First day in the books

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2010 – 5:40 pm

The first practice came and went in relative sunshine! Stunning, I know. But the rain stayed away and the Cards’ first practice — in shells, looking much like a minicamp or OTA workout — was good. But as Ken Whisenhunt said a couple of times, “It’s only the first day.”

The first day did cost the Cards defensive tackle Dean Muhtadi, who hurt his right calf on basically his first step of the conditioning test. For a guy working so hard to stay in shape all offseason, a killer result. Whisenhunt said Muhtadi will be out for a while, although he added, “it’s a long camp.” Whether it is long enough for Muhtadi to make enough of his impression, we will see.

Many of the depth chart choices this early were not unexpected. Trumaine McBride was running across from DRC as first-team cornerbacks, not Greg Toler. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis stressed to me that job opposite DRC is “wide open.” The inside linebackers, with Gerald Hayes hurting, are Monty Beisel and Paris Lenon. Daryl Washington knows what it is to be a rookie; he is third-string behind Lenon and Ali Highsmith.

On offense, Matt Leinart looked pretty good although Derek Anderson got a good chunk of reps too. The offensive line is the same that ended OTAs, with Levi Brown (LT), Alan Faneca (LG), Lyle Sendlein (C), Reggie Wells (RG) and Brandon Keith (RT). Deuce Lutui is second-team RG, next to tackle Herman Johnson. Ben Claxton is second-team center, with Jeremy Bridges at left tackle and Rex Hadnot at left guard.

I’ll have more tonight on the homepage, with notes about Gabe Watson, Alan Branch and their weights, DRC’s injury feelings and a story about the spotlight on the quarterback position.

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Deuce’s outlook and a limping Sheik

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2010 – 1:05 pm

Deuce Lutui came out to talk at lunch. The guard was in a good mood — why wouldn’t he be — although he acknowledged he weighed 360 at his physical. He said he didn’t notice that he actually beat out some other linemen in the conditioning test.

“I wasn’t really looking to the right or left of me,” Lutui said. “All I knew was, in the last stretch, get your ass over the line. It was good to finish strong and knowing I had teammates to welcome me in at the finish line and give me recognition of doing the right things.  … I wasn’t at the weight I wanted to show up but my cholesterol is down, heart rate was nice, so I was cleared.”

Football, after all the talk about him in the offseason, is Lutui’s big goal now. “That’s my mission. Deuce Lutui is here to get with the fellas and knock some heads around. It’s something I have been missing. I feel I have had a Brett Favre offseason and I want to come out and showcase my athleticism.”

As for all the talk about him and his weight this offseason, Lutui said he tried not to pay too close of attention. “I knew within my mind what I was about to do. I am here and that’s all that counts. I am happy to be here with the boys and the coaches and try to get with their good graces. … There are some rumors going around (that I weighed) 396, and I have said before I am the Lindsay Lohan of the offensive line, get bad media coverage. But that’s how it goes.”

He was almost late getting to a meeting, and ended the interview by saying, “I’ve got to run, fellas.” And then Deuce did just that — he ran.

— Postscript, the Cards have an injury in camp already. Defensive lineman Dean Muhtadi, Iron Sheik on the team and the happiest man on the roster, was not so happy after the run test. He was limping with some sort of right leg injury. Coach Ken Whisenhunt talks after practice this afternoon. But it’s a bummer for a guy who is impossible not to root for.

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Everyone — including Deuce — conditioned

Posted by Darren Urban on July 31, 2010 – 10:32 am

The Cardinals just had their conditioning test and everyone passed, including G Deuce Lutui (whom Mike Jurecki reported yesterday weighed about 360 right now). Lutui actually looked pretty good running and beat out a teammate or two, although some of the veterans clearly know their pace and how fast (or slow) they can run to still make the make-able time. Everyone had to run two sets of 300-yard shuttles, save for the 10-year NFL vets like Bryan Robinson, Adrian Wilson and Anthony Becht.

(Of course, the loopholes kill. Punter Ben Graham smiled as he walked out of Walkup Skydome, where the running was held because of the rain. “Oldest guy on the team and I still had to run two,” he said. Graham is 36, but he’s only in his sixth NFL season — he gets no credit for the 12 years of professional Australian Rules Football he played. Not that Graham has any problem running two 300-yard shuttles.)

