Cardinals add Carlson to tight-end corps
--Cardinals running back Rashard Mendenhall is informing NFL teams interested in signing him as an unrestricted free agent that he is retiring.
He confirmed that decision, writing in the Huffington Post, "I decided not to hold a press conference because I didn't want to have to say things that were cliche. I've done enough of that since I've been playing football. I actually didn't really plan on saying anything about my retirement at all. I just kind of wanted to disappear. The fact that I was done playing would've been clear once some time had passed, and I hadn't signed back with the Cardinals or any other team. Maybe people would've thought I couldn't get another job. Either way, I was okay with the idea of fading to black, and my legacy becoming "What ever happened to that dude Rashard Mendenhall? He was pretty good for a few years, then he just vanished.
The truth is, I don't really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it's saying, 'Football was pretty cool, but I don't want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!' "
He concluded, "So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I've greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it."
Last season, Mendenhall rushed for 687 yards and scored eight touchdowns for the Cardinals. But he averaged just 3.2 yards per carry compared with running back Andre Ellington's 5.5-yard average, giving Ellington a leg up on the starting job in 2014.
Mendenhall was the No. 23 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. His best years were in 2009 and 2010 when he rushed for 1,109 yards and 1,273 yards before he suffered an ACL tear in 2011. In his final season with the Steelers in 2012, he was suspended for missing a game.
The 26-year-old Mendenhall walks away with 4,236 career rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.
--The Cardinals stepped outside the football world when adding to their strength and conditioning staff as speed coach.
Roger Kingdom, a two-time Olympic gold medal hurdler, joined the staff of strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris on Thursday, the Cardinals announced. Morris was hired Tuesday.
Kingdom raced to gold in the 110-meter hurdles in 1984 at Los Angeles and 1988 at Seoul. He was a football player for the University of Pittsburgh in the 1980s when Morris was the Panthers' strength coach.
Over the past decade, Kingdom served as the cross country and track and field coach at California University of Pennsylvania.
Kingdom set the world record in the 110-meter hurdles at 12.92 seconds in August 1989 in Zurich, Switzerland, and the mark held up for four years.
In addition to Morris and Kingdom, Pete Alosi remains an assistant strength and conditioning coach on the Cardinals' staff.
--Coach Bruce Arians believes quarterback Carson Palmer has plenty of solid play left.
Said Arians, "There is no doubt he has plenty of juice left in the tank. He's in great condition. I would think he could play until 36, 37 easily."
Palmer is 34 and turns 35 in December.
--Arians was pleased with the production from wide receiver Michael Floyd in 2013.
I think Michael is starting to reach his potential," Arians said. "He had what I consider to be a breakout year, over 1,000 yards. He still needs to be more consistent each week. He played through injuries for the first time which is a huge step for a young player to play through injuries. A lot of times they just sit themselves down. He wanted to win, he wanted to help us win. I thought he made great strides. This year, can he do it again?"
--The play of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald improved in the second half of the 2013 season, and Arians said it was because he moved around to different positions something that 30-something receivers usually have to do.
I thought Larry really improved, like Carson did, the second half of the season," Arians said. "He got more comfortable playing different positions and people couldn't know exactly where he was going to line up all the time and start running routes in the slot where he could use his size to his advantage."
As for liking to move receivers around, Arians said, "Yes, especially the ones who are hitting 30. Hines Ward was great at it. Reggie (Wayne) accepted that role. He spent his time on the left side all those years. Just to line up on the right side was tough at the beginning but he embraced that role and had a breakout year. Larry embraced the role with those two guys as comparisons. Here it is, this is what we are going to try to do, instead of you staying on the X all the time. He got much better at it.
"Guys lose a step at age 30. It's just natural. As hard as they train and everything, at 30 it's just a different ballgame. They accept it, they want to become better players, they say help me become a better player than when I was 26. This is how you do it."
--Arians can't wait to see how running back Andre Ellington improves in his second season.
"We are really looking forward to it," Arians said. "He's already gained 10 pounds and he is in the weight room every day. He wants to get better. I've never been around a running back who stepped on the field and tried to do things he's never done before and played wide receiver as good as he does. He plays it as well as most of our starting wide receivers. He has a unique talent we want to look at and continue to build our offense around this year."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Last year was a fairy tale. My first three years were fantastic working with Peyton (Manning). Two years ago was a true fairy tale. No one will ever buy the rights to that movie I don't think, but it was fun. There is a blue horseshow in here (points to his heart) forever." - Coach Bruce Arians on his season as interim coach with the Colts in 2012.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--The Cardinals re-signed nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu. He appeared in 14 games last season and made seven tackles. It was his first regular-season NFL action after he was selected out of the University of Washington in the fourth round of the 2012 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
--The Cardinals hired Buddy Morris as their head strength and conditioning coach a week after firing John Lott, who had been with the team since 2007.
Morris was in Cleveland when the Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians was the offensive coordinator with the Browns from 2001 to 2003.
Scheduled to be unrestricted in March:
--CB Javier Arenas
--SS Yeremiah Bell
--CB Antoine Cason
--ILB Karlos Dansby
--TE Jim Dray
--K Jay Feely
--C/G Mike Gibson
--TE Jeff King
--CB Bryan McCann
--RB Rashard Mendenhall
--WR Andre Roberts
--DE Frostee Rucker
--OLB Matt Shaughnessy
--TE Kory Sperry
--RT Eric Winston
LEFT TACKLE: If they don't sign a left tackle in free agency, they will look for one high in the draft. Bradley Sowell is tough and a battler, but the Cardinals need someone more athletic.
DEFENSIVE END/OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Their best pass rusher, John Abraham, is 35. There are no young ends behind starters Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett.
QUARTERBACK: Carson Palmer is 34 and under contract for one more season. It's time the Cardinals use a high draft pick on a quarterback.
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