Cardinals Preseason: Arians has much to criticize in Arizona’s final week of camp
GLENDALE — Arizona coach Bruce Arians opened the final week of training camp with a long list of complaints after dissecting the Cardinals’ performance in Saturday night’s 24-23 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.
But he noted that at least his team led 7-3 when he pulled the starters and nobody got hurt in the game.
Arians said he was disappointed in the play of his younger players.
“Especially those two inside linebackers (Haason Reddick and Scooby Wright),” he said. “Haason (Reddick) got better. He looked more like a linebacker, (but) blew a couple of coverages that led to easy receptions. (Rookie safety) Budda (Baker) got better but still got victimized one time on a bootleg, and he was too far off on that touchdown pass. But he got better in the game. Both of those guys, he and Haason, will get better the more they play.”
Reddick and Wright were holding down the inside linebacker spots with the starters in the absence of Karlos Dansby and Deone Bucannon. The 35-year-old Dansby doesn’t figure to play much in the preseason. Josh Bynes, who had played well in camp, sat out the Chicago game with a hamstring problem. Bynes is expected to return this week to bolster the inside linebacker corps.
Dansby said after Monday’s practice that he planned to see his first preseason action of the year Saturday.
Bucannon, the team’s leading tackler two years ago, is coming back from ankle surgery. Arians said Bucannon might come off the physically unable to perform list this week, but only so he can take part in the morning walk-throughs.
Arians hopes Bucannon can begin full practice a week before the Sept. 10 season opener at Detroit.
The Bears rushed for 75 yards in the first quarter against the Arizona starters and Arians placed much of the blame on outside linebackers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones.
“Some of the runs that they got was our outside linebacker trying to do too much,” Arians said, “jumping out of their gaps, not playing gap sound and turning it back. Easily correctable things, and the best thing is that nobody got hurt.”
Arians “didn’t think our running backs ran very well.”
“There were some holes that we just didn’t hit,” the coach said. “They would have been four- or five-yard gains that we bounced around for nothing.”
Overall, Arizona rushed for 40 yards in 19 carries against the Bears. Chris Johnson carried four times for eight yards, Andre Ellington five times for 11 yards.
The team’s prized running back, David Johnson, as well as perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald have played very little and that won’t change for Saturday night’s game at Atlanta.
Asked how Johnson is dealing with such limited play — three yards in three carries vs Chicago, Arians said, “He doesn’t like it. He’ll like it in November.”
As for Fitzgerald, “I don’t think after this many years Larry needs to be tackled.’
The coach had a list of players he thought did well against the Bears, mentioning linebacker Kareem Martin, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, wide receiver Jeremy Ross and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Defensive lineman Olsen Pierre played well except for a roughing the passer penalty, Arians said, and diminutive receiver Chris Hubert “had a heck of a game other than that crazy interception.”
After going with “vanilla” plays in the first three preseason games, the Cardinals will develop a game plan for Atlanta. Most of the starters, Arians said, will go about 30 plays.
The Cardinals were the first to report to camp, gathering on July 21 because they were participating in the Hall of Fame Game, giving them five preseason contests.
They are scheduled to break camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday.
Why has it lasted so long?
“Because we’d have to go home (on the other side of Phoenix in Tempe) and practice outside,” Arians said. “I don’t want to do that myself. Ninety guys in a (practice) bubble just don’t work. You’ll be stepping all over each other. It’s so much easier to just stay here.”
Wide receiver John Brown practiced and said his quadriceps injury felt much better. He hopes to play Saturday against the Falcons. Brown was to leave later Monday for a funeral and will rejoin the team in Atlanta.