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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Justin Bethel is Cardinals’ No. 2 CB

Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) and cornerback Justin Bethel (28) run drills during an NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

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.

“Camp’s over, yay! Very good camp. I thought it was outstanding. We got a lot of work done. We did, I think, have a more physical one than we’ve ever had with fewer injuries than we’ve ever had. Knock on wood we still got two games but we’re pretty healthy right now. Looking forward to playing last year’s NFC Champs and see where we’re at.”

You had said Patrick Peterson had a very good camp. What made it so good for him?

“Just his consistency at being great. It’s one thing to come out and just be good every day but, I mean, he practiced harder and better than I’ve ever seen him.”

He’s 27 and some research suggests that’s the age players at his position reach their peak.

“I think you take all those numbers from years ago and throw them away. You see guys playing at 30-32 now that are still playing at a great level because of sports science. We talk about it all the time. I don’t think you can take those numbers any more and use them at any position.”

Did you do everything you had set out to do this camp?

“Yeah. We put ourselves in situations that I think we became a smarter team. We had some rookies make those dumb mistakes. Yesterday we had a situation with the young guys, it’s 4th-and-10, game’s basically over, and he jumps offsides on a hard count, gives the quarterback a free play and they hit a pass. Those guys, you keep putting them in positions because they might be out there in a situation somewhere down the line.”

D.J. Humphries said that he had never been to jail and after this camp he doesn’t want to go.

“No, for sure. I feel the same way, although if you go to jail in that hotel, it ain’t bad.”

Is Justin Bethel your starting cornerback?

“Oh yes, yes. He’s earned that job. I’m as pleased with the corner position as just about any position on the team right now.”

As it turned out there never really was a big battle for that spot.

“There was, he just outplayed everybody. From Day 1, getting all those interceptions in the spring, then once we’re able to play bump-and-run, which is his forte also, he just got better and better and his confidence grew.”

What do you like about the players behind Peterson and Bethel?

“Well, Brandon (Williams) is playing, I think, really, really solid right now and Tramon (Williams) is a pro. I was going to give him my glasses today when he dropped that easy interception again and to get his eyes checked. He’s going to get his hands on a lot of balls because he’s so smart and a veteran savvy guy.”

How much of the final 53-man roster is set right now?

“Probably 45 of the group and then you wait and see how guys play there and, again, knock on wood, no injuries. There’s still some special teams battles going on.”

Any concern about the calf injury to Robert Nkemdiche?

“No. I hate that he’s going to miss some time, but I don’t think he’ll miss any game.”

How much time do you anticipate him missing?

“A week, maybe 10 days.”

Early in camp Jared Veldheer took a day to contemplate his future. Can you discuss what that day was like for you?

“We talked about it. He had some people he wanted to talk to. It was just another day. You treat it like an injury if anything would’ve happened which I didn’t foresee anything happening.”

You’re going to be gone from University of Phoenix Stadium for about a month. What are the challenges with that?

“We’ve talked a lot about those first two games on the road, and starting next week we’ll start practicing earlier in the morning. Especially with the guys who won’t play next Thursday night, we’ll be practicing at 9 o’clock in the morning and then bump it up to 10 o’clock the week of the game.”

Kind of strange to think you won’t be back in this stadium for that long?

“Having been here so long, probably won’t miss it.”

How were those outside practices here for you guys?

“I thought they were outstanding. That was football practice, that was training camp. We’re going to extend those—build those fields even better. I think now, after two years, we could have a dual practice with another team outside at that time in the morning and still use the stadium if we wanted to do a third day together.”

First thing you’re going to do now that camp is over?

“I got to do a book signing tonight. It’s never over.”

Is there a cocktail of choice?

“Depends what time of day. Clear when the sunlight and brown after.”

Did you have a chance to talk to Sen. John McCain while he was here?

“No, I missed the Senator. I hated I missed him. I admire him so much. I hated I didn’t get to say, ‘hi.’”

You were pretty hard on the receivers a while back. Did any of them do anything to change your opinion?

“Some of them got healthy. They’ve gotten more consistent, J.J. (Nelson) especially. I think he’s had a really good finish to camp. He’ll be a captain this week.”

Did you see what you wanted to see out of Chad Williams?

“It’s a work in progress. I’ve seen that the talent is there. It’s just a consistent level of play, like all rookies. You can’t just feel — when you feel good play. You got to feel good everyday.”

Is the punter job still going down to the wire?

“It’ll go to the wire, especially with the new rules about not having to cut anybody.”

Is there a chance that your punter is not currently on the roster?

“It’s still a possibility. That’s a possibility at every spot, every roster spot.”

What do Aaron Dobson and Jeremy Ross still have to show you to make the team?

“Just go out and do what he did in the spring. He got behind our defense a lot in the spring. He hasn’t played in a game, so I don’t know. It’s been awhile since he’s been out there.”

Is the receiver room set yet?

“No. That’s still up for grabs.”

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