All-Access with Bruce Arians: Tyvon Branch playing really, really well
TEMPE, Ariz. – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fifth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media several times leading up to gameday.
Here, in this space, with help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following practice.
“Not practicing was Alex Boone. We’ll reevaluate him tomorrow when we put pads on and then see what happens.
John Brown, Jermaine Gresham, (D.J.) Humphries, (Mike) Iupati, Chandler Jones, (J.J.) Nelson, (John) Wetzel and (Deone) Bucannon were all limited. Bucannon was actually full. We walked through, so it didn’t really matter. It’s hard to tell, but I expect all those guys to be out in pads tomorrow.
It was a very good learning day. Obviously, coming off of a game Monday night, we weren’t going to do anything physical today, so that we’re ready for Sunday. We got a lot done, though. I feel like these walkthrough practices sometimes are better than the actual, physical practices. We’ll put our on tomorrow, like I said, and get after it, fundamentally.
A good start to the week. We know what type of opponent we have. It’s a division game, it’s a home game and we’ve got to win the game.”
On how encouraged he is about his players’ health:
“I’ll be more encouraged when we see them tomorrow. The fact that they’re allowed to practice doesn’t mean they’re back in football shape. You know what I mean? You miss three weeks, and the game’s really fast, and this is one heck of a defensive line. Young, all first-round picks, and they’ll be a great challenge for us.”
On if it’s too early to know what personnel changes there are:
“I’ll know more after tomorrow after I watch practice.”
On S Tyvon Branch, his injury last year and if his recent performance is what he envisioned for Branch:
“Oh yeah. It’s nice to see him healthy. This is the player we saw in Kansas City and Oakland. We were laughing about it this morning. I said, ‘Isn’t it nice to be healthy?’ He’s playing really, really well right now.”
On if stopping the run is important against the 49ers because RB Carlos Hyde is having a really good year:
“Stopping the run is always number one with us, and he has always been a challenge because he’s a big back, but he’s got really light feet and can jump cut. He’s powerful, runs behind his pads. He, again like Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) will be a heck of a challenge.”
On why the team’s red zone percentages haven’t been good on either side of the ball:
“Yeah, we spent so much time on it, it’s kind of disappointing. We’ve run, probably, too many RPOs down there and didn’t execute them properly or didn’t make the catch or the throw, like the fourth-and-one in Indy. We’ve got to run the ball better, for sure. Defensively, we’ve got to stop the run better, and it’s usually after a big play. We’ve got to play better defense after a big play that put us down there.”
On his evaluation of 49ers QB Brian Hoyer after he was hired as Cardinals head coach in 2013:
“I like Brian. He’s very smart, fairly accurate and didn’t have him very long, but was always impressed with the type of quarterback he is because he’s a very cerebral quarterback that can beat you with his arm and his legs.”
On if being able to run the ball is the most important thing for the Cardinals when they play red zone offense:
“Yeah, and the way we’re getting played, a lot of the times, everybody’s decided to sell the ranch to stop the run. You’ve got to throw it, and we’re not doing a very good job of that.”
On how much tougher it is when the windows are tighter:
“Your red zone passing game is totally different than your field. Obviously, there’s no verticality to it. It’s all proper spacing and winning those short one-on-ones.”
On if he agrees with 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan when he says that having a quarterback who is able to run opens it up for teams in the red zone:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt. When you can just throw the option, or just the ability of a mobile quarterback in the red zone, it’s huge for you.”
On whether he’s thought about giving RB Elijhaa Penny a series as a featured back:
“He’s getting close to earning it. He had a good preseason, but he’s still a little bit down the totem pole. If he got it, I’d have all the confidence in the world. The way he’s been – Ezekiel Elliott, and then tomorrow he’ll be (Carlos) Hyde – and he’s shown what he can do.”
On Penny almost scoring a touchdown:
“Yeah. Very close.”
On if he still plans to use CB Patrick Peterson on punt returns:
“In critical situations. He was begging the other night, and as soon as they saw him, they kicked it out of bounds.”