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Athletic Earl Watford Just Wants On Field

Notes: Guard could play other spots; Johnson leaves practice; Weatherspoon sits

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Guards Earl Watford (78) and Mike Iupati talk during Sunday's practice at University of Phoenix Stadium.


Earl Watford allowed himself a small smile when he heard that Bruce Arians said Sunday the Cardinals need to find a way to get Watford on the field.

That's all the offensive lineman wants, after spending the first two years of his career not being out there. It might be as a guard – his drafted position – or tackle, or tight end or even fullback.

"Whatever it takes," Watford said. "I'm really just trying to compete in everything I do. I'm trying to perfect everything. I'm in there doing. I'm in year three and I have let myself down these past two years and it's time to make a change. It's time to let loose and keep myself on the field."

In a perfect world the 2013 draft class would have provided the Cardinals with both starting guards, with fourth-rounder Watford and first-rounder Jonathan Cooper. But Cooper, while penciled in as the starter right now, still hasn't proven himself to stay there, and Watford's attempts weren't enough to ward off the free-agent signing of Mike Iupati.

Iupati now is the lock at left guard. Cooper is trying to hang on to the right side, and the athletic Watford is trying to make the roster. To listen to Arians, he's got a good chance.

Watford has been practicing at both guard and tackle. If it hadn't been for so much inexperience in the tight end room, Arians said he thought about putting Watford there too, noting how smoothly Watford can catch the ball.

"He's a tremendous athlete," Arians said. "We have to find places to put him. He's a hell of an athlete."

"I think he can help us," Arians added.

That's all Watford wants.

"I'm making a few changes and trying to put myself in a position to help the team win and get myself on the field and be a pivotal part of it," Watford said. "Tell me to go do something I'll go do it to the best of my abilities. I want to be a starter. Wherever it is, we will see. If I can't start, I'll push the other guys."

DAVID JOHNSON'S DAY ENDS EARLY

Rookie running back David Johnson made a nice run early in practice, sprinting to the outside. But he clearly pulled up late in the run favoring his leg and didn't return to work. Arians should address his status Monday. Starting running back Andre Ellington also didn't get a lot of reps Sunday. It's unknown if that is injury-related or if the Cards just want to keep his workload down. The latter makes sense after all the injuries he dealt with last season.

Linebackers Sean Weatherspoon (hamstring), Shaq Riddick (hamstring) and Daryl Sharpton (hip flexor) all sat out after getting hurt Saturday. Arians said Weatherspoon was hopefully going to be ready Monday when the pads come on.

BETTER BLOCKING FOR THE RETURN GAME

The Cardinals are looking for new kickoff and punt returners this season. But whoever is back fielding those kicks, Arians said the blocking must improve.

Pro Bowl special teamer Justin Bethel said both parts of the return games could stand an upgrade.

"There were times last year where we had the opening but wouldn't take them, and there were times when, even myself, if I would've gotten my guy just a little better it would've been 15 or 20 yards of space," Bethel said.

"Whoever is back there I want to protect. We'll only put guys back there who can make a play. It doesn't really matter who is back there."

Images from the second training camp practice on Sunday



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