Arizona Cardinals' incoming rookies made their way to Phoenix today with lunch pails in hand today and finally punched the clock for 14 days of 'organized team activities.' The activities will start tomorrow even though rookies did go through some weight lifting and conditioning this morning. Veterans will join the mix soon enough but for now the rookies will get introduced to Arizona in a brutal way because according to weather.com it'll be a sweltering 107 degrees tomorrow.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic caught up with head coach Ken Whisenhunt this morning and brought us this gold:
Q. What do you want to accomplish with these 14 sessions?
A. "Just refinement of our system. I think obviously in the first year during the season you build both on your offense and your defense, and there are things that come up that you add to your system. And I think this period is when you go back and refine them. Some of them, you really like, some of them, you are not sure about and this is kind of the proving ground for that.
"Plus, it's a chance to evaluate the young guys, the new guys and try to get an idea of how they fit into schemes."
Q. Can you get a good idea with them not being in pads?
A. "I think from the standpoint of how your schemes work, as far as how they mesh. Where players are supposed to be in certain spots, whether it’s blitz packages on defense, whether it’s passing, whether it’s route combinations or schemes on offense. The actual blocking schemes, the actual defensive gap responsibilities, those kinds of things are hard to really tell when you’re in the shorts. But as far as the big picture, schematically, that you are trying to get accomplished, that you can see.
"And there’s enough 1-on-1 competition in this period where you get an idea of how your players are going to respond in situations. I think it really gives us a better idea what we want to focus on going into training camp. Last year, we were in the process of just throwing as much stuff up on the wall and then trying to figure out, not only what we thought as good, but who was going to do it. This year, we have a pretty good idea of who is going to do it, now we’ve got to find the guys who are going to push those guys.
"Going in I think we have a better feel for what our players do well now than last year at this time, obviously."
Q. Many of the players have been in your system a year, so how much do you go over the basics?
A. "It’s pretty regimented as far as our installation. Some of it will probably be redundant to these guys. But you do that because you’re training a whole batch of young players and new guys. It is a good way of going back and refreshing you, even though you are in system, it’s been a while since these guys have looked at their terminologies. We do have a calendar of what we put in, when we put in. If minicamp was any indication of that, I’m encouraged by how we’re going to progress through these OTAs because it did go very smoothly and the guys were very comfortable with how we were doing."
Q. And I would guess these practices would give you an idea of the rookies’ mentality – what they are capable of mentally and how hard they have worked in the couple weeks since minicamp?
A. "It’s a subtle test. You don’t come out and say, ‘this is how you are going to be evaluated.’ You put it out there and you see the ones who are going to work, who are going to be prepared. Just like today, their introduction to the run test, you get an idea of the guys who have been working and the ones who haven’t.
"As a player, I was told you were being evaluated every day. And that’s a little bit of what it is."
With as slow as it's been the past week or so, I can't wait to hear some reports coming out of OTA's.