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Practice Works With Proper Pads

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Notebook: Players get used to rule; Mathieu considers punt return role

Nose tackle Dan Williams (92) battles center Lyle Sendlein during live blocking drills Sunday.

When the Cardinals strapped on their pads for the first time during training camp Sunday, coach Bruce Arians made sure they didn’t forget two things: thigh and knee pads.

Many in the locker room actually needed to be reminded.

A league-wide rule passed in 2012 requiring thigh and knee pads is being implemented this season. The NFL will have monitors on every sideline policing the new policy and they’ll have the ability to prevent players from taking the field if they aren’t fully outfitted – something Arians wants to prevent.

“With the lightweight materials and things they have today, it’s not like they’re putting on a bunch of weight,” Arians said. “As a coach you hate to lose a guy from a thigh bruise because he didn’t wear thigh pads or knee bruise because he didn’t wear knee pads.”

Compared to their teammates, wide receivers typically don’t wear as many pads, but Andre Roberts said thigh and knee pads aren’t going to make a big difference.

“I don’t think it’s going to slow anybody down,” Roberts said. “People may say it’ll slow you down (but) it’s a few ounces on your body so I don’t think it’ll slow you down.”

Arians made pads mandatory during practice.

Defensive tackle Dan Williams hasn’t work thigh pads since his final season at the University of Tennessee in 2009. It took just one practice for him to become reacquainted with them.

“Honestly, I didn’t even notice them,” Williams said. “You’re just out there still trying to run, you don’t really have to think about it. You’re out there fighting for your job so you don’t have to think what your knee pads and thigh pads are doing for me.”

Arians understands major injuries won’t be prevented by a thigh or knee pad, but they can help avoid nuisance bruises that would cause players to miss practices or a game. Arians has let his team know that.

“You pretty much don’t have a choice,” Williams said. “It’s part of our job description. If you want to do it, you can keep your job and if you don’t they won’t let you play.

“BA’s definitely reiterating how important it is. We don’t want to get a penalty or lose a good player just because want to look pretty.”

DOUBLE TROUBLE ON PUNT RETURNS

Ever since the Cardinals drafted Tyrann Mathieu, Arians has daydreamed aloud about the rookie returning punts alongside Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson. It made sense to make opponents pick their poison, and if they didn’t, they’d most likely just punt the ball out-of-bounds.

But Mathieu, who played alongside Peterson in college, isn’t so sure if his mentor will cede any of the actual return duties.

“I don’t think you necessarily have to have two guys back there with Patrick on the team,” Mathieu said. “So if they kick it out of bounds that’s pretty good field position for us. I mean I wouldn’t mind being back there with Patrick but I doubt if he’d let me catch it though. That’s the biggest thing.

“I might just be a decoy. I have to work on some blocking.”

MASSIE’S IMPROVEMENT

It’s safe to say Bobby Massie took his lumps as a rookie at right tackle last season.

He allowed 13 sacks in his first eight games last season, according to Pro Football Focus, but none in his final eight. In October, those numbers led Massie to be ranked as the second worst tackle in football. Last week, Massie laughed at them.

So what changed?

“I think I was tired of getting my ass kicked,” Massie said. “Probably after sack number 12 that’s when it kicked in. I wasn’t used to getting beat like that. It never happened in my career before. It was a big shock for me. There were a lot of people around me who helped get me back into my game.”

Massie said he’s ahead of last year “physically, mentally and everything.”

“I just have to pick up where I left off last year,” he added.

CARDS CLAIM SHULER

The Cardinals were awarded tight end Mickey Shuler on Sunday after claiming him off waivers. Shuler, who spent 11 weeks on the Raiders’ practice squad last season, was waived last week by the Buffalo Bills. He will add depth during camp to a position that’s already thin. Jeff King missed practice Sunday.

“We’ve had some concerns with our depth at that position and thought it would be the right thing to do to claim him once he hit waivers,” General Manager Steve Keim said. “He does have some length to him. He’s a pretty good athlete. As far as his in line blocking we’ll find out since the pads are on today and the next few weeks. He’s got a good skill set catching the football. He can create separation in the passing game and for a guy who’s on the streets this time of the year, I think it was a good decision.”

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