Cardinals camp notebook: Boston steps into FS role, Bradford ready
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Within hours of the Cardinals signing him, safety Tre Boston stepped to the podium on the first day of training camp and dished more knowledge about first-year Arizona coach Steve Wilks than any of his new teammates could.
“Reminds me of Denzel Washington the way he coaches,” Boston said, comparing the award-winning actor to his former defensive backs coach from his first three NFL seasons.
Boston played under Wilks from 2014-16, learning to love his coaching style and system with the Carolina Panthers.
So as a free agent this summer, Boston looked to re-join Wilks in Arizona but remained unsigned in late June. He told Sirius XM NFL radio that a meeting with the Cardinals had ended with an offer he called “very, very disrespectful.”
Reality eventually set in, leading him back to Arizona.
“You know, you can’t complain about life,” Boston said Friday after the Cardinals went through a run test. “You just got to play the cards that are dealt to you. Fortunately, I’m in a situation I can play, a system I’ve played in before.
“It wasn’t so sour. It was something, you know, I felt needed to be addressed. Came back as a unit understanding what the league was doing to a few of us safeties.”
After spending 2017 with the San Diego Chargers, racking up career highs with 56 tackles, five interceptions and eight passes defensed, Boston hit free agency expecting a big pay day.
An easy solution to the problem: putting together another stellar season.
“For me, it is what it is. I can’t get paid on the sideline, I can’t get paid at home,” he said. “You just got to get back to the roots, get back to who I was last year. Again, two times in a row, can’t deny it.”
That could be possible with such an opportunity. Arizona lost veteran safety Tyvon Branch to a torn ACL in Week 10 of last season and didn’t bring him back. It also released Tyrann Mathieu after he refused to take a pay cut.
Second-year safety Budda Baker will step into a nickel spot, and Boston is projected to play at free safety alongside Antoine Bethea, a veteran who will play strong safety. That said, Boston and Wilks both said there’s room for mixing it up between Bethea and Boston.
“Very physical guy. Committed, loves the game of football,” Wilks said. “He’s going to give you everything he has on the football field. As you saw last year, he had tremendous numbers.
“He definitely, as I say, has our DNA.”
Bradford ready but rested
No Cardinals failed their run tests at University of Phoenix Stadium on Friday, and Wilks was pleased that he can simply get to coaching football. Those facts come with a notable asterisk.
First-string quarterback Sam Bradford didn’t take part in the run test.
“That was all based off me, talking to (head athletic trainer Tom Reed) and (strength and conditioning coach) Buddy Morris,” Wilks said. “I didn’t want him to run the test. He looks good, I will assure you that. Knee looks healthy. He’s excited and ready to go.”
The expectation is Bradford, who has been held back coming off a knee injury that zapped most of 2017, will hit the ground running this week.
Wilks has front-loaded the training camp schedule with padded practices before he pulls the reins back to freshen the team’s legs for the regular season.
“This is a time where (Bradford) needs to step it up and he understands and knows that. We got to proceed forward with our timing so he’s ready,” Wilks said.
“The biggest thing is Sam is going out there first with the ones. Josh (Rosen) will be working in there, as well as Mike (Glennon) — and of course Chad (Kanoff) getting some reps. But the biggest thing is I want to make sure we get those first two guys ready to play football this year.”
– Arizona’s addition of Arthur Moats and Jacquies Smith this week will provide defensive end depth. Moats, who was listed as a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers the last four years, has experience as a down lineman but could also slide to linebacker in a pinch.
Smith is trying to find a foothold in the NFL after two strong seasons to begin his career that were derailed by a September 2016 ACL tear.
“Hopefully one of them is going to emerge and hopefully make this team,” Wilks said.
– Running back David Johnson on playing for Wilks over former coach Bruce Arians: “He’s very professional. Same thing as B.A., but B.A., you know, has his language. I think that’s the biggest difference.”