It had been noticeable, after six years of watching John Lott gather the players at the outset of every practice and listen to him bellow instructions for a stretch, that the Cardinals weren’t stretching before their workouts since Bruce Arians arrived. The reason was simple. Arians wants his guys stretching on their own and being ready to practice when practice starts.
“I know this,” Arians deadpanned. “If a guy starts chasing you with a gun, you’re not going to stretch.”
Point taken. Obviously, players need to get loose (not that it can be that hard in 105 degrees right now) but Arians’ major point is that they should be professional enough to do it on their own. In the meantime, the Cardinals ended their minicamp today after a brief walkthrough. They were out there for about 30 minutes doing light work before backup kicker Will Batson was given the chance to boot a 48-yard field goal. Good, and the veterans saw the end of their offseason work. Miss, and practice would go on. Batson hit it, to the celebration of all (although I am really curious to know if it would have continued with a miss. We’ll never know.)
So here are some notes, thoughts and observations after an offseason of work:
– The Cardinals are pretty healthy, to which Arians was happy. “You cross your fingers every day,” he said, but rehabbing guys like Levi Brown and O’Brien Schofield had immersed themselves back into all the work by the time it was over. There were some dings but nothing that should be an issue by the time camp starts. That doesn’t include, right now, the very much unknown situation of rookie wide receiver Ryan Swope. Arians already said he was hopeful Swope would be ready for camp. I don’t know if anyone can know for sure right now.
– Arians said his guys have to be in better shape. He emphasized that should come if the players keep working. Carson Palmer already said that should be happening, and Larry Fitzgerald made it sound like he is expecting more Cardinals than ever before to show up at his Minnesota workouts (and also some in San Diego, where Palmer lives.)
– While I will take my pre-vacation guesstimates at lineups next week like I usually do, Arians clearly hasn’t set much in stone. That’s because football “is a noise-level game,” he said, and the noise level doesn’t exist in the offseason in shorts. Some things are guarantees as you would think, Palmer and Fitz and Peterson and Campbell and Dockett among them. But there is wiggle room for training camp upsets.
– We are far from setting a roster too. But some of the undrafted guys who made positive impressions include receivers Jaron Brown, Charles Hawkins and Robert Gill, nose tackle Padric Scott and tackle Jamaal Johnson-Webb. We’ll have to see if that can carry through training camp.
– Arians is going to spend a few weeks at his lake home in Georgia during his vacation, which for the coaches starts now as well. Arians will also be hosting his first charity golf tournament June 24-25 in Georgia. He made sure to invite anyone from Arizona who wants to come, so, if you are looking for something to do …
– Rookies will stay one more week with Lott. The veterans are out.
– Arians said recuperating quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens stopped by the facility. Arians isn’t sure that was the best thing given Kitchens’ health but “he wanted to see his quarterbacks.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Charles Hawkins, Freddie Kitchens, Jamaal Johnson-Webb, Jaron Brown, John Lott, Padric Scott, Robert Gill
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With new coach Bruce Arians taking over, there have been some questions about when they can get started working with players — the collective bargaining agreement makes it plain they can’t do it right now, and all the coaches who have talked the last couple of days have mentioned how they have been careful to work within the CBA rules in that regard. There has been no official schedule released yet about how the offseason will proceed. Key fact to note: The Cardinals — as you can see below — can’t begin before the first Monday in April. Here’s a quick look at the CBA language about what is to come.
(And yes, a new staff like the Cardinals have are allowed to have an extra minicamp for veterans — as you will see — but it must be regarded as voluntary as opposed to the one mandatory minicamp.)
Current offseasons are broken into three parts. Phase One is two weeks long, and is only strength and conditioning along with rehab. Only John Lott and Pete Alosi — the strength and conditioning coaches — are allowed on the field with players, and players can’t use actual footballs if they are on the field at the facility. In Phase Two, over the next three weeks, coaches can get on the field and run individual drills or unit drills alone — offense or defense, but offense can’t go against defense.
Phase Three, over the next four weeks, includes the minicamp and OTAs, and is the only time players can wear helmets. Live contact isn’t permitted.
As for having a new staff, here are the relevant parts of the CBA:
Article 21, Section 2: If a Club hires a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, that Club may schedule or conduct an offseason workout program for no more than nine total weeks, with eight of the weeks required to be consecutive and subject to Article 22, Section 3, to be completed over a twelve-week period. All other Clubs may schedule or conduct offseason workout programs for no more than nine consecutive total weeks, to be completed over a ten-week period. In either case, Clubs may schedule no more than four workouts per week for any individual player. Such workout programs shall not be permitted on weekends.
