Linebacker Clark Haggans (53) gets in some work in his first OTA after re-signing with the Cards Tuesday.
Clark Haggans returned to the Cards Tuesday to be a linebacker first, although he'll take the mentoring portion of his job seriously and even be flattered by the suggestions.
"It kind of makes you feel old in a way, but there is no rocking chair in front of my locker yet," Haggans said, following his first OTA work after signing a one-year contract. "You roll with it."
There were weeks of speculation that Haggans and fellow vet defender Vonnie Holliday would eventually return. Haggans' time final arrived, and the Cardinals are also expected to re-sign Holliday, a defensive end, before the end of next week's minicamp.
Ostensibly, Haggans will be depth behind outside linebacker starters Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. But Haggans started all 16 games last season on the left side – not Schofield – and the veteran didn't sound like he was ready to concede a starting job just yet, instead pointing to defensive coordinator Ray Horton and imploring reporters to ask Horton.
"I think everything will define itself," Haggans said. "So we will just line it up and let it play out."
At 35, however, Haggans has returned for more than another run at a starting job. The Cards need more than that, and Haggans – who had 54 tackles and three sacks last season, his 12th in the league – provides.
"Clark knowing the defense is a big part of it, but when you talk about having veteran players that are good influences on young players, Clark is at the top of the list," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He's always studying, always working, he gives it 100 percent every play. Whatever role Clark plays for us, he does it the best he can and you respect that.
"As (strength coach) John Lott says, he's got some pelts. (He) can positively impact your team. That's the idea."
Acho said there was "instant excitement" when Haggans got back in the defensive meeting room. Well-liked in the locker room – just like Holliday – he has done well dealing with the young linebackers who have arrived in Arizona since he has been part of the team.
One of the strangest parts of the offseason has been a daily locker room without Haggans, who practically lived at the facility in the offseason in years past. That was impossible when he didn't have a contract, but now that he does, Haggans promised to make his workouts at the facility a daily occurrence once again.
In the meantime, he was trying to work away from the team, being normal. "No bungee jumping or skydiving," Haggans said. "Just lying low and lifting weights."
"It's great to have a familiar face who can bring us that extra comfort we need," Acho said.
When it was suggested that Haggans' rocking chair comment might encourage teammates to actually buy him one, Haggans didn't hesitate, noting that Acho would be the one to pull off such a stunt.
Acho, thrilled to have one of his mentors back, couldn't deny some hijinks were coming.
"There will be pranks out of the woodwork," Acho said. "I'm going to go to his house and prank him, go to his locker and prank him, prank his car. His car may not even be in the parking lot when we get out there today."