SAN DIEGO – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fourth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media each day during training camp.
Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through, which on Tuesday took place in San Diego as the team prepares for a week of practices against the Chargers ahead of its Friday night preseason tilt.
“Welcome to San Diego. Had a good walk-through this morning. Obviously the news this morning, we brought those guys off of PUP not necessarily to practice, but to be able to get them mental reps in walk-throughs. We’re not going to get them on the field until they’re ready, and there’s no timetable for any of those three guys right now as far as when they’ll practice, but they will get the mental reps in the walk-throughs. Looking forward to tonight’s practice; they’re a little bit beat up, we’re a little bit beat up, so we’re going to cut some reps out. Where we would have gotten our threes more work, both of us are a little bit shy on some positions for threes so we’ll shorten practice a little bit. But looking forward to working with another team and a quality team like these guys.”
What concerns do you have about facing another team in a stadium with a crowd?
“None. None. It’s just going to be a normal practice. Our guys know it’s a practice, not a game. We’ll have practice tempo, which is full of speed, but we’ll also take good care of each other.”
Is that part of what you preach for these practices?
“We’re 180 guys on the same team for the next three days, then we’ll play each other in a game and all bets are off. But right now it’s just practice tempo and nobody’s taking shots on anybody’s players. We all want to get through this healthy and just get better as football teams.”
How valuable is it to face a different color uniform?
“Everybody gets tired and bored, now there’s a little more excitement in the meetings. You can feel it already.”
You talked about having a joint practice since you got here.
“I’ve done it so many times. We used to go to Wisconsin, we’d go against three different teams — never hardly ever practiced against ourselves because we were all up there in the Cheese League, and it was great. A different group each week. You’d get to see a 3-4 team, a 4-3 team. You’d get so much different variations of looks and players for your guys to get better.”
After having a couple outdoor practices back home, do you think you could host a joint practice?
“I think it worked out really well for us. We’re looking into building another field where we built that field and possibly go inside and outside for three days with another team. I talked to Mike (McCoy) already about it. If it happens next year, it looks like we’d be willing to do it.”
The PUP list guys: are they on target to be back for Week 1?
“I wouldn’t say that. I’d just say that they’re on target to get mental reps. They look good — Ty looks real good right now. Justin still favors a little bit, but he’s fine. Frostee’s got to get in a little better shape.”
How has David Johnson evolved as a pass blocker?
“He’s always been willing, it’s just more better techniques. Better techniques and seeing a safety rotation, know where blitzes are coming from and get a better handle of what guy is coming and where to meet him in the pocket, get a little bit further away from the quarterback when you meet him.”
How do you think Tony Jefferson has grown?
“He’s improved each year. He came in this year with the lowest body fat, the leanest he’s ever been. He looks real good. He’s communicating better; he was one of our captains last week, which that speaks volumes.”
Have you noticed a change in how stars are handled in the preseason?
“No, I haven’t seen any different than most, the last 15 years you basically do the same thing each week. Ten plays, 15 plays, then the 20 plays, then the 30 plays, then none.”
How does Tyvon Branch’s versatility help the team?
“That’s why we signed him. He can play nickel, he can play both safeties. He can do so many things — he’s a good coverage man-to-man player in the slot and on a tight end. His versatility is huge in why we signed him.”
How important can a trip like this be for young players, learning how to travel with team?
“You’re here for a reason, to get a job, and there’s no other reason to be here. You’re not here to sight see and do any of those things. You’re here to get a job, and you better be spending the entire time you’re here working on your craft, either studying your playbook, making sure that you’re not on that list when it comes up tomorrow.”
Did you see a distinct difference in how Troy Niklas trained over the offseason?
“He over-trained. He kept over-training and getting hurt. He finally relaxed and just did what Buddy (Morris) told him to do and Roger (Kingdom) told him to do. He’s reaping the benefits, and knock on wood he’s staying healthy and he’ll be working with the first-team today.”
Is there concern over John Brown’s delayed return from a concussion?
“There’s always a concern when there’s a concussion. But we’re going to take our time until he’s totally cleared and then take a few more days, because he’s got to get back in shape now. He’s going to be totally out of shape.”
Is it difficult to get Tyrann Mathieu to slow down while he’s working his way back?
“That’s real hard with him, to slow down. He wants to be out there and ready to go. He was champing at the bit to get out in the walk-through today. I could hear him calling out the signals, and it was good to hear his voice out there.”