It's not the most polished phrase, but the motto for the Arizona Wildcats football team this offseason certainly gets your attention.

"Shut up and work."

The Wildcats' strength and conditioning staff plastered the saying on backs of T-shirts after the 2012 season, and it's what coach Rich Rodriguez wants his 2013 squad to hang its hat on.

"It's perfect in its simplicity," Rodriguez said Tuesday. "That's what we want our guys to do."

Rodriguez said he's been pleased with the work so far. He'll get an even larger sample size starting Saturday.

The Wildcats will open their 2013 spring drills at 9 a.m., and Rodriguez wants his team to show up, shut up and work.

"They've been working pretty hard, and I would expect, over the next 34 days starting with practice on Saturday, they'll work hard again," Rodriguez said.

The second-year coach gave a mini state-of-the-program address Tuesday morning. Here are three highlights:

1. Ka'Deem Carey will practice. The last time we saw the Canyon del Oro High School graduate on the football field, he was rushing for 172 yards and three touchdowns in a thrilling 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl.

It's been anything but smooth sailing since.

Carey was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct in late December following an alleged incident with his pregnant ex-girlfriend.

In January, he was asked to leave McKale Center during the UA-UCLA basketball game after getting into an argument with an on-campus policeman.

Rodriguez said Tuesday that Carey is still with the program and will practice as normal starting Saturday.

"He's progressing well, and he'll be with us in the spring," Rodriguez said. "His process of making sure he shows the true person he is, is still ongoing, but he's been doing well. We've got close tabs on him, and he knows that.

"He knows he's made some mistakes and has to prove what kind of person he is."

Carey is one of six running backs on the current roster but the only one who had more than 20 carries last season. Backup Daniel Jenkins transferred to Washington State after the season.

2. Jesse Scroggins isn't ready to go yet, but B.J. Denker is. Scroggins, a junior transfer from El Camino (Calif.) College, had foot surgery in the offseason and will be extremely limited in the spring.

Rodriguez said Scroggins, a quarterback who spent two seasons at USC before his stint at El Camino, will participate in some non-contact drills and will attend meetings, but that's it. The foot "probably needed to get fixed earlier in his career," Rodriguez said.

"We had a choice. We probably could have played with it, but I'd rather have everyone be 100 percent in August than have a question mark if he tweaks it or something," the second-year UA coach said.

"He'll be very limited this spring."

With Scroggins out and highly touted recruit Anu Solomon still in high school, Denker has an early shot at winning the starting job.

Nick Isham, a transfer from Louisiana Tech, who redshirted last season, and Javelle Allen, a redshirt freshman from Prosper, Texas, also will be in the mix.

But Denker will get the first look.

"B.J. Denker has proven himself a little bit because he's played some," Rodriguez said. "He's the only one. I'm anxious to see how much better he got in the spring."

3. The defense has been ravaged by injuries.

Five significant players from the 2012 defense will be unavailable this spring because of injuries. Linebackers Marquis Flowers and C.J. Dozier and cornerbacks Shaquille Richardson and Jonathan McKnight are all out with shoulder injuries. Defensive lineman Dan Pettinato will miss spring practice with a knee injury.

Lineman Kirifi Taula is also out with a shoulder setback.

"We have about a dozen guys that won't be going through full practice," Rodriguez said. "I don't know if I've ever had a dozen out. That's a lot."

In all, the Wildcats have seven defensive linemen listed and 10 linebackers listed on their spring roster.

"Defensively, we need depth at all positions," Rodriguez said. "We'll have to wait until the (recruiting) class comes in the fall to do that."

Extra points

• The Naples Daily News reported Tuesday that tight end Nick Nataro has committed to the Wildcats.

Nataro, out of Estero (Fla.) High School, had 44 catches for 600 yards and six touchdowns as a junior. He's a class of 2014 prospect.