TEMPE, Ariz. -- Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald has an annual problem.
He isn't the only skill-position player to have the dilemma and he and many other players have taken to cutting tiny holes in the tips of their cleats.
"Look at my toenails," the Cardinals longtime wide receiver said, pointing to each of his big toes. "I'm telling you, they both fall off every January. It's like clockwork. Happens every year. I mean every year. See, this one's just growing back in. But every year, they fall off, man."
Fitzgerald said the small holes in his shoes provide a small, but useful benefit.
"You run so many curls routes and stop routes and stuff like that, the pressure just bangs up against your toe nail," he explained. "It alleviates a little bit of the pressure. But yeah, they still always fall off, eventually."
--Although the Cardinals' first-team offense hasn't gone on a single touchdown drive through the first two preseason games, coach Bruce Arians said it isn't imperative for the offense to get a touchdown or two in preseason game No.3 against the Texans, adding he doesn't really need to see the offense get into a rhythm, either.
"Not really, Not really," he said. "I see it in practice enough. Whether or not we get into a rhythm in the plays we play in this game, you would hope (so), just to be a little comforting. But everybody's back from last year and I feel very confident."
--Don't count Bruce Arians as a fan of the Microsoft Surface tablets NFL teams are using on the sidelines to watch instant video during the preseason:
"We used them the first game," he said, "and I watched one play where the referee called holding and it wasn't holding. I showed it to him and I said, 'This will be your worst nightmare if I had this on the sideline.' "
Arians thinks the tablets are bad for the NFL for another reason.
"It helps bad coaches," he said. "You spend six hours on a blitz on Tuesday and he can watch it. And (normally) he don't get to watch it 'til Monday. I mean, offensively you don't run the same plays very often. But defensively, you spend a lot of hours and time on a blitz that a guy can sit there and watch it on tape and show his guys and fix it in the first quarter. That's not what it's all about."
--Running back David Johnson continues to be the rave around the NFL after emerging as a star in the making last season as a rookie. According to Fitzgerald, Johnson could have scored 20 touchdowns if he had been the starter for the entire season. As it was, Johnson scored 13 touchdowns via rushing, receiving and kickoff return.
"He's a very, very, very humble guy. I don't think David knows how good he is," Fitzgerald said. "And that sometimes is a good thing. He takes it in stride. He's a hard worker and he's becoming more vocal, too, which is really nice when you have a young guy that talented who doesn't mind taking the step to be a leader, emotionally. He's got a lot of room to improve, as we all do, but where he's at right now is phenomenal."
--Rookie defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche finally began practicing with the team after suffering a high ankle sprain two days before the start of camp. He is easing his way back onto the field and although he hopes to play Sunday in Houston, it isn't a guarantee that he will.
Still, he's happy he can at least practice now.
"It sucks being out and watching your teammates grind through training camp," he said. "You want to be out there helping them. I've been itching for a couple weeks now and they've been telling me to chill. Those injuries are no joke, so you really have to be patient with it and the right time will come. I can't wait."
NOTES: Wide receiver John Brown returned to practice after passing the NFL's concussion protocol but participated only in individual drills and had to take a day off because of a headache. "I don't know anything about concussions other than he was fine and then he had a recurring headache," coach Bruce Arians said. "You get a headache, we've got to treat it as still a problem." ... Cornerback Justin Bethel continues to slowly make his way back from offseason foot surgery and although he's looked good at times in his first week since being activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list, coach Bruce Arians still needs to see something else out of his perennial Pro Bowl special teamer. "Just the bravado that goes with a corner -- going out and jumping in somebody's face and covering him; getting beat and shaking it off," Arians said. "He struggled last year thinking he let the team down if somebody caught a pass on him. It bothered him. They're going to catch passes on you because they're going to throw a hell of a lot of them at you. Just come back and battle." ... Quarterback Jake Coker, the undrafted, free agent from Alabama, suffered a knee injury and won't make the flight to Houston for Sunday's game. He was schedule to have an MRI exam on Friday. Coach Bruce Arians expects Coker to be available in the final preseason game next Thursday against Denver.