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Regaining An NFL Foothold

Posted Jun 2, 2010

Notebook: Cornerbacks McBride, Miller fighting get back to a roster

Cornerback Trumaine McBride (37) reads over a play chart while fellow cornerback Justin Miller (47) talks with teammates at a recent OTA.
 
 
Finding work in the NFL isn’t easy to begin with. When it’s suddenly taken away, it makes the steps to regain a foothold that much more difficult.

Veteran cornerbacks Trumaine McBride and Justin Miller are trying to do that with the Cardinals. McBride appeared in all 16 games with the Chicago Bears in his first two NFL seasons (2007 and 2008), even starting nine times as a rookie. Then, after one game in 2009, he was released.

Miller was a Pro Bowl return man for the Jets and playing corner until he blew out his knee in 2007; last season, he played in one game each for the Jets and Raiders but spent the majority of the season unemployed.

Both are trying to find a place in a Cardinals’ cornerbacks corps that has been overhauled since last season.

“In life, not everything is easy,” Miller said. “But it is football. You have ups and downs and all you can do is keep working.”

Miller signed after trying out with the team during minicamp. McBride was signed back in January, with the team already knowing it would need cornerback depth. That need has only increased, with veteran Ralph Brown not returning and starter Bryant McFadden dealt in a draft-weekend trade.

McBride even got some first-team reps Wednesday across from Michael Adams, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (toe) sitting and second-year man Greg Toler still learning.

“Last year was tough for me because it was the first time going through that,” McBride said. “Once I got here, I definitely felt I had to make a statement again.

“I pretty much know how the business works. I didn’t take (getting cut) personally. I just felt like I got knocked down and I had to pick myself up again.”

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he sees an “eagerness” with McBride and Miller because of the opportunity in Arizona. That, along with a veteran’s confidence, can only help the secondary.

 “That competition level, especially from veteran players, makes everyone better.,” Whisenhunt said. “The younger guys understand they have to pick it up or they will get left behind. To me, that creates the right kind of atmosphere.”

OPINIONS FROM JOEY

Linebacker Joey Porter said he is willing to offer his opinions when it comes to the defense. Not included on his list of subjects, however, are pleas for more blitzes or something along those lines.

“I don’t really try to talk about stuff that’ll just help me,” Porter said. “I look at stuff that’ll help everybody. If there is an easier way we can do it as a team, I will voice my opinion, but the foundation of what they do on defense is already here. I am just a piece of the puzzle.”

As an “elder statesman” (Porter noted he’s the second oldest player on defense behind nose tackle Bryan Robinson) Porter does see where he can help his team with his knowledge.

“I have seen a lot of sets before, a lot of formations,” Porter said. “I definitely will have something to say. But how we are running things now, I think (defensive coordinator) Billy Davis is doing a good job, the concept is easy enough to pick up and I just want to be sure I am doing what they want me to do.”

WILLIAMS CATCHING ON

Early in Wednesday’s workout, undrafted rookie Stephen Williams dropped an easy catch during wide receiver drills, leading the injured Rodgers-Cromartie to chide him from the sidelines. Later, during 7-on-7 work, Williams redeemed himself, leaping high to snare a ball that looked like it was overthrown.

Williams shook his head when recalling the two plays.

“It’s more of a thinking thing,” he said. “I am thinking about the routes and the steps and stuff. It throws me off my game. That’s why when we’re in 7-on-7 when I can just play and react, I feel more comfortable doing that.”

Williams is getting an opportunity to show some things during OTAs. With good size (6-foot-5 and 210 pounds), speed (he a former track sprinter in high school) and strength (despite a slender build, he said he was able to do multiple bench press reps at 295 pounds), Williams is trying to find a way on to the roster.

Whisenhunt said veteran Onrea Jones is the leader for the team’s fourth receiving slot right now, and the Cards did spend a third-round draft pick on Andre Roberts. But Williams, who broke the career records of Saints wideout Lance Moore at Toledo, could find a spot somewhere.

“At the first day of minicamp, just being around the guys, the ball was being thrown around and I thought, ‘I can do this,’ ” Williams said.
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