Running back Beanie Wells works a shuttle run during the rookies' workout with strength and conditioning coach John Lott Thursday.
Beanie is back.
That was the plan all along, of course, after Beanie Wells, the Cardinals' No. 1 draft pick, couldn't take part in any of the team's organized team activities because of a long-standing rule prohibiting rookies from working with NFL squads until their school was out of session.
Ohio State finally finished up last week, so Wells was free to return for the first time since minicamp the first weekend in May.
"The hard thing was not being out with the football team and getting a chance to bond with the guys," the running back said. "But for the football and playing aspect, it wasn't too bad. Coach (Curtis) Modkins made sure I stayed up on things.
"It's been smooth coming back. I have kept in contact with some of the guys and they have been cool."
Wells said he had been hanging out quite a bit with Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald – "He's been taking care of me like a big brother," Wells said – and is trying to get used to the conditioning work coach John Lott has unleashed on the rookies.
Wells will be part of the Cards' running back rotation this season, although he'll begin behind starter Tim Hightower and probably veteran Jason Wright, at least to begin camp. Missing all the OTAs makes that a practical certainty.
"You are never done learning," Wells said. "But right now I am just focused on being in good shape and being ready to go for camp."
THE ROOKIES' ALONE TIME
The veterans – save for a small handful who are still coming on their own to lift weights – are done until training camp. But Lott is working with the rookies until the second week of July, trying to get them in better shape before training camp.
The work is as much mental as physical. Lott pushed the players Thursday at the end of the workout, running short shuttles over and over while trying to get them to jump offsides prematurely.
"It's something everybody needs," said safety Rashad Johnson, the team's third-round draft pick. "We are going into a different stage in our lives and just because we are here doesn't mean we are entitled. In college, you get a scholarship and you are there for four years. Now, you can be gone at any moment. (Coach Lott) is just trying to instill that in us, and get us to work hard and making sure we know, you have one bad day, it might be the last day you are here."
THE BUSINESS OF THE NFL
General manager Rod Graves will get a chance to go on vacation next week, but acknowledged he will still have a working side of the family time thanks to his Blackberry. The Cards are still working to get their remaining unsigned draft picks under contract and Graves said earlier this week he is continuing dialogue with the agent of franchised linebacker Karlos Dansby.
Deals like the potential one for Dansby, along with the one for Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson, are not simple thanks to both the rules for the potential uncapped year and other factors.
"It certainly has created a tremendous challenge in managing our roster, managing expectations," Graves said. "We're able to do it. But one of the things people can overlook is that players and agents tend to think from time to time we are just printing money in the back. Like every business in this community and across America, we're affected by the same economic issues. We have to pay attention to that.
"It's not just the new rules we are confronted with moving forward. It does get to the point where you bottom out in the available cash to get those deals done. Those are the things we have to balance and work with over the course of the year."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 6/18/09.