, is another issue.

“He’s short but he’s strong,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “There’s a lot of backs that are a little bit shorter than him that are strong. I don’t judge them by height. It’s the strength of which they strike a blow to take on a linebacker.”

Arians has been judging Bauman’s decisions to bounce outside the tackles instead of running in between them, however. He wants Bauman to stay inside since at this level, Bauman’s not the fastest player on the field anymore.

Bauman said he’s been bouncing outside more so because of his reads on the defense than out of habit.

“Watching the tape of the first game, I saw that I was bouncing out a lot and it was funny to me because that’s not who I am,” he said. “I like to run between the tackles. I think over the weeks, I’ve been able to get more comfortable with the offense and understand the blocking and not just let my mind go so fast and not just feel where the hole is. I think I’ll have a much better showing this game.”

For Bauman to hang around the NFL, he needs to do one more thing in addition to pass protecting and playing special teams: stay mentally strong. Bauman joined a locker room full of players from college football’s bluebloods. In the running back room alone he’s sitting alongside someone from Clemson (Andre Ellington), Georgia Tech (Jonathan Dwyer), Stanford (Stepfan Taylor) and Notre Dame (Robert Hughes). Bauman needs to think he’s more than capable of competing with those players if he wants to make it. The second a running back doubts himself will be the second he doesn’t have a chance, Mitchell said.

Those four are likely to be Arizona’s running backs this season, leaving Bauman on the outside. If he gets cut and makes it through waivers, he can end up on Arizona’s practice squad. If not, he’s put together a tape that shows off his pass protection.

“He’s shown a good job of pass blocking, so he’s got a few of those on tape,” Arians said. “He’s not afraid to stick his face in the fan. Just continue to do what he does.”
For some Arizona Cardinals, Thursday night will be stressful as they play for their football futures.

That won’t be the case for rookie quarterback Logan Thomas.

His future as the Cardinals’ third-string quarterback was sealed Monday when Ryan Lindley was released, leaving Thomas behind starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton. Armed with the reassurance that he’s made the team, Thomas will start Arizona’s preseason finale in San Diego on Thursday.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
AP Photo/Matt YorkThe Cardinals will be able to get their most extensive look yet at rookie QB Logan Thomas in a live-game setting.
For the first time this preseason, Thomas will know exactly when he’ll play and how many snaps he’ll take -- all of them.

“You get to know what you’re running going into it,” Thomas said. “The uncertainty of when you’re going in or if you’re going in isn’t there. So, it’s just nice to be able to know I have an opportunity to play as much as I do.”

Thomas will be running a trimmed-down playbook that was built upon the plays he ran last weekend against Cincinnati, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. It’s been tailored to fit a full game instead of a half or a quarter, which Thomas has played in during his first two appearances, respectively. There are also wrinkles added to counter San Diego’s defense, but most importantly Thomas will be calling plays that fit his style.

In his first preseason game, on Aug. 9 against Houston, Thomas went 11-for-12 for 113 yards and a touchdown. Against Cincinnati on Sunday, he was just 2-for-7 for 21 yards in the fourth quarter. Thomas used his outing against the Texans as a building block for the rest of the preseason. He said he learned a lot about which throws he was capable of making on the NFL level.

Thomas’ efficiency will be closely monitored by Arians, but that’s just one thing on a long list of things Arians wants to see out of Thomas.

“Don’t turn the ball over, get it to the right spots, like you did in the first game, and get it out of your hand, don’t take sacks, throw it to a checkdown, don’t always force it down the field,” Arians listed.

Arians expects his fourth-round draft pick to settle down early in the first quarter and not press because Thomas will know he has three more quarters ahead of him.

“He should be able to relax and just play,” Arians said. “Let the game come to him.

“Just play the game. The decision’s been made. You’re going to be there. Just play the quarterback as best as you can play.”

In three quarters this preseason, Thomas, the Virginia Tech product, said his main takeaway about playing in the NFL has been the speed and caliber of every player. He needs to be smarter than in college, he said, and take advantage of opportunities more in the pros.

But he also learned to be more careful not to force plays, especially when he was given a finite amount of snaps.

