TEMPE, Ariz. — Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fourth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media every Monday during the season.
Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and conversations he has with reporters, with the comments usually coming the day after a game. This Monday, he chatted after the Cardinals fell to the Houston Texans 34-24 in the third game of the preseason.
“Alright, injuries from the game: Michael Jenkins got an ACL, so he’ll be on IR. Stepfan (Taylor) is just seven-to-10 days with a bruise. Other than that, there’s really nothing to report, injury-wise, from the game. Obviously we held Patrick (Peterson) out because his ankle was sore; Ty (Mathieu) wasn’t ready to play. John Brown is still having headaches after — like, halfway through — but he’s getting a little bit further along each day. Hopefully he’ll make it through practice this week and be available.”
How disappointing is it to see Jenkins be lost with an ACL injury?
“Yeah, it was a shame because he had a chance to be our starting corner. He was batting through the hand — it’s another one of those non-contact injuries.”
How concerned are you with John Brown’s headaches?
“I’ve been concerned the whole time. You hate to see them linger this long because you don’t really know what’s causing them, whether it was the concussion or it’s medicine or whatever it is. He’s had two headache-free days, so hopefully we can exercise and have a headache-free day.”
Do you have any other options at cornerback besides Justin Bethel and Brandon Williams?
“Cariel Brooks played pretty solid again — he’s been pretty solid the whole camp. But it’s pretty much those guys, and I’m very comfortable with both of them. Bethel obviously was very rusty, tried to stop back-shoulder throws instead of up-the-field shoulder throws. Those are touchdowns, the others are just first downs.”
Does Tyrann Mathieu need to play in preseason for you to feel good about him for Week 1?
“No. Just need to see a really good, solid, eight to nine days of practice.”
How did Robert Nkemdiche look Sunday?
“He looked very good. Extremely physical, fast. Made a couple of really good plays down around the goal line. So his baptism was outstanding.”
Is the amount of turnovers in preseason an issue?
“A lot of tipped balls. You can chalk it up to bad luck or poor execution — the screen pass I think was poor execution on the receiver’s part not running away further, instead of backpedaling, and then the quarterback throwing it a little bit too quick. That was probably a 30-yard gain on our part, instead it ends up a touchdown for them. We’ve had two batted ball touchdowns; guys made great plays but you can’t give them those opportunities.”
How do you approach practice this week when key guys are not likely to play much at all Thursday?
“We’ll have a pass skelly outside tomorrow while the other guys are inside getting ready for the game.”
Tipped passes at the line, who is responsible for that?
“It’s good defensive play. It’s mostly on the quarterback — he’s got to get the ball there.”
What is your reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the American flag?
“I respect his right as an American. Freedom of speech is one thing. I disagree with it — I want to stand and cheer for all the people who have lost their life of every race and religion, gender, defending that flag. It’s not my opinion but I respect his right.”
How would you handle a player who wanted to do something similar to Kaepernick?
“You respect their rights.”
How is Jake Coker’s knee?
“His knee is still pretty sore, I don’t know if he’ll make it this week or not. We may have to do a scope on it.”
Without Coker, you’d presumably have just one QB available who you wanted to play. How would you handle that?
“One will play. Hopefully one.”
What’s your feeling on the cornerback depth now with Jenkins out?
“It’s we’re one down from where we were. Same guys are battling it out, and it’s not like there’s a bunch running around on the street. So you take what you’ve got and you coach them up and you go.”
Would you consider putting Tyrann Mathieu at cornerback?
“If he were healthy and full speed, yes. But probably not for a while.”
How has the run blocking come along in the last couple of years?
“Oh they played extremely well in this game. Our blocking unit, tight ends and offensive line, I think we had 100 something (yards) at halftime. But I mean, it could have been a big game. They blocked it well, they protected well. Probably the best that the group has played the entire preseason.”
Given the running backs you and the line’s ability to run block, would you consider running the ball more this year than usual?
“Nah. Fifty-fifty is always what I shoot for. At the end of the season if you have, whatever number of plays, you’d like to have it fifty-fifty.”
What did you see from Matt Barkley Sunday?
“The same ups and downs he has. There were some really bright spots and some really poor spots. He just has to eliminate the poor spots, inaccurate throws that are interceptions.”
Do you see a significant role for Tyrann Mathieu in Week 1?
“Oh yeah. I expect him to be out there full speed, ready to roll.”
Where is special teams at after yesterday?
“Some guys made nice improvements. Some guys — Lamar Louis had four tackles and made a name for himself — so, I thought the kickers had a very good day. Deep snapper had a really good day. We’re not blocking well enough on our returns to get Andre a chance. Some of that is mixing and matching who’s out there. We gave up another kickoff return, had a late substitution. Guy ran out of his lane, opened up like a highway. That guy won’t be here so it’s not as big a concern. I would like to see our return units better right now. I think our protection and our coverage and the kickers are all very good and ready to roll; our return game could be better.”
How is the long snapper battle?
“It’s Kam’s job.”
Is it purely accuracy with Kam for the snapping job or is it with coverage?
“No. It was just the speed and the accuracy. They both battled it out extremely hard. We’re really confident in both of them.”
With Monday’s cuts, will you sit down and talk with the players to talk to them?
“They’ve all been done. I don’t personally meet with very many, unless it’s a veteran.”
How tough were these cuts?
“These were fairly easy compared to what Friday will be like.”
Is Andre Ellington getting more comfortable as a punt returner?
“Yeah. He’s getting better and better. He’s still a work in progress, we just need to give him a little bit of room to get running.”
Will Ellington be the punt returner in Week 1?
“That’s the plan.”
What did you think of the hit Carson Palmer took after throwing an interception?
“Don’t throw an interception. That guy was doing his job. Now, whether he gets fined or not, whether it should have been a flag, that’s up to the officials.”
When you see Palmer take that kind of hit, what goes through your mind?
“Don’t throw an interception.”
How did your young linemen look?
“(Cole) Toner had a really — he’s had two good weeks — and (John) Wetzel, he picked it up a little bit. Antoine McClain still needs to pick it up. Moved him over to left, switched the two guards for position flexibility. Mentally they were good. (Evan) Boehm has really improved. Those guys are getting 60 to 65 snaps in the game, so they’re going to get better. I like where they’re at right now as a second group. I thought they blocked the No. 1s fairly solid. Jadeveon Clowney got in there a couple times, but overall I thought our second line played extremely well.”