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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Cuts begin after Cardinals beat Broncos

TEMPE, Ariz. — During the season, on the day following a game, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians meets with the media to discuss his team. What made Friday’s press conference different was that it occurred on the very day teams begin trimming their rosters in an effort to get to the league-mandated 53-player maximum.

In this space below, we will highlight what the third-year Cardinals coach said.

He began with an opening statement.

“Definitely have a black shirt and black hat on for a reason. Seven-hundred people lost their jobs today, or by tomorrow, anyway. It’s the toughest day in the NFL. You build a relationship with guys over a period of months, young guys, passionate guys about their jobs, and you have to tell them that it’s over. Not totally over, but over for the moment. Tuesday morning –as we always say, when we start in the spring there’s 90 guys and we’re not the Cardinals. It’s just 90 guys looking for a job. Tuesday morning we’ll have our squad here and our practice squad, and we’ll become the Cardinals. And at that point in time, like I told them in that meeting, you check your ego at the door because there are no egos anymore. You find a role, you accept your role, you embrace it. You try to increase it and the only thing that matters is the team. You accomplished the goal you set out for, was to make the team, now it is a team and a team comes first. I thought a lot of guys played well last night, was very, very pleased with the young offensive group that really was running plays that we drew up in the dirt and some at halftime. They did an excellent job of executing them. Some guys did well, others didn’t. Injury-wise, Gerald Christian we’re still waiting back on the MRI. It’s mostly an MCL, and Jimmy Legree strained a calf, so those two guys will be injured. The rest of the cuts will come out tomorrow, don’t have any comments on those today.”

How did Earl Watford play?

“Earl played very well. The only pressures he gave up the quarterback just held onto the ball too long. He was solid.”

How did your quarterbacks look?

“I thought they both played good. I thought Phillip was a little jittery at first, held onto the ball in the pocket some too many times. I thought Logan had a really nice outing — knew why he was doing what he was doing and was very solid.”

Did Logan progress the way you hoped he would?

“The last two weeks I thought he played in the games more than capable.”

Looked like Thomas showed some touch?

“He’s always had a little bit. He throws the ball hard but he’s always been able to dink it down when he needed to.”

If things go well enough, do you anticipate Troy Niklas and Jermaine Gresham being available in Week 1?

“That will depend on if they all (tight ends) dress or not. Obviously you’ve got to put some guys down inactive. Whether or not they’re both active, if they’re both healthy — we’ll probably have it looks like five healthy scratches, anyway.”

Have you decided if Watford earned the right tackle job?

“We’ll announce that Wednesday but it’s still up in the air.”

How do you think Chris Johnson looked?

“Really good. He was rusty at first but he was seeing it. He was seeing it and as he got into a little bit of a flow he was flashing and hitting holes. I thought he was going to take that trap to the house. But yeah, he had some explosiveness in him.”

How has Lyle Sendlein looked?

“Lyle’s looked very good. Was extremely solid last week. Back in shape.”

Could Sendlein overtake A.Q. Shipley for the starting center job?

“It’s a possibility.”

Does the Bobby Massie suspension issue make it tougher to trim down the roster?

“Not really. If he’s suspended he’ll be exempt. If not, somebody else goes.”

On Mike Iupati’s progress

“He’s progressing nicely. I don’t want to put a timetable on it, as soon as I do it will swell up. So I’m not jinxing him.”

When you inform guys of cuts do you inform them of the possibility of landing on the practice squad?

“Oh yeah, yeah. I told them, obviously the numbers didn’t add up in that room right now. There’s still way too many in there. If they were to clear waivers some we’d like to have back on the practice squad. Some are going to get claimed because they’ve got good enough tape out there and congratulated them for that. If I didn’t get a chance to talk to them, congratulate them for it.”

There’s some speculation you might go with two quarterbacks, is that an option?

“That’s always a possibility. You always look at what you have, you check the waiver wire and you try to grab the best 53 guys for next Sunday.”

