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Busier Preseason Awaits Cardinals Starters

Posted Aug 17, 2017

Notes: Snaps about conditioning, not finding rhythm; Humphries to play; Play-caller grades

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer could get more work this preseason than last.

Carson Palmer did not play well in last year’s preseason, completing 12-of-22 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

The passing game then underachieved in the regular season, as the veteran quarterback’s numbers dipped across the board after a magical 2015. Critics wondered if the team’s relaxed attitude toward the exhibition slate was a culprit, and coach Bruce Arians said on Thursday he does hope to get his starters more snaps this preseason.

But even though the first-stringers could play the entire first quarter against the Bears on Saturday – Arians said 20 plays will likely be the maximum – the increase doesn’t have to do with settling into a rhythm.

“Get in better game shape, when you have to play more plays in a row,” Arians said of his reasoning. “It was nice to have that nice long drive last week, to keep conditioned.”

Palmer was pretty sharp in his first action of the year, completing 4-of-8 passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. He threw three more passes than in his preseason debut in 2016.

The Cardinals will continue to strike that balance, wanting their starters prepared for the regular season slate, but also attempting to get there with everyone healthy. Arians was quick to pull running back David Johnson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald after only a few plays against Oakland.

Running back Chris Johnson said for the long-time veterans, finding preseason success is nice, but not critical.

“We have all training camp to get in rhythm with our offensive line, knowing how they are going to block,” Johnson said.  “We’re basically out here every day doing those things, so once we get in the game, it’s more about getting in shape. It’s getting six, seven, eight plays back-to-back without coming out of the game. When we’re in practice, we might go three or four plays, then we come out and the next back goes in.”

D.J. HUMPHRIES SET FOR PRESEASON DEBUT

Left tackle D.J. Humphries is expected to see his first action of the preseason against Chicago. He injured a hamstring last week which kept him out of the game against the Raiders, but has ramped up his participation in practice the past few days.

“He looked really good,” Arians said. “Fresh. He had a really good practice (Wednesday).”

Humphries is making the critical switch to quarterback Carson Palmer’s blind-side this year, and building chemistry is key. Humphries said the week off didn’t disrupt it too much.

“I’m still in everybody’s hip pocket,” Humphries said. “(Guard) Mikey (Iupati) is still my boy. We still talk the same way we do, so I don’t think anything’s changed. It’s only been a week. It was a long week, trust me, but it’s only been a week. I shouldn’t be that far (behind).”

GRADING THE PLAYCALLERS

Quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich said on Wednesday he hasn’t gotten a lot of feedback from Arians about his play-calling in the 20-10 win over the Raiders. Arians said it will come eventually, as he plans to dissect the decisions made by Leftwich and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin.

Leftwich will again orchestrate the offense against the Bears, while Goodwin is scheduled to call plays in the preseason finale against the Broncos after doing so in the Hall of Fame Game.

“They’ll come to me, ‘Hey, what did you think?’” Arians said. “Whether it’s a cocktail or a cup of coffee, we’ll hash it out.”

Unsurprisingly, Arians plans on being honest with his evaluations.

“It’s coaching,” Arians said. “It’s not criticism. ‘Didn’t like this call. Thought this was a great call. Why did you make that call? Did you have it planned?’ They both haves studied the teams they’re calling plays against probably a whole lot more than I would have during the preseason, so they have a good feel about what they’re going against.”

AGUDOSI RETURNS TO PRACTICE

Undrafted wide receiver Carlton Agudosi (knee) was back practicing less than a week after getting carted off the field. Linebacker Karlos Dansby missed practice although Arians said the team has found the root of his leg issue.

Safety Rudy Ford (hamstring), linebacker Josh Bynes (hamstring), linebacker Phillip Wheeler (foot), linebacker Jarvis Jones (back), defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring) and wide receiver Brittan Golden (groin) also missed practice. Palmer watched the last half-hour of practice with a bag of ice wrapped on his left knee.

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