GLENDALE, Ariz. — For the first time since the Red & White Practice more than a week ago, the Arizona Cardinals practiced in front of fans inside University of Phoenix Stadium on Tuesday.
The two-hour session saw the team in pads, while former Cardinal and newly-inducted Hall of Fame member Kurt Warner provided commentary for NFL Network, which was broadcasting live from Glendale.
It also may have served as the official beginning of another game week, as the Cardinals are just a few days away from hosting the Oakland Raiders.
– Tyrann Mathieu batted away a pass early in practice. Spoiler alert: When healthy, he’s really, really good.
– Phil Dawson had himself a good day with field goals, connecting from as deep as 58 yards out. That kick, by the way, went through the uprights with leg to spare and earned a nice cheer from the crowd.
– A Drew Stanton screen pass to Chris Johnson went for a good gain in 11-on-11.
– J.J. Nelson made a diving grab toward the sideline during 7-on-7 work.
– Tramon Williams, playing zone coverage, picked off Drew Stanton in 7-on-7.
– Blaine Gabbert connected with Chris Hubert for a nice deep ball in 7-on-7.
– Markus Golden got into the backfield a couple of times and was able to bat down a Carson Palmer pass at the line of scrimmage in 7-on-7.
– Larry Fitzgerald caught a TD on a fade in red zone work, while David Johnson scored on a short pass in the same scenario.
– Chad Williams dropped what should have been a touchdown pass in red zone.
– Carlton Agudosi hauled in a touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert in red zone, but Andre Ellington got tripped up on the two-point conversion try to finish practice.
John Brown was back on the field, though he did not participate in any of the team work.
Otherwise, Brittan Golden did not practice, while Deone Bucannon (ankle), Philip Wheeler, D.J. Humphries (hamstring), Aaron Dobson (hamstring) and Jarvis Jones (back) remained out.
Williams is working
When the Cardinals signed veteran cornerback Tramon Williams, the natural assumption was that the former Green Bay Packer and Cleveland Brown would compete — and likely win — the No. 2 cornerback job.
That may still eventually happen, but for now, the 2010 Pro Bowler is busy providing depth at a position where the Cardinals could use more. Though he has been with the team for just a couple of weeks, he’s already looking like he belongs.
“Tramon is coming on fast,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said. “He’s learning what to do — he’s learning our defense. He knows what to do. He’s played 10 years.”
The 34-year-old is entering his 11th NFL season, and it appears his experience is paying off.
“It’s funny, I’m not really thinking right now — really not thinking,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I kind of feel that once you know the concepts of certain coverages, you always know it. It’s just the adjustments during plays when guys are moving, can you make the correct adjustments, and that’s really where it’s at right now.”
Williams has intercepted at least one pass in each of his first 10 NFL seasons, and with 30 for his career, is someone who came to Arizona with bit of a track record. Even still, he was a mid-camp pickup, which means his role is anything but secure.
It is with that in mind he has one, fairly simple goal with regards to what he’s hoping to show the coaches.
“That I can still play, obviously,” he said, with a laugh. “That I can still play — which they already know. I’m just doing what I do, continuing to work on my technique, kind of get back into the flow of things, getting my footwork right and getting ready to go.”
And while Arians has said Justin Bethel is the frontrunner to be the team’s No. 2 cornerback, Williams said he sees the competition as being open because, frankly, that’s how competitions work.
“I mean, it’s a cliche statement, but really that’s the way I’ve always treated it,” he said. “No matter where I was, if I was the No. 1 corner coming into the season, No. 2 — I always saw there was an opportunity for someone else to come in and make a name for themselves and compete for that spot.”
The chance to play
The Cardinals did not play their starters in last week’s preseason opener, which means this Saturday’s tilt with the Oakland Raiders will be the first chance for many of the team’s key guys to get some game action.
“Definitely looking forward to getting some contact in,” David Johnson said. “It’s been a while, a long offseason it feels like, so I’m excited.”
Johnson, who is the focal point of the team’s offense, said he would like to get hit some before the season starts, though that mentality has nothing to do with his returning from a knee injury.
“My knee is 100 percent, it’s just getting in the groove, getting in the actual football atmosphere of getting on the ground, tackling, blocking, stuff like that.”
Johnson’s teammate, fellow running back Chris Johnson, shared a similar thought with regards to finally seeing some preseason action.
“Preseason is preseason, but it’s always good to get in there and get in a groove and try to get in football shape before Week 1,” he said.
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