“At times it is [hard not to force plays]", Thomas said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to be overzealous trying to make plays when they’re not there.”
Free-agent linebacker James Harrison might have to wait until Friday to complete a deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

Harrison
Harrison
Harrison has begun his physical with the team and started to negotiate a contract, his agent, Bill Parise said, but with the team in San Diego for Thursday night’s game, there is a holdup in the process. Parise didn’t want to set a timeline for when a deal could possibly get done, but he said the whole process has been moving along smoothly.

Harrison, 36, was released by the Cincinnati Bengals in March after one season. He is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 11-year career. While starting 10 of 15 games for the Bengals, Harrison had 30 tackles, two sacks and one interception -- his worst production since 2004.

Harrison has started about 72 percent of his games throughout his career. His addition would give the Cardinals depth at outside linebacker behind John Abraham, Matt Shaughnessy, Alex Okafor and Sam Acho.

Last season in Cincinnati, Harrison made $3 million and had a $2.34 million cap hit.

W2W4: Arizona Cardinals

August, 28, 2014
Aug 28
12:00
PM ET
The Arizona Cardinals (1-2) and San Diego Chargers (1-2) close the preseason Thursday night (10 ET) at Qualcomm Stadium.

1. Healthy returns? While the large majority of starters won't be playing Thursday night, it looks like linebacker Kevin Minter, nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu and guard Jonathan Cooper will take the field for about 20-25 snaps at most in San Diego. All three are coming off injuries that caused them to miss a couple games (Minter and Cooper) or the past eight months (Ta'amu). Arians wants them to get game reps before sending them out for "Monday Night Football." It's still uncertain if safety Tyrann Mathieu will play. Arians said Mathieu is "day-to-day" and the team would make a decision after Wednesday's workout.

2. Final rehearsal. Thursday night will be the last chance for 22 players to make a lasting impression -- or at least one deep enough to get through final cuts. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said there are about five positions that will be tougher to cut than others, including defensive backs, wide receiver, offensive tackles and defensive line. There are about seven players who are firmly sitting on the fence. Wide receivers Dan Buckner, Brittan Golden and Walt Powell; safety Curtis Taylor; cornerback Teddy Williams and tackles Nate Potter and Bradley Sowell could just as easily make the 53-man roster as they could be cut.

3. Thomas starting. Logan Thomas will have all four quarters to himself Thursday night. With quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton getting the game off, Thomas will start and go the duration. Arizona tailored the playbook toward him, hoping he can repeat his performance against Houston, rather than his outing against Cincinnati. Having a full game to evaluate Thomas will give Arizona important film to work on for the next few months as they continue to prep and mold him to be the team's future starter. Thursday night will also give Thomas a chance to prove to the naysayers he's capable of being a quarterback at the NFL level.
It’s often hard to read into what Bill Belichick is thinking, but he has a reputable track record when it comes to adding veteran free agents.

By the looks of how defensive lineman Tommy Kelly played in the first five games of last season before suffering an ACL injury, Belichick hit on another risk. Kelly, the 33-year-old tackle who was signed by the Cardinals on Wedesday, was on pace for the best season of his career before getting hurt last October. But philosophies change, personnel is turned over, schemes are altered and Kelly found himself without a job, regardless of the fact that he was running with the Patriots' first team during training camp.

Kelly
On Wednesday, he landed in a place where he might be able to have an instant impact because of the defensive linemen around him.

Throughout his career, when Kelly has played alongside another talented defensive lineman, such as Warren Sapp or Richard Seymour, his production grew. His career-high 7.5 sacks were with Seymour in 2011 and he shared a defensive line with Sapp for his career-high 67 tackles.

In Arizona, Kelly won’t be the center of attention on the line –- that honor goes to Calais Campbell, who’s coming off a career season with nine sacks. But coupled with the likes of John Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy off the edge, Kelly won’t feel the need to be the main cog of the defense. He can rush the quarterback alongside them, giving the Cardinals much-needed depth in their pass rush.

