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Healthy Start To #CardsCamp

Posted Jul 26, 2014

Notebook: Kicking competition underway; Tweaks possible for offense

Wide receiver Michael Floyd (right) and cornerback Patrick Peterson match up on a play during Saturday's practice.

Even without pads on yet, the injuries have started to mount throughout the NFL.

Colts running back Vick Ballard and Ravens cornerback Aaron Ross tore Achilles tendons and will miss the season. 49ers running back Kendall Hunter is out for the year with a torn ACL. Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts will miss several weeks with a hamstring injury.

It’s a fact of life in football, and when asked if there are any precautions coaches can take to prevent them, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians came up with just one, sticking his index finger in the air and crossing his middle finger around it.

“You’ve got to practice and hope that the gods are smiling on you,” Arians said. “That’s the downside of the business. You hold your fingers every day, but you have to practice and you have to get after it. You have to be smart about it. The non-contact injuries are the ones where you just shake your head and say, why?”

It’s no secret that injuries can change a season’s forecast at a moment’s notice, and the Cardinals wrapped up their first practice of training camp on Saturday afternoon in good shape. Safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu are still several weeks away from a return, but their injuries are nothing new.

Other than that, the Cardinals have all hands on deck.

“We’re injury free,” Arians said. “Other than the two guys on PUP, we’re as healthy as I’ve ever seen.”

THREE’S COMPANY IN KICKING COMPETITION

It’s not uncommon to see two kickers in training camps, but three is more of a rarity. The Cardinals signed Danny Hrapmann to a future contract in January and re-signed incumbent Jay Feely in March, but Arians said rookie free agent Chandler Catanzaro piqued the Cardinals’ interest, and they added him after the draft without releasing either of the others.

Catanzaro and Feely split the field goal attempts on Saturday.

“So far, Cat’s made the big kicks that matter, and that’s the ones where you get out of practice early,” Arians said. “The other 89 guys are breathing on you. I’m anxious to see him kick off. Danny I know has a very strong leg and has been in a couple camps. Jay’s Jay. We know what Jay is. It should be a healthy competition.”

Feely has 13 years in the NFL while neither Hrapmann nor Catanzaro have kicked in a regular season game, but that inexperience won’t be held against them.

“I don’t give a (expletive), whatever position it is,” Arians said. “If they can play, they can play. Everybody’s got to be a rookie sometime.”

Extra points will be moved back to the 20-yard line for the first two weeks of the preseason, which pleases Arians because the 38-yard field goal equivalent will test the kickers and give him more opportunity to evaluate them.

THOUGHTS ON OUTSIDE EXPECTATIONS

‘Tis the season for prognostications, and most pundits have placed the Cardinals near the top third of the NFL echelon, but behind the Seahawks and 49ers in the NFC West. Arians understands that line of thinking, and appreciates the national respect the team gained after last year’s 10-6 record.

“It’s good,” Arians said. “It’s better than being 32nd, where we were two years ago (in Indianapolis). But we ended up 11-5, so I don’t put stock in any of it. It can all change with one injury. But right now, I agree with them. I think we’re a quality football team that plays in a very tough division. We have to win the division.”

NO-HUDDLE POSSIBLE, MORE BACKFIELD CATCHES ON OFFENSE

The Cardinals’ offense could add new looks in 2014. Quarterback Carson Palmer said he and Arians have discussed going no-huddle this year, something he did plenty in Cincinnati.

“It’s definitely been talked about a handful of times,” Palmer said. “I’ve welcomed it. Coach and I haven’t sat down and talked about it a ton, but I’m very familiar with it. I ran it for all those years, seven years. We’ll see what happens.”

The running backs are expected to be more involved in the passing game, led by Andre Ellington, who is replacing the retired Rashard Mendenhall in the starting lineup.

“Rashard was not a pass-catcher,” Arians said. “He was a good flare-control guy. You still build things around what the players can do. Our backs are all good receivers. Now, some better than others when you extend them out of the backfield, so just ask them to do the things they can do. They can be primaries where in the past they were third or fourth options.”

BRIDGES AMONG COACHING INTERNS AT CAMP

Former Cardinals offensive lineman Jeremy Bridges is among the coaching interns in training camp. He had a pair of playing stints with the team, in 2004-05 and 2009-11.

Former NFL players Corey Ivy, Daylon McCutcheon, O.J. Santiago and Fred Miller are the other coaching interns.

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