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Often, Lines On Their Own

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While Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Wilson and the rest of the Cards run seven-on-seven drills, the offensive linemen do their thing in the background.

At the end of every organized team activity, the Cardinals run a series of 11-on-11 situations which, of course, includes the offensive and defensive lines.

Up until that point, however, the lines are frequently on their own. Such is life in the pad-less offseason, when techniques can be learned and playbooks can be taught but the crux of the line positions – hitting – can't really happen.

It leaves the two groups oftentimes on their own, repeatedly going back to individual work while the rest of the squad is running seven-on-seven or more game-like action.

"We played a lot of ball last year and out here, things can become a bit monotonous at times," acknowledged left tackle Mike Gandy. "It's definitely tough to get in the work that you would get in training camp or during the season. But anytime you can constantly rep things and go over different scenarios, it can't do anything but help you. You can never have too much practice or too much time practicing together."

Defensive end Calais Campbell admitted with a smile that, when the defensive linemen are forced to do one-on-one drills when seven-on-seven is happening on a nearby field, "I get at that angle where I can see both and see who is making plays."

Numbers don't help the defensive line. With Darnell Dockett and Bertrand Berry deciding to stay away from voluntary work and Kenny Iwebema out after surgery, there are only six defensive linemen most days – and Gabe Watson still can't go full speed. Working more on technique than in group settings makes sense.

Then again, Campbell said, "a guy like Bryan Robinson, it wouldn't surprise me if he wanted to go home, he doesn't really need the technique. He's been doing it hundreds of years."

The offensive line gets change-ups from coach Russ Grimm, who adds an element of competition almost daily to the individual work. Those battles keep things fresh, Gandy said.

THE DEFENSIVE SCHEME

Training camp and the preseason, coach Ken Whisenhunt said, will be the time when the Cards sort through their defensive strengths – not necessarily now, during OTAs.

But the defense, under new coordinator Bill Davis, is working on a little of everything these days. The multiple safety look in the nickel and dime packages the Cards have employed hasn't gone anywhere, freeing starting safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle to do a little of everything.

"It will really be determined by the team we will be playing whether we will blitz more or not blitz more," Whisenhunt said. "But we are getting a lot of looks out here which is good, because we are doing it in a competitive situation against a pretty good offense."

UPDATING BEANIE

With running back Beanie Wells, the team's first-round pick, absent from OTAs because Ohio State has yet to have graduation (wide receiver Shane Morales is in the same situation with Oregon State), Whisenhunt said running backs coach Curtis Modkins talks with Wells daily about that day's workout.

"He will get video from us that he can look at, but it's not the same as being out here and experiencing it and talking to teammates," Whisenhunt said. "But we are doing the best we can to keep him up."

EXTRA POINTS

Whisenhunt said the Cards will try multiple people at kickoff returner in an effort to replace the departed J.J. Arrington, and that includes Wells. …

Tight end Dominique Byrd has shown he can catch the ball, Whisenhunt said, but it will be Byrd's blocking that will ultimately determine if Byrd can find a role on the roster. That can't happen until training camp, Whisenhunt added. Byrd could also possibly be worked in as a fullback/H-back, Whisenhunt added, but again, it will hinge on an ability to block.


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 6/3/09.

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