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Did Bruce Arians Want Aaron Donald to be Drafted Outside the NFC West? “Ain’t no doubt about it."

The Arizona Cardinals [10-3] will take on the St. Louis Rams [6-7] on Thursday Night Football in Week 15. Here’s what Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians and QB Drew Stanton had to say on Tuesday....

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Arians – Conference Call – December 9, 2014

(On what he took away from last game against the Rams)
"Yeah it was a very, very close game. We were fortunate enough to get a couple turnovers and that’s the one thing I see that’s so different. I don’t see (QB) Shaun (Hill) turning the ball over. I think he’s playing very solid. Obviously, they’re playing fantastic defense and they did that day. For us we lost (Cardinals QB) Carson (Palmer) in that game and (Cardinals QB) Drew (Stanton) stepped in and did a good job. It’ll be a great challenge for us."

(On what the Rams are doing defensively to have success)
"They’ve been playing well all year. The biggest thing I think is there’s more pressure. (Defensive Coordinator) Gregg’s (Williams) letting it go blitz wise more. They’ve always been as good a front four as anybody in the league and you’re watching them gel and become an outstanding defense. (S) Mark Barron was a great addition. They’ve stayed healthy, that’s a big thing."

(On what concerns him about DT Aaron Donald)
"Ha ha, everything. I like everything about him and all of it concerns me. He’s a high motor, very talented young guy that I was really sad to see go to the Rams because we’ve got to play him twice every year."

(On if was hoping Donald went outside the division or the conference when he was drafted)
"Ain’t no doubt about it."

(On Cardinals QB Drew Stanton)
"He’s played solid. He had a couple games where he turned it over and we lost those games. This past week against Kansas City he protected the football good and still made some big plays. When he does that, we have a chance to win."

(On what RB Kerwynn Williams has brought to their offense)
"He’s been the guy on the practice field that everybody goes, ‘Wow,’ because he makes plays every week. It’s one of those things talking to (Cardinals General Manager) Steve Keim, ‘I said look, sooner or later we’ve got to get this kid out on the field.’ Last week we felt very good about him being a part of that game plan. We made the move and he came through for us."

(On how the next man up philosophy has been the story of their season)
"Every week it’s somebody. We’ve got to be up there pretty high in the league as far as lost guys and lost time. Somebody has stepped in for us every week."

(On how he keeps the team in good spirits after consistent injuries)
"You just talk about it all the time. You start in training camp. The most valuable players on your team aren’t the starters, they’re your backups. That’s when they’re thrust into that role. There’s a standard of play that we don’t want to drop. If anything we want you to elevate it and we practiced a little bit different to get all those young guys ready and give them a ton of reps, so if injuries do occur then we’re more than ready."

(On how does he know when a young running back is ready)
"I think it’s gut feeling. The way the guy preforms in practice. Anytime we had pads on he made a wow play in practice. When had that (RB) Andre (Ellington) went down that’s the one thing we were missing. "

(On if he helps to play a divisional opponent when playing on Thursday night)
"I don’t think there’s any doubt, but we still know how hard it is to come there and play in the noise and how well they’ve played defensively the last two weeks. It’s much easier to have a short week versus a common opponent than a stranger."

(On if he’s okay with playing on Thursday night)
"You’re trying to get me fined aren’t you (haha) ?"

(On finishing off with three division games)
"I think the league has a done a great job in making December very, very meaningful in the last couple of years in the scheduling. The fact that we are finishing up with three-straight conference games, I wish two of them were at home, instead of two on the road, but yeah it made it very, very exciting for our fans and very meaningful for each game."

Drew Stanton — Conference Call — December 9, 2014

(On how important it was to win last week)
"Yeah, I think it was important just for us to get one more in the win column to get 10 wins and continue heading in the right direction. That’s what we needed to do after losing two in a row. You can’t afford to lose three in a row, especially at this point in the season where we’re fighting every single week to win football games."

(On after winning if the team feels they need to win 11 games to make the playoffs)
"I don’t think you can never have enough. You worry about it week to week, especially. That was one of our focuses last year is we felt like we didn’t do a good enough job at the beginning of the season of trying to win close games, especially that first one last year in St. Louis, let that one get away. We realize the importance of that because you never know which games come back and be the difference between you making the playoffs and not. At this point, it’s a one game season for us from here on out. That’s the way we’re looking at it."

(On how the season has been for him)
"It’s been interesting. That’s the life of a backup in the NFL, you don’t know when your opportunity’s are going to come. You don’t know how it’s going to come. You just have to be prepared and go in there and try to help your team win football games. Early in the season it was one of those things, we knew (Cardinals QB) Carson (Palmer) was going to be back; it was just a matter of when. Now unfortunately with this injury with his ACL, he’s not going to be back the rest of the season. My approach hasn’t changed in regards to how I prepare, but I feel like I can take more of a leadership role knowing that I’m one of the guys that people are going to look to on offense."

(On how he played when he had to come into the game against the Rams after Palmer got injured)
"It was one of those things that we talked about that play that we threw the touchdown on at halftime and wanted to get to that. That was one of the ones that we liked. I just stepped into a good situation and was fortunate to be able to come through and then our defense did a good job of being able to close the game out. But, you see what that defense is doing now, they’re pitching shutouts and doing a lot more. They’ve always been a good defense and aggressive up front. Now, they’re really clicking and I think buying in to what (Defensive Coordinator) Gregg Williams is doing defensively to stop offenses. It presents a lot of problems. How they can pressure people, how they can do stuff, getting sacks and turnovers and even scoring touchdowns on defense."

