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Cardinals' Offseason Program Will Begin April 8

Coach Kliff Kingsbury excited to finally get in front of team

LB Haason Reddick on the first day of workouts in 2018
LB Haason Reddick on the first day of workouts in 2018

Kliff Kingsbury feels like time has moved in slow motion since he became coach of the Cardinals.

He's officially been on the job for less than three months, but "it seems like I've been here a year and haven't met the team yet."

That will change soon.

The Cardinals will convene for voluntary offseason work on April 8, where an antsy Kingsbury will finally get a chance to speak with the players and begin implementing his style. The team could have started a week earlier but Kingsbury preferred to delay it for scheduling reasons.

"We wanted to keep it more compact," Kingsbury said Tuesday morning from the annual owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. "If we would have started on (April 1), we would have taken a break, and now we're just going to roll straight through."

It's a slow burn, as the players are limited to strength and conditioning work during the first phase of the offseason. Still, it's better than nothing. Kingsbury's tenure has been marked by speculation, as pundits wonder how his offense will translate to the NFL and what the Cardinals will do with the No. 1 overall pick.

 "It's been a lot of other things other than coaching so excited to get that going," Kingsbury said.

NO TIMETABLE FOR NKEMDICHE

The Cardinals signed defensive end Darius Philon in free agency, and he is projected to start alongside nose tackle Corey Peters on the defensive line in 2019. In an ideal world, Robert Nkemdiche would round out the group, but that is far from certain.

The enigmatic former first-round pick made strides last season but then tore his ACL against the Lions in early December. Kingsbury has been impressed with the way Nkemdiche has attacked rehab, but is unsure if he will be ready for training camp.

"He looks great, feels great, but we're going to be smart," Kingsbury said. "He knows he has to maximize who he is this year and have a great year. I really like where his attitude is at, and (defensive coordinator) Vance (Joseph) is excited about him in our scheme and maximizing what he can be."

While Peters, Philon and Nkemdiche figure to be three main pieces, there isn't much depth behind them. Kingsbury acknowledged the need to bolster the group.

"We feel a lot better about what we have right now than we did when we got here, so that's encouraging," Kingsbury said. "But we definitely need more bodies on that D-line as we get through the end of free agency and through the draft."

KINGSBURY EXCITED ABOUT OFFENSIVE LINE

The Cardinals may add to their offensive line in the draft, but Kingsbury seems pretty content with the current group after the recent additions of right tackle Marcus Gilbert, guard J.R. Sweezy and guard Max Garcia.

"Those upgrades we made, we took some big steps there," Kingsbury said "We'd like to have more depth, just like everybody else, and we'll try to do some things from here on out to address that, but from where it was to where it is today is a big step."

There are still some details to work out. Kingsbury declined to say if Sweezy would play right or left guard. Left tackle D.J. Humphries is on the mend from 2018's season-ending knee injury, and while Kingsbury is excited about his progress, it's unknown if he will be back to normal for the start of offseason work.

Kingsbury was mum on if Mason Cole or A.Q. Shipley has the upper hand at center. Shipley started all 32 games in 2016 and 2017 and was projected to do the same last year, but a torn ACL in training camp opened the door for Cole, the rookie third-round pick.

"We're going to get back, circle up and see where everybody's at," Kingsbury said. "Make sure everybody is healthy and go from there. The good thing about Mason is he can play guard. He played all five positions in college, so he gives you that versatility."

Images from the NFL owners meetings at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix

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