Down and Distance with Bruce Arians: “We have an element of speed on offense that’s pretty potent”

GLENDALE, Ariz. – It sure can’t hurt the Cardinals to add someone of Chris Johnson’s stature.

Head coach Bruce Arians got a chance to watch Johnson over the last two days in practice, and aside from Johnson learning some of the nuances of the system, Arians likes what he sees from the former 2,000-yard rusher.

“Yeah, I thought he (Johnson) had some explosive first step stuff still. A couple times he’s still learning what we call things, but the plays that he’s run naturally all his life, he still runs pretty naturally,” Arians said.

This might arguably be the fastest group of offensive personnel the Cardinals have ever assembled for a season. There’s burners at the wide receiver position with John Brown and J.J. Nelson being two world-class athletes, not to mention what could be brewing at running back for Arizona now that everyone in that group is back healthy and finally practicing together.

“Adding him (Johnson) to the mix with Andre (Ellington), and David (Johnson), and the rest of the guys, we have an element of speed on offense that’s pretty potent,” Arians said. “It’s close to where we want to be, especially with the tight end group.”

Arizona’s starting offensive line took a major hit on Tuesday, when left guard Mike Iupati went down with a knee injury, which he’ll reportedly need surgery on. This bit of terrible news is tacked on to right tackle Bobby Massie’s reported three-game suspension for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.

Suddenly, the Cardinals are faced with having Ted Larsen or Earl Watford starting the season at left guard, and possibly Bradley Sowell or D.J. Humphries starting the first three games at right tackle, depending on what happens with Massie’s appeal. Arians has all the confidence in the world in those four men. He believes they provide quality depth that will see them through these storms.

“Our second team had three starters (Sowell, Larsen, Lyle Sendlein), and a young guy (Watford) that’s been here a long time, and is fighting for a starting job,” Arians said. “We’ve had the depth to not just get five guys out there, but still have six or seven.”

The rage right now in training camps across the league is fighting during practices where two teams are cross training with each other – the latest one coming between the St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday at the Cowboys practice facility in Oxnard, Calif. It got really ugly as the brawl nearly spilled into the crowd of fans that were gathered behind a guard barrier at field level.

Arians has a strict no fighting policy in his practices. This is something he will not tolerate, and if it should happen, there’s severe consequences for those involved.

“If you even think about it, just start running. If it’s a two man fight, those two guys will run,” Arians said. “We’ve had one incident in the last three years where we’ve had more than one; we just stopped and started running. It’s not tolerated here. There’s no place in the game for it. Coaches that believe that, they need to get new jobs.”

Arians has taken part in many joint practices in his NFL career, and he’s only seen a handful of these type of incidents occur. He maintains that “it’s who you work with” that determines whether this type of behavior will happen or not.

“It’s up to the coaches to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “I bet my life there won’t be one in New England (Patriots) and New Orleans (Saints), because coaches won’t allow it. Other coaches breed it.”


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