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Troy Niklas Will Add Quality Depth to Arizona Cardinals Tight End Corps

September 2nd, 2014 at 6:10 AM
By Steve Smith

Now that rookie tight end Troy Niklas has recovered from the broken hand he suffered during OTA's, the future looks bright for him in an Arizona Cardinals uniform.

The University of Notre Dame product looked good during preseason action – he paced all Arizona tight ends with three receptions and added 29 receiving yards. The Red Birds drafted him in the second round of this year's NFL Draft and love his potential.

Let's look at Niklas' updated scouting profile via cbssports.com:

STRENGTHS: Niklas has a prototypical build for today's matchup nightmare at tight end. Excellent height, long arms and a well-built frame. Experience on the defensive side of the ball is shown with his physical nature on the field. Seems to enjoy blocking, rocking opponents with an impressive initial punch and latching on to control throughout the play. Keeps his legs driving through contact. Uses his height and strength to get open against tight coverage, consistently winning the physical battle with opponents to create space. Good leaping ability, flashing the ability to extend and pluck. Used in a variety of roles for the Irish, including as an inline blocker from both sides, split out wide and even used as an occasional H-back or as a third tackle in pass protection. Secures the football quickly and turns aggressively upfield, dragging would-be tacklers along the way. Good bloodlines. Nephew of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews. Real solid potential.

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Keep an Eye on Arizona Cardinals’ Andre Ellington in Your Fantasy Football Draft

September 1st, 2014 at 6:05 AM
By Steve Smith

Fantasy football drafts are winding down now but if you still have a draft coming up (I do), keep an eye on Arizona Cardinals tailback Andre Ellington.

The University of Clemson product burst on the NFL scene as a rookie last year and led all rushers with a 5.5 YPC average. Now that Rashard Mendenhall has retired, the dynamic Ellington is primed and ready for a very productive 2014 campaign.

Ellington is expected to get about 20 touches a game this season. He's even more valuable in PPR (point per reception) leagues because he's an effective receiver out of the backfield and is very dangerous in space. Ellington paced Cardinals running backs with 39 receptions for 371 yards (a 9.5 average) and a touchdown.

In a 12-team PPR fantasy football draft last week, I secured Ellington with my first pick in the third round (number 29 overall) and was elated to get him. Running behind Arizona's improved offensive line, look for Ellington to be a Top 10 fantasy running back this season.

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Predictions for the 2014 NFL Season

August 31st, 2014 at 6:32 AM
By Steve Smith

The 2014 NFL season kicks off on Thursday when the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks host the Green Bay Packers at noisy CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

The Arizona Cardinals will kick off their 2014 campaign on Monday, Sept. 8 when they host Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The Red Birds finished preseason play at 1-3.

Let's take a look at some predictions for the upcoming season. You'll see that the Cardinals are picked to make the NFC playoffs down below.

May we have the sealed envelope please:

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

2. New York Giants 9-7

3. Dallas Cowboys 7-9

4. Washington Redskins 6-10

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers 11-5

2. Chicago Bears 10-6

3. Detroit Lions 8-8

4. Minnesota Vikings 5-11

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints 11-5

2. Tampa Bay Bucs 9-7

3. Atlanta Falcons 8-8

4. Carolina Panthers 6-10

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5

2. Arizona Cardinals 10-6

3. San Francisco 49ers 9-7

4. St. Louis Rams 6-10

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Arizona Cardinals Fall to San Diego Chargers in Preseason Finale; Jonathan Cooper Plays

August 29th, 2014 at 7:49 AM
By Steve Smith

In a battle of field goals, the Arizona Cardinals came up a little short last night.

Nick Novak booted four field goals to lift the San Diego Chargers over the Red Birds, 12-9 in the preseason finale at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. It was a ho-hum affair in which Arizona had a grand total of four first downs and 98 total yards.

Yikes.

The Cardinals finished the preseason at 1-3.

Rookie Chandler Catanzaro, who beat out veteran Jay Feely for the kicker position, kicked three field goals (from 42, 38 and 35 yards) for Arizona but it was not enough.

Ironically, these two squads will face each other again in their next game – the regualr season opener in Glendale on Monday Night Football on Sept. 8.

In a battle of backups, rookie quarterback Logan Thomas played the entire game and looked shaky at best. The Virginia Tech product completed just nine of 21 passes for 73 yards. His QB rating was 32.4 for the night.

Rookie tight end Troy Niklas had two receptions for 32 yards for the Red Birds.

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Arizona Cardinals Wrap up Preseason Tonight Against San Diego Chargers

August 28th, 2014 at 6:16 AM
By Steve Smith

The Arizona Cardinals wrap up their preseason schedule tonight when they face the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

The Red Birds are 1-2 in preseason play. The starters are expected to rest tonight and rookie quarterback Logan Thomas (pictured above) is expected to play the entire game.

Will this game mark the preseason debut of safety Tyrann Mathieu? Head coach Bruce Arians has stated that Mathieu must play in this contest if he expects to compete in the season opener on Sept. 8.

Ironically, the Cardinals face the Chargers in Glendale in the season opener.

**Meet the kicker for the Red Birds this season – rookie Chandler Catanzaro from the University of Clemson. Catanzaro beat out veteran Jay Feely to win the coveted kicker's post in what should be a high-scoring Arizona offense.

Catanzaro booted four of four field goals this preseason and displayed strong length and power on kickoffs. That seemed to be the deciding factor in the competition. He was not known for displaying a powerful leg on kickoffs for the Tigers.

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