PHOENIX -- For the first time since 2008, the Arizona Cardinals will have a new starting center.
Who that will be is still undecided. But, as of now, it's a two-man race between Ted Larsen or A.Q. Shipley, who was signed by Arizona on March 11, a day before the Cardinals released veteran center Lyle Sendlein .
“That will be a good battle,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “We wanted some good competition. Ted played pretty much the entire training camp last year and was solid at center. I’ve had A.Q. I know what he is, and he’s exactly what I’m looking for as far as being the same as Ted: very physical, extremely bright, knows our system inside and out.
“He can walk in the first day and make all the calls.”
Neither Larsen nor Shipley have been declared the starter, Arians said. That’ll be determined over the next five months.
But both are versatile, Arians added, capable of playing center at guard. Whoever isn’t named the Cardinals’ center will be able to compete with Jonathan Cooper at right guard.
Shipley has started 19 games the past three seasons, including five last year in Indianapolis. He was the Colts’ starting center the four games before getting benched. After starting 31 of 60 career games before 2014, Larsen started all 16 games last season either at left or right guard.
When asked what Larsen, 27, and Shipley, 28, could provide that Sendlein, 31, can’t anymore, Arians referred to their age: “A younger set of legs that can maintain the long haul.”
Whoever wins the starting job will have to fill’s Sendlein’s reputation for being durable. Even though he played injured in November and December last season, Arians said, Sendlein started all 107 games he played in since 2008.
“I thought Lyle played well last year,” Arians said. “In November and December he was hurt and gutted it out but was not his best in those two months.
“We still would like to have him back and put him in that mix and compete.”
PHOENIX -- Bruce Arians was in one of his favorite settings Wednesday morning.
No, he wasn't on a football field. He was behind a microphone.
For an hour at the NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore, Arians answered questions, mainly about the Arizona Cardinals. There were a few about his former teams, the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, as well as some about former Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
But in typical Arians' fashion, his answers didn’t disappoint. Here are the best quotes from the league’s most quotable head coach:
On whether Arians would be a different coach, in terms of what he says, if he was 42 instead of 62:
“Hell yeah. I don’t give a crap. I don’t think I talked any different back then. That’s probably why I didn’t get a head-coaching job. I think the truth is the truth, and some people just can’t take the truth.”
On Cardinals general manager Steve Keim receiving an executive of the year award Monday night:
“He was embarrassed as hell to go up and get his (award) the other day. I was like, ‘Dude, you got a cup. We can drink out of that.’”
On the difference between him as a coach at Temple and with the Cardinals:
“If I coached today the way I coached at Temple, I’d be in jail.”
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to shut them both up at the same time.”
On nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu not playing much in 2014:
“He got heavy, basically ate himself out of a job.”
“You trying to get me fired? That’s tampering, dude. I can’t talk about another player. I ain’t saying Jack about Adrian Peterson. I’d get fined for that.”
On the rule proposing what would’ve been a nine-point touchdown:
“I’m old school, man. I like the extra point the way it is. I like football. I like kickoffs. The game has been pretty good for a long time. I hate tinkering with the rules.”
On Arians seeing his former quarterback in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger:
“We talk all the time. I’m going to miss him next week. I’d like to get some of his money (from golfing). He took all my money last time on the golf course.”
On the Cardinals winning Super Bowl 50:
“That’s the goal every year. Last year it just happened to be in our stadium. It was easy to look a guy in the eye and say, ‘Who’s dressing in your locker?’ We don’t have that so I have to come up with a new line this year.”
On why he supported the Patriots' proposal to put more end zone cameras on the field to assist with replay:
“I don’t want the game right on Monday and Tuesday. I want it right on Sunday. I think everybody wants it right on Sunday.”
PHOENIX -- Let's say the radar shows a late summer storm is expected to pass by University of Phoenix Stadium in time for the sky to be clear and starry by the start of the second half of an August or September Cardinals' game.
Under the old rules, if the roof at the stadium was closed before the game, it couldn't be opened.
