ARIZONA CARDINALS

Arizona Cardinals get ‘back to work’ after extended break

Oct 12, 2016, 4:56 PM | Updated: Oct 13, 2016, 11:33 am

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians yells during the second half of an NFL football game agai...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians yells during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Five days.

That’s a long time for anyone to be away from work.

For the professional athlete, the time away can feel like an eternity.

Now, there are pluses and minuses with an extended break, and the latter is what the Arizona Cardinals faced on Wednesday.

“It looked like a team that had five days off. A little raggedy,” head coach Bruce Arians said before singling out linebacker Chandler Jones and tight end Jermaine Gresham for having “had a great practice. Some other guys, especially the young guys, looked like they’d had five days off, but thank goodness it was a bonus day and the real start really starts tomorrow.

“Good to be back to work.”

The players shared the same sentiment on both accounts.

“We did some good stuff today … but like Coach said, you can kind of tell we kind of had five days off,” linebacker Kevin Minter said, laughing. “People were a little bit more winded, myself included. I started feeling those fries I had the other day, and then I started feeling them milkshakes and stuff. We back at it, though. We definitely ready to get into this gameplan and get after these Jets.”

The Cardinals host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.

Though the Cardinals are only five games into the season, don’t forget about the four preseason games and a month-long training camp. In other words, they’ve been going at it for a while now.

The break for having played on Thursday leading into a Monday Night Football game came at a good time, according to Minter.

“It’s damn near a bye week, when you think about it. We needed this rest,” he said.

Minter pointed to the number of injuries and accumulated bumps and bruises the team has incurred.

At the top of that list is quarterback Carson Palmer. He sustained a concussion against the Rams, which forced him to miss the trip to San Francisco. Tight end Darren Fells (shoulder) and defensive tackle Josh Mauro (chest) also stayed home.

Palmer practiced Wednesday, as did Mauro. Fells is expected to be “full speed” Thursday, according to Arians.

“I think part of the reason why we were so good last year is because we stayed fairly healthy,” said Minter, who was concussed in the 49ers game. “Having those guys on the field makes a difference, obviously. I feel like us getting those five days we were able to recuperate, get our legs back under us a bit. It’s going to help a lot in the long run.”

Both Palmer and Minter cleared the NFL’s concussion protocol on Tuesday.

Minter had never suffered a concussion at any point in his playing career.

“It made you a little nervous, but I’m good, though,” he said. “Doing my tests the other day, I did great on them. I pretty much got everything back within a couple of hours after the game. Like I said though, it was the first time so I was like, ‘Man, what the hell is wrong with me?’ But, I’m cool now.”

It will be 10 days between games when the Cardinals take the field again. That is to say they will have watched back-to-back Sundays’ worth of action before enjoying their next taste.

A scheduling quirk for sure, but one that can be advantageous.

“I didn’t really like the five days off, but at the same time, it was beneficial,” said safety Tyrann Mathieu, who is slowly returning to his normal football self some 10 months after knee surgery.

With an extra day to prepare for the Jets, Wednesday’s 90-minute practice allowed the Cardinals to knock off some of the rust. The real work, as Arians put it, arrives Thursday.

“Practice was pretty good, but it could’ve been a lot better. We could’ve did better today. There’s no excuses. We should’ve just came back and been ready,” receiver John Brown said. “With the days off we had, it was kind of like sluggish today, but it was a bonus day and so hopefully tomorrow we can pick it up.”

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