Cardinals safety Budda Baker (right) is looking forward to his first career NFL game on Thursday.
The Cardinals will play in the first game of the NFL preseason on Thursday, but their starters won’t.
Coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday that his first-string units won’t participate in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys. It is an extra preseason game for the Cardinals, and Arians wants his key players to avoid injuries this far ahead of the regular season.
Backup quarterback Drew Stanton also won’t play, giving two quarters of playing time apiece to Blaine Gabbert and Trevor Knight.
The game will instead be a showcase for the younger players. All of the Cardinals rookies are expected to play, although it may be a short stint for first-round pick Haason Reddick, who is penciled in as a starting inside linebacker.
Even though it’s only the preseason, the draft picks are counting down the hours until kickoff for their first official foray into NFL action.
“It’s everything you’ve been dreaming about since you were a kid,” third-round pick Chad Williams said. “Finally, your dreams come true and you get to run under the NFL light in an NFL atmosphere. I’m thanking God for that.”
Second-round pick Budda Baker played in plenty of big games at Washington and is used to the grand stage, but said he’s “very excited” to play his first NFL game. It wasn’t too long ago that he was watching these games on television.
“When I was a kid I always watched Ed Reed,” Baker said. “That was my favorite safety when I was younger, and that was my team, the Ravens. Ever since little league, I’ve always loved football.”
The Hall of Fame Game will be televised nationally on NBC. Williams comes from Grambling State, where he played in front of a much smaller audience, but he’s not worried about the increased exposure.
“You can’t think that deep,” Williams said. “It’s just football.”
JARVIS JONES RETURNS
While Markus Golden and Chandler Jones are locked into the outside linebacker spots, free agent acquisition Jarvis Jones is hoping to join the playing time discussion.
The former first-round pick missed the first week and a half of training camp with a quadriceps injury but has practiced the past two days. Jones said he’s looking to get up to speed physically and mentally so he can make an impact.
He likes what he sees from the defense, which is a departure from the scheme he played within for the Steelers the past four years.
“It’s a lot different,” Jones said. “There are a lot of moving parts in this defense, but at my position, it allows us to play bloody. It allows us to get after the quarterback, which is one of the reasons I’m here. It’s a fine defense to play in. Once you learn it, you can pin your ears back and go get it.”
BETHEL RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Cornerback Justin Bethel (knee) returned to practice on Tuesday morning, and the cornerback depth is improving between improved health and signings.
The same cannot be said for the inside linebacker unit. Gabe Martin injured his Achilles on Monday and could miss a significant chunk of time, Arians said. Phillip Wheeler was injured Tuesday, while Karlos Dansby (knee) didn’t practice, although Arians said he should be fine. Deone Bucannon (ankle) is still on the physically unable to perform list.
Arians said injuries could mean “guys having to play more than I want them to play (against Dallas). That’s the problem.”
ELIE BOUKA RELEASED
The Cardinals released cornerback Elie Bouka (ankle) with an injury settlement. They signed defensive tackles Peli Anau and David Moala. Anau played at Northern Arizona and went to Horizon High School in Scottsdale.