Cardinals strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris talks with linebacker Karlos Dansby during the first day of the team's voluntary offseason work Monday.
The 2017 season is here.
The schedule is expected to be released later this week, the draft is next week, and Monday, the Cardinals – as did most of the NFL – officially returned to work as the opening of the offseason program commenced.
It was only Phase One, which is strength and conditioning without any football work yet. But for the Cardinals, it was a step forward after they underachieved last season.
"For the most part, it just seemed like guys are going to be more hungry because expectations were so high last year," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "It felt like a disappointing season, which it was. Now, you want to make sure that doesn't
"We always have a good majority of the team here, trying to get that chemistry down."
The voluntary work – all offseason work is voluntary save for the mandatory June minicamp that closes out the pre-camp program – will remain in Phase One for a couple of weeks. Players can get back on the field without helmets in Phase Two the first week of May. Phase Three, with organized team activities and controlled offense versus defense, comes in mid-May.
Peterson praised the number of players who showed up for the early (6:30 a.m.) session. Tackle D.J. Humphries said veteran tackle Jared Veldheer reached out to the offensive linemen to make sure that unit would be on hand to start workouts.
"I wouldn't let those guys be here without me," Humphries said. "If everyone's going to be in the building, I'm going to be here with them."
The desire to move on from a 7-8-1 record clearly resonated.
"It motivates me even more because we were supposed to have such a promising season," running back David Johnson said.
Strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris called it a "business-like atmosphere," praising ownership and the
front office for supporting his efforts to use sports science in training and recovery.
Morris said some players who use offseason training "worried about being on Instagram and Twitter and all this other nonsense, this social media stuff I can't stand." Morris also made clear he wasn't thrilled with the personal trainers some players employ, saying those players need to "get their money back, because we have some guys who need some work."
Generally though, Morris said the players did a "great job" and noted it was his staff's job to get everyone ready for the season.
Everyone, of course, doesn't include some familiar faces who left the roster. There was no Calais Campbell for the first time since 2009, no Tony Jefferson for the first time since 2014. A number of key defensive players are gone.
"It's definitely odd right now, but that's the nature of the business," Peterson said, noting he had faith in the front office to have the roster ready for the season.
The draft comes first next week. But for now, the veterans are getting started.
"Couldn't come fast enough," Peterson said. "Definitely wanted to get that bad taste out of our mouths from last year. I believe today was a good start."
Images from the first day of the offseason strength and conditioning program