Article 21, Section 2, Subsection C: Each year offseason workout programs cannot begin prior to the first Monday in April for Clubs that have hired a new head coach after the end of the prior regular season, and cannot begin prior to the third Monday in April for all other Clubs.
Article 22, Section 3: Voluntary Veteran Minicamp: Any voluntary minicamp for veteran players must be conducted prior to the College Draft, but no earlier than week three of the Club’s offseason workout program and after at least one week of the two weeks of Phase One activities that the Clubs may hold pursuant to Article 21.
A couple of key points: The Cards aren’t allowed to get started in the offseason this year before April, and the CBA pretty much spells out that players aren’t allowed to do much of anything with coaches before the start of the offseason program. Players can start working out in the weight room on their own, but coaches can’t do anything but supervise to prevent injury and misuse of equipment.
Tags: Bruce Arians, John Lott, minicamp, offseason, OTAs, Pete Alosi
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The Cardinals finally released a list of their new coaching staff Tuesday. They had already announced, after the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians, the addition of assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Now comes 13 new names, along with keeping four holdover coaches:
– Special teams coordinator: Amos Jones (last job, special teams coach, Pittsburgh Steelers)
– Quarterbacks: Freddie Kitchens
– Wide receivers: Darryl Drake (receivers coach, Chicago Bears)
– Running backs: Stump Mitchell (head coach, Southern University)
– Tight ends: Rick Christophel (head coach, Austin Peay)
– Assistant tight ends, assistant special teams: Steve Heiden (tight ends coach, Concordia University)
– Assistant offensive line: Larry Zierlein (OL coach, Hartford of UFL; was Steelers’ OL coach from’07-’09)
– Defensive line: Brentson Buckner (intern DL coach, Steelers, 2010-12)
– Pass rush: Tom Pratt (consultant, IMG Academy)
– Linebackers: Mike Caldwell (linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles)
– Outside linebackers: James Bettcher (special assistant to head coach, Indianapolis Colts)
– Defensive backs: Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator, University of Deleware)
– Cornerbacks: Kevin Ross (safeties coach, Oakland Raiders)
– Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs: Ryan Slowik
– Offensive assistant: Kevin Garver (offensive assistant, University of Alabama)
– Strength and conditioning: John Lott
– Assistant strength and conditioning: Pete Alosi
An interesting note: the offensive line doesn’t have a offensive line coach per se. Duties teaching the line will be split between Zierlein, Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who has spent his coaching career as an offensive line coach.
Kitchens had been coaching tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt, but moves to quarterbacks, a position Kitchens played in college. Slowik was outside linebackers coach on the last staff, and of course, Lott and Alosi remain in their former jobs. The staff of 21 is four more coaches than was on Whisenhunt’s staff. Arians said he preferred to have extra coaches on staff, and said he likes the diversity of experience and youth. The group moved into offices and began their meetings today. More in a bit on azcardinals.com, including more background on the new group. (And here it is.)
Tags: Amos Jones, Brentson Buckner, Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Darryl Drake, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, James Bettcher, John Lott, Kevin Garver, Kevin Ross, Larry Zierlein, Mike Caldwell, Nick Rapone, offensive line, Pete Alosi, Rick Christophel, Ryan Slowik, Steve Heiden, Stump Mitchell, Todd Bowles, Tom Moore, Tom Pratt
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There have been no official announcements yet from the Cardinals about additions and changes to the coaching staff, but multiple reports from many places have noted that new head coach Bruce Arians — who said Friday he was hoping to have his staff set by Sunday — is starting to do just that.
To the surprise of no one, former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is the pick for Ray Horton’s replacement as defensive coordinator. Bowles took over in Philly for the fired Juan Castillo last year as the Eagles season went from bad to worse. Bowles played for Arians at Temple and later played for the Redskins and 49ers. Here’s an interesting coincidence too — Bowles was interviewed for the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator job in 2011, the spot that eventually went to Horton. He worked as the assistant head coach and interim head coach while in Miami, but his part-season stint in Philly this season was his first as a coordinator.
For offensive coordinator, Arians will go back to his Colts’ ties to bring in Harold Goodwin, who was the offensive line coach in Indianapolis. Arians already said he will call his own plays. But having Goodwin on staff — along with whomever is the going to be the offensive line coach — will give the Cards extra eyes on a unit that needs to improve. Arians already said he is a big believer in technique on the line. Goodwin’s brother, Jonathan, is an offensive lineman for the 49ers.
(It may be worth noting, after a lot of talk of late that after the head coaching hires around the league did not include a minority, both Cardinals’ coordinators will be African-American.)