Coach Ken Whisenhunt isn’t speaking until after practice this afternoon. Lutui wasn’t available yet either, although I am trying to track him down. We’ll see if the rain comes back, forcing the first practice inside this afternoon. Or if the massive amount of rain already these two days will make it too slippery to be outside. This could be a very wet camp.

On a side note, congrats on a longer-than-expected career for former Cardinal Pro Bowl special teamer Sean Morey, who decided to announce his retirement today when he was supposed to start camp with the Seattle Seahawks. Morey was a good man who squeezed every bit of ability out of his body and gave everything to the Cards. He has become an advocate for the concussion issue in the NFL, although he fought the should-I-play-or-not issue himself. He’s an Ivy Leaguer so he will do fine post-football, but I am guessing he was hoping his NFL life would have lasted a bit longer.

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Whiz’s opening speech

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2010 – 5:03 pm

Coach Ken Whisenhunt just addressed the media to open camp. The key highlights:

— LB Gerald Hayes will start camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list, as expected. Hayes has been dealing with back problems since last season, and had a surgical procedure this offseason when rehab wasn’t effective. Whisenhunt said Hayes’ surgery was the same that LB Monty Beisel had last year for his back problems. Hayes is able to come off at any time, and Whisenhunt said he wasn’t sure when Hayes would return. Hayes wouldn’t stop earlier but said when he arrived he wasn’t sure of his timetable to return. LB O’Brien Schofield (knee) also is on PUP as he rehabs after surgery.

— Whisenhunt wasn’t specific about the weight of G Deuce Lutui. Asked how Lutui was doing, Whisenhunt said, “We’ll find out tomorrow,” as the Cardinals await their conditioning test.

It was relatively short and sweet. The rain coming down as players and coaches arrived today in Flagstaff prevented much talking with the media. But the team is in place and Whisenhunt reiterated his usual message to open camp — the team is happy to be at camp and ready to get to work.

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Dockett heads to camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2010 – 2:23 pm

It’s turns out Darnell Dockett is on his way up to camp, which he told XTRA 910 a little bit ago. He had his meeting with the brass this morning about his contract, and said he thinks it will all get worked out. Coming to camp is important, Dockett said, because “It’s about what I mean to my team. I feel if I’m not there, we are taking a step back. I’m just ready to play football. I trust those guys to do a great job and handle the situation and I want to be accountable to my teammates.”

It’s not unexpected that Dockett doesn’t have a new contract right now. And frankly, handling this situation in just this manner is what I expected Dockett to do given how he has carried himself this offseason. It’s all good. Hopefully, it stays that way up until Dockett gets his extension.

(UPDATE: Dockett did admit to Jurecki it was a “hard decision” whether or not to come to camp. He didn’t address it directly, but I think the Twitter stuff was indeed him wondering if he should show up to camp. I was surprised Dockett said he was so conflicted about coming to camp before meeting with Ken Whisenhunt earlier this week and then with Whisenhunt and Graves this morning).

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OK, kind of a carnival barker

Posted by Darren Urban on July 30, 2010 – 12:27 pm

I mentioned during a radio interview recently that, in regards to Deuce Lutui’s poundage, that I wasn’t a carnival barker — you know, one of those guys who’ll guess your weight at a theme park. I’m terrible at that. But …

I did see Lutui this morning at the complex as I go through some in-house training and Deuce was leaving after taking his physical. I didn’t have a chance to talk to him, but I have to say, despite my limitations, he most certainly does not look anywhere close to the 396 pounds he reportedly weighed back in mid-June. Am I saying he is in that 342-343 range the coaches want him to play at this season? Again, I am not that talented. But it sure looked from across the room he was in a better frame than he was.

We’ll see if there are any specifics that come down later in the day.

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Storms damage stadium

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2010 – 6:52 pm

Just when it felt good to celebrate some summer rain for once, it turned nasty enough to tear holes in the roof of University of Phoenix Stadium and leave debris on the floor. I know the Cardinals’ decision makers were supposed to check it out this evening just as the team prepares to go to training camp tomorrow. The first home game is in two weeks — Aug. 14 — to open the preseason against the Texans. The second preseason game isn’t until Sept. 2. At this point, I have no idea how this affects the Texans game, if at all. I am sure if there is anything to report I’ll have something, but for now, the hope I am sure is to have everything in place by the time the Cards have to play there again.

