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Ted Larsen Positioned As Starting Guard

Posted Aug 18, 2014

Notebook: Mental errors a problem vs. Vikings; Feely works on kickoffs

Ted Larsen (62), who has been starting at center for the injured Lyle Sendlein, has a "good chance" to be the starting left guard.

Ted Larsen signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in March in part because he could see a scenario where he could start on the offensive line. For the time being, that could be now.

With starting center Lyle Sendlein – for whom Larsen has been subbing for while Sendlein nurses a calf injury – returning the practice as early as Wednesday, coach Bruce Arians said there was a “really good chance” Larsen will be the Cardinals’ starting left guard.

Left guard, of course, is where 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper is supposed to start. But Cooper struggled when he was playing, and right now, he remains sidelined with a turf toe injury. After making his comment about Larsen, Arians was asked about Cooper.

“He’s in the training room,” Arians said. “He can’t do anything.”

Arians also said Earl Watford, the 2013 fourth-round pick who started for Cooper Saturday night in Minnesota, did some good things but also was still making rookie mistakes. Consistency is an issue.

That leaves Larsen, whom General Manager Steve Keim called one of the team’s five best offensive linemen in camp thus far. And Arians made clear, “we’ll put the best five out there. There is no doubt about that.”

Larsen did his best to downplay Arians’ news.

“If you are going to be that sixth guy, you have to be ready,” Larsen said. “That’s something I’ve been forced to do in my time in the NFL.”

Larsen praised the coaching staff for allowing him to just do his job and be a professional.  

“You just have to play ball,” said Larsen, who played the last four years in Tampa Bay. “You don’t have to worry about a bunch of little stuff. You don’t have someone looking over your shoulder, stressing you out. It’s been stress-free.”

MENTALLY NOT THERE IN MINNESOTA

After further review, Arians and his staff weren’t thrilled with the approximately 70 mental errors the Cardinals committed against the Vikings. Arians was particularly upset with his starting defensive unit, which played about 10 plays and had “three or four.”

“Inexcusable,” Arians said.

What was troubling, starting safety Rashad Johnson said, was that the defense was not asked to do anything different than what they had been doing all through camp. No new coverages were added for the game, just the normal “basic” calls.

“You pay attention to the mental errors because at the end of the day you want to be consistent as a defense, regardless if it is the preseason or not,” Johnson said. “We understand guys are going to get beat. We don’t want to beat ourselves. It’s definitely a big thing when you are having mental errors, as many as we had on defense, that’s tough.”

Arians wasn’t happy that the Cardinals multiple times did not run blitzes the way they were supposed to be run. And the long touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph came when a linebacker did not track him well enough in zone coverage.

“Straight-ass mental error,” Arians called it.

FEELY WORKS ON KICKOFFS

All those fourth-down attempts against the Vikings were a little disappointing to kicker Jay Feely, who felt he had a good warmup period in Minnesota and hoped to show it off with some field goal attempts. He didn’t get that chance, although his kickoffs are likely under the most scrutiny in his battle with rookie Chandler Catanzaro.

Feely has adjusted his kickoff style this season, following a similar pattern of one-time Lions kicker Jason Hansen of a longer runup before kicking in order to help his hangtime and distance. “As you get older, you won’t kick the ball as far. That’s reality,” Feely said.

Feely said he is still learning with the new technique, especially in a game situation. Feely’s kickoffs in Minnesota provided mixed results, although Arians said “our coverage units were terrible.”

“When you get into a game and you try something new, even though you practiced it there will be a period where you have to get comfortable with it,” Feely said. “I think it will benefit me in the long run.

His last kickoff was very good. The others didn’t go as well as he would have liked, although he noted those were into the wind.

“You have to understand all those things when you look at how you kicked and what the results were,” Feely said.

Arians said Feely was better, and that he and Catanzaro could end up splitting time this week at home against the Bengals.

INJURY UPDATE

Tackle Max Starks (ankle) is expected to miss at least a week, while Cooper (toe), Sendlein (calf), linebacker Kevin Minter (pectoral), cornerback Teddy Williams (groin), wide receiver Michael Floyd (groin) and cornerback Justin Bethel (thigh) were sitting out Monday. Arians said “half of them” should be back Wednesday. 

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