The Cardinals are back at practice this morning at the team’s Tempe facility for the first time since playing Friday night. A few notes and thoughts from coach Bruce Arians in his first media session since the game.
— The running back situation isn’t cleared up right now, starting with the fact running back Ryan Williams (knee), who insisted last week he’d be back for the Cowboys game, might not be back yet. “I don’t know if he’ll play this week,” Arians said. Andre Ellington is still being handled with kid gloves with his neck issue (he is sitting today) and Arians said Rashard Mendenhall is still trying to get the stiffness out of his knee.
— Safety/special teamer Jonathon Amaya suffered a slight MCL sprain in the game. Arians said he’d be out a couple of days,
— Arians liked the job of the offensive line and specifically praised LT Levi Brown for his work on Clay Matthews, although he noted Brown will have to deal with DeMarcus Ware this week. All four tackles played pretty well.
— G Daryn Colledge (leg) is close to coming back, but it’s clear Arians is looking at Paul Fanaika at right guard too. “We’re solidifying (the line) without (Colledge) pretty good right now,” Arians said. “Paul played really well. Hoppefully Daryn can get back out there. There’s competition now.”
— The Cards will practice half outside and half in their new bubble today. Long-term, it’s a big deal to have the bubble, Arians said. “We’ll be able to stay on a normal practice schedule,” he said. “It will show dividends I think throughout September. We’ll have normal teaching routine as opposed to having to bus over to ASU or morning practices or things that are different.”
Tags: Andre Ellington, Bruce Arians, Clay Matthews, Daryn Colledge, DeMarcus Ware, Jonathon Amaya, Levi Brown, Paul Fanaika, practice bubble, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Williams
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Bruce Arians was happy with the first practice yesterday, but “If you can’t have energy and enthusiasm in the first one, something is wrong.”
“Hopefully,” he added, “we can maintain that level of intensity and enthusiasm in practices eight, nine and 10, after we knock the crap out of each other for a few days.”
That starts Sunday with the first padded practice. The hitting always makes coaches tense up — injuries happen in camp, and they are happening around the league — but it’s necessary. Arians knows this.
“That’s always a day you want to say, ‘Whoa,’ ” Arians said. “It can get real loud, real fast, especially with a big crowd. It’s the part where you cross your fingers, but we have guys who know how to practice.”
Arians was asked if he is the kind of coach who’d use something like the Oklahoma drill. He said no, which isn’t a big surprise. Those days in the NFL are basically in the past.
“We’ll have one-on-ones, pass rush, run block two-on-one,” Arians said. “We won’t do any tackling.” Arians paused. “Oklahoma drill I loved when I was in college.”
— G Daryn Colledge was back Saturday after missing Friday’s work because the birth of his second daughter. He admitted he probably would have missed the birth of Reagan Grace Colledge (8 pounds, 6 ounces if you are scoring at home) if the team was still holding camp in Flagstaff. They had a water birth with a midwife. “My wife’s a champ,” Colledge said.
— Arians reiterated his plan was to use both Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson as punt returners, sometimes at the same time.
— He doesn’t have as clear of a plan for kickoff return yet.
— Very curious to see how the linebacker corps filters out. Arians has been very complimentary of Reggie Walker. With Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter and Jasper Brinkley, that’s a lot of inside ‘backers to keep.
— Meanwhile a practice bubble rises in Tempe:
Tags: Bruce Arians, Daryl Washington, Daryn Colledge, Jasper Brinkley, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Minter, Patrick Peterson, practice bubble, Reggie Walker, Tyrann Mathieu
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With the Cardinals getting ready to start training camp next week out at University of Phoenix Stadium, work continues on the bubble in the team’s backyard in Tempe. Again, it isn’t going to be ready before camp ends but it’s progressing to the point where it looks like there will be a way to get out of the heat early in the season. Not that the Cards play on turf much anymore, but it’ll be the first time the Cards will have the ability to practice on turf if they want as well.
Meanwhile, a few more players trickled in today to get in a little more work. You can definitely tell football is around the corner.
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As Michael Bidwill had mentioned back in February, the practice bubble is being built.
The $4.2 million indoor structure — paid for entirely by the team — has been something the franchise has worked toward and talked about for a while. The Cards have started the excavation and grading work at their Tempe facility, which will eventually be followed by the foundation work and then construction of the actual practice facility itself. The target date for completion is sometime later this summer, and vice president of media relations Mark Dalton said the hope is for it to be ready to use this season. Kent Somers reported the Cards are still in the process of securing a couple of the final permits.
