Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard takes part in his first Cardinals' work after being claimed off waivers from New England.
Alfonzo Dennard spent his first on-field work for the Cardinals trailing behind Patrick Peterson, trying to mimic the team's defense in a crash-course introduction.
That wasn't all he had to learn. The veteran cornerback, claimed off waivers last week by the Cards after he was released by the New England Patriots, was still getting to know his new teammates. As a career AFC guy, his only real interaction with current Cards was when he trained with wide receiver Michael Floyd
prior to the 2012 draft.
It will take an adjustment. Dennard didn't expect to be here, calling his release by the Patriots "a surprise."
"It was shocking, because I thought I did everything right," Dennard said. "I guess they had other plans and I wasn't in it. But I'm happy to be here with the Cardinals."
Dennard wasn't the only cornerback the Patriots have moved on from this offseason. Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner left as free agents, and the team also released veteran Kyle Arrington as well as Dennard.
Dennard, a one-time seventh round pick, had been a starter for the Patriots soon after he was drafted. He earned praise from coach Bill Belichick during the 2013 season – "He's a very competitive guy. No matter what the situation is, he wants to get out there and battle it out with the receivers," Belichick said – but by 2014, Dennard had fallen out of favor.
The Patriots had added Revis and Browner to be starters, but Dennard only played in six games with four starts before a hamstring injury ended his season.
Dennard doesn't come across as angry about what happened in New England, but he doesn't have a definitive explanation of what changed for him there. He has one year left on his rookie contract, which pays him $1.542 million this season.
"I wish I could tell you an answer," Dennard said. "But that's the coaches. It was up to them. I really don't know what they were thinking. I'm not even sure."
Dennard, at 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds, is a physical player with five career interceptions in three seasons. With the free-agent departure of Antonio Cromartie, the Cardinals could seek a veteran addition to the trio of Peterson, Jerraud Powers and Justin Bethel, and coach Bruce Arians recently praised 2014 practice squad cornerback Jimmy Legree as well.
With much of the offseason left – OTAs don't start until next week, with minicamp coming in mid-June – there is plenty of time for Dennard to catch up. He insisted he isn't picky about what role he'd play.
"Whatever the coaches want me to do," Dennard said. "I'm just happy to be here. It's unbelievable."