Safeties Adrian Wilson (left) and Kerry Rhodes leave the practice field.
FLAGSTAFF – Vonnie Holliday once again wasn't sure he wanted to be a Cardinal.
Twice the veteran defensive end had free-agent near-misses in Arizona before choosing to go elsewhere. When he was traded earlier this week from the Redskins to the Cards in the deal for running back Tim Hightower, he had to think about it.
Holliday stressed it was no reflection on the Cards. But at 35, suddenly being asked to play in a fourth different city in four seasons gave him pause.
"It was just about the 14th year in the league and having a family back East and them not moving out with me," Holliday said. "Just from a logistics standpoint, there was some concern there. Whether or not I wanted to put my family through that, do it one more year or just hang it up."
Holliday decided to come. Part of the reason was what the Cardinals were building. "You talk about the pieces of the puzzle, there is no doubt the situation here is better (than Washington)," Holliday said.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt likes the idea of having a veteran who can slide into the defensive line rotation. The Cards had done workups on Holliday the past couple of years, since Holliday has been a free agent the previous two seasons.
Losing Alan Branch to free agency, the Cards wanted to get somebody to fill that role. "Alan was so big, it actually took two guys – Vonnie and Nick (Eason)," Whisenhunt quipped.
Holliday embraces the idea of helping the younger players and being part of the rotation. Despite his advanced age, he is a player that is has still be solid in a reserve role.
Just because he decided to become a Cardinal doesn't mean he lost all of his misgivings, however.
"I flew into Phoenix and felt like I walked into an oven," Holliday said with a smile. "I thought, 'What have I gotten myself into.' "
Wide receiver Early Doucet said he is looking for a "fresh start," and that is underscored with the decision to switch from the No. 80 he had worn since he was a rookie to No. 85 in this, his fourth NFL season.
No longer is Doucet the heir apparent to Anquan Boldin, or even a favorite to slide into Steve Breaston's role as the Cards' No. 2 receiver. Injuries have plagued him since he arrived in the league. He has played only 26 of 48 possible games, and a hernia sidelined him last year. He had surgery in February to correct the problem and acknowledged the lockout actually worked in his favor by giving him time to recover.
"It was unfortunate the last few years with the injuries," Doucet said. "It's not like I was a slacker, it was just unfortunate. It was what I was dealt. I have no regrets but I am ready for a big year start to finish."
Whisenhunt has repeatedly said he hasn't lost faith in what Doucet can do. It is difficult to forget about the big playoff game he had against Green Bay in the 2009 season (six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns), one of the reasons the Cards were comfortable trading Boldin last offseason.
But, having signed a one-year tender for 2011, Doucet likely is getting his last chance in Arizona to make an impact and, in turn, create a reason for the Cards to keep him long-term.
"I'm just looking for a healthy football season," he said.
CBA ALMOST FINISHED
Reports have the finishing touches being put on the new collective bargaining agreement, meaning the players who have been forced to sit because they had new contracts will be able to return to the field for Thursday's practice as expected.
The Cardinals have 24 players right now sitting out because of the rule, including potential starters QB Kevin Kolb, CB Richard Marshall, LB Joey Porter, C Lyle Sendlein, G Daryn College, G Deuce Lutui, TE Todd Heap, TE Jeff King and LB Stewart Bradley.