Running back Beanie Wells rolls a ball during Friday's bowling outing.
The secret isn't such a secret anymore, but that doesn't make the Cardinals any less grateful when coach Ken Whisenhunt yanks one of the organized team activities off the table in favor of a trip to the bowling alley – like he did Friday.
"We kind of know coach Whiz," running back Tim Hightower said. "He looks out for us."
Cornerback Michael Adams said the "rumor" of bowling got him out a bed just a little quicker. With temperatures creeping higher, players were counting on an indoor respite.
"It was getting a little warm today," quarterback Derek Anderson said. "I was getting a little nervous when we went out for the walk-through."
After the walk-through, though, Whisenhunt told his team what they wanted to hear: Bowling as team-building.
The Cards have endured significant roster churn this offseason, but the players have been working together – between the offseason conditioning program and on-field work – fairly consistently since the end of March.
That's helped bonding. But events like Friday, where the players can get together and not have it be about football, helps from a different angle.
"They pound us so much with football, football, football. Just to get our mind off football and interact as a team and still have that togetherness, it's a plus," cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. "You're doing something fun. Everybody loves bowling."
It was a first for Anderson, who had been on teams that went to a movie during training camp but never bowling in the offseason.
Those players who have been on the team have come to expect the day, because, Adams said, "coach loves his routine." Like some of the other OTA fun – like linemen catching punts or non-kickers trying field goals – it's become an annual event.
That doesn't mean its effectiveness has waned.
"The surprise factor isn't what it used to be," Whisenhunt said. "But the opportunity to get out of a day of practice and bowl is still something they enjoy.
"The more time our players spend together, the better chance to have the strong bond that will help us on Sundays."
The players still compete – "Everyone wants to win," Hightower said. "I don't care what the prizes are" – and trash-talking flowed for a couple of hours.
"I'm glad Coach Whiz found it in his heart to let us do this," DRC said with a grin.
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