On Wednesday, however, the NFL's retractable roof policy was amended at the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore so the above scenario -- during any game until the conference championship -- can be changed. Under the new rule, in place for just one season, the Cardinals -- or any home team with a retractable roof -- can decide 90 minutes before kickoff to open the roof at halftime. However, specific weather parameters set by the home team must be met with 5 minutes left in the second quarter.
Those parameters, which are set 48 hours before a game, will include maximum and minimum temperatures and wind speeds and the likelihood of any precipitation.
If the weather matches the Cardinals' requirements to open the roof, it will be opened as soon as the first half ends.
If the Cardinals don't open the roof at halftime after saying they will during a meeting 90 minutes before the game, and the weather meets the criteria and Arizona received clearance, the amended rule says the team will be “subject to discipline by the Commissioner for conduct detrimental.”
The initial rule states that the roof could be closed at any time during the game “due to the development or anticipation of a hazardous condition that threatens the welfare of participants and/or spectators.” In that case, the roof would have to be closed for the rest of the game and can be closed while play is going on.
Arizona did not open the roof for a game last season. Since University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006, the Cardinals are 12-10 when playing under an open roof. The roof was open for Super Bowl XLIX in February.
The rule was submitted by the Indianapolis Colts.
PHOENIX – Make that two players from NFL veteran combine whom the Arizona Cardinals have signed.
Arizona signed tight end Ifeanyi Momah to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. He worked out at the Cardinals’ practice facility in Tempe, Arizona, in Sunday’s combine.
Momah was a wide receiver in college and recently transitioned to tight end, the position he worked with at the combine.
Momah, who’s 6-foot-7, 248 pounds, spent 2014 on the Cleveland and Detroit practice squads. The Lions signed him to a futures contract on Dec. 30 but released him on Feb. 3.
Momah was signed out of college by Philadelphia in 2013 as an undrafted free agent but was released during final cuts. He spent the 2014 offseason with the Eagles before getting released on Aug. 30, 2014.
PHOENIX -- Even though the Arizona Cardinals have stayed true to their "best player available" philosophy throughout the first two NFL drafts under coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim, they still have a list of needs that needs to be filled.
On Wednesday, during the NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL owners meeting at the Arizona Biltmore, Arians shed a little light on what Arizona will address in the draft, held April 30-May 2 in Chicago.
"In the draft, it's still speed," Arians said. "Speed at running back, speed at receiver, speed at linebacker, another interior player. I think we're probably [set at] tight end, but I'd like to find another tight end who is potentially a fullback/H-back type guy."
Besides tight end, running back, offensive linemen and cornerback could also be on Arizona's draft wish list.
Arians called the crop of running backs in this year's draft the best he's seen in the past decade, adding there are about 15 "really quality" running backs available.
"I think we'll have a chance to get one we really like," Arians said.
If Arizona drafts a running back, Arians has a specific style he wants: big and fast.
The Cardinals had that last season in Jonathan Dwyer, but he was placed on the non-football injury list after two games following an arrest in September.
"We obviously missed Jonathan," Arians said. "That was a big hit to us. Jonathan's not just a big back, he's a fast back. His run in New York [against the Giants in Week 2], when we bounced it outside and went 50 yards, is typical Jon. We're looking to hopefully find that: not just a big back but a fast back."
Arians thinks the Cardinals could find that type of back in the fourth or fifth round.
"This is one of the best drafts for running backs that I've seen in a while," he said.
Another position the Cardinals may address in the draft is cornerback.
"I'd really like to add a young one," Arians said. "A young, long, fast one because I think we have enough depth with the guys we have."
PHOENIX -- Over the course of 60 minutes early Wednesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians answered questions on a wide variety of topics during NFC coaches breakfast at the NFL annual meeting.
Here's a recap of the hour spent with Arians:
- Arians was “very pleased” with the Cardinals free-agency haul. After talking to their former coaches, who “hated” losing those players, Arians knew they were the right fit. “I thought we got bigger, stronger, more physical and faster in a couple spots,” Arians said.