With Alameda Ta'amu returning from ACL surgery, he and Dan Williams will rotate at nose tackle, leaving Kelly as a solid backup for Frostee Rucker. Add Ed Stinson to the rotation, and possibly Isaac Sopoaga, and Arizona’s defensive line depth has been solved.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- There were times throughout his four-month battle with Jay Feely for the Arizona Cardinals' kicking job that rookie Chandler Catanzaro sensed he was the favorite to be the last kicker standing this week.

During a team meeting Monday morning, Catanzaro found out his intuition was right.

Feely was cut Monday, leaving the rookie as Arizona's lone kicker heading into Thursday night's preseason finale at San Diego. His job isn't a lock for the rest of the season -- especially as a kicker, and even more so as a rookie -- but Monday night was a chance for Catanzaro to celebrate with a dinner at a Phoenix steakhouse.

"I teared up a little bit," he said. "It's just a lifelong dream come true for me.

[+] EnlargeChandler Catanzaro
Courtesy of Arizona CardinalsChandler Catanzaro beat out Jay Feely for the Cardinals' kicking job, but still wants to prove he's worth keeping around.
"I know I got to earn my right to be here but for now I'm celebrating a little bit."

Catanzaro was back to work Tuesday, the first time all preseason competition wasn't lingering in the locker room. The distance and height of his kicks won't be dissected every day and then compared.

Thursday will be the beginning of a new chapter for Catanzaro. He can start proving he's capable of hanging around the NFL, not just making a team.

"Now I can just kinda focus on being the best me I can be," he said. "I'm not focused on competing against anybody else anymore. Compete against myself and trying to get better each day so I can help this team win some games this year. I'm excited about it."

Despite kicking off just five times at Clemson, Catanzaro's confidence in his leg has grown since he started working on kickoffs following the Orange Bowl in January. He's worked with former NFL kickers Morten Andersen and Dan Orner, and Jamie Kohl, a former prolific college kicker who runs camps throughout the country.

Together, they built up his leg, designed an approach and fine tuned his mental game.

"I just liked the strength of his leg for a young guy," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "Has a very good demeanor about him."

He was kicking well enough to land a contract with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in May but Catanzaro said he's improved since then. He won the job with booming kickoffs and consistent field goals. Most importantly, however, Catanzaro showed he was able to bounce back from rough outings.

"I went to every resource I could use," Catanzaro said. "I knew I had it in me. I just had to rep it and rep it the right way and I knew I had that bomb in me. I'm very excited about where my kickoffs are right now."

Kickers face pressure that other positions don't. Their feet are responsible for winning games and championships, and in some cases, keeping -- or losing -- a coach's job. He hit a game-winning field goal in a bowl game.

The circumstances of a kick, the location, how many fans are in the crowd, how loud they are, none of it matters to Catanzaro.

In college, he said he'd get in a zone and block it out.

Catanzaro doesn't expect that to change now that the stakes are higher.

"Pressure's pressure," he said. "I don't really think of it as pressure. I just take every kick and zone in."

Catanzaro has one more week to convince Arians and general manager Steve Keim that they don't need to look on the waiver wire for a veteran kicker. He'll do it with touchbacks and field goals that keep ascending.

"You just go out there and bring your ‘A' game," Catanzaro said. "That's what I tried to do. Try to take every kick like it was a kick in the game, a game winner. Try to zone in on every kick like that."
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A day after Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett had surgery to repair his right ACL, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said the three-time Pro Bowler was doing well.

Dockett
The surgery "went great," Arians said.

"He was in really good spirits. Texted him back and forth, and he's anxious to get back."

Dockett's surgery was done by Dr. James Andrews at his office outside Pensacola, Florida. Dockett will stay in Florida for the next five days, Arians said, to begin rehab and then return to Arizona.

Last week, Arians said he wants Dockett to have a presence in the locker room and on the sideline during games while he rehabs, so his leadership and spirit continues to permeate through the team. Arizona opens the season against San Diego on "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 8.

The surgery came one week after Dockett tore his ACL during a practice on Aug. 18 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Dockett got hurt while rushing the passer during an 11-on-11 period but Arians had said it was a non-contact injury.

Doctors didn't find any other issues with Dockett's knee. It was the first major injury of his career.

"It was a clean surgery," Arians said. "They're very pleased with it."

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