Wide receiver Trevor Harman runs a route during the Cardinals' OTA on Wednesday.
Trevor Harman had a slight miscue while running a route on Tuesday morning. As a pass sailed his way, the rookie wide receiver out of Shippensburg University lost track of it for a split-second, which resulted in a drop.
In the background stood a man he's known for all of his life. For all but the past few weeks, he's been Uncle Bruce. This time, he was Coach Arians.
"I turned around and he's looking at me," Harman said. "Shoot. Here we go."
The Cardinals' coach has never held back with his players, quick to compliment and also unafraid to forcefully admonish. Harman was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the draft, and if there was any question about whether he'd get preferential treatment, the answer was clear after the drop.
Just like the 89 other players on the roster, Harman is held to an exceedingly high standard, even if he is Arians' nephew.
"He's not any different," Arians said.
"Bloodlines? Whatever," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It doesn't matter. If you can play, he'll play you. He's not going to be on the team because he's related to anybody. The best 53 are going to make this roster and that's very well understood by this entire team."
The stakes are too high for any family favors to color a personnel decision. Harman is here because he caught 321 passes for 4,249 yards and 61 touchdowns in his four years of college, all school records.
He had other teams interested during the pre-draft process, but the Cardinals were the first to call. It wasn't Arians who offered the contract, Harman instead learning of the team's interest via his agent. Arians' only communication was a 'Congratulations' text message following the agreement.
When Harman arrived at offseason workouts, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and other players quickly picked up on the family ties, and couldn't resist giving him some flak.
"At first they did," Harman said. "Not anymore. Maybe they can see I could do something (on the field). At first Fitz was giving me a little problem. Some of the other guys were giving me problems."
Harman worked out with Palmer at Fischer Institute in Phoenix prior to the draft. The pair struck up a friendship, and while
Harman never disclosed his relation to Arians, Palmer "found out somehow."
"Ugh," Harman said. "I didn't want anybody to know. He found out. We would just talk every day, and then probably my very last week he found out when I was training. Man, that stinks. Then I had to own up to it."
Arians didn't attend Harman's high school or college games – the NFL season runs concurrently – and when they chatted at family get-togethers, football rarely came up. But like any other potential prospect, Arians studied Harman's tape and liked what he saw.
"His production in college speaks for itself," Arians said. "He's a big, physical receiver. He's got an opportunity."
Harman will have to leapfrog several receivers to land a spot on the 53-man roster, and while the link to Arians won't help, his undrafted status won't hurt. Last year, wideout Walt Powell was a sixth-round draft pick who was cut before the season in favor of Jaron Brown, a former undrafted free agent.
"It's going to be tough to break that group of guys we have, but somebody's going to make the team on special teams ability alone," Palmer said. "He's big, he's quick, he's fast, he gets the game, so we'll see."
When the work day is done, Arians goes one way and Harman the other. There aren't any family dinners to cloud the duo's current relationship of coach and player.
"I have to come out here and earn every single step," Harman said. "If I get cut, I get cut. Bloodlines don't really mean anything. This is a business when it comes down to it."
Arians has adopted the 'cool uncle' moniker with the team, and Harman confirms that status with a broad smile, his mind retracing the experiences they've had together over the years. But this is a different side of Uncle Bruce, the fiery competitor aiming to build a Super Bowl contender.
"He's definitely that (cool uncle) off the field," Harman said. "Right now? I don't know."
Arians' philosophy is to 'coach 'em hard and hug 'em later,' which has endeared him to the Cardinals players. This is Harman's first taste of Arians' coaching style, but it hasn't changed his perception of Uncle Bruce.
"He's still the man," Harman said. "He's always going to be that cool uncle."