Starting nose tackle Gabe Watson is out indefinitely after fracturing a kneecap in a treadmill accident last week.
Gabe Watson showed up for offseason workouts in good shape, enough so that strength and conditioning coach John Lott praised the third-year nose tackle when he first saw Watson last month.
So the disappointment was apparent for coach Ken Whisenhunt when Watson hurt himself Thursday night working out at a local gym, with Watson fracturing his kneecap after slipping on a treadmill.
Whisenhunt said after the doctors surgically repaired the injury, the Cardinals are "optimistic" Watson will be ready for the regular season.
But, "the thing that is disappointing is Gabe has shown such great progress in the last year and he is getting it," Whisenhunt said. "The fact he was, on his own, working on his own to get himself in shape after he had done his work here (earlier in the day) is a testament to him."
The Cardinals just signed veteran defensive lineman Bryan Robinson, who will help fill the void left by Watson. Watson will miss the rest of offseason work.
Whisenhunt said he didn't want to predict Watson's return. For now, the leg must be immobilized and a timetable cannot be predicted before the bone heals.
"I am glad it happened now rather than two months from now," Whisenhunt said. "One thing that is an advantage, because he is in such better shape now this year than he has ever been in, it gives him a much better chance of getting back quickly." (EDIT: Go here for Watson's comments.)
The Cardinals will also need more from second-year tackle Alan Branch.
"Now the focus on (Branch) will be a little bit greater, so hopefully that will force him to pick up the urgency -- which he has shown signs of doing," Whisenhunt said.
Whisenhunt confirmed that the Cardinals are bringing to Tempe some potential draftees for visits this year, a change in the team's policy in recent seasons. Whisenhunt said the visits would be used not only to further information on possible drafted players but also as a recruiting tool for possible undrafted rookies.
The Cardinals used to utilize such visits until Dennis Green was hired as coach. The previous philosophy was that the Cards already knew what they needed to know about players though combine interviews and campus workouts.
Whisenhunt declined to name the players who will visit the team's complex.
The voluntary workout program will last only through Wednesday this week, with Lott giving the players a long weekend. …
The Cardinals will host a pair of football camps May 17-18. On May 17 is the "Football Skills and Education camp," in which is a day-long affair that includes not only on-field workouts but also classroom work on study habits and financial aid information for college. There is room for 50 players per position. On May 18, is the Cards' "Kicking, Punting and Snapping camp," also an all-day program run by Cards' director of community relations and former NFL kicker Luis Zendejas. There is room for 150 players.
For both camps, entries must be made by May 10. For more information, call (602) 379-1688 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 4/15/08. Updated 4/18/08.