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As The Offseason Ends, Accountability Priority For Cardinals

Team next practices in training camp in late July

Wide receiver Hollywood Brown (2) breaks down the huddle after the final minicamp practice of the offseason on Wednesday.
Wide receiver Hollywood Brown (2) breaks down the huddle after the final minicamp practice of the offseason on Wednesday.

Jonathan Gannon has talked accountability since he arrived.

That's not a surprise – most coaches have that high on their must-haves list when they take over a team. But locking that in, having the ability to have it cut across coaches and players and stay intact, that's the work that has to happen.

Now that the Cardinals have made it through their offseason work after a final minicamp practice Wednesday (there are meetings remain on Thursday), everyone in the building has a good idea of what it all means.

"Accountability," veteran linebacker Dennis Gardeck said, "has definitely been ratcheted up."

The definition hasn't changed for Gannon from his playing days in college to now. Everyone needs to do their job on a consistent basis and put the team first. When the players came out a little more slowly than he would have liked for Tuesday's work, Gannon let them know that if they wanted to earn rest days in camp he as a coach would have to be able to trust a fast start at the ensuing workout.

In the Bruce Arians days, the Cardinals had an actual "Accountability Board" which made plain for all to see what mistakes were being made – or not made.

Most coaches aren't as in your face, but Gannon will make his point, like when linebacker Zaven Collins was told in front of the group early on that all the eating needed to be done before team meetings.

"There are standards," Gardeck said. "It can look a lot of different ways. It can be making sure you are staying in the same tempo (at practice). That's an emphasis in order to stay healthy, so coach will call out clips of breaking tempo violations. (Also) how to show up to meetings, when to show up. It can look a lot of different ways. But it's been clear and consistent.

"Clear and direct communication. We know how to operate, so that's good."

Veteran cornerback Antonio Hamilton says some of the efforts for accountability are similar to the previous regimes. He noted that Gannon's staff tries to take the small details and make them big, helping create a foundation going forward.

But it isn't just about the top-down coach-player relationship. Another of Gannon's tenets is self-awareness, and that too plays into accountability.

"Accountability is doing things you know are going to benefit the team even though no one is asking you to," guard Will Hernandez said. "It's doing the things you know your coaches and team expect of you and not just doing them but doing them at a high level. That's just the way it works."

The Cardinals are far from a finished product. But the first leg of the journey is complete, with Gannon letting everyone know expectations – and how they can collectively push each other to reach them.

The consequences are harsh otherwise.

"Coaches staff, players, it's important to know that every day, you are on the clock," Gannon said. "The NFL, (Mike Zimmer) used to talk about Not For Long. That's not a scare tactic or a threat. It's just reality.

"It's important for our guys to know reality as well. We're not just out here playing a game. It's not high school football, it's pro football."

Images of the Arizona Cardinals participating in mandatory minicamp at the Dignity Health Training Facility

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