Arizona Cardinals coach nearly cut player on field, in front of entire team

Sep 5, 2013, 4:49 PM | Updated: 9:25 pm
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Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians means business.

Don’t believe it? Well, check out this story by NFL writer Peter King, where he notes that the first-year coach took umbrage with receiver Robert Gill breaking a team rule.

The rule? No tackling.

According to King, early during OTAs, Gill brought down cornerback Patrick Peterson after the defender intercepted a pass. The Pro Bowler suffered a sprained ankle on the play, which infuriated the head coach.

Arians was hotter than a Phoenix summer as he watched Peterson, a Pro Bowler and one of the team’s best players, lay on the ground after injuring an ankle on the play. Finally, he sent Gill to the locker room with no indication of what would happen next. Overnight, he decided he would cut the undrafted rookie, but not by calling him into his office, as most coaches would do. Instead he gathered the team—and Gill—and told them what he was about to do.

“I told the players this is the etiquette, and if you break the etiquette I’ve got to let you go,” Arians recalled during training camp. “He tackled Patrick, Patrick sprained an ankle, I’m a man of my word on that. I felt bad for the kid, but he just flat broke all the etiquette rules. I told him right there, ‘I have to let you go.’ ”

The players sat slack-jawed.

Of course, Arians did not cut Gill — at least, not until late August — but the point was made: What coach wants, coach gets.

“It got guys’ attention,” says Pro Bowl wideout Larry Fitzgerald. “He was about to cut him in front of the team. I’ve never seen anything like that before. A lot of guys were like, There’s a new sheriff in town, and his pistol is out and he’s not playing.

How Arians’ approach will translate to the field in games that counts remains to be seen, but we’ll get our first glimpse of it Sunday as the Cardinals visit the St. Louis Rams for the regular season opener.

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