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Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald Quite the Celebrity Around the NFL

May 26th, 2015 at 4:59 AM
By Steve Smith

He's 31 years old now and has not had 1,000 yards receiving in any of his last three NFL campaigns. However, he is an Arizona Cardinals icon and remains one of the top celebrity faces in the NFL.

He's eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

How popular is the University of Pittsburgh product? The Celebrity DBI index measures consumer perceptions of celebrities and then ranks the top 3,000-plus actors, musicians, CEOs, news personalities, politicians, athletes and more — all in one long list. The index is powered by Dallas-based company, The Marketing Arm.

ESPN recently discussed the top 10 NFL players in the Celebrity DBI rankings and Fitzgerald was revealed to be fifth among league players. Only Marcus Mariota (Tennessee), J.J. Watt (Houston), Russell Wilson (Seattle) and Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) ranked higher, respectively.

The Minneapolis, MN native will soon enter his 12th NFL season. He is 91 catches away from 1,000 for his career, and he needs only 137 yards to pass former Jacksonville receiver Jimmy Smith for 20th in all-time receiving yards in league history. The Red Birds wideout sat out two contests in late November last year with a knee injury, his first time missing any games since the 2007 season.

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So Far, So Good for New Arizona Cardinals Defensive Coordinator

May 25th, 2015 at 5:56 AM
By Steve Smith

Replacing Todd Bowles as the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator is not an easy task indeed. However, new Red Birds DC James Bettcher seems to be more than up to the task so far.

Just ask third-year safety Tyrann Mathieu.

"He’s very intelligent,” Mathieu enthused via espn.com. “I think the biggest thing is that he communicates with us a lot. He asks for our input a lot on different situations, coverages and everything’s been going smooth so far.”

The Cardinals had a Top 10 defense under Bowles' tenure and because of that Bowles was able to secure the head coaching post with the New York Jets. He'll certainly be missed in the desert but Arizona's top notch defense appears to be in good hands with the soon-to-be 37-year old Bettcher.

The Red Birds blitzed on 46.5 percent of quarterback dropbacks during the last two seasons, the most in the NFL during that span. Whether the Cardinals will be quite as aggressive under Bettcher is still yet to be seen at this point in time.

Mathieu said the defensive scheme being installed by Bettcher during offseason workouts has been bland thus far. That is not unusual with a new defensive coordinator at this time of the year.

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Arizona Cardinals Monitoring Fatigue Factor During OTA’s

May 24th, 2015 at 5:26 AM
By Steve Smith

The heat of the Arizona sun in unrelenting at times. That's why the Arizona Cardinals are closely monitoring the distance their wide receivers and defensive backs run in an effort to prevent fatigue during organized team activities (OTA's).

"You didn’t really feel that way at the moment (during OTAs),” Arizona cornerback Jerraud Powers said via the team's website. “It was kind of like when it was all over, you’re like, ‘God, we did a lot.’ It’s tough. Not everyone around the league does what we do, in terms of two practices and everybody getting reps. Last year, when (strength and conditioning coach) Buddy (Morris) got here, he started monitoring steps. I think after the statistics came in after we were done, it kind of opened some eyes.”

Morris closely monitors fatigue among the Cardinals. Once the Red Birds reached their seventh or eighth OTA in 2014, players began wearing down. Unlike a one-practice scenario where spots could go four- and five-deep to cycle through practice reps, two practices force that much more additional work.

Cornerback Justin Bethel noted that if a player or two got hurt, “you’d have a couple of guys having to go a lot, practically the whole practice.”

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Arizona Cardinals Rookie Gerald Christian Hopes to Be Very Relevant

May 23rd, 2015 at 4:16 AM
By Steve Smith

Arizona Cardinals rookie tight end Gerald Christian hopes to be very relevant during the 2015 NFL season.

The Red Birds completed their draft selections in the 2015 NFL Draft by selecting Christian in the seventh and final round. He was the 256th and final player drafted. Therefore, he receives the NFL's annual draft title of "Mr. Irrelevant."

The University of Louisville product is 6-foot-3 and weighs 244 pounds. Whether he makes the team for 2015 remains to be seen. He was a third-team All-ACC performer in 2014. The Cards like his upside.

Let's take an updated look at Christian's profile. Football scouts state that his strengths are: Athletic body type with some room to add bulk… smooth-muscled with adequate core strength…physical at the point of attack in the open field and loves to pop pads as a blocker…fluid and flexible athleticism, doing a nice job catching the ball without losing stride…transitions weight well in his movements with a smooth release and route quickness to get downfield. Good hand use to work through jams and slip past the first line of coverage down the seam…aggressive and tough after the catch to fight for every yard and not go down easy…quick, reliable hands to focus and pluck away from his body…versatile experience, lining up mostly inline or in the backfield on college tape.

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Arizona Cardinals Kicker Chandler Catanzaro not Concerned by Extra Point Change

May 22nd, 2015 at 5:56 AM
By Steve Smith

Now entering his second NFL season in 2015, Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro isn't fazed by the new NFL rule for kickers – starting this coming season, the ball will be snapped from the 15-yard line instead of the one.

Catanzaro is taking the change in stride.

"What it comes down to is that kicking is kicking,” Catanzaro said via the team's website. “It’s me, the ball and my target. That doesn’t change much. Nothing changes technique-wise. Rules are rules, and I am ready for the challenge.”

The numbers back up his confident attitude. Last season, the University of Clemson product went 7-for-7 on field goals between 30 and 33 yards – at the 15, it will likely be a 33-yard attempt for extra points – and in the past 10 seasons, Arizona kickers have made 45 of 46 field goals from that distance.

Two-point conversion attempts will still be snapped at the 2-yard line, although the move would seem to squash any attempt of a fake kick on extra points. With little fear of a fake, edge rushers can now come off harder.

That doesn't faze Catanzaro.

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