Notes from the Nest: Matt Barkley shines in expanded role
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Cardinals were once again in pads Monday, though as Bruce Arians alluded to earlier in the day, they were without some of their more important veterans. Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with injury. The coach instead decided to give guys like Drew Stanton, Evan Mathis and Chris Johnson the afternoon off.
With Stanton unavailable and quarterback Carson Palmer not needing much work, it was a golden opportunity for QBs Matt Barkley and Jake Coker — both of whom are fighting to make the roster as the third QB — to show their stuff.
And with that in mind, here we go.
– Barkley looked pretty solid for most of the afternoon as the backup QB. He threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brittan Golden and also connected on a long pass to Chris Hubert, who made a nice over the shoulder grab.
– David Johnson continues to look like the ultimate mismatch. Coming out of the backfield, no linebacker will be able to cover him. And when handed the ball, his quickness and ability to quickly change directions belies his stature.
– Rookie cornerback Brandon Williams broke up a deep ball that was intended for Michael Floyd early on. It looked a tad underthrown by Palmer, but the DB’s makeup speed was evident as he recovered from getting beat and made the play.
– Floyd got his revenge later on in practice, though, as he scored a touchdown on a corner fade, beating Williams in the process.
– Marqui Christian broke up a red zone pass that was thrown by Barkley. Christian was in on a handful of plays, including one solid tackle. The guy has a reputation as being a hitter, so him excelling with the pads on is no surprise.
– Receiver Chris Hubert showed up positively on a handful of plays.
– Running back Elijah Penny had a couple of drops, including one in the red zone from Jake Coker that probably would have gone for a touchdown.
– Linebacker Donald Butler would have had a fairly easy interception but his hands got in the way.
– A day after John Brown left practice early with a possible concussion, receiver J.J. Nelson also exited a bit early.
– With Evan Mathis out, Earl Watford, who has been playing a lot of center, worked with the first-team offense at right guard. Incidentally, that is his natural position.
– With Nelson out of the lineup, Jaron Brown got the bulk of the time with the first-team offense.
As previously noted, Bruce Arians revealed that receiver John Brown is undergoing the NFL’s concussion protocol after he left practice early Sunday. The coach also said Monday that cornerback Mike Jenkins was undergoing surgery for a broken hand. Elie Bouka (hamstring), Jermaine Gresham (hamstring) and Robert Nkemdiche (high-ankle sprain) are still out.
On the positive side of the injury coin, defensive tackle Red Bryant made his return to the field on Monday after missing a couple practices with an Achilles injury.
“I feel I’m definitely picking it up. Now we’re in the speed of things, we’re in pads, I feel like I’m playing comfortably, I’m being myself. I know what I’ve got to do. I hear the play, I get lined up and I just play fast.” – Marqui Christian on if he feels like he’s picking things up quickly
“We’d be pretty damn good. Hopefully, we hold them to like 200 and score 500. I don’t set goals like that. If we score 300 and we go 15-1, I’ll be happy as hell.” – Bruce Arians on what it would mean if the offense scored 500 points this season
Tyrann helped out and I made a pun
A few stories for your reading pleasure
Craig Morgan chatted with Chandler Jones, who not surprisingly draws joy from sacking the QB.
Running back Andre Ellington is finally healthy, though his role as a starter is likely no more.
Hopefully J.J. Nelson isn’t hurt too bad, because he was starting to find a groove now in his second season.
Bruce Arians talked about everything from broken hands to Pokemon Go in his morning press conference.
Cardinals safety/cornerback/star Tyrann Mathieu is rated as the top safety in “Madden 17.”
GM Steve Keim was pleased with his team’s first padded practice.