All-Access with Bruce Arians: On D-line depth and QB snaps vs. Raiders
GLENDALE, Ariz. – 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.
“Injury-wise, D.J. Humphries will miss today. He strained a hamstring yesterday in the heat. I don’t think it’s much of anything. He should be ready for the game (against the Raiders). Probably the only guys, right now, that will definitely miss the game: Philip Wheeler (undisclosed injury) and Aaron Dobson (hamstring). Everybody else we anticipate to have. ‘Smoke’ (John Brown) we should have back Tuesday. Jarvis Jones (back) might be the only other one. We hope he’s playing, though.”
Might Jones be out longer because of his past back issues?
“No. He just got an epidural and finally found out why the pain was in his leg.”
That’s encouraging news despite all the injuries you’ve had.
“Oh yeah; they’ve been minor. Obviously, T.J. (Logan) that was the only big one.”
Last year you kept nine defensive linemen, what’s your thought process at that position right now?
“It’s a good battle again. The two guys we picked up the day before the game (Peli Anau and David Moala) went out there and played really well. Kudos to them. They were in good shape and pretty smart. But, it’ll depend. We did not want to give up on Olsen Pierre last year so he was kind of the ninth. He was better than everybody else at their position, so we kept an extra guy at the position and went short somewhere else.”
Coming into training camp, how much of the roster can you pen in instead of pencil in?
Do you know how you’re going to divide the quarterback snaps against the Raiders?
“Drew (Stanton) will take the second quarter and Blaine (Gabbert) will take the rest of the game.”
What have you seen from Krishawn Hogan so far?
“He’s improving every day. It’s a big step from where he came from, especially the amount of volume of learning. He starting to play a little faster and show his skills. He’s got a chance.”
What do you like about him?
“He’s big. You hate to say — his features look like Larry’s (Fitzgerald). He’s a big, strong guy but he can catch. He gets more physical and learns to play faster because he dominated where he played at. It’s catching up to playing with guys that fast.”
Did you watch any of Kurt Warner’s Hall of Fame induction speech last night?
“No, I missed it. We were in meetings.”
Would you like to see Khalil Mack play against Humphries on Saturday?
“He’s going to have to play him in the regular season if we play him, so yeah, that don’t matter. I hope he does.”
How disappointing is it not having Brown practicing considering he came into camp healthy and feeling good?
“Yeah, it’s a shame because he was really getting better. Hopefully it’s gone and he can finish out the rest of the preseason.”
Is there always going to be that concern with him because he has struggled to stay healthy?
“That’s more Steve’s (Keim) concern.”
How has Budda Baker been in picking up two positions?
“He’s been fine. He has a mental error a day, but it’s a lot of volume putting on him, too, to play two positions but he’s playing extremely well.”
Because of Brown’s health, do you have an idea of how many receivers you might keep on the roster?
“Yeah, again, that sixth spot versus the fifth running back, fourth tight end, eighth defensive lineman, ninth corner, sixth safety. There’s a lot of competition for those last five spots right now and special teams, that will determine everything.”
It’s almost like their competing against each other at totally different positions.
“Oh, they really are. They always do. Special teams is the kicker. You might be the fifth safety, if you’re a dynamo special teamer, I’m keeping you over a fifth running back who might be a hell of a player but he ain’t on special teams because he’s not going to dress on Sunday.”
Considering all the free-agent losses the defense suffered in the offseason, how do you feel about that unit?
“Oh gosh, I felt great about this defense since spring. The additions of Karlos (Dansby) and Antoine (Bethea) and then the draft picks, we should be much, much better defensively.”
Does Tyrann Mathieu look like he’s back to himself?
“Every day he’s starting to get an interception, so yeah, he’s getting his hands on balls but I want to see it in games.”
What does it do for your defense to have him playing like that?
“Yeah, it’s what you’re looking for. He was defensive player of the year before he got hurt (in 2015). We’re looking for that back.”
When you look back at that year can you point to his injury as to explain the team’s struggles?
“Yeah, our defense was never the same because he does so much. Now you had to plug in two guys for one and at that time in the season they don’t have the experience to do it, at that level.”
Is Ifeanyi Momah on a pretty good pace to make the roster?
“If he continues showing up in games. The big thing for him is he’s blocking better. We know he can catch passes, but to play tight end for us you got to block.”
Could you possibly keep two tight ends instead of three maybe?
“That would be hard to do with being a two-tight end offense. We don’t carry fullbacks so we kind of need more than two tight ends.”
How is Ricky Seals-Jones progressing?
“Yeah, for a wideout sticking his face in the fire for the first time. He’s not afraid. He will fight you and he’s getting better every single day.”
Is Larry Fitzgerald back?