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On the eve of camp

Posted by Darren Urban on July 29, 2010 – 4:22 pm

That quiet you hear is not from Darnell Dockett’s Twitter account, although the big tease threw out his firebomb Tuesday night and has held radio silence since (Now Mike Jurecki is reporting Drew Rosenhaus and Dockett will meet with general manager Rod Graves tomorrow about the contract).

More on Nine-0 in a minute.

No, the quiet is the empty building after all the proper equipment has been packed up and shipped up to Flagstaff. The team reports for a meeting tomorrow night. I have to stay here at the facility most of tomorrow, but will be covering the players and coaches as they arrive and I will get any important info out on the blog and Twitter ASAP. And I’ll start full bore on the coverage Saturday.

I am guessing LBs O’Brien Schofield and Gerald Hayes will start on the PUP list, but since a player can come off that at any point in camp, it’s not some kind of death knell if Hayes is on the list (If he is still there when the Cards carve up their 53-man roster, then that’s a problem). I would guess no one is going to be revealing Deuce Lutui’s current weight either, unless Deuce has had a Biggest Loser moment and wants to tell the world.

The Dockett meeting is interesting but doesn’t necessarily mean anything concrete. The sides have met periodically and Rosenhaus used to do the same for Anquan Boldin and all his Cardinal clients. I am guessing Dockett isn’t going to be told he’s about to get a new deal right now. I wonder if Rosenhaus will try to go the Chris Johnson route in the short term, although that money was already built into Johnson’s deal.

I could ramble on all night. Lots of topics to discuss. It just means it’s time for football, and now everything starts to mean a little bit more as the regular season approaches.

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Tickets, Radio, Rage

Posted by Darren Urban on July 28, 2010 – 10:12 am

Some things to point out while I wait to see if Darnell follows up:

— Single-game tickets are going on sale to the general public Saturday, although, if you are honing in on Christmas Cowboys tickets or Monday night Niners tickets, those remain available only through the “Protect The Nest” plans. The other six regular-season home games and two preseason games out in Glendale will be out there, however. Details are all in this story posted last week. If you are trying to get a Protect The Nest package, sign up for an account here and go from there.

— Don’t blink or you could miss it, but I am taking a turn co-hosting with Paul Calvisi as a fill-in for Dave Burns during Sports Interactive on Sports 620 KTAR from noon to 1 p.m. today. I would guess there will be Cardinal talk. I would hope there would be Cardinal talk.

— Another hour you don’t want to miss is Adrian Wilson’s debut as co-host of the Big Red Rage Thursday evening at 6 p.m. at Majerle’s Sports Grill in Chandler. The show will be taped live and aired on Sports 620 KTAR after Diamondbacks baseball, but as always, fans are encouraged to come out and see the re-tooled BRR.

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A Dockett tease

Posted by Darren Urban on July 27, 2010 – 9:16 pm

You never know what you’re going to get with Darnell Dockett. He’s gotten very good at getting himself out there and finding the resulting attention. He has capitalized on Twitter. So while I’m sitting here working on the computer, it’s hard not to take notice when Darnell fires off this tweet:

“To all my cardinal and dockett Fans I’m gonna post a link that I want u all to read and just try to understand!”

Then, a few minutes later, there was this follow-up tweet:

“Nothermind ill just share it with yall at a respectable time. Just know I never wanted things to get this Far!! Ttyl! And much love!”

Now, this could mean a whole lot of not-a-big-deal. But … understand what? Never wanted what to get this far? A glass half-empty person (OK, like myself) wonders, “Is there any way this is contract related?” Or, “Might he be implying he could not show up to camp on time in protest?” (And maybe I am just reading way, way too much into this). Maybe it was just that he said something on Twitter at some point negatively about Vernon Davis or taking a shower and feels the need to clarify. Darnell has been at the complex this week and working out, and I just don’t see why he’d do all that if he was stewing about his contract. If I am betting, I am betting Dock is there Friday night in Flagstaff. (And GM Rod Graves just said the other day that contract isn’t about to happen right now, and I am sure Darnell knows that).

Of course, in the end, maybe this is exactly what Nine-0 wanted. A night of speculation even if there is nothing behind it.

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