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Cardinals Start Offseason Program, But Online Only

Coronavirus means players can't go to facility; Team will have Zoom meetings

Offensive linemen (from left) Justin Pugh, Joshua Miles and J.R. Sweezy talk during offseason work in 2019.
Offensive linemen (from left) Justin Pugh, Joshua Miles and J.R. Sweezy talk during offseason work in 2019.

Corey Peters has been through a lost offseason before.

The Cardinals' veteran defensive tackle was going into his second NFL season in 2011 when owners locked out the players during a battle to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement. Save for one outlier of a day at one point when players came back before courts got involved, there was no offseason work for teams until training camp began in late July.

This offseason isn't quite the same, because players and teams want to get together. But the coronavirus has made in-person work impossible – only virtual meetings are allowed, which officially started Monday for the Cardinals.

"I think it will be very similar to the lockout year," Peters said. "It's going to be up to guys to prepare on their own under some very unique circumstances. Now is the time to be professional and take ownership of your own conditioning and preparation. I'm praying for the country and hope that we can get things back to normal as soon as possible."

For now, the Cardinals will do what they can online. Originally, the team's voluntary offseason program was supposed to start a week earlier with the Phase One strength and conditioning, as well as meetings to install the playbook.

While teams are allowed to have virtual workouts with their players, coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Cardinals will not. There will be meetings via Zoom for coaches and players to talk playbook.

"We won't have a virtual workout component," Kingsbury said. "Our guys are pros. We'll have a (workout) plan and program in place."

While the offseason program stretches into mid-June, the NFL already has said no team is allowed to meet in person until every team is allowed to return to its facilities based on its state's COVID-19 restrictions. Given current circumstances, it seems unlikely that will happen in every state where an NFL team resides.

At least Peters has already been with the current coaching staff

New wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had already said recently he was in contact with quarterback Kyler Murray to talk offense, and Hopkins tweeted out his efforts to prepare on a physical level. But the newest Cardinals will face a tougher situation going into camp – assuming camp unfolds as normal, which is no sure thing – than roster holdovers.

"Nothing replaces on field time with my teammates right now," free-agent linebacker Devon Kennard said. "But extra film study and going through plays in my head as I'm watching film is how I plan to get as many mental reps as I can, so whenever we are back on the field I feel like I've already put myself through it to some extent."

Kennard plans to get ahead on his studying so he is prepared with questions going into every meeting. And the meetings can't be understated – while new players and rookies will lose out without on-field work, it is a better situation than 2011.

That offseason, the rookies got nothing until camp. And because free agency couldn't be executed until the CBA was figured out – literally right as camps were starting – coaches didn't even know their rosters.

The Cardinals know what their roster will look like. Coaches will be talking, players will be learning.

"With everything going on I'm just thankful we can start the process to getting the season underway," Peters said. "I'm interested to see how it goes when we start. I'm excited about the (team's) offseason moves and am hopeful we can find a resolution that allows everybody to get back to work."