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Always Competing, Even in Offseason

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Offensive linemen Mike Gandy (69) and Lyle Sendlein (left) lead the offensive players' celebration at the end of a punt-catch competition Wednesday.

The whooping and hollering at the end of Wednesday's organized team activity was genuine, after the offense defended its "punt catching" title as part of coach Ken Whisenhunt's OTA plans.

Whisenhunt sprinkles in a couple of such contests during the voluntary work, an offense-versus-defense game in which the winner gets one or two fewer wind sprints at the end of practice. Various players, usually guys who don't touch the ball much, get a crack at catching a punt.

It's about team building. It's also about putting something on the line – in this case, less running in the heat – for which to compete.

"There's not a game on the horizon," Whisenhunt said. "You need to do things to get that energy going."

Keeping players engaged in the dead of the offseason is important. But quarterback Kurt Warner said the nature of players means the ability to compete in some regard – even without contact or no games for which to prepare – no matter what.

Before many of the OTAs, Warner said, defenders will come by and ask him if the unit has disguised its plays well enough, even in the middle of the offseason.

"They are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at you," Warner said. "That's what makes it fun, they are given you the hardest looks. So it doesn't matter there isn't a game around the corner. Even the punts at the end (of practice), everyone wanted to catch every one. It doesn't matter what we are doing. (The competitive spirit) doesn't lessen at all, no matter what the environment."

NO Q, NO CHANGE

Whisenhunt became the first Cardinals official to speak on the news wide receiver Anquan Boldin – who remained absent from the voluntary work Wednesday – had dismissed agent Drew Rosenhaus.

"Really, until we see where it goes from here, I don't see how anything has changed," Whisenhunt said. "I know from our perspective, nothing has changed. We are a much better football team with Anquan than without him and we have a high regard for him."

Whisenhunt said agent changes happen in the NFL so the move didn't surprise him. He said he would "guess" Boldin did what he thought best for Boldin, but "you'd have to discuss that with him."

Whisenhunt also wouldn't bite when asked if he had hoped Boldin would show up after making the agent move.

"I am hopeful everyone will show up every day," Whisenhunt said. "But once again, this is not mandatory, it's voluntary, and I am very pleased we have such a large turnout here."

EXTRA POINTS

Besides Boldin, four players have yet to come to any of the OTAs, although two – running back Beanie Wells and receiver Shane Morales, both rookies – can't because of school. The other two are defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Bertrand Berry. …

Warner said he still feels a little pain in his surgically-repaired hip but that it doesn't affect his play on the field. "I am waiting for that day when I am completely pain-free," he said.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 5/27/09.

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