TEMPE, Ariz. — Kliff Kingsbury’s time as a college football head coach will come in handy this preseason.
The Arizona Cardinals‘ coach compared the NFL’s upcoming preseason to college football’s preseason because there won’t be any games, which means there won’t be an opportunity to scout other teams’ rosters.
“You just know what you got and not what anybody else has,” Kingsbury said during a video conference call on Tuesday. “And so there’s definitely going to be some anxiety heading into that first week, and it’s going to be new for everybody.
“We’ll do the best we can to maximize those practices, and you’re trying to get your starters and number two guys ready, and at the same time do a lot of evaluations on your young guys. And so I think practice scheduling is going to be key and finding a way to fill it all in. So, we’ll see.”
Before the Cardinals hired him on Jan. 8, 2019, Kingsbury had spent his entire coaching career in college. He was the head coach at Texas Tech from 2013 until he was fired in 2018. He was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M in 2012 and an assistant at Houston from 2008 to 2011, including as co-offensive coordinator in his final two seasons there.
Kingsbury admitted younger players won’t see as many reps as they would have in a normal preseason.
“We all know that when you lose preseason games, opportunities to show what you can do [aren’t] there,” Kingsbury said. “But we want to make sure those guys still have a chance to compete when the opportunity arises.”
Kingsbury called the NFL’s entire situation as it prepares to play amid the coronavirus outbreak “unchartered territory.” As of Tuesday, he had not been approached by any Cardinals player wanting to opt out of this season, but he called the scenario “fluid.” For the season to work, Kingsbury said there needs to be “solidarity across the league.”
“I think the NFL and NFLPA have done a tremendous job with their medical teams, the research, the long hours they put in to come up with what they feel is answers for almost any scenario that can come up,” Kingsbury said. “That being said, nobody’s ever been here before.
“It’s going to take everybody doing the right thing all the time to make this happen, and when there is a bump in the road, let’s get it handled the best we can and every team being flexible and every team understanding there is going to be some tough times, and we all got to buy in and stick together through the ups and downs of what’s going to be an unparalleled season.”
Per NFL guidelines, the rookies are allowed to have an hour-long walk-through. That’s the most in-person, football-related contact Kingsbury has had with his players thus far, as testing began Tuesday on the first day of training camp. Arizona is still holding virtual meetings, and that will continue, Kingsbury said. But once the ramp-up begins, more in-person meetings will take place with the proper social distancing.
When the Cardinals move to State Farm Stadium for training camp on Aug. 10, there will be more virtual meetings, but they will be conducted while players are spread out through the stadium.