New Cardinals guard Alex Boone (left) with guard/tackle John Wetzel at practice on Wednesday
Alex Boone felt odd walking into the Cardinals' facility on Wednesday, joining a team that for so long was a chief rival in the NFC West.
But the former 49ers standout guard was already cracking jokes with the team's media relations staff before his first interview, seemingly at ease in his new surroundings.
"I'm going to be straight up with you – it felt a little weird, but at the same time, it felt right," Boone said. "I remember a lot of those games. I remember Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. I remember getting fined for starting a fight with the nose tackle. We had a lot of good fun, and that's what kind of brought me here. I knew the passion this team had, and that these guys really wanted to win. I've played them so many times I figured I may as well come play with them."
Boone has started 73 career games and signed a lavish four-year deal with the Vikings just last offseason, but was released to save cap dollars as part of their final cuts. He is trying to get up to speed quickly, and for now will have a backup role.
"He's just learning," coach Bruce Arians said. "He learned the snap count today and he got a few reps. We'll see (about the chance to start). Right now it would probably have to be an injury or somebody really fail badly."
Mike Iupati is a former teammate of Boone's in San Francisco. He is dealing with a triceps injury but seems to have the left guard spot locked down as long health doesn't become an issue. Evan Boehm is preparing for his first full-time starting gig on the other side and isn't worried about losing it to Boone.
"It's my right guard spot," Boehm said. "It's my spot and that's how I looked at it. I got a call from somebody yesterday, and I'm like, 'No, he can come in, and he's a great player. I've watched him on film. I watched him play. He's an awesome player. But it's my job, and I'm going to keep my job.' Nobody is going to take my job away from me."
Boone was diplomatic about his role when asked if he considers himself a starter once he learns the playbook.
"I consider myself whatever these coaches consider me," Boone said. "I just follow orders. I'm a good soldier."
"NO CHANCE" FOR BUCANNON TO PLAY IN OPENER
Money linebacker Deone Bucannon suffered a sprained ankle in his first practice after offseason ankle surgery late last month and has "no chance" of playing against Detroit in the season opener on Sunday, Arians said. Bucannon was on schedule to play before the setback, but the timetable for his return is now fuzzy.
"It's one of those things," Arians said. "It could be tomorrow, it could be three weeks."
Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (calf) didn't practice on Wednesday but could return Thursday. Arians said playing Sunday is a possibility.
"He's got a real good shot," Arians said.
Iupati (tricep) was limited in Wednesday's practice, while quarterback Carson Palmer and wideout Larry Fitzgerald were given veteran days off. For the Lions, defensive end Ziggy Ansah (knee), wideout Kenny Golladay (ankle), tackle Corey Robinson (foot) and running back Zach Zenner (back) were limited.
DAVID JOHNSON ITCHING FOR ACTION
The Cardinals kept star running back David Johnson preserved in the preseason, allowing him a few carries but mostly keeping him on the sideline and out of harm's way.
Arians has talked about giving Johnson as many as 30 touches per game in the regular season, and Johnson is ready to be unleashed. He doesn't think the lack of work will affect him.
"I don't think I have any rust," Johnson said. "I feel great. I feel ready to go. I'm excited to go. I've been antsy this whole camp, especially since it was a longer camp. I've been ready to get the pads on."
Images from the Cardinals' work on Labor Day