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Mistaking The Point Of OTAs

Posted May 31, 2012

Errors will happen, but players want to make it right even now

Safety Adrian Wilson congratulates teammates Kerry Rhodes (25) and William Gay (23) after a defensive stop in Thursday's OTA.

Darnell Dockett got held in one of the OTAs this week and fined himself $200.

The Cards’ defensive lineman figures he’s built up $2,000 of these self-fines so far in OTAs, dinging himself for every error – because, in the case of the hold, “I believe you only get held if you allow people to hold you.”

“I don’t make excuses,” Dockett said.

With games that count still a few months away, organized team activities are the time to learn and test. That’s the point, to work out the kinks when it doesn’t matter.

Except there is a fine line there, and how much getting it right every time does matter tends to come down to perspective.

“I don’t think you ever accept mistakes,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. I make mistakes every day. But you don’t accept it. You are driving to get better. You know young players will see things they have never seen before and part of the evaluation process is how they handle it.

“We are trying to get better. It’s easy to say mistakes are going to happen, but guys who make a lot of mistakes aren’t going to be here.”

Coaches are still barking at players at times even now, although that more often than not comes down to a lack of tempo or focus than actual errors. There are techniques, ones veterans should already have down, that must be repeated over and over. Those shouldn’t be problems.

The new plays being installed, especially the ones freshly tweaked in the coaches’ offices, might create some issues. Maybe they don’t quite work as drawn up. Maybe it takes the players a minute to understand.    

“You go through things and look at what you can handle,” quarterback Kevin Kolb said. “That’s the best way to learn things, getting thrown into the fire. That’s the luxury of the offseason.”

The coaches are always watching, though. Most of the time, when the offense faces the defense in some capacity, there is no script. Both sides must react to what the other side is presenting – and if defensive coordinator Ray Horton decides to throw in a zero blitz on a play in May, Kolb or fellow QB John Skelton better be ready.

“That’s invaluable because that’s what you do in games,” Whisenhunt said. “You are never going to see what you practice for. There are always changes. You have to adapt.”

The rookies are in a different position from the veterans too. After missing the playoffs two straight years – following two straight playoff appearances – Dockett isn’t interested in leeway, even in the summer.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson was beat deep on a pass to Larry Fitzgerald this week, and told Dockett that Fitzgerald had pushed off.

“He said, ‘They aren’t going to call it,’ ” Dockett said. “I said, ‘So we get beat for a touchdown and we lose by seven.’ He said, ‘You’re right, I’m fined $200.’ We’re just trying to raise the standards around here and not have excuses.”

Even in May.

“The first team should expect perfection,” safety Adrian Wilson said. “Some of the second team guys too. To say perfection, I mean, there will be one or two mistakes here and there. But you have to stop it at that.”


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