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Safety Tyrann Mathieu returns and interception during Wednesday's practice. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)
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Notes from the Nest: Picks on picks for Cardinals on Wednesday

Safety Tyrann Mathieu returns and interception during Wednesday's practice. (Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — For the first time this season, the Arizona Cardinals are practicing with an actual opponent in mind.

The team switched into game-prep mode Wednesday ahead of a preseason matchup with the Houston Texans, and that meant some players wearing black pinnies with numbers that corresponded to specific opponents, such as Jadeveon Clowney (90) and DeAndre Hopkins (10).

It’s worth noting that the Cardinals were without a couple of their key offensive guys, as QB Carson Palmer (rest day) and WR Larry Fitzgerald (resting knee) were held out.

The Good

– Tyrann Mathieu intercepted a pass on Monday, and on Wednesday he picked off two more, both of which were thrown by Jake Coker.

– Defensive lineman Josh Mauro intercepted ball early in 11-on-11. The Drew Stanton pass was first batted in the air, maybe even by Mauro himself, at the line of scrimmage.

– Patrick Peterson intercepted one pass and batted away another.

– Drew Stanton connected with Jaron Brown for a nice deep ball in 11-on-11.

– Matt Barkley threw a nice pass to Marquis Bundy during 7-on-7.

– Linebacker Alani Fua picked off a Coker pass in 7-on-7.

The Bad

– Maybe he should get a bit of a break since he was running the scout team and not using the Arizona offense he has been working hard to learn, but Jake Coker was picked off at least four times (and probably more). Most of the interceptions were just poor reads.

Notable

– Earl Watford began practice in pads and going through drills, but after an hour or so left for a bit and came back sans pads. He still snapped in 7-on-7, though.

– The Cardinals had their scout-team offense run a few plays out of the Wildcat formation.

– Kareem Martin got to play the role of Jadeveon Clowney on the scout team.

– Robert Nkemdiche did his first 11-on-11 work of camp.

– Former New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin was on hand to watch.

Injury Report

It did not look like anyone who began the afternoon practicing left with an injury. The players who did not suit up were:

CB Alan Ball

DB Elie Bouka

WR John Brown

WR Larry Fitzgerald

LB Alex Okafor

DL Olsen Pierre

LB Shaq Riddick

DL Ed Stinson

Quotable

“No. He makes way too much money to coach. Way too much.” – Coach Bruce Arians on if he could see Larry Fitzgerald being a coach when he is done playing

“Not that sorry. I was watching their game against Indianapolis last year and he was all over the place. Yeah, when I watched that game, I was not that sorry.” – Carson Palmer on if he is sorry J.J. Watt will not be playing for Houston on Sunday

“Yeah, you know, but at the end of the day, you just want to be smart about it, obviously. Your passion tends to override being mindful of where you’re at in your recovery. As long as I stay mindful of that, as long as the people around me are mindful of that, I think I’ll be alright.” – Tyrann Mathieu on struggle of playing but still being cautious

“The older you get, I hate to say this, but preseason is drudgery. Obviously, you have to go out there and play, but it doesn’t mean anything in the standings. The Detroit Lions, when they went 0-16, they were 4-0 in the preseason. When the Patriots won 16 regular season games that year, in ’07, I think they were 3-1. You just, you never know — it doesn’t have any bearing. But it’s always good to go out and, forever how much time you’re out there, have some success. Just kind of gets you in the right mindset and definitely puts the coaches in a much better mood.”

Stories you should read if you have time (and if not, make time)

Three Cardinals landed in the top 50 of ESPN’s #NFLRank.

Larry Fitzgerald may not be practicing, but he is still finding ways to help the team.

Carson Palmer talked about how little he cares that SI picked the Cardinals to win the Super Bowl, among other things.

Bruce Arians touched on many subjects during his media availability, including how he thinks Calais Campbell should always dominate.

Evan Mathis is looking for a second straight Super Bowl ring.

Drew Stanton is not concerned with his or the offense’s struggles.

Rookie CB Brandon Williams is fighting through growing pains and improving.

And now for some highlights

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