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Arians Test-Drives His Team

Cardinals open preseason in Green Bay


Coach Bruce Arians talks with cornerback Patrick Peterson at a training camp practice.

GREEN BAY, WI -- The fields won't be fully painted and the locker rooms will be overflowing with bodies, equipment and sweat.

The sidelines will be stocked with NFL hopefuls.

But that won't stop Bruce Arians from trying to win Friday's preseason opener at Green Bay – or any of the three after that.

Arians begins his head coaching career this week at 60 years old and he won't be wasting any time lollygagging his way through the preseason. He's seen what works and what doesn't, and it's allowed him to develop his own philosophy for the preseason.

"Win the game, first and foremost,' Arians said. "And in this one, look at the young players. They're going to play the most."

With many jobs still open, Friday's game will start the process of sorting out various positions.

Arians has taken a keen interest in both tackles, watching Levi Brown and Nate Potter battle on the left side, and Eric Winston and Bobby Massie on the right. Arians will also have his eye on cornerback, as Jerraud Powers and Antoine Cason compete for the other starting job across from Patrick Peterson.

Then there are the wide receivers, which has eight players are vying for one spot. But they'll all have their chance to impress the coaching staff.

Arians said this week that the starters will play about 15 snaps, hopefully all in the first quarter. There's a chance, however, a long possession pushes them into the second, Arians warned.  

Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said a lot can go wrong in that time.

"This is an intricate offense," he said. "There are a lot of things that are expected of you on every single nap, from blocking to adjustments to rout recognition and things like that. So Coach Arians puts a lot of responsibility on his players and you can be exposed out there in 15 plays.

"We want to make sure everybody is on the same page in 15 plays."

Even though it's the preseason, the nerves will kick into high gear just before kickoff, Fitzgerald said. But it's up to the players to temper themselves and stay within control, and not get hurt.

Arians won't be unveiling the special packages installed during training camp, such as the one for Peterson. Arians said the cornerback could get 10 to 15 snaps per game at wide receiver, helping relieve the log jam after the top three receivers.

Arians established his coaching style from the start of camp. There aren't any lulls in practice, quarterback Carson Palmer said, and each meeting seems to have a purpose. The players respect and appreciate that, especially the veterans, Palmer said.

"He's in a great position to kind of take little things he likes from, whether they're mentors of his or coaches he didn't like maybe, but he really liked the way they did this or did that maybe," Palmer said. "It seems like he's done a great job of implementing really good things he liked and not doing things he disliked and really put it all in one."

His players will see more of Arians' approach to training camp Friday, but it'll evolve over the course of four preseason games as starters are established and more positions settle themselves. Despite using this game as a way to evaluate, Arians wants to put a football team on the field that can win.

"We want to get off to a decent start offensively and defensively, obviously," Arians said. "But it's not that critical as much as watching three quarters of young players play and see what we have, who can actually get in the mix when the bright lights come on.

"But every game we go out to win."

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