Linebackers Clark Haggans (left), Karlos Dansby (58) and Travis LaBoy (right) talk during Tuesday's first organized team activity.
The Cardinals began their organized team activities Tuesday with nearly a full roster – although there were a few notable absences.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive end Darnell Dockett were not on hand for the voluntary workouts, ostensibly because both want new contracts. Linebacker Chike Okeafor was gone taking care of personal business and let coach Ken Whisenhunt know as much. A couple of rookies – Ohio State fullback Dionte Johnson and UCLA safety Dennis Keyes – could not participate because their schools have not yet let out for the summer.
Otherwise, the rest of the 82-man roster was on hand for the first of 14 workouts.
"(Working with) the same system (as last year), that is automatically going to make us a better team," running back Edgerrin James said. "All the good teams, they start with a system and they build. That's what this team is doing."
James' appearance was a pleasant surprise, although he insisted he loved being around his teammates and added that he "usually" shows up for the first and third weeks of the four-week OTA schedule.
The Cards are on the field three times the first and second weeks and four times in the final two weeks of work.
"Obviously the OTAs are voluntary," Whisenhunt said. "We are pleased with the high level of attendance we have here. It speaks to the commitment of this team and their dedication, but we have seen that from the offseason. I am pleased with the turnout."
Both Boldin and Dockett attended the mandatory minicamp. Boldin didn't practice that weekend with a sore hamstring.
"I would be less than honest if I said I wasn't disappointed Anquan and Darnell weren't here, but once again, these are voluntary," Whisenhunt said. "What it does is give us a chance to work with other guys."
Dockett talked in minicamp about being available to help the young players, and Boldin was doing the same with third-round draft pick Early Doucet. Their absence could impact that process, Whisenhunt acknowledged.
"Anytime you have a good player, he contributes not just by playing but what he sees with his eyes or even advice with what he can help younger players with," Whisenhunt said. "It's one of the reasons why you want those guys here and why we believe in the team continuity aspect of it.
"I also believe there are things we are tinkering with in OTAs that we learn from, that when guys aren't here they miss that. That, sometimes you try to catch up with it, but it is not the same."
KNEE SURGERY FOR JOHNSON
Starting center Al Johnson had recent arthroscopic left knee surgery after constant swelling made it impossible to play through. Johnson said he didn't think it would be an issue until the swelling kept returning during minicamp.
Whisenhunt said the idea was for Johnson to get the surgery quickly and out of the way. Johnson is expected to be back for training camp. Cornerback DeMario Minter is also recovering from recent hernia surgery.
Whisenhunt said safety Adrian Wilson is nearing 100 percent on his rehabilitation from foot surgery, but since Wilson won't be cleared until mid-June, the former Pro Bowler won't take part in on-field work until training camp.
Other players sitting out as precautions or because of surgery rehab were receiver Jerheme Urban (foot), linebacker Monty Beisel (back), tight end Leonard Pope (ankle) and defensive end Bertrand Berry (triceps).
ON THE LABOR FRONT
NFL owners voted unanimously Tuesday to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement early, meaning the CBA will end in 2010 instead of 2012. With poison pills inserted in the agreement language should no new deal be reached – abolition of the draft and the salary cap for the owners, losing early free agency and enduring more franchise tags for the players – it would seem to behoove both sides to get a new deal done.
But long snapper Nathan Hodel, the Cardinals' players representative, admitted there will likely be little movement in talks until time becomes short.
"It's a simple deal," Hodel said. "It takes the CBA from 2012 to 2010 and you know that uncapped year is coming in. it just shortens the time horizon for getting a new deal done.
"Really the only deadline is that 2010 season. There is negative for both players and owners and no one wants to get to that."
That includes James, who doesn't want to see any work stoppage.
"Everybody needs football," James said with a smile. "It would get boring without football."
INDY GETS SUPER BOWL
In a move that came as no surprise, Indianapolis was awarded the 2012 Super Bowl, besting Arizona's bid on the fourth ballot with owners.
"We are confident that the world's largest single-day sporting event will return to the Grand Canyon State in the near future," Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee chairman Mike Kennedy said in a statement.
Wide receiver Ahmad Merritt return to practice Tuesday for the first time since breaking his ankle and leg in the third preseason game last year. Whisenhunt called him "rusty." …
Offensive lineman Elton Brown was also back from knee surgery after sitting out minicamp. Brown worked as the backup right guard.
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 5/20/08.