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Byron Leftwich Leaves No Doubt

OC Byron Leftwich on the sideline during the Cardinals' win over the 49ers
OC Byron Leftwich on the sideline during the Cardinals' win over the 49ers

The Byron Leftwich era did not get off to a roaring start, as the Cardinals’ offense was listless through three quarters on Sunday against the 49ers.

Was the team’s new offensive coordinator worried?

“Oh, no, there was no second-guessing,” Leftwich said. “Every time you call one, you think that’s the one. And when it’s not, the key is for the guys to keep fighting. Our guys just kept fighting.”

The offense, of course, found its groove late, as quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns in the final quarter for the 18-15 win.

Leftwich certainly added some wrinkles in his first game calling plays, as the Cardinals threw 10 screen passes, per Pro Football Focus, after averaging 3.3 per game previously. He mostly focused on the players during his media session Tuesday, complimenting the offense for the way it hung in and stormed back.

“It wasn’t just Josh,” Leftwich said. “You watch our offensive line, the plays that we made at the skill positions. Everybody was locked in and ready to try to win that football game.”

Leftwich continues to settle into his new role, and will have a chance to put more of his stamp on the offense with a bye this weekend.

“It gives me some time to tweak things here and there, to see it my way,” Leftwich said.

MESSAGE HEARD BY CARDINALS’ DEFENSE

The Cardinals had one of their best defensive showings of the season against San Francisco, and defensive coordinator Al Holcomb believes it’s because the players are feeling more comfortable within the new scheme.

In 2013, this was also about the time when the Cardinals started to click under new coach Bruce Arians.

“I think our players are starting to get it a little bit more now,” Holcomb said. “With a lot of live rep experience, which I think is helping them, they’re starting to see that hey, if I just do this, then we have a shot.”

Holcomb said the holdover players needed to understand that buy-in across the board was the key to finding success.

“All of those guys, every man wants to make plays,” Holcomb said. “And sometimes they try to do a little bit too much and it hurts us. In this style of defense that we play here, if you execute your assignment, and you’re where you’re supposed to be, the plays are going to come to you.”

SEVERAL STARTERS DON’T PRACTICE

This was a bonus week for the Cardinals, so it was not a big surprise to see several veterans not participating during the open portion of practice. Defensive tackle Corey Peters, left tackle D.J. Humphries, guard Mike Iupati and wide receiver Chad Williams weren’t present when the media was allowed to watch.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and safety Tre Boston were on the field but did not have their helmets. Guard Justin Pugh was practicing as he aims to return from a hand injury in Week 10 against the Chiefs.

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