NFL training camps, or at least the beginnings of them, officially opened on Tuesday.
For the Arizona Cardinals, veterans began the first round of testing at the team’s practice facility in Tempe. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury, entering his second season, spoke to reporters with the still-fluid logistics caused by a pandemic dictating every decision.
Here is a quick-hit list of notes from Kingsbury’s press conference over Zoom.
How will the NFL get through the season amid a pandemic?
Kingsbury would rather be making proclamations about the viability of a playcall — or taking the blame for it — than putting on his virology hat. Still, he knows that the NFL’s health protocols must be taken very seriously.
“You have another sport (in MLB) that’s going through it right now, in-season, that you can point to,” he said. “I mentioned it earlier, it’s going to take everybody: young, old. If you’re not learning from these other sport leagues, then you’re missing out.
“I think solidarity across the league (is key). It’s going to take everybody doing the right thing all the time to make this happen.”
No Cardinals opting out — yet
As several prominent players across the NFL opted out of the 2020 season due to their personal health concerns, or those involving family members, Kingsbury had yet to speak with an Arizona player who was not ready to take part in the season.
Of course, that could change. The deadline for players to take an opt-out stipend is this Monday, but there are avenues to sit out beyond that.
“I haven’t had a discussion with a player that’s brought that up yet,” Kingsbury said. “This is uncharted territory … it’s fluid, it’s day-to-day.”
Separating the QBs
Arizona’s head coach suggested that the Cardinals might end up splitting their quarterback room, keeping starter Kyler Murray and backup Brett Hundley away from one another in the case that one of them comes down with coronavirus.
“We’ve had those discussions, I think, at multiple positions,” Kingsbury said. “What is the best way to handle that? I do feel like there are some positives to that, obviously, with trying to handle this season and what’s going on.”
Speaking of which:
Cardinals indeed like QB Chris Streveler
The Cardinals wasted no time to get down to the 80-man roster limit by waiving 10 players over the weekend. Among them was Drew Anderson, a promising arm and athlete who spent much of his rookie season with Arizona in 2019.
The reasoning for the cut: The team damn well likes what third-string quarterback Chris Streveler brings to the table. A CFL champion a year back, he is expected to bring gadget potential to the position considering his running — and maybe pass-catching — abilities.
“He’s an athletic guy who can do a bunch of different things. We wanted to get a good look at him. Drew was a casualty of that negotiation than anything else,” Kingsbury said.
Gilbert the favorite at RT
Justin Murray, Kelvin Beachum, Josh Jones: All are options to start opposite left tackle D.J. Humphries. But it sounds like the Cardinals would really like for Marcus Gilbert to be the guy.
He is coming off a season-ending knee injury and has just 12 games of NFL action in the past three full seasons, but Arizona thought he was the best offensive lineman in 2019 camp before he got hurt.
“If he can start off at that level then he’s going to slide right back there at right,” Kingsbury said. “We expect Marcus to slide right in there and do a great job right away.”
Kingsbury added that Gilbert’s long rest period has him feeling healthy as he’s been in some time.
And by the way, the Cardinals do not expect anyone to enter training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Training camp outlook
Arizona expects to go through testing rounds at its home base in Tempe through Aug. 9. Then the Cardinals will head to State Farm Stadium for on-field work, though Kingsbury expects that in a best-case scenario, it won’t ramp up immediately.
Players will have an option of whether to hole up at the nearby hotel or to commute to and from their homes and the Glendale stadium.
The team will go through a mix of virtual meetings and in-house gatherings to limit interactions and the potential for the spread of the virus.