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Steve Keim Time: Looking back after preseason opener vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Sometimes, it’s best to go straight to the man in charge.

And when it comes to the Arizona Cardinals’ roster, that man is Steve Keim.

Arizona’s general manager since January 2013, Keim has overseen a transformation that has led to 21 wins over two seasons. His deft touch with the draft and free agency has led to the team becoming a contender in the NFC.

Lucky for us, Keim happens to be a weekly guest on the Doug and Wolf Show, right here on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. And since what he has to say is important, we thought it would be a good idea to put his words into print, allowing you to read what the GM is thinking. So, without further ado, here’s this week’s edition, which follows Arizona’s 34-19 preseason opener loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

How did you feel Sunday morning when you studied your team’s performance against the Chiefs?

“Felt good. When you have a live view at a game you come away with a certain interpretation of what transpired, and then you get to watch the tape and a lot of times you’ll see some different things that you didn’t see from the live action. And really, after watching the tape, saw a lot of good things, and the things that were not so good generally came down to mental mistakes and technical issues that players need to improve upon.”

What would you rather see, your first-team playing well or the young guys stepping up?

“I think a combination of both. I think the one thing, from a veteran standpoint, you want to see crisp, efficient play, which to me — after watching the first O and the first D — I don’t think you could have scripted a better start. And then from a backup standpoint, you want to see competition, you want to see guys flying around. You know they’re going to make mistakes, you already anticipate that. But how hard are they playing, how physical are they playing? Those sort of things are the things that I look for.”

Will Larry Fitzgerald keep run blocking after getting crushed by teammate Mike Iupati Saturday?

“We all know Larry’s a tough guy, he’ll stick his face in the fire, that’s for sure.”

Which young guys stood out on film?

“Ninety-five, Gunter. All the guys that have looked good in practice I think really stepped up when the lights came on. Gunter being one of them, really physical and explosive with his hands. At times was dominating at the point of attack. Markus Golden was very, very active. The one thing that you would say about Markus, he was very disruptive. You just want to see him finish a little better, but for a first outing I think both of those guys played excellent. I thought Justin Bethel played a really nice game outside, getting the start since Jerraud was nicked up a little bit. Felt he did a really, really nice job in coverage. So there were a lot of guys — Kevin Minter, we’ve talked about him — he’s playing fast. He’s playing downhill and physical, which is exactly what we wanted.”

What would you say about Logan Thomas’ performance? 

“The one thing about him, and I think you guys have been to enough practices to see it, there are times where he makes some really ‘wow’ throws; I think the biggest question has always been consistency. I thought he played a fairly consistent game the other night. The one thing that he has really improved upon, and you saw it the other night, to me, was the pocket presence, the ability to step up in the pocket, make the throws with traffic around him and to make accurate throws. Again, it was an excellent start. Last year I think he started preseason against the Texans, I think he was 11-of-12, and again this was another strong outing hopefully he can continue to improve upon.”

How did Ifeanyi Momah do?

“He did a nice job. Again, he competed. I think the one thing he needs to do is get better in the run game with his technique as an in-line blocker. He’s never going to be a dominating, overpowering type just because of his body type, but he can be a very good technician and be efficient in the run game. So I think in that area he can improve, but in the passing game he is a guy that can create mismatches, whether it’s stretching the seam or getting isolated versus an inside linebacker, a safety, and doing some big things for us this year. He continues to improve and we’re excited.”

Momah isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, but shouldn’t the mismatch possibility be enough to keep him?

“I think it’s pretty clear that in this league there are the haves and the have-nots, and he certainly has, he certainly has the type of athleticism that’s hard to find. You can coach these guys to get better technically and you can get them to be a little bit more physical at times, but you cannot coach length, athleticism and speed, and he has all three of those things.”

What’s your main concern coming out of the first preseason game?

“I think you always want to come out healthy, and I think we came out relatively healthy in the preseason. And then there are different positions that you’re looking for guys to step up. The fourth and fifth corners, you’re looking for the receiving battle, how that shakes out. The core special teams players — who’s going to stand up and show that they’re going to be a core special teamer. There are a lot of questions still to be answered and I’m glad we have a few more preseason games to shake that out.”

How do you feel about the offensive line’s performance?

“First group, excellent. There were no pressures at all. The only pressure that Carson had was a hot, and it was a blitz from the Mike linebacker and he saw it and got the ball out quickly to Andre on the perimeter. So the first group was excellent — Iupati was physical, Jonathan Cooper was excellent, Veldheer again, very consistent. All those guys across the front were good. The second offensive line actually did a nice job as well. D.J. had some technical issues, D.J. Humphries, like a young offensive tackle could have, but he showed the feet, the range and athleticism that got us excited to draft him and he played hard, he played physical at times.”

What’s the status on Chris Johnson, who has been linked to the Cardinals?

“We have discussed Chris Johnson for sure, and I’ve had some conversations with his agent, Joel Segal, but there’s nothing on the horizon to report as of right now.”

Had to be good to see Andre Ellington on the field making plays

“I told him if he was in shape he would have scored on that pass. It goes back to show you, when the guy’s on the field he’s a dynamic player. When he gets his hands on the ball there’s no doubt he makes things happen. Whether it’s in the passing game, as a running back — the guy has got unbelievable feet and quickness and athleticism, we’ve just got to make sure he stays healthy. He’s the type of player that can continue to be a force, and I know he’s got the right attitude. He’s a great kid and he works his tail off and he wants to be a great player, which is extremely important.”

Are you surprised at how good of a training camp Carson Palmer is having?

“No because I’ve gotten to know the person, and getting to know the person, the fire that’s within him, is really impressive. The guy, at his age, is still extremely passionate about the game. Very business-like, and he’s taken it to another level. He’s always been a very accurate passer, but what I’ve seen from him, the ability to process and to make good decisions, he just feels so much more comfortable in this offense in year three.”

It looks like you’ll have to cut maybe four to five talented players with as deep a roster as this is

“I would say somewhere probably between four and six, and if we had a decent GM we probably wouldn’t have to cut them, we’d probably be able to move them for something. That remains to be seen, we’ll see how that one works out. It’s nice to have — Coach and I talk about it all the time — it’s nice to finally have some tough decisions to make. It’s a good problem to have, that’s for sure.”

Have the New York Jets called asking about any of your quarterbacks?

“They have not. I’ll say this: if there’s any guy that I respect and I trust to handle a tough situation, aside from Bruce Arians, it’s Todd Bowles. I know that Todd will get that organization pointed in the right direction and he’ll make sure that locker room is cleaned up and does the right thing.”

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