Temperatures are expected to reach well over 100 degrees by the afternoon in Tempe, Arizona, so the Cardinals were on the practice field early Wednesday morning as they continued their offseason training activities.
Head coach Bruce Arians spoke after Wednesday morning's session for the first time since the NFL announced new rule changes for the 2017 season, including one that would have impacted the Cardinals last year.
On Tuesday, the league announced overtime periods will now be 10 minutes instead of 15 minutes, which is a rule Arians commended after going the distance in a tie with Seattle a season ago took a significant toll on his roster.
"I think it'll affect the calling of the game a little bit," Arians said. "People are worried about 10-minute drives, I don't know if I've ever seen a 10-minute drive. I guess there have been a couple. You get the ball ran on you for 10 minutes, you deserve to lose anyway. I think it's a safety thing, you look at our game with Seattle, we could not practice, we had to walk-through that next week. We had 100 plays on offense, I'm sure their defense was the same way. But if you had to come back and play Thursday night, you had no chance to even be ready to play a ballgame."
The NFL also announced Tuesday that it planned to loosen up its celebration standards on touchdowns, which Arians jokingly acknowledged would have benefitted him during his playing days.
"I'm happy with that, I danced all the time when I scored touchdowns," Arians said. "I didn't get many, but danced my a** off when I got one."
The Cardinals' head coach was not asked about the league's decision to do away with the 75-man roster cut, which will now allow teams to keep all 90 players on their roster until the end of the preseason, when organizations must settle on their initial 53-man teams.
Nevertheless, Arians indicated that cutting down from 90 to 53 will be a challenge for Arizona this season, especially at the wide receiver position, where the Cardinals currently employ 12 players with impressive resumes.
"I can honestly say this is my what, 23rd or 24th year in the league, and I've never been around a wide receiver corps of 12 that are NFL quality," Arians said. "Every one of these guys and I'll throw Andre in there, but Andre's gone back and forth running back and receiver, they're quality. They can all make the team."
Another position group that the Cardinals will entertain competition at this fall is at outside linebacker, where the team already boasts two of the top pass rushers in the league, Chandler Jones and Markus Golden.
The Cardinals lost their primary backup at outside linebacker, Alex Okafor, to free agency, but the team added former Steelers' first round draft choice Jarvis Jones on a one-year contract. Arians was asked about Jones' progress on Wednesday and said he's hoping he'll develop as a pass rusher after Jones put up underwhelming numbers in Pittsburgh.
"Fighting for a roster spot and trying to, he did a nice job today rushing the passer, that's what he does best," Arians said. "We play a little bit different than what they do in Pittsburgh and he's putting in work."
Arians also offered an update on Cardinals' safety Tyrann Mathieu, who landed on injured reserve for the third time in his career last fall after hurting his shoulder midway through the season.
Mathieu is as big of an X-factor for the Cardinals' defense as any player, and his ability to stay healthy will largely dictate how Arizona responds in 2017 after losing nearly half of its starting defense to free agency.
"I think every year is big," Arians said. "Coming off last year it's a big one because it was a disappointing year for him (Mathieu) with the injuries and trying to play through them and ending up on IR again, so yeah, every year is big for him. Hopefully he gets back to being in the Defensive Player of the Year category and stays healthy."