Cardinals notebook: Team cuts punter Johnson, signs Graham - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Cardinals notebook: Team cuts punter Johnson, signs Graham

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Posted: Monday, December 1, 2008 8:55 pm | Updated: 11:52 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Cardinals have changed punters.

The team released Dirk Johnson and replaced him with Ben Graham, a former Australian rules football player who began the 2008 season with the New York Jets and punted in the first four games before being released on Sept. 29.

Graham was then signed by New Orleans on Oct. 20 and punted in the Saints' game against the Chargers in London before being released Oct. 28.

He originally entered the NFL with the Jets as a 31-year-old rookie in 2005.

In his three full seasons with the Jets (2005-07), Graham punted in 47 games and had 212 punts for 9,270 yards (43.7-yard average), with 67 punts inside the 20-yard line and a long of 69 yards.

Johnson's punting had been a source of concern for weeks.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt had indicated that his duties in holding for kicker Neil Rackers, who has had an outstanding season, had helped Johnson.

Rackers also expressed great faith in Johnson. He had been uncomfortable at times with his holders last season.

But Whisenhunt evidently decided that the punting game's shortcomings had to be addressed.


The Cardinals will stick with running back Tim Hightower, who has been ineffective lately, instead of going back to Edgerrin James, Whisenhunt indicated.

"I don't think that's going to change," Whisenhunt said.

He said the game at Philadelphia should be taken "out of the mix" in determining the pecking order of running backs because, "We didn't play very well.

"We had some busted assignments. (And) after 14 plays, and you're down 21 points, it's very difficult to run the football at that point."

As he's said in the past, the Cardinals will continue to try to get more out of their running game.

"I think we're going to continue to work at it. Over the next four weeks, that's one of the things we really need to improve."


Whisenhunt acknowledged that the Cardinals' confidence might have taken a bit of a hit after their poor performance at Philadelphia.

"When you have a long weekend after you play a game like we did Thursday night, you probably are overly sensitive to that type of thing.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem when we get back on the field Wednesday. I think it's really fortunate we have a home game coming up. I know our team has a lot of confidence at home. Our fans have been so great there.

"If there's any mini-crisis about confidence, I think it will evaporate pretty quickly when we get back to work, and certainly by Sunday."


The Cardinals re-signed tackle Elliot Vallejo to the practice squad. Vallejo was released last week. He had been inactive for seven games and active, though he did not play, in four others.

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