Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians got a chance to see his veterans in action for the first time on Tuesday, as the team held a veterans mini-camp.
From my vantage point, the practice was crisp, the players were into it and animated, and the coaches were quick to get into their guys when they did something wrong.
It was all good stuff to see up close and personal.
“Really pleased with the first day, outstanding work, great effort by everybody,” Arians said. “[I] appreciate the fact that they were all here in a voluntary area.”
Almost everybody was there. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was noticeably absent. Arians said Fitzgerald had a previous engagement he had to attend, and Arians was fine with it.
When asked if Fitzgerald was somewhere saving the world, Arians said “Oh sure!”
Fitzgerald will be at Wednesday’s practice for sure according to Arians.
Normally in a first practice, players make some mistakes, as they’re getting back into the flow of things.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of mistakes that were cut down, even from our walkthrough,” Arians said. “We had a couple turnovers, [and] I don’t really like quarterback/center snap exchange problems, and we had a couple of those today.”
In order to cut down on those mistakes, the players have to keep getting reps together and get a feel for one another. Another thing that will help is more teaching from the coaches.
“It takes a lot of time to put in the nuances of the offense, the defense, what foot to be standing on, which one to step with first and everything else,” Arians said. “We’re in those baby steps right now, but I’m really pleased at the amount of effort that the guys have put in so far.”
Linebacker Daryl Washington was out with his fellow defensive mates and looked like he hasn’t lost a step. Washington will sit out the first four games of the regular season due to a suspension for violation of the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Washington is allowed to participate in all offseason and preseason activities.
As for who will start in Washington’s place at inside linebacker for those four games, Arians says it’s yet to be determined.
“There’s so many pieces to that puzzle,” Arians said. “We’re looking at different guys at inside linebacker, [and] as we keep adding the pieces, there might be another piece.”
Arians said they’ll continue to prepare Washington as if he was the starter, as well as preparing his replacement, once they find out who that is.
It was Carson Palmer’s first practice with his new team, and again, from my view, he looked pretty good and in sync with his guys for the most part.
Palmer’s been working with the Arians/Tom Moore offensive system for the past three weeks, and he says they’ve installed about 75-percent of the offense in the time he’s been here, which has aided him tremendously.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but over the last three weeks we’ve had a lot of meetings and really had a chance to open the playbook up and kind of get out feet wet with it,” Palmer said. “It was a good start for getting some of the basics and the staples of the offense down.”
Palmer made an interesting comment. He said in their earlier walkthroughs, the team would setup trashcans opposite the offense to represent defensive players.
Finally having to face a live defense full of live players like the Cardinals have was different for him, yet refreshing at the same time.
“It’s completely different,” Palmer said. “It’s full go, 100-percent, guys are going full speed.”
Palmer is enamored with this system, calling it “phenomenal” and “user friendly” at the same time.
“There’s a lot on film to watch, there’s plenty of text in the playbooks and in the diagrams and the pictures,” Palmer said.
“Some systems you get in, it’s difficult to learn because there’s not a lot of history. There’s a ton of history in this offense, and a lot of history in this offense being successful and you can watch it be successful.”