(On what concerns him about the Rams’ defense and front four)
"Everything. I think you look at those edge rushers and obviously getting (DE) Chris Long back, they didn’t have him when we played them the first time around. You get him back and just add another first-round pick in the mix. They just keep shuffling through. I think the thing that is amazing to me is you watch (DT) Aaron Donald and he comes in there as the (13th) overall pick this year and he’s playing as good as anybody in this year’s draft. He’s not playing like a rookie. He hasn’t hit a rookie wall or anything like that. He’s done a phenomenal job of dropping into space, doing all these things, getting pressure on the quarterback, stopping the run. I mean, for a guy to do that it’s pretty special. I was around (Lions DT) Ndamukong Suh his rookie year and had a very similar type year where he presents a lot of problems, but them you also have to be able to try and win your match-ups on the outside with those guys with (DE) Robert Quinn and obviously Chris Long being back and (DT Michael) Brockers. I mean, there are so many guys up front and then you’ve got (LB James) Laurinaitis in the mix, (LB) Alec Ogletree, who I think is one of the premier outside linebackers in this league, a rising star that has played well for them. They’re solid in the secondary. They take chances when they need to and get away with it. Smart and well-coached defense overall."

(On how the Cardinals have been able to overcome all the injuries this season)
"Well, I think it starts with the head coach and really the GM and the owner and the mentality that they take of trying to get guys in here that they feel will be good fits in this locker room, but also good fits schematically for what we’re trying to do. With (Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians) BA here, automatically once you put your hand in the pile, you’re a part of this team and we trust you and there’s a respect there. You have to go out there and do your job. We’ve been fortunate to have multiple guys step up at many different positions. It’s kind of unique in that sense, but I think it’s the culture that’s been created around here."

(On being one of those players that have stepped up in a position of need this season for the Cardinals)
"It has been great. Like I said, in this league as a back-up, especially as a quarterback, you don’t know when you’re opportunities are going to come. So you have to be ready when they do come and hopefully you can have some success when you go out there. So, getting a chance to play for an extended period has been an absolute blessing and a dream come true. That’s why I have worked behind the scenes doing everything that I have. Touched on a little bit before when we played him, but (QB) Shaun Hill has been a huge part of that in helping me get to this point."

(On his relationship with Shaun Hill)
"It’s a friendship that developed when we were in Detroit. Really, he was the first guy that showed me how to prepare as a back-up. How to be ready to go in at the drop of a hat and go in there and be able to play and hopefully play at a high level because you feel prepared. You’re not sitting there second guessing things or questioning what’s going on. It’s a lot of mental preparation. There’s a systematic approach to it and I can’t thank him enough for all of it."

(On if he and Hill have kept in touch)
"Yeah, I shot him my first text this week, today. There’s also a respect factor there and stuff. I know he’s got a job to do and I’m trying to do mine to the best of my ability as well. I’ve stayed in touch with him. Our wives are very close too. I’ll get a chance to talk to him when we’re on the field pregame, but I’ve always kept a close eye on every guy that I’ve played with and I’ve stayed in touch with, especially those guys that you’re with for multiple years."

(On what Cardinals RB Kerwynn Williams has brought to the offense)
"Well, I think it’s a similar role of what we had for (Cardinals RB) Andre (Ellington). With him trying to get him in space and give him the ability because he has that homerun-hitting capability. Within that you try and get him in space. You try to give him the opportunity to go out there and showcase his ability. He’s so smooth in and out of cuts and makes stuff look easy. Can get into top-end speed very quickly. He can take them to that next gear just coming right out of a cut, which is a great advantage to have. He’s just another example of one guy goes down and an opportunity presents itself and he steps up and answers the bell."

(On if he was surprised with Williams performance last week)
"Not at all. I think you see what he had done because he showed up from San Diego, on our practice squad and has put the time and effort in. Is a very smart and intelligent running back that understands coverages and sees backers and stuff like that. We didn’t have to worry about him when he stepped in. He was confident in his abilities and prepared. That’s the biggest thing when you get an opportunity you want to make sure you can make the most of it and you’re not sitting there wondering what your read is or what your route is or anything like that. Knowing it and just being able to play. It’s a testament to him and all the hard work that he’s put in to get this point. Couldn’t be happier for him because I think there’s a handful of guys in this locker room that knew he was capable of doing that."

(On if it’s nice to have a receiver like Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald)
"It is. Well, I’m very fortunate here. Lucky as probably anybody in the league to have the weapons that we have. To be able to disperse the ball and get the ball not only in Larry’s hands, but (Cardinals WR) Michael (Floyd) has had some big plays for us and (Cardinals WR) John Brown and even (Cardinals WRs) Ted Ginn and Jaron Brown. You look at that wide receiving corps, I wouldn’t trade those guys for the world. We’re fortunate to have those guys and then a good tight end group where we can move guys in and out. Then obviously coming out of the backfield there’s some problems that we can present for people as well."