Vance Joseph was in the middle of a nap on Monday before his phone buzzed with devastating news.
Greg Williams, the Cardinals' cornerbacks coach, had informed the defensive coordinator that defensive back Jeff Gladney had been killed in a car accident in the early morning hours of Memorial Day.
"My first thought went to his family and the person in the car with him," Joseph said Wednesday after the Cardinals went through their first OTA after Gladney's death. "As a parent, that's a nightmare of a call: Your child's gone; it doesn't matter how it happened. It's a tragedy for everybody, and it's been very sad."
Gladney had been in the process of restarting his career, signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals this offseason. The Vikings' first-round draft pick in 2020 had been released after his rookie season after being charged with assault, and after missing 2021 he signed with the Cardinals after he had been found not guilty at trial.
Gladney had participated in the team's voluntary OTAs last week and had a smile and personality that rubbed off on teammates. Wide receiver Rondale Moore said the players planned to get together at The Main Event on Wednesday as a reminder to cherish each another in wake of the horrific news.
Offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum said coach Kliff Kingsbury gave a heartfelt speech on the matter before the beginning of Wednesday's workouts.
"It's never easy to lose a teammate," Beachum said. "It's never easy to lose anybody within the NFL fraternity, whether it's former, current, somebody you know, or somebody you don't know. I think anybody that plays in the National Football League, you have some sense of identity and identify with them in some fashion.
"My heart goes out to his mother, the family of the young lady in the car, and a young child who doesn't have a father."
Joseph acknowledged the coaches have met since the accident occurred, but none of the talks have been about the process of how the secondary will adjust without Gladney.
The time will come to do that, but that time is not now.
"As far as the football part, guys are still processing his death," Joseph said. "But the football part doesn't stop. We have to figure out ways not to have Jeff because he would be a big part of what we did this year as a starter, at least on nickel downs. But that's a backseat right now to what's going on."