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All-Access with Bruce Arians: Cardinals coach is against the ‘grind’

Head coach Bruce Arians at Arizona Cardinals practice on July 30, 2016. (Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fourth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media each day during training camp.

Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through.

“Always anxious to see the first practice after the first day off. Tells a lot about our character. But, we needed the rest. It was a good beginning to the camp. Now we hit what they call the grind, the last week of hitting each other before we hit somebody else. I look forward to it.”

The players say you don’t like for them to use the word ‘grind.’ Why is that?

“It’s not a grind. How can it be a grind with one practice in air conditioning and you stay in a five-star hotel? That ain’t a grind. A grind is two practices, three hours and both in pads (and staying) in a (expletive) dorm in some campus somewhere in the middle of nowhere. That’s a grind. Two bars and nowhere to go.”

You need more than two bars?

“Yeah, one for the players and one for the coaches.”

How much has Kevin Minter improved?

“He’s the signal-caller, he’s the quarterback of the defense. He’s grown leaps and bounds. He’s dropped his body fat another three-percent, so he’s playing much better pass defense. He’s just grown into the leader of the defense. We know he’s a thumper, we know he’ll hit, but he’s doing a heck of a lot better job of coverage.”

USA Today puts you among the coaches with the best odds to win Coach of the Year. What would a third honor mean?

“Not half as much as a Super Bowl. It’s an honor obviously, especially when it comes from people you respect, but it’s not something you go out looking for. It’s because your team had success. Like we always said, when the team has success, there’s enough accolades for everybody.”

What did you think of the contract extension for Tyrann Mathieu?

“I was extremely happy and proud yesterday of him. He’s earned it. It’s an unbelievable story. Really, really proud of him. Really proud of him. I’m in this business for relationships. The relationships you build coaching, they last a lifetime. That’s the whole thing for me. It’s not necessarily winning and losing. It’s building relationships. The kids I coached back in the ‘70s, to have those relationships now are still extremely important to me.”

Where does your relationship with Mathieu rank in your career?

“It’s one of the top-10. When I was at Temple, I had a lot of kids overcome a lot of things, and to see them graduate and become the chief of police in the city of Philadelphia. Things like that, you are extremely proud of those guys.”

Anyone who had impressed you now that the pads have come on?

“Marqui Christian for sure. He’s a hitter, and we knew he was a hitter. He’s flown around everyone that has a 70 number on and some 90s.”

What about Earl Watford in pads?

“He’s such a great athlete that he looks good in shorts. He can run, and he can do all those things. He’s going to play a lot of center in the next few days so that we get him game-ready at center. He’s already played tackle and guard. (Harold Goodwin) named him the ‘Swiss Army knife’, that’s a real good compliment.”

How does his versatility affect how many offensive linemen you keep?

“It doesn’t matter how many we keep. It’s how many we dress on Sunday, that’s the ticket. If we can dress seven offensive linemen because of versatility, it’s going to allow us to play another special teams player and get him dressed.”

Did Matt Barkley and Jake Coker take advantage of their increased reps the past two practices?

“Yeah. That’s their day. Those are important reps whenever Drew (Stanton) and Carson (Palmer) have their off day. For them to get twice the number of reps and what do you do with them. I was very pleased with both of them, especially Matt. I thought he had some really good reads. Showed me that he has made some progress in that area. Still missed a couple of ‘hots’ but threw the ball well. I was very pleased with him.”

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