The Cardinals do need a lot more spots filled. It looks like Arians will move on from the bulk of the holdover coaches. Special teams coach Kevin Spencer joined former boss Ken Whisenhunt with the Chargers Saturday (Whiz was named offensive coordinator and the Chargers hired Frank Reich, who was just the Cards’ receivers coach, as the quarterbacks coach). The Cards reportedly only are keeping tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens — Kitchens played quarterback in college for Arians when Arians was the offensive coordinator in 1997 for Alabama — and strength coach John Lott. That would mean moving on from defensive line coach Ron Aiken, linebackers coaches Matt Raich and Ryan Slowik and defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi.
Again, there have been no official announcements yet. Whether the staff is all in place by tomorrow is in question, but as coaches and scouts head to Mobile next week for the Senior Bowl work, it seems that Arians will have a good chunk of his work done (and Mobile is often a place where coaches can interview prospective candidates, too.)
Tags: Bruce Arians, coaching staff, Freddie Kitchens, Harold Goodwin, John Lott, Kevin Spencer, Louie Cioffi, Matt Raich, Ron Aiken, Ryan Slowik, Todd Bowles
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I guess this is what happens when you are at the top of your game — or maybe why you are at the top of your game — but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald admitted that, yes, he indeed is overweight.
“A couple of pounds” is what he said he needed to lose, although it’s tough to tell. He’s a far cry from the guy whose body was overhauled when strength and conditioning coach John Lott first arrived.
“I am a little heavy,” Fitzgerald said. “I have to get back into football shape before I can start telling guys what to do.”
The subject came up when Fitz was asked what advice and/or tutelage he was giving No. 1 draft pick Michael Floyd. Floyd is staying at Fitz’s house for now — although Fitz said he “could not deny nor confirm” that to be the case — and when Fitz was asked about Floyd’s potential impact, he dug up a time “many moons ago” when he was a ballboy for the 1998 Vikings.
“They had Jake Reed and Cris Carter and Robert Smith and they drafted Randy Moss and he was the difference the league had never seen before,” Fitzgerald said. “(To) get a talented player on the offensive side of the ball that can produce like (Floyd) can, it’s going to be a tremendous asset.”
Not that Fitz is saying Floyd will be Moss-incarnate. Floyd doesn’t have anywhere that type of speed. But Floyd could help the offense, especially if he follows the lead of Fitz who is already watching his weight.
Tags: John Lott, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
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After a year’s hiatus player-wise — because of the lockout — the Cardinals’ veterans were back out at the annual Cards’ charity golf event in the spring, over at Wild Horse Pass. It was toasty as the temperatures heated up, but it seemed like everyone was having fun. There are serious golfers, like coach Ken Whisenhunt and kicker Jay Feely, some middle-of-the-road guys who all seemed to hit good shots when the cameras were around (at least, that’s what they were telling us) and other guys who you should be careful to be around when they are taking a shot (Um, Beanie, about that swing …)
There will be a video up soon and a photo gallery. Daryn Colledge didn’t make a hole-in-one to win the car, but decided to act like it (below). The rookies were in this morning getting the “This-is-how-we-do-things” lecture from John Lott before their first conditioning session, and the veterans who are around return tomorrow. Newly signed Calais Campbell will be a part of that too, and it’ll be back to work.
Tags: Beanie Wells, Calais Campbell, Daryn Colledge, golf, Jay Feely, John Lott, Ken Whisenhunt, offseason
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Ryan Williams knows there are people who doubt he can return to form this season after his patella tendon ruptured last year, ruining his rookie season. He knows, ultimately, he can’t prove anything until the season starts.
“I kind of feel like the most anticipated player of the year, and (fans) haven’t even seen anything but a couple weeks of training camp,” the running back said.
Williams is the guy who craves football. His biggest fear isn’t coming back from this injury, but being cut from the team. The rehab is just another hurdle in a life full of hurdles. Williams isn’t going to guarantee anything, but he comes about as close to that line as he can without stepping over, and he acknowledges his confidence in what he can do in 2012 is plentiful.
“Nothing was ever easy for me,” Williams said. “Coming from where I came from, I had to get out of that area. … I was the one who always had to prove to everyone not to put me on the backburner. Don’t doubt me and I will make you a fan. I had to work my butt off for everything.
“This situation, I’m not going to say it was fun to go through, but it’s nothing. I believe in myself and I believe I will be back. I asked (head athletic trainer) Tom (Reed), and I trust Tom and I feel he will be honest with me, and I asked, ‘Do you think I will be 100 percent?’ He said ‘I feel you will be better than you were before.’ “
Now, part of Reed’s job is helping players mentally return as much as physically. Encouragement is part of the process. But Williams clearly believes in himself.
“I still have time,” Williams said. “I am running and cutting and doing things I didn’t think I’d be doing this early. I’m not worried about it.”
