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Steve Keim Time: Injury updates and moving on from SF

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson (14) is congratulated by John Brown (12) and Larry Fitzgerald after catching a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Cardinals won 19-13. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
LISTEN: Steve Keim, Cardinals general manager

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’s 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:

Can you give us an update on Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington? Have you heard anything yet?

“Nothing yet. As of last night I knew that they were going to be sent for MRIs this morning. I know that Chris most likely has some type of a bone bruise in his knee. Andre had a toe issue. Pending MRI results, we’ll know a little more later this morning. But until then I would probably say that both of those guys are day-to-day.”

Are you worried?

“Anytime you have players that can’t finish a game you’re always a little bit concerned. But both of those guys are extremely tough and I know they want to be out there so it’s no different than Pat last week. Pat went down with the ankle and came back and played an exceptional game.”

Can you put this win in perspective for us?

“Listen, I think anybody from our fans to anybody that follows this organization would be a little bit concerned or disappointed by the way we played. I got a great piece of advice from Jason Licht last year. He called me midway through the season and he said, ‘You know all those Monday mornings when you and I watch tape after a win and you’re just infuriated by the way we play?’ And I said yeah. And he said, ‘Don’t do it again. Teams in this league have a hard enough time winning week to week. Be appreciative of getting a win.’ That was a great piece of advice.”

Did you follow that advice when you were watching film?

“I’m a little frustrated, and I have a page full of notes and most of them aren’t very good. But again, a win is a win. You look at big picture and you look at the fact that we’re coming off of two Sunday night games of extremely physical and emotional wins and sometimes there’s letdowns unfortunately. But we did enough to get the win and it’s a division game and I know everybody’s extremely happy in our locker room.”

When coaches get fired up and are upset at some of the calls sometimes they pull the plays and actually send it to the league. Do you do that at all? How involved are you in that process?

“Not involved at all. Coach and I on the flight home discuss the game in general. We’ll talk about some of the calls and I know coach will send however many clips into the league to be reviewed. Sometimes midweek he’ll get back some answers from Dean Blandino and his crew on whether the calls were correct or not. He’ll share some of that information with me, but I’m not really involved.”

When you’re watching the film, is it about the same as normal or is there actually an officiating problem in the NFL?

“I think it’s the human element. I think there’s always going to be some mistakes made just like we make some mistakes as players and as executives or coaches. That’s what makes this game great, it’s the human element. I know with replay things can be corrected but I think there’s always going to be a gray area.”

When you watch the film, what did you see on the line of scrimmage offensively?

“Here’s what I saw. I wouldn’t say that we got beat up physically. What I would say is we did a very very poor job first and foremost, passing off games and stunts and pass pro. We did a very very poor job whether it was play side or backside getting our face across the numbers, which caused leakage in the run game. We also did an extremely poor job of coming off combination blocks to the second level which again really minimizes your ability to create creases and run lanes. So not so much again physically, there were times when guys got beat physically, but more so than not just fundamentally did an extremely poor job and that needs to improve. Particularly when what we have ahead of us in St. Louis with their front next week.”

Bruce Arians announced that today is ‘Victory Monday’ and players don’t have to report to practice and Patrick Peterson interrupted him and said, ‘Defense, you’re coming in at 11, we’ve got things to work on.’ We think that’s huge leadership. How do you read into that?

“I think Pat took it upon himself and I think he’s continued to grow into one of the guys that’s a leader on our defense. He is playing exceptional football. I’m telling you from a coverage standpoint, this is the best I’ve seen Pat Peterson play. A lot of it has to do with his focus, his body, the way he’s taking care of himself, his playing weight – he is dialed in right now and I don’t know that there’s a corner playing better football than Pat Peterson right now. I thought him and Tyrann on the back end both played exceptional yesterday. But taking it to another level and being a vocal leader is something that I’ve seen lately which is exciting to see a guy with his skillset take it to another level off the field as well. That’s what is great about this team. There was a hard-fought win within the division and the attitude and the atmosphere in our locker room wasn’t rah-rah. It wasn’t slapping everybody on the back. It was business-like. It’s like, ‘Hey we came away with a win, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. Let’s get back tomorrow and correct some of these mistakes and move on to St. Louis,’ which again is exciting for me to see.”

There are so many leader in that locker room, one being Carson Palmer. After watching the film, how do you feel about Carson and how he played?

“You know, good. He took some shots and I think obviously Carson would tell you it’s not one of his better games but he made some huge plays in clutch situations. That throw that he made falling away, almost tripping, to J.J was unbelievable. Every week you know Carson’s not going to throw for 400-yards and be perfect. Some credit to the 49ers defense. They did some good things and pressed us. They were able to get some pressure on him with blitz packages, particularly A-gap stuff and games and stunts. So they had us a little rattled and I thought our timing was off a little bit, to be honest with you. But the gritty competitive leader that Carson is, I think that the touchdown that he ran in says a lot about his competitiveness and his will to win.”

Are you going to have spiking the football practice?

“Yeah the 35-year-old white, unathletic quarterback thing is a little bit of an issue. But I’d certainly prefer him stand tall in the pocket and swing it down the field than running for touchdowns.”

How impressed are you by J.J. Nelson?

“In the evaluation process there were a couple questions on J.J. Obviously, he was the fastest guy at the combine, but the other concerns were how many players at 158-pounds have played in the National Football League, particularly whenever you look at it, it’s a wide-out with small hands, because he does have smaller hands for a wide-out. Yet at the same time he’s been exceptional, in my opinion, catching the ball in traffic and stabbing the ball with his hands. He really does have a nice catching radius, and he’s smooth and he just continues to get better and better and obviously his ability to drive off and separate is pretty rare.”

It’s hard for any team to go 3-0 on the road in their division. With St. Louis this weekend, do you worry about injuries against the Rams the same as any other team?

“Not any different from any other game. I think obviously it’s one of those games like Seattle or Cincinnati where it’s going to be extremely physical and you better bring your A-game. And the biggest thing is from a team standpoint you better match their level of intensity, because if you don’t you’re going to get guys hurt. I’m sure we’ll be ready to play. The fact that they beat us here at home certainly gives us a little more incentive this week and I know Bruce will have those guys ready to play on Sunday.”

Any concern at all with Chandler Catanzaro your kicker and Drew Butler your punter? Will you be bringing anybody in?

“We’ve already brought some guys in a couple weeks ago. Since then, those guys have actually kicked pretty well. Last night there’s no question that that was a concern. You look at the Baltimore game and you look at this game and the two PATs that Chandler missed put us in a really bad spot which could’ve been game-changing mistakes and there’s no doubt that he’s got to fix that and I know that he’s one of those guys that’s hard on himself. But he’s gotta bounce back and he’s gotta do it because it’s certainly not something that we’ll ever see in a situation that’s anything less than expected. He needs to pick it up.”

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