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Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians gives a thumbs up to a Special Olympian during the CBS Outdoor Special Olympics Open Tuesday at the TPC Scottsdale. (Craig Grialou/Arizona Sports)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One year ago, Bruce Arians was making the rounds at Radio Row leading up to Super Bowl XLVII between Baltimore and San Francisco.

This year, the Cardinals head coach is making the rounds at the TPC Scottsdale leading up to the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Arians was among the headliners at the CBS Outdoor Special Olympics Open Tuesday.

"This is a fantastic day," he said of the putting challenge that matched up a Special Olympian with a celebrity or sports star and local business leader. "It's so special to be with these kids because they work so hard at their craft; had to win a lot of tournament to get into this. You respect all their work they put in. They work as hard as the Arizona Cardinals, I promise you."

Speaking of his day job, Arians is well into an offseason that has him and his staff re-examining 2013 and looking ahead to 2014.

"Just continue to see our team improve in all phases fundamentally and add new pieces, which is new every year," he said of his offseason goals. "Watch them gain cohesiveness and just watch us improve because I think our guys are coming back with a great taste in their mouth."

The Cardinals ended the season winning seven of nine, but missed out on the playoffs despite a 10-6 record, which doubled their win total from 2012.

"We finished strong," Arians said. "We know what we need to do. It's just which pieces do we add and how we fit them in."

Both the Cardinals' offense and defense showed dramatic improvement over last season. The offense ranked 12th compared to 32nd a year ago, while the defense was the sixth-best in the league (up 15 spots from 2012) and number-one against the run, allowing only 84.4 yards per game.

The latter statistics earned defensive coordinator Todd Bowles head coaching interviews with the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings. He was not hired by either team.

"Glad of it," Arians said with a smile. "Wish he had gotten a head coaching job, but I'm really happy he's still here."

At least for the immediate future, football has been put on the back burner.

Arians is scheduled to return to the TPC course Wednesday to participate in the Annexus Pro-Am; however, he's unsure about his golf game at the moment.

"Not like I'd like to have it right now. I've got a sore back from practicing," Arians said laughing.

Craig Grialou, Reporter

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