The Cardinals must have confidence. Even though Williams went through what he went through — and starter Beanie Wells is still rehabbing from his own knee surgery — the Cards didn’t draft a running back nor sign an undrafted rookie. There’s always a chance that could come (it seems likely the Cards will at least get another body for OTAs and maybe minicamp) but there has to be a belief Williams will be there by camp and ready to go.
“Coach (John) Lott always puts a bug in my ear,” Williams said. “He keeps it honest too. He said, ‘If you don’t take this opportunity and take it full throttle, I promise next year we are going to (draft) a running back. If you do, we won’t see another running back for a couple years. It’s up to you.’ Some people get nervous with stuff like that, but not me. I love challenges like that.
“Man, I’m not worried at all. I’m telling you, I feel so good about what’s about to happen this year, no one can tell me different.”
Tags: Beanie Wells, John Lott, Ryan Williams, Tom Reed
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The Cardinals can finally begin their offseason strength and conditioning program Monday, a date pushed back three weeks or so from what it used to be because of the new collective bargaining agreement. I’m sure it drives John Lott crazy to have waited this long, but this is the NFL world in which we live, at least for the next 10 years. Some thoughts on where the Cardinals are when the workouts begin:
– The dates may have changed and the time frame may have shrunk, but, other than the minicamp that is now in mid-June, all these workouts in the offseason are still voluntary. That means everyone won’t be around for all of it. Still, I expect a good turnout, for many reasons.
– That doesn’t mean everyone will be around. I don’t expect franchised defensive end Calais Campbell to come in until a new long-term deal is in place.
He’d have to sign his one-year franchise tag tender offer before he could do anything anyway, (apparently I am wrong about that) but I’d be surprised if that would happen. I haven’t heard anything new on the contract talks, although they are ongoing.
– Quarterback Kevin Kolb will be here. I’ve already gotten a bunch of questions about what Kolb has been doing with teammates. I don’t think it’s been anything yet, but the vast majority of players haven’t yet. That’ll change now (the new rules allow QBs to throw to receivers without defenders the next couple of weeks before things morph again.) I don’t know why some question if Kolb will be willing to put in the work this offseason. I expect it, and as I had mentioned before, I think it will help him when it comes to how he plays this season.
– A couple weeks ago, Adrian Wilson admitted he wasn’t ready for all this to start yet. That’s not uncommon for an 11-year veteran. But it’s not like Wilson or any of these other guys have done nothing since the season ended. They aren’t stupid. They have all been working out somewhere. It’s just that now, they can do it together here at the Tempe facility, with Lott actually directing them in a program.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Calais Campbell, John Lott, Kevin Kolb, voluntary workouts
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Back when he showed up at the Cards’ complex for his introductory press conference, first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson spent a good 30 minutes beforehand talking with strength and conditioning coach John Lott. Lott, who knew his time with the top rookie was going to be severely limited this offseason, used the time to get out all the advice he’d normally deliver over a period of weeks.
Maybe that impacted Peterson, maybe not. Talking on “Chuck and Vince Live” this morning on The Fan 1060 AM, however, Peterson has trimmed some weight off his 220-pound frame and said he’d like to start off his NFL career between around 210 or 212 pounds.
“I’m kind of sick of hearing ‘You are 220, you can’t hang with the best, you might have to move to safety,’ so I kind of did it on my own,” Peterson said. “It was my decision. I want to go to camp kind of light because I know it’s a different climate in Arizona and I don’t want to be killing myself up there in the heat.”
Lott famously tells most players when he first gets them in Arizona they should drop a few pounds. Everyone has done it, from Larry Fitzgerald to Kurt Warner to Beanie Wells (pretty much every incoming rookie gets the speech). Peterson figured to be no different.
Peterson also said he worked out with Fitzgerald some before Fitzgerald went back to Minnesota recently. And he said he is “keeping my fingers crossed” he can wear No. 21. “I gotta have 21 on my back,” he said. (That number currently is held by free-agent-to-be safety Hamza Abdullah).
Tags: Hamza Abdullah, John Lott, Patrick Peterson
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As I noted a few weeks ago, some Cardinals players (and some guys from other teams) continue to work out over at Arizona State trying to stay in shape, with Larry Fitzgerald’s power as the Pied Piper in full effect. This week, Donovan McNabb happens to be there, which caused a stir (unfortunately for me). But as you can see in this NFL Network piece (nice catch, Andre Roberts!), the work goes on.
How much it makes a difference won’t be known for a while, because everything is up in the air. I’m pretty sure strength and conditioning coach John Lott is counting on guys to be in shape whenever he sees them next.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Donovan McNabb, John Lott, Larry Fitzgerald
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