Cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) has a discussion with safety Curtis Taylor (27) during a recent OTA.
The play was ready to be snapped – a single short pass designed to set up a field-goal attempt – by reserve players when the call came up on the field: "Need a corner! Need a corner!"
Antonio Cromartie, who already had a ton of reps at the recent OTA and in a time of a 90-man roster was among the last who figured to jump in, jumped in.
"I am all for doing whatever it takes as a team and as a whole that we are all together," Cromartie said, shrugging it away afterwards.
Cromartie signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals in March. Since then, the team couldn't have drawn up a better
offseason from their newest starting cornerback. Though all the work has been officially voluntary up until this point, Cromartie has been at the facility almost daily, attending not only OTAs but also Phase 2 work along with the workouts of strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris.
Better yet, Cromartie hasn't shown effects of the hip injury that admittedly dragged down his 2013 performance in his final season with the New York Jets.
Racing around in coverage of Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald among others, Cromartie acknowledges his hip is doing well. Then he notes that it is only May.
"It's a knock-on-wood thing," Cromartie said. "It's early. Things are moving a little fast because we are in shorts, but it's the point of adding extra pounds when we are wearing pads in camp. That's when we can really tell. But now, with the pounding (while running around), I feel pretty good."
Cromartie's health will be much more important later. Now, it's his presence that is leaving the impression. With the Cardinals losing veteran cornerbacks like Antoine Cason and Javier Arenas from last season, Cromartie adds a knowledge base in the locker room that will help with young defensive backs.
"He communicates with all his guys," cornerback Justin Bethel said. "He'll let you know what he thinks that can help you and he speaks his mind. He's a great asset."
Coach Bruce Arians said Cromartie is "everything we had hoped for."
"Smart player, good leader, and he's coaching up the young guys," Arians added.
Cromartie has had plenty of chances on the field already. With the Cardinals splitting OTA work on to two fields and injuries and absences sometimes shortening the available corners, Cromartie isn't coming up short on work.
Still, running non-contact coverages on Floyd now isn't the same as trying to blanket Michael Crabtree in September. Cromartie didn't have his best season a year ago, but he thinks if he can get past the hip issues, he will return to form.
For a guy who has been to multiple Pro Bowls, who has played with Darrelle Revis in New York and now shares a locker room with one of the guys (Patrick Peterson) who is in the debate for the best cornerback in the league, Cromartie will pass on getting involved in such talk.
"I'm in it for longevity," Cromartie said. "You want to be your best and play your best. That's what a DB wants every game. Some games you don't have that. Some seasons you don't have that. But it's about coming back and keep continuing to play.
"I'm not all into who the best corner is and all that because it really doesn't matter. As long as your football team is winning games and you are doing what you are supposed to do, who cares?"
More images from the second week of OTAs