James Bettcher isn't battling for a job like the players on the Cardinals' roster during training camp, but it's an important time for him nonetheless.
Todd Bowles' replacement at defensive coordinator will call plays in the NFL for the first time this season. His first game experience will come in the preseason opener against the Chiefs, but before that, he's still getting plenty of practice.
In the 11-on-11 drills featuring the offense against the defense, both he and coach Bruce Arians call plays for their sides of the ball, with no idea what the other one has planned.
"We're playing real football," Bettcher said. "We're not just scripting periods. We're calling games and preparing."
While it will undoubtedly feel different when the stadium is packed and there is a score to consider, the repetitions at game speed should help alleviate the learning curve.
"Any job you have, the more you do it, the better you get at it," Bettcher said. "That's the approach I take, and I'm fortunate I work for coach Arians because he puts me in those situations every day."
Bettcher's preferred style as a play-caller is still in question without any previous evidence. While he's expected to keep the man-to-man coverage and aggressive blitz-scheme principles Bowles liked to employ, he wouldn't confirm that when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.
"We'll see first game," Bettcher said with a smile.
MARKUS GOLDEN MAKING HIS PUSH
Second-round pick Markus Golden rotated in with the first-team defense at outside linebacker during practice on Wednesday, and seems to be making himself a viable candidate for playing time opposite Alex Okafor. Lorenzo Alexander still spends most
of the time with the starters, while veteran LaMarr Woodley is another option, but Golden's motor is getting him noticed.
Coach Bruce Arians said Golden goes too hard sometimes right now as the Cardinals aim to avoid injuries, but as Arians is fond of saying, the coaching staff would rather say 'Whoa' than 'Sic 'em.' Although Bettcher has moved to defensive coordinator, he was the outside linebackers coach last year and liked what he sees from Golden.
"He's playing phenomenally hard, working his tail off to learn the system," Bettcher said. "There's a lot to it. He plays one of the most complex positions, the outside linebacker position. With what he's doing, stacking days – he's going to continue to have his ups and downs, but he's continuing to work and we're excited."
STEPFAN TAYLOR'S VIRTUAL BACKGROUND
Running back Stepfan Taylor has yet to try the Cardinals' new virtual reality technology, but he's well aware of its origin. The inventor of the revolutionary idea is a former Stanford kicker named Derek Belch, who came up with the plan after taking "Comm 166: Virtual People" as an undergraduate.
Taylor, who played for Stanford from 2009-2012, took the same class under professor Jeremy Bailenson – the man who encouraged Belch to develop his idea into a usable product – when he was a junior.
"We had a little driving simulator, and in some you would walk around and see objects," Taylor said. "It was pretty basic, but it wasn't basic, if you know what I'm saying, because it was virtual reality. There would be programs where people would look at shapes and we'd see how they would react afterwards – if it was in their head what they thought they'd seen in there versus what they actually are seeing."
Taylor said it was clear Bailenson was very well-versed in the field and it "was my first time experiencing virtual reality, so it was cool for me, as well."
FLOYD HAS SURGERY
There was no official update on wide receiver Michael Floyd Thursday after Floyd injured his left hand in practice the previous day. But Floyd did have surgery, something he announced himself when he tweeted out an Instagram photo of him smiling next to his heavily bandaged hand.
The most recent reports say Floyd could be out three to five weeks. Arians is expected to address the situation Friday when he speaks with the media following the team's morning walkthrough.
TWO OPEN ROSTER SPOTS AFTER MOVES
The Cardinals released tight end Ted Bolser and waived-injured guard John Fullington, who hurt his knee and had to be carted off near the end of practice on Wednesday. The moves leave the team with 88 players on the roster.
Images from the fifth practice of training camp