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Keim Time: Back in action, Brown brings unique element to Cardinals

LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

Beating the winless San Francisco 49ers and requiring overtime to do so does not inspire heaps of confidence.

Still, the Arizona Cardinals have kept hope alive by moving to 2-2 with an 18-15 victory to remain in reach of the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams (3-1).

Just ask Cardinals general manager Steve Keim, who joins Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station every Monday morning during the season. On this day, he reviewed what went right in the gritty victory, discussed the injury to linebacker Markus Golden, and addressed the health and performance of the offensive line that allowed the 49ers to sack quarterback Carson Palmer six times.

It’s Keim Time.

There were some positives, there were some negatives yesterday. You got the win. How do you feel about that win yesterday? Are you in a positive mood or did you see so many negatives you’re kind of beat up a little bit?

Anytime that you can win a game, it’s a positive. I certainly would have preferred to win 38-10. I think winning a game like this, particularly early in the season, can do some things for the team internally that builds confidence, when you face adversity, when the odds are stacked against you and you come up and make big plays in clutch situations. I think, again, that confidence can permeate through your locker room and it can certainly serve you well moving forward as the season goes on.

Think about yesterday’s game. Who do you think gained some confidence through yesterday?

Well, you know, I’d like to say (receiver) John Brown just from the standpoint he’s battled injuries. He came back yesterday. Not only did he make some clutch catches, I think he created two or three pass interference calls, which is exactly what John Brown brings to this offense — the unique ability to take the top off, to put fear in defenders where they have to put their hands on him to disrupt his routes. He just brings another element to our offense, which we’ve sorely missed.

What do you think his percentage was going in: Was he a 100 percent yesterday going into that game? Did he feel like he was 100 percent?

No, I think he’s definitely improved but I certainly wouldn’t say 100 percent. I’d be willing to go on record that out of 53 guys in our locker room, there’s not anybody who’s 100 percent. We certainly have faced some challenges with injuries so far this year. Again, that’s not an excuse. We’ve just got to continue to grow and get better and hopefully to get a win like this and facing some adversity will serve us well for the rest of the season.

I realize there’s no way you have already done the MRI for Markus Golden, but there are a lot of people that are afraid it’s a torn ACL. Do you share those fears?

I’m always fearful anytime a player can’t return to the game. If I was going to bet on anyone, I’d bet on Markus for two reasons. Number one, because he walked off the field and I’ve had two ACLs and I know what it’s like. There’s no tougher player on our team in terms of a guy who can play through pain and that sort of thing.

Markus is a special guy in a lot of ways and his passion, his love for the game and the motor that he plays with is second-to-none. We’ll know a little more when we get an MRI back. But like anything else, it’s my job to have a plan in place and keep it moving.

When does that prognosis typically happen? When you do normally … when there’s a big injury on a Sunday, do you find out what the news is?

Early on, the doctors get with him right after the game and then we’ll put a plan in place to have an MRI first thing in the morning. Usually those images show up at our facility around 10 or 11 o’clock a.m. and we’ll have a discussion and go from there.

As the evaluator that you are, go ahead and evaluate Carson Palmer and what you saw on tape?

I thought he was excellent. Once again, just like last week, there were times where he was pressured and he still got the ball out. There were times where he used his feet, he found Jaron Brown on the perimeter one time where it was a broken route and he did a nice job of navigating that. He’s done a great job throwing with anticipation. Some of those anticipatory throws where he’s got throw into windows and trust his receivers. There were several times yesterday where I thought he was excellent in that area.

There were a few times where he was rushed, enough in this game where the pressure on him made him get happy feet or hold onto the ball too long because there were some coverage sacks. But at the same time, I just continue to think, two weeks in a row, Carson has played very, very well.

We know there were a lot of struggles last week. What’s the general theme on the pressure getting to the quarterback this week. Was it minor breakdowns that are correctable? Was it flat-out, guys just getting beat? What did you see on film … why did Carson get hit maybe 16 times?

Well you got some young guys in there playing that from a technical standpoint can have some issues from time to time, whether it was (Will) Holden or (Evan) Boehm. John Wetzel is playing left tackle and I think we all know he’s not the rangiest, natural left tackle, but he’s a fighter and he’s a competitor. Let’s not forget (49ers defensive linemen) DeForest Buckner, (Arik) Armstead, Solomon Thomas — those guys are on scholarship, too. They’re pretty special talents. When you look at two of the three are 6-foot-7, 300-pound men who run (sub-4.80 40-yard dash times) — so they have a lot of talent up front.

