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Voluntary workouts can be rewarding

Posted by Darren Urban on April 25, 2014 – 12:49 pm

The Cardinals have had good turnout at their voluntary work thus far, which is always good to see. I’ve seen almost everyone on the current roster at some point (I keep getting questions about players that aren’t in photos — Patrick Peterson, Ted Ginn and Carson Palmer in particular. I have seen all three. Workouts run at 6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. after meetings. I’m not taking pictures at 6 and usually I’ve moved on in my day at 12:30, so just because they aren’t in a photo doesn’t mean anything.) It’s important to have guys around, as Darnell Dockett noted yesterday.

“This is voluntary, so when you have guys here, voluntary, and we grade out at 94 percent every day of people coming in, that shows the right direction we’re trying to go in,” he said. “Not showing up with 20 guys, missing 15 here and 30 here, 20 guys late, people missing in the classroom. That’s a bad sign. So right now every day we’re getting out this work, and we’re appreciating it and enjoying it. We’re getting better. Chemistry is not all about coming in talking about football and weights. We’re getting to know each other.”

Kent Somers does a nice job chronicling how Dockett’s mindset has changed after multiple offseasons when he wasn’t here. Part of the change for the Cards — and around the NFL for that matter — has been a proliferation of workout bonuses in contracts. Players get paid for their weekly attendance, but it’s not much really, $175 a day as stipulated by the collective bargaining agreement. If you make the workouts a fruitful part of the paycheck, you tend to motivate. Overthecap.com writes about this. Seven teams in the league have invested at least $2 million of cap space into offseason workout bonuses, including the Cardinals at $2.085 million. The most is the Packers, at $4.325M, and that’s not a surprise knowing that many players probably wouldn’t want to stick around Green Bay in the offseason if they could avoid it.

Nine Cardinals collect six figures just for showing up for whatever the prescribed amount of offseason workouts would be (it’s usually a high percentage of the total days available.) Dockett, DE Calais Campbell, WR Larry Fitzgerald and QB Drew Stanton get $250,000. C Lyle Sendlein and S Rashad Johnson get $150,000. Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy gets $125,000. Linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Daryl Washington get $100,000. And there are eight other players who get money.

Cash doesn’t explain everything. There are a ton of guys on the roster — big-name guys — who have been here and get no extra monetary reward for doing so, including new players like Jared Veldheer, Antonio Cromartie and Ted Ginn. There is a push from those on the roster to make sure teammates are hear for the reason of just making sure the team will be as good as possible. But as always, money plays a role.

WorkoutCash

 


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Players return — and Kolb is ready

Posted by Darren Urban on April 16, 2012 – 11:18 am

I’ll have much more in a homepage story later, but as expected, Kevin Kolb was one of the many Cardinals to show up for the first day of voluntary strength and conditioning work this morning. And as expected, he talked about being the QB here in the aftermath of the team’s pursuit of Peyton Manning. Kolb was matter-of-fact about the situation. It happens in the business, he said, teams trying to get better. His one request was better communication from the team — not that he didn’t talk to coach Ken Whisenhunt or the front office at all, just that it come sooner.

“I just said, in the future, if you can just communicate with me, I can take it, if this is the route you’re going,” Kolb said. “I’d just rather hear it from (Whisenhunt) than the ticker. And he agreed, and that’s how relationships grow.”

Kolb acknowledged the chase for a different quarterback will probably motivate him, but he also said he has plenty of other things to motivate him. Not a whole lot has changed since the last time Kolb held court in front of his locker the day after the season. The Manning scenario was just another detail.

“It’s their right to go look wherever they need to look,” Kolb said.

“You get fueled by a lot of things,” Kolb added. “It will add a spark, but I am fighting for my job anyway.”

Kolb did admit he had some concern when his concussion symptoms didn’t go away until three weeks had passed after the regular season ended. But he said he was healthy now (he looked in good shape already). He acted exactly how you’d expect — a guy who understands reality, and understands that he is still in position to be the starting quarterback if he can handle his business.

– The Cards’ last two unsigned restricted free agents, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and safety Rashad Johnson, were working out after signing their one-year tender offers. All told, the Cards had more than 50 players working in the first two groups today. (Cards officially announced exclusive rights guys LB Brandon Williams and Ronald Talley signed as well.)


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Campbell will wait for now

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2012 – 5:31 pm

With many of the Cardinals gearing up for the start of voluntary workouts tomorrow morning, it doesn’t come as a surprise defensive end Calais Campbell will hold off until his contract situation is resolved. Campbell received the franchise tag in early March, one of 21 players across the league to be tagged.

Asked if he was planning to come this week, Campbell said in text message “Not until I sign a deal and that hasn’t happened yet so hopefully soon but not yet.”

It is certainly not unique for tagged players to not show. Franchised guys like Saints QB Drew Brees, Bears running back Matt Forte, Patriots receiver Wes Welker and Ravens running back Ray Rice are among the tagged players not expected (or having said straight out they aren’t coming) at offseason work. The Cardinals and Campbell have been talking about a new long-term deal for a while now and that hasn’t changed.

It’s tough not to see “hopefully soon” from Campbell’s message as optimism; there is still significant time to get a long-term deal done before the July 16 deadline. Strength and conditioning may start tomorrow, but the Cards don’t get back on the field for football work until May 22.

(And then again, Campbell didn’t get any at-the-complex work last offseason either, and 2011 turned out pretty good, right?)


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Official offseason work around the corner

Posted by Darren Urban on April 12, 2012 – 3:47 pm

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.


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An impressive turnout and the preseason sked

Posted by Darren Urban on March 30, 2010 – 2:18 pm

The offseason workout program is only two days old and with 61 players officially on the roster, 57 of them have shown up for at least one of the two voluntary days (and most have been here both days). Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has been in India, but he’s a guy who’ll show up as soon as he is back in town. And I am hearing that defensive tackle Darnell Dockett may also show up next week (the only others who have yet to make an appearance are tight end Anthony Becht and defensive tackle Alan Branch, but I am sure both will be here sooner rather than later). Obviously, that doesn’t include guard Deuce Lutui, the restricted free agent who cannot participate until he signs his tender offer.

On another subject, the NFL is set to announce the full preseason schedule tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon Arizona time. The regular schedule is still another couple weeks away as usual, but at least there will be a taste of what is to come (my bet: The Cards finish the preseason with a home game against the Broncos. I’m not going out on too far of a limb, am I?)


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