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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Injury relief, depth to be tested

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
LISTEN: Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals head coach

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 19-13 road win over the San Francisco 49ers. It improved Arizona’s record to 9-2 on the season and helped maintain their three-game lead in the NFC West.

He started with an opening statement:

“Not much news, injury front-wise. We know that Jerraud Powers does not have an Achilles (injury). He has a calf strain, similar to a hamstring pull. The one thing about J.P. is that he’s a very fast healer, so there is really no timetable. We’ll just go day-to-day with it. Chris Johnson is in the MRI right now. He has a knee contusion. We’ll see the extent of it. Andre Ellington is a turf toe and we don’t know the extent of how bad it’s going to hurt him for this week. Other than that, just normal bumps and bruises. Those three guys are the main guys from this past ball game. Frostee (Rucker) and Cory (Redding) are making progress. We’ll see about their availability this week as the week goes on.”

On whether it’s a sigh of relief that Powers’ injury is to his calf

“Oh gosh yeah, because I thought it was an Achilles, looking at it out on the field. I was very relieved that we’ll be getting him back.”

On whether Chris Johnson’s knee injury was something that bothered him leading up to this week’s game

“No. Just normal wear and tear and soreness, but he took a helmet on the side of it.”

On whether Ellington’s turf toe injury is on the same foot that bothered him in the past

“Yeah, it’s the same foot, but it’s nothing even near to what the other injury was.”

On the team’s secondary and running back depth being tested right now

“Oh, there’s no doubt. David (Johnson) stepped in and did good job. We always trust Stepfan (Taylor) to do his job. Whether or not we’ll have to make a roster move for Kerwynn (Williams), we’ll have to wait and see as the week goes on. That’s a possibility, but I’d rather not do that right now. With depth in the secondary, we’ll have a transitional player — Britt Golden will play some nickel corner this week.”

On whether Brittan Golden has played those positions before

“Yeah, he’s more than capable of doing it. You could bring a guy in off the street, but then I’d have to sit down a guy who’s playing 25 plays on special teams. I’m not going to do that. He’s too good on special teams. So, we’ll work with Britt and see what’s available as far as bringing guys in.”

On David Johnson being able to step up and play

“David is working on his ball security. He’s much better. He still struggles sometimes out in space, reading hots and blitzes, like most rookies do, but he did a great job on the goal line by putting his foot into the ground and making that run for the touchdown. I have all the confidence in the world in him and him starting.”

On whether not having Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington at running back would change how Arizona runs the ball

“No. David runs the same stuff extremely well. Steph has gotten to that point where he can too, and Kerwynn also.”

On whether he could go into next week’s game with just two healthy running backs

“You could roll the dice. I’ve done it before. It’s not a real good feeling, especially when one of them is the kickoff returner and he’s also on the punt team, so you have to start shuffling guys around a lot of places.”

On cornerback Justin Bethel starting next week

“I have no problem with Justin being out there. It’s just that if he has to play some nickel, which would be new for him.”

On where he stands with Arizona’s kickers and whether he’s looking at other potential players

“No. They’re our guys. Drew (Butler) just hit a couple balls that bounced in the end zone. We had poor coverage on the one. We should have downed it inside the five. The other one, he just kicked too far. He’s been kicking really, really well. Chandler’s (Catanzaro) just got to quit missing extra points, but I was more disappointed in his kickoffs. He only had two touchbacks.”

On whether he expected this type of performance from Tyrann Mathieu

“Yeah. He could play better, you know?”

On where Mathieu can play better

“Not give up a touchdown.”

On whether Mathieu could catch more interceptions

“Yeah. He statistically had a good game, but it still wasn’t one of his best games.”

On what it says about Patrick Peterson’s leadership to call in the defense for a meeting on Victory Monday

“That’s what captains do. My understanding is that it was a very good meeting and they had all the coaches’ notes and went through it play by play. We only gave up 13 points, but still we’re accustomed to playing better.”

On where he saw offensive line breakdowns

“Well, we got whipped on the one 3rd-and-1. Lyle (Sendlein) got cross-faced and Larry Fitzgerald didn’t cut off the backside linebacker when we cut back. On the other, Mike Iupati just buried his head in the ground and the linebacker ran through. Those were the two worst ones. Then down on the goal line, Bobby Massie stepped with the wrong foot and got beat inside. So it was all very correctable stuff, but it shouldn’t be happening.”

On whether he noticed Peterson’s leadership abilities his first two seasons in Arizona

“More the first year than the second. The second, he was struggling with all those other issues. But this year, it’s been fantastic.”

On whether leadership was something he talked to Peterson about

“No.”

On the causes for why the running game hasn’t produced as much the past three games

“It’s everybody. The first run, coming off the goal line, A.Q. (Shipley) has only played a few snaps at fullback. They ran a blitz. He hasn’t run that play enough times to know that he has the backside linebacker. Little things like that. The next running play, Chris Johnson tries to break it outside instead of just mushing it up in there for three or four, and we get one. Too much of that going on, and poor blocking also; our tight ends did not block very well. Normally on the road, when they can’t hear, they’re going to struggle.”

On whether the lack of ability to run made San Francisco less concerned with the running game

“No. They just started blitzing a bunch and took a lot of chances. We finally hurt them to get down there to the one, but we didn’t handle it as well as we should have.”

On the schedule for the upcoming week

“This will be a normal week. Probably with the injury situation, we will not go in pads. But we’ll just have our normal practices, like we always do.”

On the defensive line’s play

“I thought Xavier (Williams) did a good job. Red Bryant had no mental errors and was the most physical guy on the field. I thought Calais (Campbell) had another very poor to average game. Rodney Gunter looked like a rookie for the first time. Other than that, Josh Mauro did not have his normal game. It wasn’t our best game up front, other than those two guys.”

On whether he felt like Arizona’s defense slacked off the last month of the 2014 season

“No. We started missing tackles and played way too much. Our defensive snaps went way up because our offense couldn’t stay on the field. They usually go hand in hand.”

On whether St. Louis will be more dangerous to play than San Francisco because the Rams are coming off of four straight losses

“Even more so. They’ve got the third best defense in the league, if not the best, statistically. They’re always very, very tough at home. The thing they haven’t done is stop the turnovers. Hopefully, we can get the ball and take it away. We struggled in that with this game at our place – turning it over and not taking it away. So this will be an NFC West dogfight just like this past week.”

On whether defenses have figured out St. Louis running back Todd Gurley and whether that’s the cause of his decline in rushing numbers

“I think more so the injuries to the offensive line. They don’t have the same five guys up there that they had.”

On whether he’d be shocked if St. Louis’ starting quarterback this week was Sean Mannion

“Nothing shocks me in this league.”

On whether he heard any additional explanations on yesterday’s officiating

“No comment on officials.”

On what he’d change to make officiating better if he was Dean Blandino

“No comment on officials.”

On whether he’ll run the play where Drew Stanton lined up at quarterback and Carson Palmer lined up at wide receiver in the future

“In a certain situation, yeah. They didn’t cover Carson. I would have liked to seen Drew throw it out there. That guy made the tackle too.”

On Palmer having the possibility of a receiving and rushing touchdown had the ball been thrown

“Exactly.”

 

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