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Adjusting Practice

Notebook: Lack of offseason makes work slow early on

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Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling bursts upfield in practice at Walkup Skydome.




FLAGSTAFF – Coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked what he noticed about practices so far in camp, practices his players were running for the first time since last season.

After a moment of thought, Whisenhunt said "I'm noticing a lot of mistakes, a lot of lining up in the neutral zone, jumping offsides, formations that are wrong, defenses that are wrong."

Not a surprise. But, Whisenhunt added, "I'm also noticing a work ethic that is important. Veterans are working after practices, before practices. There is no complaining about what we are doing, of course there is no reason to complain because we have a lot of ground to make up."

Judging practices yet is fruitless in many ways. With newly signed veterans waiting until Thursday to practice, there have been a host of rookies trying NFL football for the very first time starting Saturday. The dynamic will shift again Thursday with an influx of 20-some new bodies, many of which have never worn a Cardinals jersey before.

Whisenhunt said the early practices have been about pushing the younger players, knowing those reps will decline with the veterans returning. There is also a bigger roster with which to deal, given the 90 players allowed instead of 80.

Whisenhunt also said, because so many players have been missing work – including new quarterback Kevin Kolb – the coaches, while they won't start over with installing the playbook, they will scale back and re-do parts.

"It's a challenge and I enjoy trying to get it done," Whisenhunt said. "The idea of knowing we have a game in a little more than a week, and we open the season here in a month and a half, that tempers everything from the standpoint of what you have to do."

FILLING THE MIDDLE


The Cardinals had four players who could play nose tackle last year: Dan Williams, Bryan Robinson, Gabe Watson, and, in a pinch, Alan Branch.

Williams is now the starter. Watson signed with the Giants Tuesday, and Branch signed with Seattle recently. Robinson has always been on the edge of retirement. And as of now, it doesn't look like the Cards are pressing to find anyone else.

Whisenhunt said Tuesday he likes a "couple of young guys" – sixth-round pick David Carter and rookie free agent Ricky Lumpkin – and veterans like Nick Eason and Vonnie Holliday can slide over as well.

"When we get some game action and see how they hold up, that will make you a little more comfortable," Whisenhunt said.

It all likelihood, the Cards will see how the players pan out in a preseason game or two, and if moves need to  be made, they will search the free-agent list then.

EXTRA POINTS


The Cards released three undrafted rookies Tuesday: cornerback Tae Evans, running back William Powell and guard Greg Niland. …

Quarterback Kevin Kolb officially signed his new contract Tuesday, a deal through the 2016 season. …

The Cardinals practiced indoors Tuesday afternoon because of lightning in the area.

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