Assistant head coach Russ Grimm, who filled in for an absent Ken Whisenhunt for an OTA, watches his offensive linemen during a drill Monday.
For a day, at least, Russ Grimm was head coach.
The Cardinals' assistant head coach (who also has offensive line coach and run game coordinator on his letterhead) was in charge Monday during the team's organized team activity, with head coach Ken Whisenhunt absent because of a previously scheduled charity event.
So when it was over, Grimm stepped in to speak to the media as is Whisenhunt's Monday custom this time of year, deflecting his new, temporary role.
"The guys worked hard today and that's the way it should be," Grimm said. "You shouldn't have to step up or have someone different screaming and yelling all the time. The guys have matured over the last couple of years and when it's time to work, they go out and get the work done."
Grimm has been in the mix for head coaching jobs before, especially in 2007 when he interviewed for the Arizona job Whisenhunt eventually got and battled Mike Tomlin for the vacant Steelers' job before Tomlin eventually was chosen.
After hearing Grimm speak to reporters Monday, quarterback Kurt Warner said Grimm "is one of those guys who is easily primed to take that position if anyone ever calls."
"We have been in lots of situations where he leads our team meetings or does the speech thing, all that stuff," Warner said. "It's kind of natural. It's almost like an extension of Whiz. We don't skip a beat when Whiz leaves."
THE EVOLUTION OF THE OFFSEASON
Once upon a time, there weren't offseason practices in the NFL (players sometimes had offseason jobs, in fact, to supplement their income). One of the first teams to begin such work was the Redskins under coach Joe Gibbs – a team for which Grimm played.
"It was to the point where, back when I was playing, one team started them and then another team figured they'd get the upper hand on them so they started having one or two more than (the first team) had and the next thing you knew you're practicing year round," Grimm said.
The collective bargaining agreement changed that, limiting the number of OTA sessions, among other standards.
Warner said OTAs aren't much different than when he first started playing about 10 years ago, although, he added with a smile, there are "probably less contact drills."
"I know you're not supposed to have contact, but it always seemed like it was a little more intense from that standpoint when I first came in," Warner said. "I think now coaches do a better job protecting the players in the offseason. That's the only place it's changed. It's so much more focused on the mental side. Throw everything you can at the players now so we're that much more ready going into camp."
Grimm said rest – both physically and mentally – is crucial.
"The season is as long as it is, when you go deep into the playoffs like we did, these guys need to rest up, not only physically but mentally," Grimm said. "As you know – and I know – the season comes back around a little quicker than anyone thinks."
Besides Whisenhunt, a handful of players weren't at the voluntary workout. Most absent have been around for the majority of the work, but the three veterans who haven't been around for any practices – Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett and Bertrand Berry – remain gone. …
Second-year cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has a fan in Warner, who said DRC's talent when the ball is in the air is "very rare." "I don't know if I have seen anybody in my years of playing football that is able to explode to the football like him," Warner said. "He's so much more confident than he was last year. I don't think any of us know the full potential."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 6/8/09.