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3-1-12: Arizona Cardinals Bird Droppings - Hall Of Fame Game

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Time for todays links with a look at the Cardinals going to Canton for an extra preseason game.

Also, the introduction of a new Cardinals video series, this one looking at Ryan Williams and his road to recovery.

Arizona Cardinals News:

Cards To Play Hall Of Fame Game
Will face Saints Aug. 5 to kick off NFL's preseason schedule

Word From the Birds Blog - Free agency before free agency
Free agents can’t sign anywhere but with their own teams until March 13, but that doesn’t mean free agency — from a certain perspective — isn’t already underway. With the final day teams can apply franchise tags coming Monday, we are now counting down the last handful of days that a deal can get done with possible tagged players. Of course, all a tag means in the short-term is that teams can buy time to negotiate with those players for a longer contract extension. If, for instance, defensive end Calais Campbell is tagged by the Cards, that’s the expectation. So too, as another example, with Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Arizona Cardinals to play in the NFL Hall of Fame Game
The Cardinals will play in the Hall of Fame game against the Saints on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio, the first preseason game of the 2012 season. It will be the Cardinals first appearance in the game since 1986, two seasons before they moved to Arizona. Their participation means they will play five exhibition games, one more than usual, and open training camp earlier than usual.

Important off-season dates in the NFL
This is the last day of February, which means we're fast approaching some important off-season dates. Here's a quick rundown. blogs - Kent Somers - What Hall of Fame game means for preseason camp
The Cardinals will play the Saints in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 5. So what does that mean for Cardinals fans?

Hall of Fame game buys Cards more work - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals will be heading to training camp earlier than their NFC West rivals. They'll be playing an additional exhibition game, too. These would not always be welcome developments, but in this case, there are advantages for Arizona to play New Orleans in the Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio on Aug. 5, a matchup announced Wednesday:

Word From the Birds Blog - Hall of Fame game = More Flagstaff time
The news today that the Cardinals will play in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 5 is significant in itself, since it means a national television appearance and extra preseason game. But it also means a little more time in Flagstaff for training camp.

Warner, Moon, Young paved Manning's way - NFC West Blog - ESPN
The Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have some experience with highly successful older quarterbacks. Peyton Manning will be 36 if and when he resumes his career with a still-unknown team. With Mike Greenberg steering the Manning conversation this way, I visited Pro Football Reference for precedent. A search for the most productive seasons from quarterbacks at least 36 years old turned up memorable ones from NFC West alums Steve Young, Kurt Warner and Warren Moon.

Mike & Mike: Manning to the NFC West - NFC West Blog - ESPN
A Seahawks fan I know emailed to say he "fell out of his chair" after hearing how strongly Mike Greenberg was advocating Peyton Manning for the Seahawks. The thought of a national radio host bringing up the NFC West without prompting did seem far-fetched (I kid, but only a little). This, I had to hear for myself. Arizona Cardinals fans will want to listen in, too, as Greenberg and Herm Edwards considered the possibilities during "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Wednesday morning, not quite 90 minutes into the show.

How fifth exhibition could affect Cardinals - NFC West Blog - ESPN
A year ago, the St. Louis Rams were scheduled to play a fifth exhibition game. The lockout wiped out that game. With Arizona scheduled for a fifth exhibition game this year, I've gone back through my notes from last year and will reproduce highlights here:

Zoom: Ryan Williams Working to Return
In the series premiere of Zoom, we take a close look at the rehab of Cardinals RB Ryan Williams including the mental and physical challenges he faces in his attempt to return to the field.

Leaping Larry
In honor of Leap Year, we put together some of the best leaping catches from the career of Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald.

Arizona Sports News:

ASU football has competition for starter's job
For the fifth time in the past five seasons, Arizona State will start a season with a new quarterback. Sophomores Mike Bercovici and Taylor Kelly will battle with redshirt freshman Michael Eubank once the Sun Devils begin spring practice March 13. Although Bercovici served as Brock Osweiler's backup last season, none has started a college game.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Miguel Montero break off contract talks
Contracts talks between the Diamondbacks and Miguel Montero have broken down, and the sides have agreed to table discussions until after the season, both Montero and General Manager Kevin Towers said Wednesday.

