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Bruce Arians Warns His Wide Receivers

Posted Aug 14, 2017

Notes: Change could come if pass catchers don't improve; David Johnson talks touches

Cardinals wide receivers John Brown (12) and J.J. Nelson talk during Monday's practice.

In the spring, coach Bruce Arians was enthusiastic about his wide receiver lineup, all the way through the undrafted rookies the team had signed.

The opinion has been morphing for a frustrated Arians in training camp, however, and that was made clear after a “lethargic” offensive practice Monday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

“I must’ve been seeing things back in the spring when I said we had had 12 guys who could play in the NFL,” Arians said. “We might have two.”

That means the Cardinals could look to add a pass catcher. “We’ll look around, see who is available,” Arians added.

It’s not the effort Arians is upset about. “Assignments, catching the ball,” Arians said. “The main things the receivers have to do, they are not doing.”

The message was delivered to the wideouts after practice, and it was most definitely received.

“Loud and clear,” veteran Jaron Brown said.

“I’ve been cussed out plenty of times in my three years here,” wide receiver J.J. Nelson said. “He’s pretty much saying it in a nice way right now but he’s still getting his message across. It’s up to us to respond.”

Arians praised Jaron Brown, while Larry Fitzgerald remains the standard. The rest of the group has disappointed. Rookie Chad Williams is limited right now with shin splints. Veteran Aaron Dobson has been out for a while with a bad hamstring, and now fellow veteran Brittan Golden is battling a groin issue.

Meanwhile, John Brown, who was supposed to be the No. 2 receiver and had an excellent start to camp, remains limited with a quad injury after missing most of camp last season with a concussion.

“It’s a concern,” Arians said. “He’s not available. You’re only good when you’re available.”

Nelson said Arians made clear they were being held to higher expectations. “All of us are capable of making plays in this league,” Nelson added, “so we pretty much feel like we’re letting him down right now.”

If it doesn’t change, Arians will make changes.

“They’ve been warned,” Arians said.

DAVID JOHNSON’S TOUCHES

Running back David Johnson played for the first time Saturday, looking good on three carries (16 yards) and creating the question of how much, exactly, does he need to play in preseason? The risk of injury sounds scary when it comes to the offensive anchor.

But Johnson wants to play, noting that he’d like not only to feel more contact as a ballcarrier but also as a blocker in blitz pickup.

“I think B.A., the coaches, (running backs coach) Freddie (Kitchens), they know how to handle it,” Johnson said. “They know how many carries I should get to get ready for the season.”

Johnson also knows he needs to get better. On one pass play, “I definitely loafed a little bit,” he said. Johnson was supposed to run a decoy route to clear out space for Nelson on a pass, and he didn’t work hard enough to make that happen. That, Johnson said, must get better.

GOLDENS SIT; FITZ AND PALMER TO REST TUESDAY

Linebacker Markus Golden didn’t practice Monday after tweaking an ankle, he said, but it isn’t serious. Tackle D.J. Humphries (hamstring) remained sidelined as well. Also sitting out were wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin), linebacker Jarvis Jones (back), wide receiver Carlton Agudosi (knee), safety Rudy Ford (hamstring), linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring).

Linebacker Karlos Dansby took a rest day and will sit out again Tuesday, while Fitzgerald, quarterback Carson Palmer and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker will also have rest days Tuesday.

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