All-Access with Bruce Arians: Roster cuts mark ‘worst day in the year’
TEMPE, 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; or in today’s case, practice as the team has broken camp and returned to its facility in Tempe.
“Alright, we obviously had split practices today. We had a good outdoor session. More about finding out the real condition we’re in. Trying to get 40 plays in pretty quickly in the heat. Went very, very well. Have to go in and watch the other practice on tape. I was outside.”
With final cuts coming, how do you handle making those decisions?
“It’s the worst day in the year. I really can equate it to death in the family sometimes. You get so close to these guys, you work so hard with them and you know it’s a dream that hopefully is not ending. It might continue with another team but a lot of them it’s ending. So, yeah, it’s a very hard day and if it’s a guy that’s been in the organization for us for awhile, I do it personally.”
How difficult is it this year with just one cut from 90 to 53?
“It’s going to be a hectic day. We’ll bump our team meeting back an hour than when we normally have it just so that we can get everything done before the team meeting.”
Any player that perhaps has come out of nowhere to really impress you?
“Carlton (Agudosi) has done very, very well. If he doesn’t make the team, he has a chance to be possibly on the practice squad. I don’t think there’s anybody that surprised me knowing what talent on this roster. And really nobody has disappointed either.”
You’ve had success drafting wide receivers in the third round. Why do some have immediate success versus others who might need more time?
“Opportunity. Really it’s opportunity. You take some for now and then you’re picking some for later, within a year to learn from a guy knowing that it’s possibly going to end for that guy that next year so you’re trying to fill it in. Like Robert (Nkemdiche) and Calais (Campbell). It’s the same thing for the wideouts.”
You’ve been forced to play receivers in the past?
“Yeah. We need you to play soon and with an injury in training camp you’re playing a lot either in four wides or three wides.”
Chad Williams is obviously in that other category?
“Yeah, but I think if an injury happened he’d be ready. Once you get into game-plans that offense shrinks so much. You just study 100 plays rather than 1,000 plays and you’re practicing and it’s so much easier for you.”
How is Mike Iupati?
“He’s doing fine.”
Is he doing anything this week?
“Uh no. He was out at practice and just ran.”
Do you like having just one roster cut?
“I love the new rule in the fact that—look at what Denver’s situation is right now with Paxton Lynch hurt. Having four quarterbacks still, that’s the hard decision when you go to 75 is to keep that fourth guy for this game so you don’t have to put somebody back in the game in case there was an injury. It happened to us in Denver two years ago. We dressed one tight end, he got hurt, I think, the fifth play of the game and there was no way I was putting anybody back in the game so we just played four wide receivers the whole game.”
How do you assess Blaine Gabbert?
“Short term, it’s been amazing how he could grasp this much information and go play with it fast. Have kept it to where he could play fast in games. In practices it’s a little slower in that you’re throwing everything at him, but I’ve been very pleased with him. Short-term, I’d be very comfortable if he had to play for us. Long-term, if he continues at this rate, he could be a starter.”
How will you use your quarterbacks this week?
“Blaine will play sparingly in the first quarter and then Trevor (Knight) will take the rest of the game.”
How is calling plays this week?
How is Nkemdiche?
“He’s doing fine.”
What do you think of the way Evan Boehm has taken the bull by the horns at right guard?
“Yeah, very pleased with him. He got his ass chewed out pretty good today because he wasn’t ready to practice at that speed that everybody else was, and he learned a good lesson.”
Has Gabbert done anything that’s surprised you?
“Yeah, the amount of information that he could get in and get out. It’s one thing to get it in, other guys just can’t process it. The amount he can get in and process it has been amazing.”
Do you think in the right situation he can be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL?
“Oh, I don’t think there’s any doubt, yeah.”
Is the punting competition going to come down to this final game?
“For sure because everything is—leaning one way or the other, and it’s hard to do it in altitude. Guy goes out there and kicks it 75 yards, but, yeah, it’ll come down to this game.”