With winning a priority, Cardinals' brass differs on playing young players

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim agreed on one thing Monday: Their goal is to win the final two games.

But they differed on with whom they’d do that.

During his weekly radio appearance, Keim said Arians is “all for” playing young players, both for exposure and evaluation. “He’s not the kind of guy that is going to be either selfish or hardheaded,” Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “He wants to see these young guys as well.”

When Arians was asked during his Monday afternoon press conference if, now that the Cardinals are eliminated from playoff contention, his approach to the final two games will change to include playing more young players, he used the word “never.” When Keim’s comments were pointed out to him, Arians said most of the young players he would evaluate were already playing. “I don’t know of any young guys left that we could look at,” Arians said.

Later Monday, the Cardinals promoted rookie cornerback Harlan Miller, one of a handful of rookies on the practice squad, while releasing cornerback Tharold Simon.

Aside from rookie offensive linemen Cole Toner and Evan Boehm, both of whom Arians said Monday are not ready yet, Arizona has four other rookies who either haven’t played or have played very little this season: wide receiver Marquis Bundy, offensive lineman Givens Price, tight end Hakeem Valles and Miller. Of the quartet, Valles has played the most, with 41 offensive snaps, but 26 of them came in one game, Week 5 against San Francisco.

Bundy was promoted off the practice squad in Week 11, was inactive the next three games and was active but didn’t play Sunday against New Orleans. Price, who spent the entire season until last week on the practice squad, was promoted to the active roster but didn’t play against the Saints. And Miller, the only draftee out the foursome, had spent the entire season on the practice squad until Monday.

While evaluating for the future is necessary, Keim and Arians agreed on not allowing it impede the Cardinals’ ability to win. The team's final two games, at Seattle this week and at Los Angeles in the season finale, are like the team’s bowls, Arians said.

But one avenue of thinking is that evaluating the team’s youth could help win more games in the future. “You don’t want to sacrifice,” Keim said. “We still want to win these football games. There’s a pride factor to play for. There’s a commitment to try to win football games at all costs.”