Monday, June 2, 2014
Cards begin moving on without Washington
By Josh Weinfuss
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians set the tone from the start of Monday's post-practice press conference.
It was the team's first offseason practice in 2014 without linebacker Daryl Washington, who was suspended Friday for at least a year for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy and program.
"This will be the last time this will be addressed by the Cardinals," Arians said. "We will not talk about guys who are not with us ever again."
But that starts Tuesday.
Bruce Arians called his disappointment with suspended linebacker Daryl Washington "extreme."
On Monday, most questions revolved around Washington and where the Cardinals were headed without their star linebacker. Arians called his disappointment with Washington "extreme."
"It's something that he made a choice and we're all living with it," Arians added.
With Washington's suspension already effective, he's not allowed in the team's facility. It's not quite out-of-sight, out-of-mind, but the Cardinals aren't looking back.
"You can't do anything but just move on," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It doesn't matter if you're disappointed. Complaining about it, talking about it, doesn't really do anything. You just got to move on and get past it.
"When you hear the news you just kinda say, ‘OK, well it's next guy up.' We got to find a way to come up with those 60, 70 tackles, or four or five forced fumbles or whatever it was. Those plays he made, now it's either somebody else in that position that needs to make them or somebody else in that defense that needs to make them, or it's 14 more points a game we got to figure out how to score on offense. We'll overcome it and we'll get past it."
Part of moving on without Washington is addressing the void he left at inside linebacker.
While second-year linebacker Kevin Minter has been promoted to the starting lineup for now, what happens next to him is the question that'll be answered in the next couple of months. There are a few options on the roster with veterans Larry Foote and Lorenzo Alexander, as well as with second-year backer Kenny Demens.
But Arians said adding another linebacker to the roster isn't imperative at the moment.
"We'd still like to have some depth because we're short now going into camp," Arians said. "We'd like to have seven inside linebackers going into camp. We'll see what's available and pursue it from there."
It wasn't a situation the Cardinals wanted to face just two weeks before breaking for the summer, but if there was a time to lose Washington this was among the better options. Arizona still has almost two months before training camp begins to find a replacement and then another month to add a player during camp.
This isn't the first time Arizona has had to prepare for a season without Washington.
After he was suspended four games last year, the Cardinals relegated Washington to the second team during OTAs and minicamp, giving other players, such as Jasper Brinkley, a chance to get work with the first team. Instead of Washington's replacement knowing he's just a temporary fix at inside linebacker, this year he'll have the piece of mind of knowing it's a job he can win.
"Any time you have a suspended player it's a lot easier than a guy getting injured like (guard Jonathan) Coop(er) last year," Arians said. "Now, you're struggling within one week to rebuild everything. An injury in Game 3 or 4 of the preseason is devastating when you lose a guy for the year.
"We practiced without Daryl last year and got everybody ready to go. It's just a matter of he's gone for the season and you march on. You got plenty of practice time now."
Arians said he last talked to Washington last week when he told him about the suspension. Arians also said he's not allowed to talk to Washington from now on. The coach called his Pro Bowl linebacker "unaccountable" to his teammates, the Cardinals' organization and Cards' fans.
Monday started a new chapter for the Cardinals, who began their quest to repeat as the best run defense in the league without a major cog -- nor his 75 tackles and three sacks from last season.
"Hopefully this is the biggest thing that happens to our football team this year," Arians said. "But there's going to be another two or three bumps in the road, guys will be out. You have to march on. You cannot use it as an excuse."