Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is doubling down on one key roster battle as his team prepares for its first preseason game Friday.
He’s already said that injured cornerback Justin Bethel will need to unseat rookie Brandon Williams from the starting cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson.
After saying he’s “very comfortable” with Williams starting at this point, Arians reinforced that stance Monday while visiting Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Bickley and Marotta show.
“Justin better get back quick, ’cause he’s losing ground. You know, that’s Brandon’s job to lose right now,” the Cardinals coach said. “He’s played extremely well, he’s very competitive. You knew that because he was a great special teams player at A&M, learning how to play DB that one year. But he’s long, he’s fast.”
Then, Arians added the kicker.
“I’ll take young talent over an old, savvy guy that gets run past every time,” he said.
Bethel had his good and bad moments when he took over starting duties for the final regular-season games and ensuing playoff run in 2015.
For each, just look to his matchup against one team. Bethel had an interception and eight tackles as Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers heavily targeted him in Week 16 of the regular season but he gave up a big fourth-and-20 play late in the Cardinals’ divisional playoff win against Green Bay.
The challenge of unseating Williams atop the cornerback depth chart isn’t Bethel’s alone.
The Cardinals signed veteran Mike Jenkins before camp but lost him to a hand injury. Additionally, the recently-signed Alan Ball could also challenge Williams, the Cardinals’ 2016 third-round pick.
“I drive by schoolyards and I see a bunch of red out there. Fitz and I talked about it: his legacy, he wanted to have a generation of Cardinal fans that were Cardinal fans, not somebody that moved here from somewhere else … If the kids are Cardinal fans, mom and pop got no choice. ‘We’re going to the game and wearing red. Put your Bears jerseys away.'”
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