Rookie guard Earl Watford sets for a play in Monday's practice.
Every rep counts for Earl Watford.
The rookie right guard has been given more opportunities to prove himself to coach Bruce Arians with starting guard Daryn Colledge out with a nerve injury in his right leg. Watford needs every snap he can get.
"He's getting better each day," Arians said. "A little bit raw but very talented.
"When he gets his hands on you it's over. He's just got to figure out who to get his hands on."
Mental errors have marred Watford's first two weeks of camp, but he's still optimistic he can compete with Paul Fanaika and Senio Kelemete to back up Colledge.
"They have more experience than me," Watford said. "But hopefully during these preseason games I can get a lot of work in and play as hard as I possibly can to put my name up there with them and come in here
to practice and get better. You can only do so much to control what you can control. Just come out here and do your job and things will fall into place."
Friday's first preseason game at Green Bay won't just be Watford's first NFL game. It'll start the evaluation period that coaches focus on when determining who makes the final 53-man roster.
"This is where you make the team," Watford said. "Either you're going to be practice squad, on the team or somewhere else. You never know."
About 10 days into his first training camp, the game is starting to slow down for Watford, who said the speed was overwhelming at first. But he's learning the ropes. Watford leaped over one major rookie hurdle when he figured out that a major key is staying calm within his own head.
"That's probably the biggest thing. It's a lot to know and a lot to learn," Watford said. "I'm adjusting but Friday will help a lot with that. Like a lot of vets said, 'Once you get through the preseason, things will slow down, you will get more comfortable.' I'm a little on edge … excited more just got to go out there and compete."
SEPTEMBER COMES EARLY FOR D-WASH
With Daryl Washington's four-game suspension set to kick in before Week 1 of the regular season, Arians plans to get his Pro Bowl linebacker as many snaps as possible during the preseason.
"He'll play a bunch in the preseason games, probably more than he ever has," Arians said of Washington, who was listed third at one inside linebacker position on the depth chart for Friday's game at Green Bay. "His preseason is his September so that he has plenty of snaps in our defense. He's not used to playing with the threes, but he'll be playing with the twos and the threes more. And he should have plenty of time then to step back in September and be ready to go."
Arians cautioned that Washington's third-string placement on the depth chart was only because of the looming suspension. It will be adjusted after Washington returns in the regular season.
TIME IS AGAINST THEM
Arians all but said Monday that time is against two players who are missing practice time due to injuries.
Ryan Williams sat out another day while resting his right knee because of irritation.
"It's hurting him extremely not to be on the field competing for the job because of the other guys who are doing so well," Arians said.
Rookie Robert Gill, third on the depth chart behind Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, missed his eighth day of practice while recovering from a hamstring injury.
"He's still very iffy," Arians said. "It's a matter of the clock's ticking."
RESERVE RUNNING BACKS STANDING OUT
While Rashard Mendenhall and Williams tend to their injuries, Alfonso Smith, Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington have showed Arians they're capable of providing the Cardinals with a deep well of reserves.
Arians said Taylor and Ellington, both rookies, have separated themselves "from the rest of the pack" mainly because of their pass protection. And Smith, Arians said, is having a "great camp."
"I'm extremely pleased with the depth that these two guys (can provide), and I'm excited for Alfonso because I think he's making a really big step to making our football team," Arians said.
Arians said the starters will play about 15 plays at Green Bay. … First cuts down to 75 will be Aug. 27. … Arians said he will most likely keep four or five running backs. … Mendenhall's tendinitis is calming down.