Arizona Cardinals training camp: All-Access with Bruce Arians, July 29
GLENDALE – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fifth 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.
“The only addition injury-wise is Justin Bethel. Hyperextension knee. Should just be a couple of days, but we’ll be careful with it. He won’t go today. Looking forward to today. The lights get a little brighter. They’re not real bright, but they’re going to get a little bit brighter for some of these young guys, see how they handle it. I thought yesterday offensively was probably our poorest day execution-wise. Just didn’t make the plays that were there, especially down in the red zone. We missed too many plays to make and ended up making field goals. Three points, four points, that’s usually the deciding factor in ball games in the NFL. Defensively, I thought we had a heck of a day. But starting to get our hands on more balls. Would like to see even more, especially out of our starters. But it was a solid practice.”
How concerning is Bethel’s injury?
“If it was serious, it’d be very concerning but it’s not serious. It’s just a couple of days.”
What have you seen out of Ronald Zamort?
“You guys keep asking about individual guys, and they keep getting hurt. You (Mike Juercki) and Josh (Weinfuss) are 2-for-2 so if you get this one, you’re done. Ronnie’s having a hell of a camp. He had a good camp last year, went right to the wire. He’s better outside; he was more of a nickel last year. But he’s really worked himself into the outside rotation and is really solid. He’s having a great camp.”
How much should we read into him working with the first team defense instead of Brandon Williams?
“Whatever you want to read into it. He’s playing with the first team instead of Brandon.”
What’s unique about this fan base, especially given today’s “Red & White Practice”?
“This day’s always fun, honoring the guys who went to the Pro Bowl, but fans are into it. It’s a fun practice. Pittsburgh was unique in that Latrobe’s a different setting. There’s 10,000 people there almost every day. People take vacation to go there. But it’s fun having practice here. This is probably the biggest one. We’ll go outside Monday and Tuesday weather permitting and get some outside work. This is a good practice. Our fans are outstanding. I don’t know of any better on game day, and we gotta do a better job protecting our home field.”
Have you ever had a practice where you’re totally happy by what you saw?
“No. That’s the problem; Cardinals always win. But offense or defense, one side beats the other. You hope it happens in and out of practice, not one side totally. Yesterday was more offense not executing than the defense actually beating them, and that was disappointing.”
What players in particular are you looking forward to today in the scrimmage?
“Oh gosh, yeah, all the young guys. T.J. (Logan), I want to see him full speed. He’s been looking very good. Chad (Williams) offensively, the young tight ends, the two young linemen. Defensively, just about everybody. I want to see them tackle and how well we tackle. That’s the interesting part today with the younger plays.”
You’ve got five prominent running backs on the roster, is it going to be hard to keep them all?
“Depends on the rest of the roster. Right now, the fourth tight end, the sixth receiver, the fifth running back, they’re all fighting. So you’re not going to cut a worse player for another position. So you’re going to keep the best players.”
How eager were you to tweak the offense over the offseason because of David Johnson?
“When you have a special guy, I was fortunate to be around Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James, guys that you can do anything with. Really, it was limitless because they could do anything – run, catch, block, do it all. So it’s fun when you have one of those guys, and they’re a mismatch. So you try to create packages whether it’s two backs, using an empty set or whatever it is, somebody else blocking as he goes out for passes so that you’re not always in a five-man protection. So yeah, it’s fun to do it all day long.”
Can he make the passing game better each year?
“Yeah, you would think so because they’ll be a more focal point now on him. It’s going to open up other guys.”
Any update on the veteran corners—Brandon Flowers and Tramon Williams—you guys recently worked out?
“You’d have to talk to Steve (Keim).”
Are you getting antsy about that?
“I’d like to see us get one, yeah.”
Can you compare this training camp to 2015 or 2016?
“’15 surprisingly wasn’t a very good camp. ’16 was very business-like, workmanlike camp but less emotion. I got too many of them to compare to. They’re all unique and totally different because the faces are all different, but the speed of practice, the tempo of practice, you get a feel for those things. So far this has been a very good one.”
Where are you the most comfortable with Phil Dawson on field goals?
“Phil’s from 60 in and he always has been. He’s never lost any distance. He can still kick off; the 49ers just decided to pooch kick all the time because he’s so damn good at that too. But the yard line just moves back. We get to the 40 it’s probably going to be a field goal.”
Will he try pooch kick-offs?
“We’ll see. He can bomb it away, so that’s not a problem. I’m not real anxious to see guys bring it out of the end zone but if we do it, we know we have a kicker that’s going to give us a 4.5 hang time that we should be able to go down and make a tackle behind the 20.”
Will Logan be a kick returner this season?
“Yes, well unless he fails. He’s got five games to get the job or give it up.”
Will he be mostly kick-offs?
“He’s doing really well at punt return right now, too.”
Is today a full day for Carson (Palmer)?
Could the offensive’s inefficiency yesterday be due to his absence?
“It usually is. But Drew had a solid day. He had a chance to have a great day and just missed a couple down in the red zone that were just off. But that’s why he’s Carson.”
Did you think the recent CTE results scared any of your players?
“You’d have to ask them. I think it’s a concern for everybody. My biggest thing is how many of you guys have it because nobody in the public is donating their brain to find out if it’s actually in the public. I’d like to know if my wife has it because she’s been in two bad car accidents. So that if there’s something football players can do, she can do. I’d like this research to really pick up. It’s way behind but it’s not just a football-related symptom because we don’t know who has it. I know (Dan) Bickley’s got it as many walls he’s run into, but we gotta find out, man. That’s something that affects the entire population, not just football players.”
Did you talk to the players when the report came out?
“No, not at all. We’re all very aware of the research. We used to have two helmets. Now you’ve got 12 to pick from. It’s a great sign.”