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Bruce Arians eager to see position battles as camp opens

Bruce Arians says the Cardinals have four safeties and four cornerbacks who are vying for three starting jobs. Michael Thomas/Getty Images

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Arians is like the rest of us when it comes to training camp.

He has a short list of position battles he’ll be keeping an eye on.

Though Arians said there’s competition at every spot, as camp kicks off Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals' 63-year-old coach is most interested in his crop of young defensive backs. He said the Cards have four safeties and four cornerbacks who are vying for three starting jobs.

"They came back in great shape," Arians said of the defensive backs. "They had two really, really good days of quarterback school."

The other positions he’s interested in watching include offensive line, wide receiver, running back, tight end and defensive line -- the latter of which Arians said "is probably the deepest."

With the amount of depth on the defensive line -- the Cardinals have 10 linemen on the roster -- and the competition at center and right tackle, Arians expects the trenches to be a constant battle this camp.

"There’s going to be great battles with both sides, because we’re so deep on both position -- knock on wood we stay that way," Arians said.

Despite the wide receiver rotation being set with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, John Brown and J.J. Nelson topping the depth chart, Arians said he won’t reduce their workload after years of learning the system together.

"There’s so much competition," Arians said. "Who the hell’s going to be out there? J.J. had a great spring. He’s pressing for time. Mike had a good spring. Smoke. Larry had a helluva spring. So did Jaron Brown.

“(In) that room you better find a spot on special teams to help you, which Jaron has always done and Britt (Golden) has always done."

But the one position that outsiders and insiders, including Arians, will pay close attention to is the battle at center. Veteran A.Q. Shipley is the first-team center, but rookie Evan Boehm, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Missouri, is putting pressure on the presumptive starter.

But Arians said Thursday that experience will stand out.

"I’m very, very comfortable," Arians said. "I think A.Q. has proven he can play. Earl (Watford) did a nice job in the spring of giving us a guy who can play five positions, and Evan’s just got to learn. If you figure about offensive linemen and [have] rookies playing, you’re going to be struggling. There’s too much volume for them to learn, plus the techniques.

"He’s going to be a hell of a player, but it ain’t going to be next week."