GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals didn’t give coach Bruce Arians much to complain about after he watched the tape of their 32-0 rout of the Houston Texans in their preseason opener.
”I was very pleased with the intensity, the effort that we played with,” he said on Monday, when the Cardinals resumed training camp.
Arians wouldn’t criticize the running game, calling it ”effective” even though Arizona rushed for only 81 yards and averaged 2.2 yards per attempt.
Certainly the passing game fit that description.
The Cardinals’ quarterback trio of Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton and Logan Thomas went a combined 27 of 34 for 349 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Palmer played one series, going 5 for 5 for 84 yards, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. Stanton went 4 for 4 on Arizona’s next possession and wound up 11 of 17 for 152 yards and a score.
Then there’s Thomas, the fourth-round draft pick beset by accuracy woes at Virginia Tech and again during training camp. But on Saturday night, playing the entire second half, he completed 11 of 12 for 113 yards and a score.
Arians said the quarterbacks face much more complicated circumstances in camp than they did on Saturday night, especially facing the strong, unpredictable Arizona defense.
”What we do here in training camp is you have the entire playbook every day going against an exotic defense,” Arians said. ”So there are a lot of things. You get into a game and you simplify it way down and you can study it in one night in a preseason game. But it’s a third of the playbook, so you should play fast. All of them played extremely fast.”
Fitzgerald downplayed the performances.
”It’s preseason, man,” he said. ”We’re just going out there and lining up. We’re not really game planning or doing anything special.”
Neither, Fitzgerald noted, was the Houston defense.
Still, he said, ”It was a good starting point for us.”
Rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro had a strong night, booting field goals of 32, 28 and 25 yards. Of his seven kickoffs, all soaring high in the air, five weren’t returned beyond the 18-yard line. The other two were touchbacks.
”There were a few butterflies every now and then but honestly I just focused on my love of competing rather than any anxiety or whatever I was feeling,” he said. ”I just enjoyed going out there with the team and getting the job done. I made a pretty good contribution I think.”
The running game problems were impacted by the limited play of dynamic running back Andre Ellington, who carried twice for seven yards and didn’t catch a pass. Don’t expect to see him much until the opener Sept. 8 against San Diego.
”Andre’s not going to see a whole lot of action this preseason,” Arians said. ”I know what he can do, and we’re going to get him to the season opener hopefully healthy.”
Arians agreed with general manager Steve Keim that the Cardinals could keep as many as six wide receivers on the 53-man roster. It’s an obvious position of strength.
”You better not have a bad day,” he said. ”One bad day could cost you your job. That’s what you want. You want guys to come out and give it everything they have every single day, and then be able to put it on tape on game day.
”We have it in the backfield right now, we have it at tight end, we have it at receiver, we’ve got it in the secondary and in our defensive line.”
Monday’s practice saw the first scuffle of the camp, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett against offensive tackle Bradley Sowell. Arians has made it clear he doesn’t like such incidents, and both players were made to run laps – actually walking them mostly – the rest of practice.
Sowell said afterward that it was just a heated moment and was in the past because in the end the two are teammates. He also said he didn’t think he’d had to do laps as a punishment since middle school.
Arians said wide receivers Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn Jr. could miss a second straight game with injuries, Floyd a groin and Ginn a knee.
Several other players sat out Monday’s practice, including starting guard Jonathan Cooper (toe) and starting inside linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral muscles).
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