The COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for offseason practices a year ago, as everything stayed virtual until training camp.
The Cardinals were able to take advantage of the improving situation on Wednesday by holding a full-team OTA.
"It was awesome just to see everybody," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Not having them around at all last year until training camp was challenging for coaches. To be able to have the rookies pretty much have a regular offseason thus far has been tremendous, and to get the majority of the team here today was great. It felt like it was a good time for guys to get to know each other. Lots of teaching. Lots of learning. As a staff, we were really pleased to be out there."
The OTAs are usually multiple weeks, but the players and coaches compromised on a condensed schedule for the veterans.
"We had great conversations with our leadership and came up with a good plan," Kingsbury said. "And getting the rookies here was huge. I felt like those guys were the most disadvantaged last year going into training camp. That's just a tough scenario, showing up in training camp with no prior work at all. So to have them all offseason has really been beneficial for us."
Murray arrived with many other veterans. He had been previously training in Dallas, which did not bother Kingsbury.
"It's a unique offseason," Kingsbury said. "Y'all understand that following it the last few months how it's kind of played out. To have him here the next few weeks will be great, to be around his guys, but he knows our offense inside and out. Getting the timing down with some of the players, Rodney (Hudson) and A.J. (Green), will be big, so we'll continue to work through that the next few weeks."
Kingsbury said Murray continues to progress and is expecting improvement from him in Year 3.
"He's definitely very confident right now," Kingsbury said. "He's mastered our system. You can see the leadership qualities continue to emerge. We're all just really excited to have him here and watch where this thing can go with him as our leader."
Green, outside linebacker Chandler Jones and linebacker Jordan Hicks were not present during the portion of the practice open to the media. Kingsbury said none of the absences were unexpected.
"Everybody was here that we anticipated being here," Kingsbury said. "We've had discussions with the other guys and kind of knew the situation. So no concerns there."
Watt was one of the players everyone kept an eye on during practice, and he was clearly excited to be on the field with his new teammates.
"Obviously we had the virtual meetings earlier in the offseason, but now to be in person, back on the field, it's fun," Watt said. "It's a blast. This is why you play the game. It's the relationships. It's the locker room. It's the guys. I love it. We have a great group here and it seems like everybody knows how to work hard when it's time to work, and knows how to have fun at the same time.
"I enjoyed it. It's kind of like that first day of school. Getting back out there yesterday and today on the field was really nice."
Images from Saturday's rookie minicamp practice