Rookies, tryout hopefuls get first test during Cardinals minicamp

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If the 54 rookies and tryout hopefuls that the Arizona Cardinals put through the first day of rookie minicamp thought the playbook was going to be as simple all weekend as it was Friday, they were in for a rude awakening when coach Bruce Arians gathered everyone at midfield at the conclusion of practice.

"I just told them, 'We're not running any of that tomorrow. There's a whole 'nother offense and defense going in tomorrow, and Sunday will be the same thing,'" Arians said. "Then their eyes get big. It is a lot. It's high volume for them."

It's the rookies' first NFL test: How well and how quickly can they absorb and process information?

This weekend is the first of five installations the rookies will see over the course of the offseason. There will be a crash course the next minicamp, then OTAs, then during training and finally during game plans.

"By the fifth time it better stick," Arians said. "You just keep throwing it at them and they'll recall some.

"That usually separates who makes the team and who doesn't."

Arians walked away from Friday's practice impressed with the players he expected to be impressed by and impressed with others whom he didn't think would stand out.

In person, Arizona's first-round pick, defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, was everything Arians expected -- even though he began practice a bit amped up.

"He was killing people in walk-through and I had to slow him down," Arians said. "It's a walk-through, and he's bench pressing linemen already. But he's got great first-step quickness, all the things we thought we saw."

It was difficult for Arians to evaluate his two offensive line draft picks as they went through a "soccer" practice, as Arians refers to offseason practices. Center Evan Boehm and right guard Cole Toner played alongside each other, and "move real good," Arians said.

His two rookie-camp quarterbacks, Alabama's Jake Coker and Northwestern State's Stephen Rivers, the younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip, "were hung to dry a few times," Arians said. But it wasn't always their fault, he added. Receivers either didn't run the route routes or there was confusion on the routes being run, Arians said, but the two quarterbacks were "throwing it to the right spot."

"We can correct that," Arians said. "It was a nice beginning to the season."

Nkemdiche wasn't the only one who was excited for Friday.

"It gets you fired up," Arians said. "They're here. They're living a dream and you want to help fulfill that dream, give them everything they can in these three days to see if they can make it, and if they can't, try to help them on the next phase.

"You don't want them going home wishing they would have done something different. Like I told them this morning, don't be [snapping] your fingers, I should have did this. Do it."