Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports

Arians breaks down first day of OTAs

Arizona Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians said the team was ahead of schedule on the first day of offseason training activities.

Tuesday morning marked the start of offseason training activities for the Arizona Cardinals, which offered the team's veterans and coaches the first opportunity to get on the field and work together since the end of the 2016 regular season.

After an underwhelming 7-8-1 campaign that fell short of Arizona's expectations, Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians said the mood was different around the team's first practice of the offseason. 

"We had a business-like attitude last year but this one was a more relaxed, more fun group of guys that really enjoy doing what they're doing," Arians said.

Arians and his staff had the opportunity to coach many of the team's newest players in a rookie minicamp over the weekend, and said that experience provided an important foundation for the team's latest additions and gave them a taste of the expectations they'll face in the NFL.

The Cardinals' head coach said Tuesday that the young players assimilated to the full practice setting well, which put Arizona ahead of schedule for most of the day.  

"Outstanding start, extremely pleased with the way the young guys jumped in there," Arians said. "We were probably 25 minutes ahead of time which is always a good sign if it's quality work. I know the young kids get all of those reps."

Aside from having "four or five receivers with hamstring issues," Arians also appeared pleased with the general condition his players arrived in and felt the quality of the work the Cardinals put forth on Tuesday was satisfactory.

Following the team's first OTA of the offseason, Arians announced that fourth-year linebacker Deone Bucannon will miss all of OTAs and all of training camp with the hope that he'll be able to return in time for the start of the regular season following ankle surgery.

Arians said the decision for Bucannon to undergo surgery came after he experienced lingering effects from an injury sustained in week 14 against Miami. 

With Bucannon out, first round draft choice Haason Reddick slid to the top of the depth chart at inside linebacker where he played alongside starting Mike linebacker and free agent pickup Karlos Dansby. Arians was excited about the progress Reddick has demonstrated so far, but also said his development will be a process. 

"As much as we've thrown at him (Reddick), it's been really good," Arians said. "We're going to start something new this year, we'll put the accountability sheet up tomorrow and we never do that in OTAs but we're doing that tomorrow. I'm sure he'll be on there a few times."

Aside from having his full team on the field for the first time in 2017, Tuesday also marked the first time Arians could talk about the addition of former Pro Bowl running back Terry Allen to the team's coaching staff.

Allen is a participant in the Bill Bidwill coaching fellowship, and will spend the next two seasons working with the Cardinals' running backs and assisting position coach Freddie Kitchens.

"Really happy to announce Terry (Allen) on our coaching staff," Arians said. "We had a really extensive search, he really stood out and his passion, you know, talking to Dabo and Woody over at Clemson and having met him, he was a great player but he's got the fire to get back into football so we're really happy to have him on our staff."

When asked what Arians hoped the Cardinals would improve upon in 2017, he said he wants his offense to do a better job converting on third downs and wants his red zone defense to take a step forward after taking a step back last season. Arians has high expectations for both units, but said improvement in those categories is going to be imperative if Arizona wants to return to the heights it soared to during the 2015 season. 

"Being better tacklers, offensively we've got to get back in the top five on third downs," Arians said. "We dropped way down and we dropped down in points where we're normally up in the top five in a couple categories, we dropped. Red zone defense. We were poor when teams got a first down inside the 12-yard line, we've got to do a better job of holding them to three or taking it away." 


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