The Cardinals, with a final organized team activity scheduled for Thursday, go through what was likely their final offseason practice Wednesday.
Training camp as refresher course.
That may be simplistic, but with the Cardinals coming to the end of organized team activities with a final workout Wednesday – coach Ken Whisenhunt said the "rumor" was Thursday's finale would be a timed conditioning test – it was clear year two of the Whisenhunt regime put the team in a better place than it was at this time last year.
"When we get started in training camp, we'll be so much further ahead than we were," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully that will make us a better football team earlier and we can have a better start (to the season), which for our football team is critical."
Whisenhunt was encouraged that the competition between players remained obviously spirited up through Wednesday's work. Rookies will remain in Tempe through July 3 for strength and conditioning work, but the veterans will disappear for their month of off-time before the start of camp.
Meanwhile, the two overriding storylines of the offseason had dramatically different results.
The quarterback situation – and more specifically, Matt Leinart's place as starter over Kurt Warner – has yet to fully play out. But Leinart looked good in getting back on the field after missing most of 2007 with a broken collarbone, and Whisenhunt said he was pleased with what he has seen in his young QB.
"He's put the time in, and a lot of people don't know that -- you see a couple pictures on the internet and think the guy's not working, but as we have said all along, he's been working his tail off," Whisenhunt said. "I am glad to see some tangible results on the practice field."
Leinart continued to say the right things, knowing the questions about he or Warner as starter will follow him through training camp.
"There is so much being said about the situation I don't really look into it, to be honest with you," Leinart said. "Coach named me starter but it's my job to make myself better and be the best guy for this team."
Then there was the absence of wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive lineman Darnell Dockett for all four weeks of the voluntary OTAs. While a handful of players missed time, Boldin and Dockett – each of whom are looking for upgraded contracts -- were the only ones to skip all 14 sessions.
The team expects both to show in Flagstaff when training camp begins.
"All the guys (who missed) except for Darnell and Anquan have communicated when they have things come up, which I understand so I'm not concerned about that," Whisenhunt said. "We will find out pretty quick in training camp where everybody is, because it will be physical and intense."
Said Leinart, "We all understand the business of the game."
As for the game itself, it's coming to an end, at least for about a month.
"Coach Whisenhunt did a good job taking care of us," defensive end/linebacker Bertrand Berry said. "Nobody feels spent or worn out, but at the same time we got some good work in. We got the majority of the playbook in on both sides of the ball and we feel good where we are at in terms of x's and o's going into the season."
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 6/11/08.