Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas has been healthy in camp for the first time in his career.
Finally, with a training camp a couple of weeks old and Troy Niklas having participated the whole time – unlike his first two injury-marred stints – Bruce Arians was seeing what he had hoped out of the tight end.
"He's made a really nice move," Arians said. "He's looking like the player we drafted and wanted. He had all those injuries and had bad luck, and knock on wood I don't want to jinx him, but he's where I want him to be right now."
The message was relayed to Niklas, who admitted it was "awesome" to hear that Arians think that way. Because, well …
"He gets my name confused with dumb mother(expletive) a lot," Niklas said, smiling.
That's Arians, as everyone who watched the series "All or Nothing" knows. But Arians has usually backed the one-time second-round pick publicly, lamenting Niklas' bad luck as much as anything in keeping his career to its slow start.
Arians likes how Niklas is blocking, which is the main reason they liked him. Arians has always been in love with a Heath Miller/50-50-type tight end more than a Jimmy Graham/Antonio Gates receiver extraordinaire.
"He's such a big target, you can kind of throw the ball anywhere and he can box guys out and use his body," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He's made strides in using his body and getting his body in between the ball and the defender. But I don't think he's hit a ceiling. I think he's going to continue to develop."
Niklas is a big believer in the "critical" nature of training camp work, a big reason he believes he has struggled after missing so much camp time in previous years. He may be right, since Arians has clearly noticed the difference this year.
Maybe Niklas will get to be "Troy" more often.
"It means I'm taking a step in the right direction, doing the things he wants to see," Niklas said. "Coming from a guy like him, you don't get those compliments all the time."
HUMPHRIES MAYBE GETS SOME MACK TO START
It's not like D.J. Humphries has never been on an NFL field. He played all four preseason games a year ago,
including one against the same Raiders the Cardinals host Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
That means Humphries could get a few snaps against Raiders all-pro pass rusher Khalil Mack.
"It's always good to have a measuring stick going against a good guy," Humphries said. "I don't expect him to get a ton of reps in the game, being the guy that he is, but it's going be great to get out there and see where I'm at. I feel like it can't be that much different then what I go against every day, against Chandler Jones and Markus Golden. Those guys are nobody's shabby by a long strike. I think I'm getting good competition every day to prepare myself for it."
PRACTICE COMES OUTSIDE NEXT WEEK
The Cardinals are about to have a full week of outside practices after spending camp thus far inside at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The team is headed to San Diego early next week for a pair of practices against the Chargers Tuesday and Wednesday before a Friday game there. Prior to that, however, Arians said the Cardinals will practice outside University of Phoenix Stadium – at 8 a.m. – Sunday and Monday. (Practices are closed to the public.)
Arians said he wanted to look into the possibility of bringing in another team to practice in Arizona for future camps.
HANDFUL RULED OUT FOR RAIDERS
Cornerback Elie Bouka (hamstring) finally returned to practice Wednesday, while Arians gave a list of players who will definitely not play Friday. They include CB Asa Jackson (foot), CB Mike Jenkins (hand), WR Smokey Brown (head), OL Earl Watford (knee), OL Taylor Boggs (calf), DT Corey Peters (foot), LB Alani Fua (knee), DT Robert Nkemdiche (ankle) and WR Brittan Golden (hamstring).
Pictures from the 10th practice of training camp