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Cardinals Contemplate No-Huddle Approach

Posted Oct 4, 2017

Notes: Offense could use a spark; Watford happy to be employed; Boone may play

Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer drops back during a hurry-up offensive play against the 49ers.

The Cardinals need a spark on offense. Might some no-huddle do the trick?

The team’s only touchdown in its nearly-70-minute overtime affair against the 49ers came on the last series, when a dwindling clock forced the offense to move quickly. On that seven-play, 75-yard drive, the passing game found a rhythm, the protection held up, and Larry Fitzgerald salvaged an outcome that looked bleak.

As Sunday’s game against the Eagles draws closer, that success has coach Bruce Arians considering a no-huddle implementation earlier in games.

“Sometimes, that’s been the best way we’ve played this year,” Arians said.

The Cardinals’ biggest issue offensively this season has been protecting quarterback Carson Palmer, who has been sacked an NFL-high 17 times. A no-huddle offense makes it harder for defenses to substitute players or use exotic packages.

“If a team can run a little tempo, you get a little vanilla on defense and just play your base defense,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Offensively, you can sort of dictate the tempo that way. It’s hard to defend, quite honestly. I know a lot of teams run it.”

Palmer enjoys running the no-huddle.

“It puts a good stress on the defense,” Palmer said. “Defensive linemen get tired, pass-rush slows down a little bit, it makes it a little more difficult to get to some of the packages where you get some crazy fire zones or some different looking coverages.”

But there’s a reason teams don’t run it all the time. Like every philosophy out there, there are advantages and disadvantages.

“I’ve seen it go three-and-out a bunch, too,” Palmer said. “It’s kind of one of those things. The grass is always greener. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, let’s go to this.’ Sometimes, it can struggle. You’re just in the wrong play at the wrong time, and before you know it, it’s third-and-10. It can go both ways.”

WATFORD HAPPY TO BE EMPLOYED

Earl Watford spent four seasons with the Cardinals before joining the Jaguars on a two-year, $6 million contract this offseason. His stint there didn’t last long, as the Jaguars released the offensive lineman on Sept. 8.

Watford was without a team for a few weeks, and while he worked out daily to stay in football shape, it was mentally draining.

“It is very strange, very uncomfortable,” Watford said. “I did not like it at all. It was not a fun time. It just sucked not playing football.”

Watford, who re-signed on Monday, said he knew the Cardinals had a need on the offensive line before they reached out because “when you’re unemployed, you kind of watch everybody. I followed what was going on everywhere.”

He returns to the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2013, but Watford was willing to go anywhere for a job.

“If it was a 1-855, a 1-800 (phone number), I was still going to answer it,” Watford said. “I didn’t really care. Somebody call me.”

Watford has only been back for a few days, but with the Cardinals’ injury situation on the line, he could get thrust into the lineup quickly. Watford said he is ready to play Sunday if needed.

ALEX BOONE HAS CHANCE TO PLAY AGAINST EAGLES

Arians is hopeful that left guard Alex Boone (chest) will return to the lineup on Sunday against the Eagles. He practiced in a limited capacity on Wednesday. Rookie Will Holden started at left guard against the 49ers with Mike Iupati and Boone both hurt.

Others Cardinals limited on Wednesday were wideout John Brown (quad), wideout J.J. Nelson (hamstring/tooth), linebacker Josh Bynes (groin), linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) and defensive lineman Josh Mauro (calf). Left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (calf) didn’t practice.

For the Eagles, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf), cornerback Ronald Darby (ankle), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (heel) and running back Wendell Smallwood (knee) didn’t practice. Defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist) was limited.

CARDINALS MAKE PRACTICE SQUAD MOVE

Linebacker Vontarrious Dora was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday. He takes the place of linebacker Obum Gwacham, who was signed to the Jets’ active roster.

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