Could you keep two quarterbacks on the practice squad?

“Be really hard to do unless they could go play defensive back or something. On the scout team, you’ve got to have guys to practice against.”

Big picture, when you look at the roster, how good is it?

“This is the best football team we’ve had as Cardinals. Steve (Keim) did an unbelievable job putting 90 guys, very competitive guys, on the roster. This is one of those deals now, there’s 15 guys you’d like to have on the practice squad so it was an outstanding roster and it was very hard to get down to the cut line.”

Did you see enough from Sean Weatherspoon Thursday to feel good about him for the season opener?

“We’ll see how he continues to progress. He’s a little sore today, like Chris (Johnson), we’ll see what role he can have.”

Any interest in bringing Darnell Dockett back?

“Not at this moment.”

Looks like there will be a handful of rookies making an impact on this team

“It’s yet to be seen, but, four or five of the draft choices have really stepped up and shown that they have potential, either by special teams or players. A couple undrafted guys did, too. So it’s a matter of who ends up on the actual roster, who ends up on the practice squad. But as many as seven or eight.”

Which rookies top the list for impact?

“I think Rodney (Gunter) would top the list right now because he’s penciled in as a starter. J.J. (Nelson) as a returner and the fourth or fifth receiver. David (Johnson) obviously has a role now, as does Markus Golden. Shaq (Riddick) is improving every day, so it’s a good group of young players. It’s a nice mixture of veterans and young guys.”

How’s the secondary shaking out, there’s depth at safety

“That’s one position I don’t worry about, we’re solid there. The corners will play out. The nice thing is two of those safeties can play nickle — Ty (Mathieu) can play corner, so we have great flexibility of the eight guys that will be back there.”

Is it a good problem to have so much youth that plays so hard?

“Oh there’s no doubt. It’s good because you’ve got fresh legs practicing against you all the time with young players and you don’t have to use some of your veterans who might not be starters. They don’t need to practice a lot, and especially be show team guys. When you’re keeping veterans, if they’re backup players or role players they’ve got to be able to practice against your offense and your defense to give you looks, so it’s a fine line right there.”

How do you feel about the offensive line?

“Just like we said when we started camp, it’s the deepest offensive line group I’ve been around. So if we had injuries or if we had any problems we have guys who have started, played, to fill in. And I feel very comfortable we’ll have seven or eight guys out there next Sunday that are more than capable.”

Will Bradly Sowell be a swing tackle?

“He’ll swing, he’ll swing. D.J. (Humphries) will swing, so we’ve got plenty of tackles.”

And Watford?

“He’ll just stay on the right side. Right guard, right tackle.”

What does it say about the health of the roster when you can part with veterans who contributed as recently as two seasons ago?

“That’s the hardest part. You let go of guys like Lorenzo (Alexander) who was a cornerstone, and it’s extremely hard. But that’s football. You’ve got young guys. Each year you’re drafting guys, you’re finding guys to make it as competitive as possible. So I think it says that you’ve got a pretty good damn team.”

Thoughts on Chandler Catanzaro’s struggles with extra points, is that a concern?

“No.”

Everything else OK on his long extra points?

“Everything was good. He missed the first one, he slipped. Then he overcompensated for the second one. He’s still a  youngster.”

You tell him to quit thinking?

“Exactly. Just kick the damn thing. It ain’t that hard.”

Did D.J. Humphries look OK last night?

“D.J. had a very good week. He got beat once or twice, but he’s improving every day. I like where he’s progressing now.”

So the light bulb has come on for him?

“Yeah. I think he’s learned a lot about it. He’s not the first number one to struggle. I’ve watched these first picks in the draft the last couple of years are still struggling. It’s not an easy job playing left tackle or right tackle.”

Is there a possibility Humphries will contribute this season?

“There’s a good possibility he will, yeah.”

Not a lot of talk about Jonathan Cooper in camp, is that a good thing?

“It’s an excellent thing. When an O-lineman never gets talked about it’s a great thing.”

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