Linebacker Daryl Washington takes part in a drill during Tuesday's OTA.
Daryl Washington spent the first day of the Cardinals' organized team activities alongside the rest of teammates, watching a new defensive scheme unfold in front of them.
But the Pro Bowl linebacker wasn't always learning from the field.
Washington worked into practice with the second-team defense Tuesday, replaced on the first unit by recently-acquired Karlos Dansby, the likely choice to fill Washington's role while he's suspended the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.
For the first time this offseason, Washington addressed his off-the-field issues, which included an arrest on May 3 on two counts of aggravated assault. The case is ongoing. Washington has been working out with the team in voluntary workouts throughout the process.
"I really can't talk about that right now," Washington said. "I'm pretty much limited in what I got
to say but I'm going to let my attorney do his job and we'll go from there."
Washington didn't believe his standing with the Cardinals has changed, despite being replaced in the starting lineup. He welcomed the addition of Dansby, who played the first six years of his career with the Cardinals, as a resource.
"I'm actually learning from him as I'm watching him," Washington said. "It's good that we brought another addition in at linebacker so (he's) a good guy to learn from and hopefully we can complement each other on the field if we can ever play together."
Washington said he hasn't thought about the possibility of the NFL adding an additional punishment to his four-game suspension. He added: "I hope not."
Being back on the field and learning another new defense was a brief reprieve from his off-the-field concerns. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles installed a 3-4 scheme similar to the defense the Cardinals ran last year, when Washington led the team with 134 tackles and nine sacks. He made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. The terminology is different but Washington said it's not complicated.
During the early weeks of summer practice, with temperatures increasing daily, he was focused on what he can control and that's what was happening on the field.
"All I can do is come out here and work as hard as I can and let everything else play out," Washington said. "I don't like to bring a lot of attention to the team.
"I wish I could've just been more aware of a lot of situations obviously on both ends of the stick with the league and myself. All I want to do is move forward from here and just try to help my team and bring positive attention to the team."
HEADSET HELPS EARLY COMMUNICATION
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has his reasons for using the headset on the first day of OTAs, but quarterback Carson Palmer quickly realized there was another unintended byproduct of the habit.
Arians wants his quarterbacks to get used to hearing his voice calling in the plays along with other "coaching points," such as "let's get a first down" or "time to take it deep" or "be alert for a blitz." For Palmer, it's helping him understand his new head coach.
"He's got a little bit of an accent and puts a little emphasis on some words," Palmer said. "So I have to get used to that and I'll get more comfortable with him as we go."
Arians prefers to start using headsets during OTAs and minicamps compared to training camp like most teams, especially with a new quarterback. For the New Jersey native who coached in the South, how his Southern twang came to be is a mystery to almost everyone. But just like understanding Arians' style of play calling, understanding his speaking style will take some time.
"In the meetings he's hearing (quarterbacks coach) Freddie (Kitchens, who is from Alabama) and (assistant head coach) Tom (Moore, who is from Minnesota)," Arians said. "I'm not quite as northern as Tom and I'm not as southern as Freddie. I'm in between. Yeah, you got to learn it."
NECK SPASMS SIDELINE BYRD
Wide receiver LaRon Byrd is expected to have an MRI to determine the cause of a neck spasm that sent him to the ground during a receiving drill Tuesday, Arians said.
Byrd, in his second year with the Cardinals, turned to catch a pass and crumbled to the ground holding his neck. He felt tingling but stood with the help of trainers and was carted off the field.
"It was really scary," Arians said. "We were very cautious with him. Nothing hopefully serious."