TEMPE, Ariz. -- A day after Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton was rocked while he attempted to slide in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Bruce Arians felt the hit could’ve been worse than it was.

“There’s no doubt he was sliding and that could have ended his career, that hit,” Arians said. “But he’s extremely tough.

Stanton
“Some players don’t wear a mouthpiece and it should be mandatory. That mouthpiece probably saved a concussion.”

It also saved the Cardinals from having to go to third-string quarterback Logan Thomas. After the hit by 49ers linebacker Dan Skuta, Arians asked Stanton how he was feeling. At the time, Arians was trying to determine if he needed to take Stanton out of the game. Thomas began warming up at one point.

“I kept asking him on the headset, ‘You OK? You faking?'” Arians said. “He said, ‘I’m OK.’ He wasn’t faking though. That was a vicious hit that he took.”

Skuta, who was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after the hit, said he tried to stay as low as he could on the hit.

“I talked to him after the game,” Skuta said of Stanton. “I said, ‘You know I wouldn’t hit you if you were down,’ He said, ‘I know, that’s why I didn’t say anything. I knew it was a bad call.’ That’s what he said.”

The he said-he said debate can rage on. Skuta’s quotes were not available to the Arizona media until after Stanton spoke Sunday afternoon and Stanton wasn’t in the Cardinals’ locker room during availability on Monday.

Regardless of what either player said, the 49ers' penalties cost them. Those 15 yards and another 15 on the ensuing play after a roughing-the-passer penalty on Niners linebacker Patrick Willis put Arizona at the San Francisco 25. Three plays later, Arizona scored the go-ahead touchdown.

“I thought both were really, really good calls,” Arians said. “The second one was on the tape last year sent out by the referees. You can’t lead with the crown of your helmet on a quarterback, so that was a very good call.

“The first one I thought was a cheap shot.”
SAN DIEGO – A potential replacement for injured running back Danny Woodhead moved on to another team on Monday.

According to a source, running back Marion Grice, currently on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers since the beginning of the regular season, will sign a two-year deal to join the Arizona Cardinals' active roster, pending the passing of a physical.

Grice was a sixth-round selection by the Chargers in this year’s draft, but the team kept undrafted rookie free agent running back Branden Oliver on the active roster during final roster cutdowns and released Grice. The Houston native cleared waivers and was added to San Diego’s practice squad.

The move is a homecoming of sorts for Grice, who played collegiately at Arizona State. Grice had his best game of his young career against the Cardinals in the final preseason game, finishing with 79 rushing yards.

At 6-foot and 208 pounds, Grice is a hard runner who also does a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield.

Quick recap of Bruce Arians' presser

September, 22, 2014
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- With the Arizona Cardinals' bye week coming just four weeks into the season, it gives the team a chance to recover and regroup after three games.

During his Monday news conference following Arizona's 23-14 win against the San Francisco 49ers, coach Bruce Arians said the Cardinals will focus on young players this week before preparing for Denver on Oct. 5.

"The big thing right now is to get some young players some action for depth," he said. "We will not wear pads but we've got to get some guys some work, (quarterback) Logan (Thomas) in particular, Coop (guard Jonathan Cooper), (guard) Earl Watford. Get some guys some quality snaps -- (defensive linemen) Ed Stinson, Kareem (Martin) and Alameda (Ta'amu), and all of those guys who are all in backup roles, get them some work and get them up to speed.

"I would love to have both days in pads but we just can't do it."
  • Rookie safety Deone Bucannon suffered a mild foot sprain and will probably miss this week and is expected to be ready next Wednesday, Arians said.
  • Cooper cannot win the starting left guard job back this week, Arians said.
  • Arians said it's tough to quantify how much better the offensive line is this year compared to last season. "I can't count that high," he said.
  • Arians said signing Tommy Kelly looks as good as the John Abraham signing from a year ago.
  • Arians hopes tight end Rob Housler will be back this week. He was inactive Sunday because of a hip injury.
  • Safety Tony Jefferson missed Saturday's walk-through because of the birth of his son, Tony Jefferson Jr. Jefferson's girlfriend is "in some bad shape right now after it," Arians said. Jefferson had a career-high 10 tackles Sunday. "We all have our prayers for her, but he did come out and have probably his best game yet."

Just bone bruise for Cromartie

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Cardinals received some good injury news Monday, as cornerback Antonio Cromartie's left knee injury is less serious than expected.

Cromartie suffered a bone bruise in the Cardinals' 23-14 win over San Francisco on Sunday, which has caused some swelling, Arizona coach Bruce Arians said.

The ligaments in Cromartie's surgically repaired left knee are intact.

"He'll be day-to-day this week and ready to roll next week," Arians said.

