Dealing Cards: Arians displeased with team’s receivers
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals earned their first win of the preseason Saturday, knocking off the Oakland Raiders by a score of 20-10.
After a day off Sunday, they returned to the practice field Monday and produced an afternoon head coach Bruce Arians deemed “lethargic.”
Maybe it was a hangover from the game, or perhaps it has to do with an extended training camp. Either way, it was not the team’s best session.
– Receiver John Brown (quad) took part in some of the team drills, but did not participate in the entire practice. Chad Williams (shin splints) was also back but didn’t do anything other than individual work.
– Linebacker Josh Bynes picked off a Drew Stanton pass early in practice.
– Blaine Gabbert connected with receiver Chris Hubert for a long touchdown pass.
– Safety Tyrann Mathieu picked off Gabbert on one play, while Antoine Bethea was likely going to have an interception of his own before he got undercut by a teammate.
– It looked like cornerback Tramon Williams got around the edge to block a Richie Leone field goal attempt.
– David Johnson had a roughly 70-yard run in 11-on-11 toward the end of practice. Chris Johnson subbed in for him after and scored a touchdown around left tackle. Jaron Brown came down with a nice catch on the 2-point conversion attempt.
As previously mentioned, John Brown and Chad Williams (shin splints) returned, though both were limited. Jarvis Jones (back) was also not practicing, while D.J. Humphries (hamstring) missed another day.
It’s not injury related, but Arians said Carson Palmer, Karlos Dansby, Larry Fitzgerald and Frostee Rucker will have Tuesday’s practice off.
Receivers are on notice
Once upon a time, talk of the Arizona Cardinals’ wide receiver room was mostly about how, while there may have been a lack of star power after Larry Fitzgerald, there was no shortage of capable players.
Then Monday’s practice happened, after which Arians was not bashful about his displeasure with the group.
“I’m not very pleased with our wide receiver room,” Arians said while talking about his offense’s afternoon. “I must have been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had 12 guys that could play in the NFL.
“I think we might have two, but we’ll look around and see who’s available.”
Arians later said the two he was referring to were Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown, both of whom have done their jobs consistently.
The coach’s words are harsh, yes, but anyone who has watched practice understands where they are coming from. Catchable passes hitting the turf has been fairly common, with the culprits varying by the play and by the day.
It also does not help that John Brown and Aaron Dobson, two of the players who had excellent springs, have been sidelined and/or limited with leg injuries.
What is of consolation is that as bad as Arizona’s wideouts may have fared Monday, Tuesday is just around the corner.
“We’ve got the rest of this week to go out and redeem ourselves, as well as the game against Chicago,” J.J. Nelson said. “So we always encourage each other, don’t hold your head down. He’s just motivating us; that’s how we look at it, as motivation.
“Don’t look at it as what he’s saying or how he’s saying it. Just figure out the good things, the way that he’s saying it, and just go out and do you, make plays.”
Nelson said he and his teammates were aware of Monday’s issues while they were happening, and therefore the coach’s criticism likely did not come as any surprise.
Arians said effort is not the players’ problems, instead pointing to assignment errors and, simply enough, “catching the ball.”
“The main things receivers have to do, they’re not doing,” he said.
Arians said things were better in Saturday’s preseason win over the Oakland Raiders, but noted the receivers struggled last week, too, and have been warned.
Still, it’s not a comfortable spot to be in.
“It’s football, everyone’s human,” Jeremy Ross said. “Not everybody has perfect days every single day. You look around the whole NFL, every receiver group or running back group or QB group is going to have days where they don’t perform at the level of which they’re asked to. So it’s just football, it’s just another day — a day where we weren’t clicking and not playing at the best we can play at.
“We’ve just got to keep moving forward and try to get better.”
Preseason touches are important, too
David Johnson understands why some people would feel better if he stayed on the sideline during preseason games, avoiding potential injuries in contests where wins and losses don’t matter.
He just doesn’t buy into it.
“I think BA and I think the coaches, my running backs coach, Freddie (Kitchens) knows how to handle it,” Johnson said. “They’ve been doing this for a long time — they know how many carries I should get just so I can get ready for the season, that’s the biggest thing, so I can get ready for when the regular season comes around.”
Asked how many carries he will need in order to be ready, Johnson said he does not know.
“Really just being out there getting some contact, getting some hits, picking up some blitzes and stuff,” he said. “Who knows what that’s going to be because it’s not every play I’m going to carry the ball, not every play there’s going to be a blitz. Who knows.”
Super Bowl return?
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stopped by Cardinals practice Monday and prior to it, held a Q&A session with some fans.
Among the many questions he was asked was about Arizona’s chances of hosting another Super Bowl.
The Valley has held three, in 1995 (XXX), 2008 (XLII) and 2015 (XLIX).
“Some of our great games have been here, some of our great experiences have been here,” Goodell said of University of Phoenix Stadium. “This stadium is a terrific stadium and only getting better. This community wraps their arm around the event and makes it really special, and that makes a difference to us.
“So there’s no question in my mind we’re coming back, it’s just a question of when.”
Goodell noted Cardinals president Michael Bidwill is working on another bid.
“I’d be shocked if we’re not back here soon because it’s a great place to be,” the commissioner added.