The Cardinals were at full participation for Day One of their voluntary Organized Team Activities, or OTAs for short.
It was an unpadded practice, but that didn’t take away from the intensity of it at all.
Head coach Bruce Arians decided to do something a little different on Day One, something he’d never seen done in his 20 years in the NFL: have a dual-practice, whereby both practice fields are used at the same time with split-squads.
“It seemed to have worked well for us,” Arians said. “We wanted to make sure we maximized the opportunities our rookies got to get repetitions.”
“You can’t find a diamond in the rough if you’re standing on the sidelines watching,” Arians said.
Arians and his coaching staff seemed to sprinkle the rookies and veterans in on first, second and third teams.
For example, rookie wide receivers Robert Gill and Ryan Swope got quite a bit of first team reps with quarterback Carson Palmer, while guys like Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd bounced between the various teams, by Arians’ design.
“That’s our goal, to give every single guy that’s here an opportunity to make this ball club,” Arians said.
With so many players becoming moving parts in Arians’ system, the word chemistry comes to the forefront. That’s something Arians won’t rush to establish with his team.
“It takes time,” Arians said. “We’re moving some guys around so everybody can have dual roles and not be able to know where they’re gonna line up.”
With players getting the feel for these new roles, there were some mistakes made throughout the practice (i.e. interceptions), which put Arians at a crossroad with his feelings.
“As a playcaller, I don’t like to see interceptions, but as a head coach I’m digging the defense, so I get to root for them,” Arians said.
Carson Palmer threw one pick to linebacker Karlos Dansby which he took back to the house.
Palmer had to get used to hearing his head coach giving him instructions in his headset.
Head coaches don’t normally bring that kind of communication into play until training camp, but Arians decided to break it out early, something Palmer is happy Arians did decide to do now, instead of later on down the line.
“I have a long way to go to really get to know him [Arians],” Palmer said. “You don’t get to know a play-caller until they’ve called a ton of plays for you.”
“This being really our first practice and having him in the headset calling in plays and getting used to the way he puts a little punctuation in certain formations and motions and protections, that’ll come, that’ll definitely come,” Palmer said. “He’s got a little bit of an accent and puts a little emphasis on some words, so I got to get used to that, and I’ll get more comfortable with him as we go.”
Arians got a kick out of Palmer’s comments about his “twang.”
“Im not quite as northern as [assistant head coach/offense] Tom [Moore], not as southern as [quarterbacks coach] Freddie [Kitchens],” Arians said. “I’m between in there somewhere, you gotta learn to hear it.”
It’s still in the building phase here in Tempe, so to think this team has total confidence in itself would be an aberration, and Palmer would tend to agree with that.
“I don’t think we’re there yet,” Palmer said. “In order to have confidence, you have to know what you’re doing and knowing what you’re doing inside and out. That’s something that just takes time.”
“I think the personality of this team is gonna be that way once we get there [through OTAs and through training camp],” Palmer said. “We’re grinding, we’re here to work, and this is a group that doesn’t want to miss a play, doesn’t want to miss a rep.”