- Arians stayed far away from every question about Vikings running back Adrian Peterson: “You trying to get me fired? That’s tampering, dude. I can’t talk about another player. I ain’t saying jack about Adrian Peterson. I’d get fined for that.”
- Guard Jonathan Cooper has been practicing on the left and right sides the last two years, which will make his transition to right guard easy for him, Arians said.
- The Cardinals don’t know who their starting center will be but Arians expects a “good battle” between Ted Larsen and A.Q. Shipley.
- Arians said the Cards would like get a “bigger back” before next season. “We obviously missed Jonathan [Dwyer]. That was a big hit for us.”
- Arians believes the Cardinals can find a big and fast running back around the fourth or fifth round.
- Second-year quarterback Logan Thomas will get 90 percent of the snaps on the second field during OTAs and minicamp, Arians said. There’s a chance Thomas could also get a significant amount of reps on the first field if Drew Stanton can’t practice.
- Arians expects Stanton to be 100 percent by offseason workouts.
- Cornerback Justin Bethel will have to “work his tail off” to take over for Antonio Cromartie.
- Arians said the Cardinals were “shocked” that they got all six of their free agents.
- Arizona will look at moving Kareem Martin to outside linebacker. Arians compared Martin’s body style to Aldon Smith.
- In describing new linebacker LaMarr Woodley, Arians called him a “pocket pressurer.” Arians also said Woodley will be a three-down linebacker.
- On Daryl Washington: “I really can’t even talk about Daryl. He’s not even a part of our team so there’s no sense in talking about him.”
- Arians said nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu, whom the Cardinals re-signed earlier this month, struggled last season because of an ACL injury he suffered in Week 17 of 2013. “He was not the same guy. He got heavy, basically ate himself out of a job.”
- On signing wide receiver Nathan Slaughter from the veteran combine on Sunday: “You always grab the fastest guy and see what he’s got.”
- Arians said he’s seen and heard, safety Tyrann Mathieu is “flying around.” He added: “He’s got a gleam in his eye that I haven’t seen in a while.”
- Arians said the criticism of cornerback Patrick Peterson's play in September was "probably warranted." Arians: "He (Peterson) gets overly criticized because of his stature. There was not much to criticize from October to the rest of the way.”
- Arians said he’d like to see Larry Foote make a definite decision about his playing future by the day before training camp. “We’ve got an alternate plan ready if he decides to go back and play.”
- Talking about defensive lineman Ed Stinson, Arians praised Stinson’s flexibility. “I’d like to keep him at the same weight so he can play the nose. He can be a really quick, fast nose.”
- The Cardinals don’t want to add a veteran cornerback, instead aiming for a “young, long, fast one.”
- While there’s a good chance the Cards add a fourth tight end, Arians said he’s “very comfortable with the three” on the roster: John Carlson, Darren Fells and Troy Niklas.
- Arians reiterated that he doesn’t expect Jaron Brown to miss any time aside from Phase 1 work as he recovers from a fractured scapula.
- As he’s said throughout the offseason, Arians feels he has three future head coaches on his staff but he didn’t want to name them for the fear of infighting.
PHOENIX -- Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer reiterated the organization's stance on the status of tailback Adrian Peterson, saying he expects Peterson to honor his contract and play for the team in 2015.
"I'm not going to speculate on what he wants or doesn't want," Zimmer said. "Adrian's under contract for three more years with us, and that's why you sign those contracts. That's why you get these big bonuses, you know?"
He later stated emphatically: "We have no plans to trade Adrian."
Zimmer's comments reflected those made by co-owner Mark Wilf and general manager Rick Spielman earlier this week at the NFL owners meetings. Peterson's agent, Ben Dogra, said Monday that he didn't think it was in Peterson's best interest to remain in Minnesota after pleading guilty to charges related to injuries his son suffered last summer.