Phoenix Suns coach Alvin Gentry pushes hard for March turnaround
Yet another disappointing home loss prompted coach Alvin Gentry to deliver harsh words for his team when the Suns parted ways a week ago. Reunited after the All-Star break for Tuesday's practice, Gentry did not do the talking initially, but that was because he was getting past his tirade. To do so, Gentry requested a players-only meeting in which each Sun talked about what players and coaches can do to spark a March turnaround. The players talked and watched film for more than an hour before practicing for nearly two hours.

Coyotes should not have to play road games in Glendale -
It was a scene I was familiar with. Growing up an Arizona Cardinals season ticket holder, I went to plenty of games where we were outnumbered by the opposing team's fans. So what I saw Tuesday night was, unfortunately, nothing new.

NFL News:

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Combine Results Change The Predictions -
The 2012 NFL Draft picture has changed in the wake of the Combine. Our latest mock draft gauges where things stand as we await free agency.

NFL Combine 2012: Everything You Missed From The NFL Draft's Warm-Up Act -
The 2012 NFL Combine has come and gone. NFL scouts, coaches and GMs spent a week in Indianapolis getting to know the 2012 NFL draft class and we recap all the action.

NFL Combine 2012: Winners And Losers After A Week In Indy -
There were big winners at the NFL Combine, like defensive tackle Dontari Poe. And there were also losers, like Vontaze Burfict. We break down a few of the top winners and losers after a week in Indianapolis.

Explaining The NFL Combine: What Does It Mean, And Why Do We Care? -
"Robert Griffin or Andrew Luck?" is the question on everyone's mind after the NFL Combine, but now that it's over, Andrew Sharp and Bomani Jones take a look at how we got there, and why we care about the "Football SATs" year after year.

Drew Brees, Saints 'Well Apart' In Contract Talks; Franchise Tag Likely -
The New Orleans Saints are dealing with a number of items on their "to-do" list for the offseason, but you can be certain that the number one priority on that list is retaining their superstar quarterback Drew Brees. Brees is an impending free agent this March and the driving force of the Saints' potent offense. New Orleans can ill afford to be without him in 2012 and they have no intention of doing so.

Hines Ward, Steelers Will Part Ways -
The Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Wednesday that longtime receiver Hines Ward will not be back with the team next season. Ward's contract is up so this can't be considered a major shock, but he's been with the team for 14 years.

Hines Ward: 'I Still Have More Football Left In Me' -
The Pittsburgh Steelers released a statement on Wednesday announcing the release of Hines Ward, who had been with the team since 1998. In a statement of his own, Ward said that he hoped to remain a Steeler but he looks forward to continuing his NFL career.

Redskins Plan To Add 'High-Profile' WR In Free Agency, According To Report -
When Jabar Gaffney is your leading receiver, it's probably time for a change. The Washington Redskins recognize the need to add a "high-profile wide receiver" and plan to do so on the free agency market, according to a report from Mark Maske of the Washington post.

Braylon Edwards, Jets Could Be In For A Reunion -
Both Braylon Edwards and his former team, the New York Jets, probably wish they'd had better seasons in 2011. Edwards had opted for a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers during the offseason and the New York Jets attempted to fill the wide receiver vacancy with Plaxico Burress. Both experiments ended up being less than the teams and players had hoped for.

Jordan Jefferson's Combine Didn't Go So Well - From Our Editors -
It wasn't a good week for Jordan Jefferson, despite his insistence that he passed whatever test the NFL Combine was with flying colors. Now that the Combine is over, grades and ratings are being handed out, and the former LSU quarterback didn't fare so well. This all probably doesn't bode well for his draft stock going forward.

Bill Polian Will Become A Talking Head On ESPN - From Our Editors -
As an executive with the Indianapolis Colts for over a decade, Bill Polian often railed against the "talking heads" in the media who talked about his team, especially in 2011 as the Colts season drained on as one of the worst in franchise history. After he was fired by Colts owner Jim Irsay, Polian became a talking head and took a gig with Sirius XM NFL Radio. And now he has another media job -- ESPN.