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Curveballs Don't Throw Off Cardinals

Bruce Arians' illness, five-day stay in San Diego bring challenges heading into preseason game

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Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was back at practice for a limited time on Wednesday afternoon.


SAN DIEGO – The trip out here was never supposed to be a walk on the beach, but it took an ominous turn when Bruce Arians was admitted to a local hospital with stomach pain on Tuesday.

The Cardinals' coach was lucky. He avoided anything serious with a diagnosis of diverticulitis, an infection of the colon, and was even able to jokingly turn it into a positive.

Throughout training camp in Arizona, the team was in the same routine: wake up at a nearby hotel, go through a walkthrough in the morning, a practice in the afternoon and have meetings at night. The five-day stay in San Diego upset that rhythm, and Arians' health scare added another layer of unexpectedness.

"This is part of it," Arians said with a mischievous smile. "I did it on purpose."

Unplanned crises are nothing new to NFL teams, although most of the time it has to do with an injury to a

major player. Whether it is on the coaching staff or the roster, the team knows this won't be the last sign of hardship in 2016.

The Cardinals hope to play well against the Chargers in the team's second preseason game on Friday night to show they can handle the speed bumps.

"When your head coach has to be rushed to the hospital, and they did tell us everything was going to be OK, but initially you're scared," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "We were like, 'What's going on?' A couple minutes to 30 minutes, an hour later, they told us he was going to be ok and be back to the hotel.

"It's always good to face adversity early and to see how your team is going to react. I think we handled it well. We've got some great leaders on this football team that understand how to handle these type of moments, that understand how to move forward."

The Cardinals took the field for a joint practice on Tuesday with the Chargers without Arians. His absence was especially glaring when the two teams came together at midfield beforehand and were addressed by San Diego coach Mike McCoy. After that, though, it was business as usual.

"You just go," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "You just do. I think we just said a quick prayer for him and went to work. If there's a reason for that, it's because you know that's what he wanted us to do."

Arians attended an early portion of Wednesday's practice before heading out, careful to heed the advice of doctors and not push himself too much. It was a different feeling for the Cardinals not having the watchful – and sometimes glaring – eye of their coach during the drills.

"He definitely has a presence," linebacker Kevin Minter said.

It's uncertain exactly what kind of role Arians will have during the game. Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin was already scheduled to call plays, so that won't need any adjustment, but that was the arrangement in the preseason opener and Arians still kept himself busy barking at the officials and throwing challenge flags.

This one is likely to feature a more subdued Arians, wherever he may post up for the action. The players, though, will attempt to block that out and play like Arians prefers: with their hair on fire.

"As much as it stinks and as hard as it is, it's just another obstacle to get over," Palmer said. "It's good in that aspect, that you've got to deal with adversity. You don't know what's going to happen. If an injury happens to a player, if an injury happens to a coach, you've got to block out and focus on the task at hand and each play by play. It's good to have some opportunities where you lose a guy and someone's got to step up for him."

Photos from the second day of San Diego practices between the Cards and Chargers



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