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No Pads Yet, But Jonathan Gannon Still Has Goals 

Notes: Swaim fitting in; running backs added to Guardian Caps list

The Cardinals -- with players like Kelvin Beachum (68) and Zaven Collins (25) wearing Guardian Caps on their helmet -- are going through non-padded practices right now.
The Cardinals -- with players like Kelvin Beachum (68) and Zaven Collins (25) wearing Guardian Caps on their helmet -- are going through non-padded practices right now.

Jonathan Gannon has used many adjectives speaking about his first training camp over the first three days, but one has been constant – physical.

But being can be a challenge when you aren't allowed to wear pads, or tackle, or full-on block the other guy.

"Sooner or later, we're going to get out of the pajamas," Gannon said.

The collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow pads during the first five days of training camp, allowing players to ramp up to the physicality after time away. Gannon understands why the rules are in place, and he also understands the Cardinals must make use of the early practices.

"We value the time that we're not in pads," Gannon said. "You have to be getting better when you're not in pads. That's the NFL today. I told our guys the role of training camp to me is keep everyone healthy, evaluate, and develop."

Even without full contact, there are areas that need improvement beyond the Xs and Os.

"When you're not in full pads, technique, fundamentals, eye discipline, knowing what your body is supposed to do, how you're breathing out there, that all matters," the Cardinals coach said. "Every second that we are in meeting rooms, on the grass practicing, in a walk through, they count."


He's only been a member of the Cardinals for less than a week and tight end Geoff Swaim is wasting no time getting comfortable with the team.

"It's nice to go to a locker room and know a few of the guys," Swaim said. "There's a lot of energy, man, a lot of positivity. That's always good to have, especially during camp, because it can be a grind."

He's not only making his presence known in the locker room, but on the field as well.

"Geoff's doing an excellent job for us, and he's got a good skillset," Gannon said. "You can tell Geoff has played a lot of football because it was like he's been here since we got here."

It was announced on Tuesday that he was signed to the roster. On Wednesday, he was on the field.

With Zach Ertz on the PUP list, Swaim is the most experienced tight end, having spent nine seasons in the league. While he said its presumptuous to assume that he's going to be "dishing out wisdom," he figured out what has allowed him to continue learning.

"The longer I play, the more I realize it's not about what I know but about how many questions I can ask or who I can learn from," Swaim said.


Last season, the NFL mandated Guardian Caps had to be worn by linemen, linebackers and tight ends, at least through part of training camp practices, in order to help cut down on helmet collisions leading to injury. This year, running backs also must wear them, and all those positions must wear them in practice all season.

It's a case-by-case basis for the players on how they feel about the new protective layer on their helmet. For running back James Conner and Swaim, they said they didn't notice it. Linebacker Jesse Luketa saw it as a big difference maker.

"Personally, I think it helps a lot, because when I play, I like to headbutt dudes from time to time," Luketa said. "Throughout the week, it protects me a lot more. My neck wasn't as sore, so I can't complain."

Running back Corey Clement said it's still to be determined how he feels about the addition.

"We'll find out when we actually get pads on," Clement said. "For now, it's just adding a little extra weight to the helmet. It is what it is."

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