The nine-year veteran went down near the Cardinals' sideline in the third quarter and left the game after walking off under his own power. Cromartie said after the game that he hyperextended the knee.

Cromartie tore his left ACL and LCL in 2005 heading into his senior season at Florida State and hyperextended his right knee in October of last season with the New York Jets.


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Fantasy Now: Larry Fitzgerald

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
1:23
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After another disappointing week, is Larry Fitzgerald still ownable in fantasy?
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton dropped back on second down with just less than seven minutes left in the third quarter Sunday, and with his heels touching the Cardinals 30-yard line, Stanton saw an open running lane ahead of him.

The 30-year-old backup quarterback, who was starting his second straight game, scrambled up the middle. Around the 42, Stanton began his slide with enough time for a defender to avoid making “imminent” contact, which protected him according to NFL rules.

Stanton
When San Francisco linebacker Dan Skuta hit Stanton, who had almost completed his slide, in the neck and head area, it drew a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. The video replay looked like Skuta hit Stanton in the shoulder, but it was close enough to earn a flag.

“I was just like, ‘Really?’” Stanton said after the game. “I saw this guy and this other guy hit me from behind. I went up to Dan and asked him, ‘You’re from Michigan, bro. What’s going on?’ I was talking to him earlier and he was trying to make fun of Michigan State.

“But he went to Grand Valley.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians praised Stanton for the slide but wasn’t happy with Skuta’s hit.

“That was a legitimate cheap shot,” Arians said.

Rule 7, section 2, article 1 (d) (1-2) reads: “A defender must pull up when a runner begins a feet-first slide. This does not mean that all contact by a defender is illegal. If a defender has already committed himself, and the contact is unavoidable, it is not a foul unless the defender commits some other act, such as helmet-to-helmet contact or by driving his forearm or shoulder into the head or neck area of the runner.”

Skuta appeared to have already committed his momentum, but he looked far enough away to be able to contort his body in a fashion that would've avoided hitting Stanton above the shoulders.

After the hit, referee Gene Steratore asked Stanton if he was feeling OK.

Sunday was only Stanton’s sixth career start, but Steratore is one of the few referees to officiate one of Stanton’s previous starts, so the two had a prior rapport.

“He’s an awesome guy and he said, ‘Don’t lie to me if you’re not feeling good,’” Stanton recalled. “I said, ‘Gene, I’d never lie to you.’ I knew I was good. I didn’t see him coming, obviously.

“Sometimes it’s better when you don’t see him coming.”

On the next play, Stanton was rocked again when Niners linebacker Patrick Willis hit him as he threw. Willis was flagged for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty for leading with his helmet, and Stanton was visibly shaken up following the play.

After the game, Stanton joked that’s why he wears pads and a mouth guard.

“I’m lucky I’ve got a really good guy back in Michigan who I get my mouthpieces from,” Stanton said. “They definitely worked today.”

Arians was upset with Stanton for diving headfirst after a 13-yard run with 21 seconds left in the first half. As he was diving, Stanton was hit on the side of the head by Niners defensive back Jimmie Ward. No flag was thrown, but Arians would’ve rather seen Stanton slide. Carson Palmer injured his right shoulder after he took on a safety shoulder first in Week 1.

“He’s tough as nails,” Arians said of Stanton. “I told him I wish he hadn’t gone down headfirst. That one scared me.”

Cardinals defense among NFL's best

September, 22, 2014
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It was difficult hearing Todd Bowles amid the celebratory clamor in the Cardinals locker room Sunday afternoon. The Arizona defensive coordinator spoke so softly his words arrived with the force of cotton balls hitting the floor. The same could not be said of the statement his players made 20 minutes earlier, shutting out the 49ers in the second half to facilitate a 23-14 victory that kept the Cardinals undefeated and alone atop the NFC West standings.

The defense's performance through the first three weeks might be the most improbable, yet impressive, on-field story of the young season. Thought to be decimated by the free-agent departure of inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, the year-long suspension of inside linebacker Daryl Washington, the season-ending loss of defensive end Darnell Dockett to a knee injury, and the possible retirement of edge rusher John Abraham (concussion issues), the unit has yet to surrender more than 17 points in a game and has not been scored upon in the fourth quarter.

There's no way of knowing whether Arizona's defense can play at this level for the entire season. After all, you don't lose your best cover linebacker, best rush linebacker, best interior pass-rusher and best edge rusher and not feel it at some point; and the threat of another injury is always a snap away, as witnessed Sunday when starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie did not return after leaving in the first half with a knee injury. But for now, players have adapted and adjusted.

"We know that bad things can happen, but you can't blink," said second-year cornerback Tyrann Mathieu


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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When a team isn't expecting something from an offense -- which is rare in the NFL -- the first half of Sunday's Arizona Cardinals game is the result.

