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"We Need You Here"

Posted Apr 24, 2014

Cardinals have had good turnout for new strength and conditioning coach's lesson plans

Tight end Rob Housler sprints as strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris looks on during Thursday workouts.

The Cardinals’ locker room is filled these days, a good sign for a team trying to move up the ranks in the NFC West.

It is voluntary. But Darnell Dockett wants to make sure volunteers are plenty.

“We’ve got a few guys not here that I’m texting every day,” the veteran defensive lineman said Thursday at the conclusion of the first week of the team’s offseason program. “I don’t care what they say to me. I’m going to literally blow their text message up, like, ‘We need you here. We need you here. We’re trying to do something important. The schedule came out, we need you here. You’re not going to be here the first week? We expect you to be here Monday.’

“That’s what Bruce Arians expects from me as one of his leaders, to make sure guys are here and make sure guys are working every day. Guys that are struggling, you pick them up. Guys that are running late, you tell them: ‘You can’t be late. You’re on our time.’ I’m loving this. We’ve got a lot of guys here that are enthusiastic to work.”

Dockett hasn’t had to text many. Almost everyone on the roster has been in Tempe this week for the workouts and the meetings that have accompanied them. Most players were anxious to get started again after a 10-win season. Plus, there was the necessary step of learning what Buddy Morris wants.

Morris, the team’s new strength and conditioning coach, has made inroads already of shaping his plan.

“The more I learn about them,” Morris said, “the more I understand what needs to be done.”

But Morris said there has already been a lot of change – impressive given only three days of work – with an emphasis on the movement standpoint. That’s the focus of Morris and assistants Roger Kingdom and Pete Alosi, Morris said, because movement is what matters in the NFL.

Not only has Morris noticed change, but after a brief hesitation, he was even willing to note standouts. Center Lyle Sendlein has caught his eye, as has tackle Jared Veldheer (no surprise since Veldheer has long followed Morris’ methods from afar) and quarterback Carson Palmer.

“I am shocked at everybody’s commitment to us and what we are trying to do,” Morris said. “They have bought right in.”

That isn’t a huge surprise. Bruce Arians brought Morris in, and Arians already proved to the players last season why they should believe in his choices.

“I had a great time with (former) coach (John) Lott, but now we are taking it day by day and doing what coach tells us,” wide receiver Michael Floyd said.

It’s a shift for certain, from a decade or so ago when the Cardinals’ offseason workouts were much more lightly attended. Even Dockett was scarce early in his career. He said figured out why it was better to be around, and why it was better for everyone to show up.

“We’re a long way from where we want to go, as far as conditioning, strength,” Dockett said. “The best thing about it is we’re here every day. We’re going to grind every day. We’re not going to take any days off, and we’re going to give the fans what they paid for.”

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