It may have been the offseason and it may have been early in the morning, but Bruce Arians was in regular-season form as he met the media Wednesday at the NFC coaches breakfast during the NFL spring meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.
The Cardinals' coach even managed a smile when inevitably asked about the constant rumors linking an Adrian Peterson trade to his team.
"That's tampering, dude," Arians said. "I can't talk about another player. I ain't saying jack about Adrian Peterson. I'd get fined for that."
(Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was able to say something, of course: "We have no plans to trade Adrian.")
There was plenty that Arians was willing to talk about, however.
Pleased with the free agents the Cardinals added on the offensive line, Arians said he was still hopeful the team could bring back recently released center Lyle Sendlein – the team had asked him to take a pay cut; Sendlein wanted to see his value on the open market.
"I thought Lyle played well last year," Arians said. "In November and December, he was hurt and gutted it out. It was not his best in those two months. As an organization, we would still like to have him back and put him in that mix."
The Cardinals' run game was impacted last season when Andre Ellington and Jonathan Dwyer were lost. Arians would like to be more physical, and he said he will be issuing a challenge to left tackle Jared Veldheer and left guard Mike Iupati.
"I don't mind running left and I don't mind we'll tell you we're coming over there," Arians said. "Stop it. So that'll be my challenge to those two guys: Come up to the line and tell them we're running right here stop us. That's the attitude we want to have."
As for some of the other personnel issues Arians addressed:
-- The Cardinals will try 2014 third-round pick Kareem Martin, a defensive end, at outside linebacker. There was talk Martin could play there when he was drafted. Martin did not play much at all as a rookie.
"With his length, I wouldn't say he's (49ers linebacker) Aldon Smith at this point in his career, but he's got that body style and he's shown some stuff off the edge," Arians said.
-- Arians said he is hopeful nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu can bounce back to his 2013 form after a torn ACL at the end of that season sidetracked him in 2014. The Cardinals need him after Dan Williams left in free agency.
"He was not the same guy," Arians said. "He got heavy, basically ate himself out of a job. He was still
not the athlete he was before, and hopefully with the brace off now and his weight down, he can be the guy. Because he can be a dominant force."
-- The same goes for defensive end Calais Campbell, who Arians said needs to find a more consistent level on the field despite making the Pro Bowl last season. Arians said he even mentioned it to Campbell in a brief interaction recently.
"He disappears too much," Arians said. "I told him that the other day, 'You can't disappear in games, you've got to be dominant.' "
-- Jerraud Powers will be tough to beat out as the replacement at cornerback for Antonio Cromartie, but Justin Bethel will have a chance, Arians said. Arians added he doesn't want to add a veteran cornerback, but would like to bring in a "young, long, fast" corner.
-- The running back class is deep and the Cardinals should be able to find a good one some rounds in if needed, Arians said.
-- New linebackers coach Larry Foote could still be a linebacker. Arians said he just needs to have Foote change his mind about playing by the time training camp starts, noting Foote had knee surgery that would have limited his work in the offseason anyway. "We've got an alternate plan (for coaches) ready if he decides to go back and play," Arians said.
-- Arians continues to say he has three future head coaches on the staff, although he declined to say who. Coordinators Harold Goodwin and James Bettcher are the obvious ones. "They should know now or they ain't one," Arians said with a smile.
Not surprisingly, in an hour-long chat, Arians was at his best with a handful of crack-up-the-group moments. The best of which was while discussing how the culture of the team has been built with a chemistry between he and General Manager Steve Keim with no ego, and how both understand they should deflect whatever accolades they get.
It just so happened Keim received a glass vase – it looked like a giant beer glass – this week for being named Sporting News Executive of the Year.
"(Steve) was embarrassed as hell to go up and get his the other day," Arians said. "I was like 'Dude, you got a cup. We can drink out of that.' "
But that's Arians, and why he shrugged off the idea he might talk about things differently had he had a head coaching job 20 years ago.
"I don't give a crap," Arians said. "I don't think I talked any different back then. That's probably why I didn't get a head coaching job. I think the truth is the truth, and some people just can't take the truth."
Images of each player currently on the Cardinals roster