Zimmer met with Peterson earlier this month and has spoken to him on other occasions. He expressed hope that Peterson would revise his stance and suggested it would be the best decision for his long-term legacy.
"I think when he goes into the Hall of Fame, he's going to want to go in with the jersey that everyone remembers him as," Zimmer said. "That will be as a Viking."
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday that the NFL still considers April 15 as the relevant date for a decision on Peterson's reinstatement despite his appeal of the suspension he was issued by the NFL last year. Goodell said the NFL continues to examine the case and he expects to meet with Peterson again before that April deadline.
The list of candidates, in reality, is fairly short: Jerraud Powers or Justin Bethel. Another name or two may be added before training camp either through free agency or the draft, but either Powers or Bethel will likely be the starter.
While Bethel has been a hot name because of Bruce Arians’ comments last offseason that Bethel could be the best corner on the team at some point, former Cardinals defensive coordinator and current Jets coach Todd Bowles said don’t sleep on Powers.
“It’s going to be tough beating Powers out,” Bowles said Tuesday from the NFL annual meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. “Powers is tough. You keep forgetting about Powers. Powers is one of the best guys back there. He doesn’t get the credit. It’s going to be tough beating Powers out.”
Powers was one of Arizona’s starting corners opposite Patrick Peterson in 2013, Bowles’ first season in Arizona. Last year, with the addition of Cromartie, Powers played 590 out of 708 snaps in the slot, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Bethel, in his third season, played 93 snaps last season. Despite his support for Powers, Bowles believes Bethel is close to being an impact player.
“Justin’s very talented,” Bowles said. “He has unbelievable talent. He just has to learn the game mentally a little bit. When he gets the mental part of the game down he’s going to be a very tough guy to beat. He’s just got to get the mental part down. Physically he’s very gifted. Very gifted.”
But Powers’ versatility could help earn him the starting job next season.
“Powers can play wherever you need him: corner, safety, nickel,” Bowles said. “Don’t underestimate him, please. He’s a tough guy.”
To be clear: Peterson could return to Minnesota. He has public support from multiple members of the organization, but his agent recently declared that he believed it to be in the player's best interest to run the football for another team next season.
Among the teams that have been speculated upon the most as trade fits for Peterson are the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. Given that the Cowboys just saw DeMarco Murray depart for Philadelphia because his price tag surpassed their budget, the idea of trading for Peterson and the three years and nearly $45 million remaining on his contract might be a stretch.
The story is a bit different for Cardinals -- a team that not only can but should make a play for Peterson as the missing link to their already strong roster. Here's why.
PHOENIX -- The NFL bolstered its oversight of the league’s personal conduct policy on Monday, and Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill had a hand in it.
Bidwill, who chairs the NFL committee that reviews the personal conduct policy, was responsible for interviewing candidates. He helped hire Todd Jones, the former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and Lisa Friel, former New York District Attorney's office sex crimes prosecutor.
Jones will be a special counsel for conduct, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. According to The Associated Press, Jones will be in charge of the personal conduct policy and have the authority to fine and suspend players. Friel will be special counsel for investigations, per Schefter.
“That’s a big step forward having that internal expertise to make sure we get it right,” Bidwill said.
Bidwill said the pool of candidates was “highly competitive.”
“We had some very talented people that applied,” Bidwill added. “Both Todd and Lisa stood out as great additions and I’m looking forward to working with them both.”
Bidwill said he gave the league a report Monday on his committee’s progress. The committee is scheduled to meet again in April. During that meeting, Bidwill get reports on some of the committee’s plans and then share any updates at the league’s meetings in May.
The Arizona Cardinals have eight selections in the 2015 NFL draft, which will be held April 30 to May 2 in Chicago. Here’s a breakdown of the Cardinals’ selections:
First round: 24th overall selection
Second round: 55th overall selection
Third round: 86th overall selection
Fourth round: 123rd overall selection
Fifth round: 159th overall selection
Sixth round: 198th overall selection
Seventh round: 241st overall selection
Seventh round: 256th overall selection