The Cardinals started their first set of OTAs this week and so far the turnout has exceeded expectations. The Cardinals have had all but three players attend practices this week - Deuce Lutui(contract), A.J. Jefferson(Finishing school), and Gerald Hayes(Back). The team has also been fortunate enough to remain relatively healthy despite growing reports from around the league of players suffering significant injuries. That's a testament to strength and conditioning coach John Lott's training program. I'll start with this piece from Darren Urban of www.azcardinals.com. I liked what I read and it certainly stands out as far as offseason work goes:
The Cards had their intensity at the end today when coach Ken Whisenhunt pitted offense versus defense in third-down situations. The "winner" - whichever unit did its job more often - got out of running.
So there was whooping and hollering from the defense when cornerback Greg Toler broke up the first Matt Leinart-to-Larry Fitzgerald pass. And there was the same from the offense when Fitz made a wonderful one-handed grab on the sideline. There was a lot of arguing when a first down pass from Derek Anderson to Early Doucet might have come after a "sack" of Anderson. And there was an explosion of happiness from the red shirts when Money Mike Adams broke up the final pass to Andre Roberts. The coaches from the offense had to run too, which made it even more interesting.
- Earlier this week, as we all know, Greg Toler has been working with the first team defense and has looked impressive. The Cardinals are still thin at cornerback and need some depth before training camp. Not sure where it will come from or if a lesser known player steps up.
- The offensive line remained the same, from left to right: Levi Brown, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Reggie Wells, Brandon Keith. It appears this unit will remain the same throughout camp until/unless another lineman steps up and challenges for a starting spot.
- Beanie Wells and tight end Anthony Bechtsaw more snaps with the starting offense. Becht's the superior blocker out of the current tight ends, giving him the edge so far. Ben Patrick's receiving skills may play a hand later in camp.
- The starting linebackers from left to right: Clark Haggans, Monty Beisel, Paris Lenon, Joey Porter. Lenon has been calling plays but the coaching staff would like rookie Daryl Washington to eventually take over. Beisel is in place for Gerald Hayes, who's resting a sore back. According to Ken Whisenhunt, the back is not a concern. This is likely precautionary as the back flared up on Hayes several times late last season. Apparently the coaching staff is curious as to what third string linebacker Mark Washington can do. He impressed on the practice squad last season.
The Cardinals next set of OTAs take place on May 25th through the 27th.