The San Francisco 49ers came out five wide without two tight ends, spreading Arizona's defense and allowing Colin Kaepernick to run for 45 yards in the half.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Cromartie
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriFrank Gore had just one carry in the second half, allowing the Cardinals defense to capitalize on a 49ers offense that abandoned the run.
"It was a different game plan than we technically prepared for," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "Nobody thought they were going to come out and throw the ball like they did like that. We thought they were going to run the ball [more].

"They came out in five wide and hurry-up and threw the ball short. [Kaepernick] was precise. He was quick. I think that he just played great."

It was basketball on grass, veteran linebacker Larry Foote said, as San Francisco dinked and dunked their way to a 14-6 lead at halftime.

Of Kaepernick's 37 attempts Sunday, 30 were for within 10 yards or less of the line of scrimmage, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Arizona struggled to counter the hurry-up offense. Cornerback Patrick Peterson said the defensive calls came in wrong. At one point, the Cardinals were flagged for having 12 players on the field.

The 49ers' first two drives Sunday each went for 80 yards, ate up more than 8 minutes and resulted in touchdowns. They marched through Arizona's defense at will and while Kaepernick was able to find his lanes in the first half, running nine times for almost 50 yards, he threw 18 times for 116 yards.

That was Foote's introduction to Kaepernick, whom he had never played before then.

"He is that fast," Foote said. "Some guys take a minute to get going. Naw. He was slippery and fast."

At halftime, Arizona adjusted and regrouped.

"We talked about the first five minutes of the third quarter being huge," Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. "We were down again and we had to make a stop defensively, make some first downs and hopefully get some points offensively, and we were able to get a touchdown. From there, it snowballed."

The Cardinals held the 49ers on their opening drive of the third quarter and scored on the offense's first possession. Arizona began winning first and second down, Campbell said, and it helped that the 49ers went away from the run game. They gave Frank Gore one carry in the second half, abandoning the run just 37 seconds into the half, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Arizona held the 49ers to third-and-long four times in the second half. Two of them led to punts. Another one turned into third-and-23 on a penalty, which resulted in a blocked field goal on fourth down.

"We put pressure on them," Campbell said. "We got a little tighter in press coverage and took away the short throws and made him hold the ball a little longer. We tackled well in the run game and we got them in third and long."

The numbers of the second half told the story. Arizona held San Francisco to 16 rushing yards -- including Kaepernick to 9 -- in the final 30 minutes. The 49ers had to do everything by air but even that wasn't that effective, accounting for just six first of their seven first downs in the second half.

The Cardinals' defense limited the 49ers to one converted third down on 27 second-half plays.

"We [didn't] blink," Foote said. "We just knew on the sideline we need to get them on the ground and play basketball with them.

"Something's brewing in this locker room and hopefully we keep going."

Cromartie unsure how he hurt knee

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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GLENDALE, Ariz. - Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie said he won't know the severity of his hyperextended left knee until Monday.

The nine-year veteran went down near the Cardinals sideline in the third quarter and left the game after walking off under his own power. He did not return.

Cromartie said he didn't know how he hyperextended his knee.

"Everything's OK," Cromartie said in front of his locker after the Cardinals' 23-14 win over the San Francisco 49ers. "I will find out what's going on with it tomorrow. I really can't do anything standing here."

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians reiterated the uncertainty surrounding the injury.

"We don't know if it's reinjured, what the extent of it is," Arians said.

Cromartie tore his left ACL and LCL in 2005 heading into his senior season at Florida State Seminoles and hyperextended his right knee in October of last season with the New York Jets.

Cromartie later tweeted he's fine and will be ready for Arizona's next game, which comes after its bye week, at the Denver Broncos in Week 5.


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Game Balls: 49ers vs. Cardinals

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
10:33
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Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss' game ball goes to quarterback Drew Stanton, who was 18 of 33 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Niners receiver Stevie Johnson gets the honor from Paul Gutierrez after nine receptions for 103 yards.
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- John Brown wasn’t supposed to be the Arizona Cardinals receiver with whom Drew Stanton clicked.

That was supposed to be the other Brown.

Jaron Brown and Stanton were automatic during training camp and in the preseason. That’s why Arizona coach Bruce Arians dialed up a deep ball from Stanton to Jaron Brown early in the fourth quarter. Arians, like anyone who watched the two this summer, expected the play to work. Until the ball hit the turf, it looked like the countless other bombs Stanton launched to him during camp.

[+] EnlargeJohn Brown
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriThe chemistry that WR John Brown has built with QB Drew Stanton paid dividends for Arizona on Sunday.
“I know he wants that one back to Jaron because they never miss,” Arians said. “They haven’t missed the entire preseason, and he kind of got a little bit excited with that one.”

