TEMPE, Ariz. — As will be the case every day in which the Arizona Cardinals practice during the season, we will provide a notebook that features some things of note that will not be turned into full-fledged stories during the week.
On Tuesday, the team began getting ready for a Sunday Night matchup against the New England Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Now, admittedly the day wasn’t exactly ripe with news — the first injury report will not come out until Wednesday — but we did get some clarification on some roster moves as well as a little insight into the team’s mindset with the regular season nigh.
The QB shuffle
Over the weekend, the Cardinals parted with third QB Matt Barkley and welcomed in prospects Aaron Murray and Zac Dysert. Barkley was waived and, while there was some interest in adding him to the practice squad, went on to land with the Chicago Bears.
Both Murray, who comes to Arizona after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs, and Dysert, who arrived by way of the Miami Dolphins, will begin the year on the Cardinals’ practice squad.
If there is a downside to parting with Barkley and adding a pair of young-but-even-more-inexperienced QBs, it would be that as of now, Arizona has just two passers who know Bruce Arians’ offense.
However, when asked if that is a concern, Arians said no.
“Because with whoever’s playing, it doesn’t matter anyway.”
Whether that means Arians is confident that he could adapt his offense to whoever is running it and would not make any excuses or that if it gets to that point, where neither starter Carson Palmer nor backup Drew Stanton are available, then the team is in trouble anyway, is up for at least a little debate.
Regardless, with both Murray and Dysert on the practice squad, opportunities for practice reps will not necessarily be consistent. Arians said they’ll work against Arizona’s defense, and more than anything, this period involves learning what kind of talent they each possess as well as how quickly the can pick up the team’s system.
“It’s just more of an evaluation on talent right now,” he noted.
Smokey says he’s ready to go
Last Thursday, receiver John Brown saw his first action of the preseason with a handful of snaps against the Houston Texans. The third-year player spent most of training camp recovering from a concussion, and finished the exhibition slate with zero catches on zero targets.
Still, that small taste of game action was enough to feel good about where he is at.
“Oh yeah, so I’m just ready to go and just help as much as I can,” he said.
The team’s second leading receiver in terms of catches, yards and touchdowns last season, how much action he will receive Sunday is probably more of a question for Arians than anyone else, though when asked what kind of role he expects to have, Brown did not sound like someone who expects to be limited.
“Just whatever it is, wherever Coach puts me at, I accept the role,” he said.
Nkemdiche moves up on the depth chart, ready for debut
If not waves, a few ripples were made Monday when, on the Cardinals’ initial depth chart, rookie Robert Nkemdiche was not listed on the first, second or third team anywhere along the defensive line. Instead, he was under “other” at defensive tackle, which seemed a bit odd. On Tuesday, he was listed second at defensive tackle — behind Calais Campbell — and that afternoon Arians said the first-round pick is “ready to roll.”
For Nkemdiche, who missed time in training camp with an ankle injury but made it into a couple of preseason games, the anticipation of playing in his first regular season game is certainly there.
“It’s special, man, really just to be here throughout all the years you’ve worked, and really just being at this stage,” he said. “And it’s special. I’m just going to be in that moment, savor it, and hope the best happens.”
Nkemdiche would not guarantee his first career sack will come Sunday, but said he is going to do what he’s supposed to do, go full speed and see what happens.
As for his spot on the depth chart and what his role will be, the Ole Miss product is not all that concerned.
“Whenever they call on me, and the scheme of the defense, and really this week’s all about preparation and studying and getting better,” he said. “And getting ready for New England. That’s what I’m going to do.”
A new option at cornerback
With Mike Jenkins on injured reserve and both Brandon Williams and Justin Bethel needing work, the Cardinals went out Friday and picked up veteran cornerback Marcus Cooper in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.
A seventh-round pick of the 49ers in 2013 out of Rutgers, has amassed three interceptions over three seasons.
“Marcus played very well against us last year, against Jaron (Brown) and J.J. (Nelson),” Arians said. “He’s got length. He’s a good corner. Kansas City was loaded up with corners so it was a really good job by Steve (Keim) getting him.”
As of Tuesday, the 26-year-old is listed behind Patrick Peterson on the depth chart, though he said he’ll play wherever and whenever the team needs him.
“I’m just trying to come in and make a positive impact on the team,” Cooper said.
Now with his third NFL team, Cooper said he found out about the deal about 9 a.m. Friday, and noted it’s a “great feeling” to join a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
“Just looking around this locker room, there’s a bunch of talented guys,” he said. “This is a great unit defensively, great unit offensively, special teams, just as great.
“I’m just happy to be here, trying to capitalize on the opportunity I’ve been given.”
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