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The (Bird)Gang's All Here

Posted May 18, 2010

Notebook: Whisenhunt, players happy with voluntary turnout

Linebacker Joey Porter leaps for an interception in front of linebacker Ali Highsmith during a position drill at Tuesday's first OTA of the offseason.
 
 
For the first time in a couple of years, Darnell Dockett was at the first day of the Cardinals’ voluntary organized team activities.

In truth, it may have been awkward for him not to show.

“I can’t even name someone who wasn’t here,” quarterback Matt Leinart said.

That’s because the list was so short. Linebacker Gerald Hayes was gone, although coach Ken Whisenhunt said Hayes should return Thursday. Rookie free agent cornerback A.J. Jefferson was absent because Fresno State’s semester has yet to end. And guard Deuce Lutui remains unsigned.

Otherwise, the on-field voluntary work looked a lot like the off-field stuff – plenty of Cards all around.

 “It helps the team in a season, as far as jelling and as far as coming out of the gates playing well,” linebacker Joey Porter said. “The more guys you have attending OTAs and minicamps, it’s going to make the team better.

“When I first started, it wasn’t really mandatory, so you’d have half the team there and half the team not, so you really didn’t know the veteran guys until training camp started. Now, it gives you more time to build the chemistry.”

Reminded the OTAs still aren’t mandatory, Porter didn’t hesitate. “It’s that rule that you know you’ll be frowned upon if you didn’t come,” Porter said with a chuckle.

Encouraging was the presence of Dockett, the Pro Bowl defensive tackle who did his work and even came back outside – the locker room is closed to the media this time of year – to speak to reporters.

Dockett said there was nothing new with his contract status (insisting he was confident it will “work itself out”) but that he had made promises to attend the voluntary practices.

“I told (safety) Adrian (Wilson) I’d be here this year,” Dockett said. “I made a commitment to him. I told Joey Porter if he came here (as a free agent) I wouldn’t miss anything and I’d be around to help him. I’m just trying to keep my word.

“Being part of everything is cool. A lot of guys look up to me as far as football. The only thing bad about it is after the workout, you’re bored the rest of the day.”

THE MISSING

Whisenhunt said Hayes will probably continue to be limited by his back issues during OTAs. Asked if the back problems were a major concern, Whisenhunt said “at this point, it’s not.”

Whisenhunt also said he has traded text messages with Lutui, although Lutui has not said when – and if – he plans on signing his tender offer.

WHIZ ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Dockett ended up apologizing Tuesday for putting a video up of himself showering on the internet last week. Whisenhunt was asked about the concept of players and social media like Facebook and Twitter and how it could affect a team.

“You can just as easily say something in front of a camera that you could in social networking,” Whisenhunt said. “The thing we have to emphasize with our team is that it is not a private conversation, it’s a public forum. Anything you say or do in that forum is instantaneously going to be in the media and you have to conduct yourself the right way.”

COACH-TO-COACH

Whisenhunt called Suns coach Alvin Gentry before the NBA team began its Western Conference Finals series against the Lakers.

“It was a great conversation,” Whisenhunt said. “I just told him how much we admired what they had done with that team.

“What I respect the most is getting those guys to play together.”
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