Stanton had to settle for rookie John Brown. As it turned out, there could have been worse options. The pair connected for two second-half touchdowns and propelled Arizona past the San Francisco 49ers 23-14 Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium. It was the Cardinals' first win over the 49ers since 2011.

On the first touchdown, Stanton hit Brown cutting through the middle of the Niners’ secondary, almost ignored.

“They just forgot me on [that] play because we had a route coming in, and the cornerback jumped it, and the safety flew all the way, and I was just open down the middle,” said Brown, whose mother, Cassandra, was in the stands from Florida on Sunday.

At that point, Arizona was down 14-13. In his second start since 2010 -- the first coming this past week -- Stanton had a chip on his shoulder. Stanton made his first career start with the Detroit Lions against San Francisco in Week 15 of 2009. He was benched almost seven minutes into the fourth quarter after he threw his third interception. He never forgot that feeling.

“I’ve never been a guy that’s been worried about my stats,” Stanton said. “I think I care much more about a team and about winning, but that one stung me. It’ll test you in this league, and you have to constantly go out there and prove yourself. I feel like a little bit of a weight came off my shoulders today, without a doubt.”

On the next drive Sunday, Stanton got pummeled on consecutive plays. On the first, linebacker Dan Skuta hit Stanton when he began his slide after scrambling. On the next play, Niners linebacker Patrick Willis knocked Stanton with the crown of his helmet. Both plays drew 15-yard penalties and set the Cardinals up for the winning touchdown.

The touchdown pass again went to Brown, this time on a pump fake, but almost to the exact same spot.

“The timing, it’s always perfect, even though I got a lot of work with Carson [Palmer],” Brown said. “I took time out with both of them because I run with the ones and the twos, so it helped me out big time.”

Stanton and Brown’s chemistry was built during camp, when Brown split his time working with the starters and the backups, but Brown has spent most of his time during the season working with Palmer. That helped Brown learn the wrinkles of the offense, from which Stanton reaped the benefits Sunday.

“You almost want to tell him to slow down at times because he runs through zones,” Stanton said. “You’re like, ‘If it’s man, run away from that guy. If it’s zone, then find that zone and stay there.’ He’s getting it, and he understands it, but sometimes he just needs to slow down because the game is fast.”

And it’s not like the two are strangers.

A lot was made earlier this season about Brown’s locker being right next to Palmer’s. But who’s on the other side of Brown? Stanton.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Cardinals’ 23-14 victory over San Francisco:
    Foote
  • Linebacker Larry Foote sat at his locker in an undershirt and ripped jeans, bruised from another physical outing but optimistic. The 34-year-old had just experienced his first NFC West game and was excited about how the defense rebounded from two first-half drives in which they allowed San Francisco to go 80 yards and score on each. “Something’s brewing in this locker room, and hopefully we keep going,” he said.
  • Antonio Cromartie, who left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury, was standing on it at his locker after the game. “Everything’s OK,” Cromartie said. “I will find out what’s going on with it tomorrow.”
  • Rookie wide receiver John Brown said he woke up Sunday morning and told roommate rookie safety Deone Bucannon he felt a touchdown coming. Brown scored two Sunday.

Rapid Reaction: Arizona Cardinals

September, 21, 2014
Sep 21
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals' 23-14 win at University of Phoenix Stadium.

What it means: This is a team that knows how to scrap together a win. It was tough at halftime to believe the Cardinals could come back, but whatever Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said worked. The second-half Cardinals looked nothing like the first-half Cardinals. (However, some credit has to be given to the 49ers for imploding for a third consecutive second half.) And that’s good news for this team, which might be without starter Carson Palmer for a while. Arizona figured out a way to slow down 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second half, and on offense, the Cardinals were able to convert on third down and turn scoring opportunities into touchdowns instead of field goals. If Arizona can start putting together full games, it could be a dangerous squad.

Stock watch: Ted Ginn Jr.'s ability in the return game and as a receiver were well known, which is why Arizona signed him during free agency. But what he’s added in other facets has been a bonus. He threw a pass Sunday -- 10 yards to Michael Floyd for a first down -- and he was used on a jet sweep that he cut inside.

Second-half shutdown: After Kaepernick ran at will in the first half, Arizona held him to 9 rushing yards on four carries and 102 passing yards in the second half. Arizona also held San Francisco to six first downs in the second half and just 16 rushing yards as a whole.

Game ball: Quarterback Drew Stanton took the hits and kept on ticking. He threw for 244 yards on 18-for-33 passing. His two touchdown passes to John Brown gave Arizona the lead for good.

What’s next: The Cardinals are off next week before traveling to Denver in Week 5.

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