Dealing Cards: Alex Boone back in the NFC West, John Brown ready
TEMPE, Ariz. – Protect quarterback Carson Palmer, and the Arizona Cardinals’ odds of having a successful season in 2017 go up exponentially.
With that in mind, and with a roster spot available, the team signed veteran offensive lineman Alex Boone to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
One day later, Boone found himself in full pads, going through his first practice with the Cardinals, a team he had spent his first seven years in the league battling as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
“It was a little weird, I’m not going to lie,” he said, standing in front of his locker. “I’m going to be straight-up with you, it felt a little weird but at the same time, it felt right.”
Boone is back in the NFC West after a year in Minnesota. The Vikings released Boone, whom they had signed to a four-year, $26.8 million free-agent contract in 2016, after he reportedly refused to take a pay cut.
Boone’s release caught many by surprise.
“Yeah, but at the end of the day, this is a business. I get it. This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said. “I’m just happy to get picked up here with a great group of guys.”
A starter at left guard for each of the past two seasons and prior to that at right guard for three seasons, Boone will begin his Cardinals tenure as a backup.
“I just follow orders,” he said. “I’m a good soldier.”
Currently, the Cardinals have Mike Iupati and Evan Boehm at left and right guard, respectively.
Iupati, however, has been dealing with a triceps injury — he was limited in practice on Wednesday — and Boehm is playing out of position. Drafted as a center, Boehm got his feet wet at guard late last season and held onto the job throughout training camp and preseason.
“He’s just learning,” head coach Bruce Arians said of Boone, who checks in at 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds. “Right now, he learned the snap count today, and he got a few reps. We’ll see. Right now, there’ll have to be an injury or somebody has to really fail badly.”
Boone, 30, becomes the sixth former Niners player on the Cardinals roster.
“I remember a lot of those games and I remember Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell, and I remember getting fined for starting a fight with the nose tackle (Alameda Ta’amu in 2013). We had a lot of good fun,” he said. “That’s what kind of brought me here was I knew the passion that this team had and that these guys really wanted to win and I’ve played them so many times I figured I might as well come play with them.”
John Brown proclaims himself ready
If keeping Palmer upright and giving him time to throw the football is priority No.1 for the Cardinals offense, then second on that list might be the health of wide receiver John Brown.
In the last year-and-a-half, Brown sustained a concussion, dealt with hamstring tightness and hurt his quadriceps; the latter occurring most recently in training camp. Recovery from both the hamstring and quadriceps injuries was slowed due to the sickle cell trait he carries.
Talking to reporters after participating fully in practice on Wednesday, Brown sounded confident about his availability for Sunday’s opener at Detroit.
“I’ll be ready no matter what,” he said. “Even if I’m not 100-percent, I’ll do what I can do.”
And what John can do is stretch the field, as evidenced by his two touchdown catches in Atlanta on Aug. 26, his only two catches of the preseason.
“He’s one of our better receivers and any time you lose that guy, things change,” Palmer said. “He means a ton to us.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the NFL announced the hiring of 21 full-time game officials from among its current 124-person roster of officials.
According to the league, the full-time game officials will work throughout the calendar year on game preparation and game administration, analyzing current game trends, communicating with the officiating roster and assisting to ensure that there is a qualified pipeline of future officials through scouting efforts.
Arians applauded the move.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” he said. “If we can have all the referees in each crew, the referee was full-time, then I think you’d have very consistent — from New York, from the referee to his crew — get more consistent refereeing.”
In addition to Iupati, the Cardinals’ first official injury report listed $LB Deone Bucannon (ankle) and defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (calf) as not practicing. Bucannon has already been ruled out for Week 1, while Nkemdiche “has a got a real good shot” at playing, according to Arians.
Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald also didn’t practice. Those two had the day off.
For the Lions, defensive end Ziggy Ansah (knee), wide receiver Kenny Golladay (ankle), tackle Corey Robinson (foot) and running back Zach Zenner (back) were all limited on Wednesday.