The past couple of years, the Cardinals have followed up their final Thursday preseason game with some time off as the team transitioned from the bigger training camp roster to the regular season. After a Friday morning meeting, players would be off through Labor Day, returning on Tuesday — the normal off day during the regular season.
The thought process for coach Bruce Arians was simply that it was better to learn four days in a row heading into the first regular-season weekend. And it gave the holiday weekend for family. But the Cardinals had a handful of veterans come to Arians and ask to have the “bonus” practice day Monday this year, make Tuesday the day off, and treat the first week of the regular season like other weeks.
Arians agreed, especially after a “bunch of sports science stuff” showed that, from a physical standpoint, it’s less than ideal to practice four days in a row. Part of Friday’s team meeting, however, was a important reminder from Arians.
“(This) Monday is game plan day,” Arians said he told the group. “You can’t forget it on Tuesday and come back start over on Wednesday.”
Thanks to the 90-man rosters, the Cardinals had already gotten a jump on getting ready for Detroit anyway. Arians estimated that 60 percent of the game plan was already in, and all the players who didn’t play in Denver — all the starters and the vast majority of backups — didn’t practice in the bubble for the Broncos game and instead were outside at the same time, practicing in the heat for the Lions. (Practice next week is expected to be in the bubble.)
“It was more for me checking their conditioning on 40 plays in a row, because if you weren’t in, you were running on the side,” Arians said, lauding he intensity of the work. “Everybody got 40 reps in a row, with little breaks, like getting off the field offensively and defensively. It was hot. We were in really good shape. Some guys stayed out and did a little extra.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Lions, practice
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The Cardinals’ next two games are on the road, and the Cards will take that to the extreme. After the team plays in New Orleans this coming weekend, the team will head straight to Florida and spend the week before their game at Tampa Bay in Sarasota and practice in Bradenton.
It’s obviously not the first time the Cards have done this. In 2008, the Cards spent their week between road games at Washington and at the New York Jets in beautiful Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. It didn’t help on the scoreboard – the Cards lost both ends – but then-coach Ken Whisenhunt said at the time it could be a dress rehearsal for the team if they went to the Super Bowl and had to spend a week of prep in the Super Bowl city. Lo and behold, the Cardinals found themselves spending a week in Tampa the following January prepping for the Super Bowl.
No one is saying there will be a parallel here. But the powers-that-be determined that avoiding multiple plane trips is the best course in maneuvering this early-season schedule. It will mean the Cardinals should be well-adjusted to the 10 a.m. Arizona kickoff time by the time they get to the Tampa game. (The Cards will be facing a 10 a.m. Arizona kickoff time for the Saints game too and there will be an adjustment there.) Weather in the Sarasota area is supposed to be in the upper 80s that week.
Tags: Buccaneers, practice, Saints
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The Cardinals ran the longest, hardest Labor Day practice I can remember them having. Normally it’s a refresher, let’s-get-into-regular-season-mode-a-little kind of a work. But in this “bonus” practice, coach Bruce Arians said, the Cardinals ran a regular “Wednesday” practice in preparation for the Rams. And they did it outside, with the weather not terribly hot (at least when they were on the field.)
“Normal Mondays we don’t practice — we watch tape and work out a little bit, get the game soreness out, then come back on Wednesday,” Arians said. “So, this was a normal Wednesday. Our bonus Monday was like an extra Wednesday.”
— Tight end Rob Housler (ankle) and running back Rashard Mendenhall (ankle) were the only players not practicing. Housler remains day-to-day, Arians said and he said Mendenhall — who was wearing a brace — can play Sunday. “I did not let him go today, but he’s more than ready,” Arians said. “And Ryan (Williams) is full speed, so we’re fully healthy at running back.”
— Arians said he expects the whole practice squad filled out by Wednesday. There are three open positions.
— Arians called newly claimed Bradley Sowell an “excellent young tackle prospect.” Defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu would have stayed in Pittsburgh, Arians said, if it hadn’t been for a numbers game.
— Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was at practice but had to leave a little bit early to catch a flight back to Pittsburgh. His Pitt Panthers number 1 is being retired tonight at halftime of the Florida State-Pittsburgh game.
— Practices, now, are officially closed after it is open for special teams and individual drills (for those looking for practice info). The depth chart — for instance, where all the running backs fall in the pecking order — is due out tomorrow.
— Also tomorrow: A return to the Cardinals Underground podcast (posted late afternoon), and the beginning of weekly Tuesday chats with myself. Tomorrow’s version will be at 2 p.m., although we will go 1 p.m. normally. The season is upon us.
Tags: Alameda Ta'amu, Bradley Sowell, Larry Fitzgerald, practice, Rashard Mendenhall, Rob Housler
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