Hats off to John Lynch, who’s a friend of mine, and to Coach (Kyle) Shanahan. I think they’ve done a nice job there and vastly improved that football game. Going into this game, I didn’t think it was gonna be a cakewalk. You look at (San Francisco) losing to the Seahawks, 12-9, and losing to the Rams, last minutes of the game. We knew we were in a fight. To come away with a win is always positive for me.

What is your expectation for D.J. Humphries for the game coming up here? What would you say is the likelihood of him playing

It’s hard to say. D.J. is, you know, he’s working his tail off. He’d love to get back this week — not 100-percent sure that’ll happen. I am encouraged by some of the progress he’s made. He’s matured immensely over the last two years and he wants to play. That’s half the battle there. Our medical staff does a great job, led by Tom Reed, and hopefully they’ll have him up and ready to go next week.

What about Boone, Alex Boone, is he recovering? Do you think he’s on schedule, Steve?

Yep, yep. Seems to be. From a mentality standpoint, you don’t get much better. I mean, Alex Boone is a warrior now, he wants to play. So we’ll find out a little bit more in the next couple days and go from there.

If you feel as an organization that there has been a bad call or a couple bad calls in a game, you send the film off to the league and the league either admits it and says, ‘hey, you guys are wrong.’ What about replay I still don’t for the life of me understand why Andre Ellington’s touchdown catch was not a touchdown catch.

Do you guys send a tape even though they’ve already seen it about a replay? What’s the process there or did you guys see an angle that maybe we didn’t see that says, ‘you know what, that was an incomplete pass’ and I should be quiet?

Any of the plays that we disagree with, we’ll send into the league office and generally, we’ll get back some type of response. They’re all humans, they make mistakes too. We can’t get caught up in the mistakes that the officials make — we just have to win between the lines. That’s what we have to be focused on, is each week trying to get better.

I thought there were too many holding plays against us that negated some big plays for us. Our defense was really good, I thought, in terms of bend but don’t break. I thought we gave up too many plays, but they continue to keep us in games, and the fact we’re keeping people out of the end zone gives our offense a chance. There’s no doubt it was good to see (kicker) Phil Dawson get back on track yesterday as well.

Dare I ask, when you said you’re going to send off some plays, you do it almost every week, is the Andre Ellington catch that wasn’t, is that play one you’ll be sending in?

If I were a betting man, that will be one of ’em that’s sent in.

Do you get fined for divulging that kind of thing?

I cannot confirm nor deny that, Wolf.

Andre appears to look like the Andre Ellington of 2013. The burst that you see on the field is really impressive. Would you agree with that?

Yeah, I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence as well. Just from an athletic standpoint, he’s healthy. He’s battled some foot injuries over the years. So he’s healthy now and you do see the foot speed, the acceleration, the movement in space. Andre’s always been a dynamic player with the ball in his hands. We just needed to keep him healthy and we wanted to make sure he’s up and ready to go. It seems like he’s been a very natural fit in this offense, especially in the passing game.

Quick rundown of the Eagles. What do you think of them and what do you need to do to come off a long road trip with a win?

Obviously, they’re playing well, I think they’re 3-1, and I know they’ll be a physical team. That’s the way they’ve always been built with (executive VP of football operations) Howie Roseman and their GM. The people in Philadelphia, their mindset has always been to build the offense lines,the defensive lines. We’ll be challenged.

(Eagles QB) Carson Wentz is a guy that I really liked coming out, have a lot of respect for him. Not only is he a big, tall pocket passer who’s got great arm strength and accuracy, he also has a unique ability to escape the rush and hurt you with his feet and throw on the run. We’ll have our hands full next weekend and our work cut out for us. Give me a chance to go back to Pennsylvania where I grew up and hopefully see some family.

Really, really excited for the challenge because each week, that’s what you want in this game. You want to be able to be challenged and see what your football team is made of. Yesterday, I was extremely proud of our team, the way that we battled adversity. To finish it with a kiss from Larry Fitzgerald was something special.

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