The last few years, the Cardinals used the practice bubble at Arizona State a few times during the hot days of the early season. The fields at the Tempe facility have been reconfigured a bit to make room, with the far two fields to the east taken out and the second outdoor field now running east-west instead of north-south. Field One, closest to the team’s building, remains north-south.
The Cardinals have yet to announce the location of training camp, but Dalton said the bubble is not being considered as a training camp option. “We do feel the ability to practice indoors in a climate-controlled environment during the hot weather months will have a positive impact on the team’s ability to prepare and compete,” Dalton added.
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For a long time the concept of a indoor practice bubble being installed at the Cards’ Tempe facility has been floating out there. It was something that first got traction when Ken Whisenhunt was first hired, although it hasn’t happened yet.
Yet may be the key phrase there. Team president Michael Bidwill said today, during an interview on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 620, that the hope is that the Cardinals will finally get a bubble sometime this year.
“We’re going through a process now of getting a bubble in Tempe,” Bidwill said. “We had a political problem there, the former Mayor was opposed to it, but (new) Mayor (Mark) Mitchell, who is a great guy, is all for being supportive of this and hopefully we’ll get that done at the Tempe training facility this year. It’s an exciting time for us and it will really bring us back up to speed as far as being state of the art.”
Obviously, given the extreme heat early in the season, the chance to have an air conditioned practice facility would be a big benefit for the Cardinals — and make sure they don’t have to travel to ASU anymore (like last season, pictured below) to use a bubble if the weather called for it. Usually it stays pretty toasty during practice times all the way until late October, nearly halfway through the schedule.
Along those lines, Bidwill reiterated nothing has been decided on the spot of 2013 training camp, although discussions are ongoing with both NAU in Flagstaff and Glendale, location of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, practice bubble, training camp
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Cardinals president Michael Bidwill, in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl, sat down for an interview with Bickley and MJ on XTRA 910 today. A few of the highlights, including thoughts on the coaching staff rumors and moves the past few weeks and a possible practice bubble in Tempe:
— On the decision to not let wide receivers coach John McNulty interview for Tampa’s offensive coordinator job because McNulty is already under contract, and whether there is a fear McNulty would be upset: “What we have to do is make the best decisions for the Cardinals, so we can win and continue to develop our team,” Bidwill said. “Sometimes you have to make tough decisions that aren’t exactly what the employee or the coach or the player or whomever might want. That’s part of this business and that’s part of the high compensation these folks get. They trade certain rights.
“Generally speaking, you don’t want to disappoint someone you like and work with, but at the same time, I’d much rather have John McNulty be part of our team because he is a darn good coach. I think Ken (Whisenhunt) feels that way, I think (general manager) Rod Graves feels that way and we need to make those decisions even those are hard decisions.”
— On the Todd Haley opportunity and the choice not to bring Haley back: “I think (offensive coordinator) Mike Miller has done a good job. I think to come in and uproot all that, that would send a wrong message to your staff. I feel like it’s really Ken’s bailiwick. If Ken was comfortable bringing Todd back, I would support him. If Ken is not comfortable bringing Todd back, I support that too. We are all in this making the best decisions we can to win football games, to win the NFC West. We know that road goes through San Francisco. We will make all the best decisions possible.”
— On McNulty’s ability to be able to improve QB play as quarterbacks coach (Bidwill did not say McNulty was going to be QB coach, but certainly talked like he will be, leaving the open coaching staff spot for a new receivers coach): “I sat in an interview with (McNulty) and he is a technician, strong, he’s a leader, a good communicator. I felt after a half-hour, I could start playing quarterback.
“He’s a great football coach and that’s what we need. If we want great quarterback play, we need guys who will be technical, who will be disciplined, and taking care of fundamentals.”
— An attempt to ask about the Cards and Peyton Manning went, understandably, nowhere. Manning is under contract with the Colts, so anything said about him at all by a team could be considered tampering. “You want to pay the fine?” Bidwill asked.
— On quarterback Kevin Kolb: “I still think Kevin, with an offseason, he is going to be a darn good quarterback,” Bidwill said, adding the team needs to develop their two young QBs, including John Skelton.
— On plans to build a practice bubble at the Tempe facility to be able to get out of the heat in the early season: “I would say it will take a little bit of time to go through the process, but as soon as we get through that process — there is a public process to it — construction time should be about a year,” he said. “I don’t see it happening in the 2012 season.”
— On looking forward: “We have to make the decisions to put us back in the driver’s seat of winning the NFC West,” Bidwill said. “That’s what we did in 2008. Get a home playoff game, and take it from there.”
Tags: John McNulty, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Peyton Manning, practice bubble
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