All-Access with Bruce Arians: Issues against the Raiders, backups to play vs. Broncos

Aug 31, 2015, 2:39 PM
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL preseason footba...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Tempe, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, now in his third year with the team, meets with the media the day after every game.

In this space we will highlight some of what Arians had to say, and Monday he talked about his team following a 30-23 victory over the Oakland Raiders in the third preseason game.

He started with an opening statement:

“Just minor things coming out of the ball game, injury-wise. Logan (Thomas) has got a little sore ankle, but he should be able to play this week. Xavier (Williams) same things, with a little hyper extension of the knee — he should practice limited today. Chris Johnson will be limited today. Hope to get (Sean) Weatherspoon back running today, maybe practice tomorrow. (Troy) Niklas, (Jermaine) Gresham will both be out today.”

You made some roster moves, where does that get you?

“The first wave is done, and we’re down to the 75 limit. “A lot of battles still going on, for these two practices and Thursday night, to determine those last spots as well as practice squad spots.”

One of the cuts was Lorenzo Alexander

“It’s always hard when you let a vet go, who’s kind of been a cornerstone, a captain for two years. It’s never easy saying goodbye to those guys.”

After watching the film, what are your takeaways from Sunday’s game?

“I thought that obviously the pass protection was not great, but also a lot of it fell on the quarterback. I thought Carson was a little anxious to get big plays against his former team and not take what was there. They have turned into one of those teams that they’ll give you a shot, but you also have to take your check downs and live and die with it and just move the ball methodically like Drew did in his drive. And he got himself hit a couple times. Earl (Watford) played extremely well in the second half — that competition is heating up real nice, as did Lyle (Sendlein). I thought he played extremely well in the middle of the pocket — not that A.Q. didn’t — but he played exceptionally well. Those things, offensively. Defensively, really pleased with the run defense. I think we gave up the one third down and 16 where we should have had a sack, but overall very, very pleased with the defense. Really like the offensive guys in the second half. The first half, we just were not playing very well.”

How will you work guys in at center and right tackle the next couple days?

“Earl will be the right tackle, Bradley will play left tackle this week. The centers will just keep their regular rotation.”

What’s the plan for Thursday night then?

“Right now Phillip (Sims) will start and Logan (Thomas) will play second. The starters will not play.”

What do you have to see between either QB to see who gets the third job?

“Consistency. None of those real bad plays. Just be consistent.”

Did Logan’s performance Sunday change anything in that competition?

“Logan I thought did exactly what I hoped he’d do. We put him in that situation in case we got a two-minute drill. We got a two-minute drill, showed his toughness, took us right down the field and got a touchdown. That was an outstanding drive. Really good throws down the middle of the field to [Ifeanyi Momah] and you give your guys a chance, they’ll make plays for you, and he did. And Marion (Grice) ran extremely well down there at the end.”

Are you adverse to letting Chris Johnson and/or Jermaine Gresham play Thursday?

“No, I would like them to play but it’s going to be very iffy for Jermaine to be ready with the hamstring. Chris wanted to play the other night, just couldn’t cut. He feels very confident he’ll be able to play, and he wants to play in the game.”

You saw enough out of Drew Butler that you’re comfortable going with him?

“Yeah. I think he won the battle easily on a daily basis.”

Was the missed field goal from Catanzaro Sunday an issue of kicking from the dirt?

“I think it was a little breeze in your face, on the dirt, and trying to crank it up when all you’ve got to do is hit it. The dirt gets in your head a little bit sometimes, but he nailed the next one going the opposite way with the wind. Those are things we’re going to continue trying and see where the cutoff point is.”

What did you think about the running game Sunday?

“I thought ours was average, at best, in the first half but pretty solid in the second half.”

What has Ifeanyi Momah shown you in terms of getting playing time?

“He’s been an excellent pass catcher since we’ve started in shorts. And he does not lack toughness to put his face in the fire and try to block. Get your ass kicked with dignity sometimes. But that’s a receiver playing tight end and this is his first time. I’m very pleased with where he’s at in that phase, and he gives us a pretty solid weapon and he keeps showing up every day.”

How do you assess your tight end group, even with Gresham and Troy Niklas out?

“I’m very, very confident. Darren (Fells) is playing really well. He was one of the few bright spots in the run game — he blocked his guy really solid. He’s been a good, steady pass receiver. Mo, obviously, was the star of the game as far as tight ends, and Gerald (Christian) is a tough guy.”

What was the difference in the running game between the first and second half?

“It was actually still their first defense, we just blocked better. We blocked better as a group. I probably called a few better ones, formationally, than I did in the first half.”

How do you think Shaq Riddick looked in his first game action?

“He looked good, he looked good. He had a couple nice rushes. Disappointed he let (Christian) Ponder make him look slow when he broke out of the pocket on him — I think he was afraid of pulling his hamstring — but it was a good start for him.”

Looked like J.J. Nelson had a rookie day

“J.J. had a very rookie day. J.J. slipped on the dirt in warmups and couldn’t handle it. It was just every route he ran on the dirt, it looked like he was playing on ice.”

Then there was the route where J.J. went the wrong way and Palmer’s pass got intercepted

“That’s not his fault. We don’t run that coverage and we haven’t practiced it enough. It’s a specific route — had that been Michael Floyd I’m sure it would have been a completion. But to J.J.’s credit, he doesn’t know what that route means yet and we haven’t practiced it enough.”

Where are you at with your inside linebackers?

“We’re solid. Kevin (Minter) played outstanding. Kenny (Demens) was solid when he was in there. [Deone Bucannon] did a heck of a job. (Alani) Fua is really making good progress and we’ll see what [Sean Weatherspoon] does if he plays this week.”

Has it come to the point where we can call Bucannon a linebacker?

“No. He’s a safety. In the box.”

Is there going to be some tough calls at WR when cut time comes?

“It depends on how many we keep and looking at other positions. Like I’ve said, I’ll keep six receivers if the sixth receiver is better than the fifth guy at another position. We’re not going to cut a good player just because we’re overloaded.”

Is Drew Butler better now than he was at the end of last year when you saw him?

“He had a heck of a year other than the playoff game — the playoff game he struggled getting out of a funk, but he’s hit it really solid the whole time.”

Are you putting Bradley Sowell to get him left tackle reps?

“Yeah. He played right tackle for two weeks and again in the game. If he’s going to be a swing tackle he needs to practice left side.”

How do you approach practice this week with a game on Thursday?

“You’re lucky because the young guys didn’t play that much. Some of them played 10, 12 plays, so they’re going to play the majority of this game. So they’ll practice today. The veteran guys won’t practice at all. We’ll have a 7-on-7 tomorrow with them outside while the rest of the guys practice inside for Denver.”

Do you foresee any starters playing Thursday?


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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Issues against the Raiders, backups to play vs. Broncos