The Norman Transcript

Sports

December 28, 2013

GM Keim shakes up Arizona roster, creates winner

(Continued)

TEMPE, Ariz. —

The first chore was to find a coach.

Team President Michael Bidwill and Keim immediately fell for 60-year-old Bruce Arians.

“Bruce Arians was able to come in,” Keim said, “and within two minutes was able to express to Michael and myself, “here’s what’s wrong, here’s how I fix it and these are the men that I’m going to bring with me to help teach and coach my system.”

Keim’s next priority was to get a quarterback, and he was able to acquire Carson Palmer and a seventh-round draft pick for just Arizona’s sixth-round pick.

Keim worked to add depth, bringing in the likes of defensive lineman Frostee Rucker and outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy.

He watched the veteran free agents in the offseason and waited until the last minute to get outside linebacker John Abraham, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and right tackle Eric Winston at bargain prices.

Looking to help the beleaguered offensive line, Keim drafted guard Jonathan Cooper as the seventh pick overall but lost him in the preseason with a broken leg. Paul Fanaika, a lightly used player who had mostly been a tackle, moved in.

Keim had two big hits in the draft. He took a chance on defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and his troubled background in the third round and the diminutive dynamo was a standout until he sustained a season-ending knee injury. Speedy Andre Ellington, picked in the sixth round, adds a dynamic element as a runner and receiver.

Working with a “ready list” of players without jobs, Keim kept adding pieces throughout the season and the Cardinals evolved from a team that blew an 11-point first quarter lead and lost their opener in St. Louis to one that toppled mighty Seattle on the road.

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