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Cardinals Find Ways To Adjust With Another Coaching Change

Bumpy season now finds Heiden heading up run game

Four of the five offensive line starters -- Rashaad Coward, Billy Price, Lecitus Smith and Kelvin Beachum -- take a moment in the locker room prior to Monday night's game in Mexico City.
Four of the five offensive line starters -- Rashaad Coward, Billy Price, Lecitus Smith and Kelvin Beachum -- take a moment in the locker room prior to Monday night's game in Mexico City.

Kelvin Beachum, the Cardinals right tackle, is the lone offensive line starter left healthy at this point in the season.

He is also the leader, which is why he was the one left to talk about the dismissal of offensive line coach/run game coordinator Sean Kugler and why head coach Kliff Kingsbury suggested to the veteran Wednesday morning he would make a good coach.

But Beachum, who will now play under former tight ends coach Steve Heiden (taking Kugler's role) with assistant O-line coach Brian Natkin, said being a veteran leader is all he'll be.

"Coaches are coaches and players gotta play," Beachum said. "We've got a great opportunity to handle the cards we have been dealt at this point.

"As far as taking on additional coaching responsibilities, they don't pay me for all that."

Beachum smiled as he said it, but the news Kugler had been let go from his job and sent home from Mexico prior to the "Monday Night Football" game against the 49ers was another blow in a season that has been full of them.

"It's a been a lot that has gone on since this particular offseason," Beachum said. "Quite a bit that has gone on in this locker room. But at the end of the day, there is still an opportunity."

Kugler is the third coach to leave the staff since training camp. Running backs coach James Saxon resigned after pleading guilty to a count of domestic battery, and assistant running backs coach Don Shumpert was let go last month when the team decided to go in a "different direction," coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

"It's certainly not ideal for a team and focus," said Kingsbury, who declined to get into the details of the Kugler situation. "You wish it didn't occur, but it did, and our team has done a great job of adjusting. Our staff, being down some numbers, guys have had to step up and answer the call."

Kingsbury said the season has been unique with which to deal. Aside from injuries and other issues on the field, there was the tragic death of cornerback Jeff Gladney in the offseason and the drama around quarterback Kyler Murray's contract.

Beachum said he talked to Kugler, who is "devastated" with the situation, and said he still has the relationship he had before with the man who was the Steelers' offensive line coach when they drafted Beachum.

"But at the same time this is a business, and we are professionals," Beachum said. "We are called to do certain things and act in a certain way that's becoming of an Arizona Cardinal. I don't know any details of what happened, but what I am currently worried about are the guys here."

Kingsbury said he continues to lean on defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, a former head coach with the Broncos, for counsel.

But the Cardinals are feeling all the twists and turns they have absorbed already – and the team hasn't even gotten to their bye week.

"This whole year has been kind of a rollercoaster," Murray said. "It seems like we were in the news all offseason, and then the season, losing Jeff and coaches, it's been up and down. But this group is resilient.

"The mentality, it could be a lot different around here. But it's not. These guys have a lot of faith, a lot of belief, and it's a great locker room to be part of."