Linebacker John Abraham (55) joins the first-unit defense Tuesday during part of the Cardinals' first OTA of the offseason.
John Abraham would have liked to be signed sooner than he was last year, on the eve of training camp, but there was one benefit.
The linebacker didn't have to go through the offseason work – work he figures as a 15-year veteran he needs little. Abraham did show up for the first day of the Cardinals' organized team activities Tuesday and dressed, but after running as one of the first-unit outside linebackers while defensive coordinator Todd Bowles ran through the plays, Abraham took up as a spectator once the offense faced the defense.
"It's about wear and tear," Abraham said. "I don't want to wear and tear now and when the
season comes … I love football. But you've got to understand I'm 36, I'm not 26. For the younger guys, it's cool, but for me, I had a lot of injuries when I was younger.
"I'm here because I want to learn the plays. But on Sundays you don't have to worry about me. I'd rather waste it during the year rather than be exhausted by Week 8."
A lack of a team-oriented offseason didn't hurt Abraham last year. He finished with 11½ sacks even with his late start. Sam Acho runs in his place with the first unit when Abraham is not on the field. Acho and Lorenzo Alexander were starting outside linebackers going into last offseason, but season-ending injuries for both in Week 3 made Abraham and Matt Shaughnessy starters and both played so well they have remained.
Acho got plenty of work rotating with Shaughnessy and Alex Okafor. Alexander, still limited as he comes back from a foot injury, is also getting work as an inside linebacker. Meanwhile, Abraham knows he will be ready when training camp comes around in late July.
"I think I've already proved that so I don't need all this stuff," Abraham said. "It's been going on 15 years. If I still have to prove myself, it's a damn shame."
COOPER CONTINUES HIS RETURN PATH AT GUARD
Jonathan Cooper was the starting left guard from the day he was drafted seventh overall last year, and even after a broken leg in preseason last year that hasn't changed. He has steadily recovered and was able to take the field at his starting position during Phase 2 work.
The OTAs are different, however, with a helmet and limited contact.
"It is just another step, but it is very different," Cooper said. "It's been a while since I've had the contact, the movement. I'm just grateful my ankle is able to hold up when I lean on somebody. In the previous phase we were just running around so there wasn't much pressure on it.
"I am getting close but I definitely have work to do. Sometimes there is a hobble or a little misstep."
Arians smiled at the notion Cooper is back in the lineup.
"Don't jinx it," Arians said. "He's battling."
SECOND FIELD MEANS MORE REPS FOR STANTON
Arians again has broken much of the team work on to two different fields – the first- and second-units on the main field and the remaining players, including many of the rookies, on a second field. That's why it caught the eye that Drew Stanton went with Logan Thomas to quarterback the second field Tuesday, with Ryan Lindley joining Carson Palmer on the main field.
The explanation was simple from Arians, however. He wanted Stanton, his No. 2 QB, to get a lot of work, just like he wanted Palmer to get most of the work.
"Right now it is 3 (plays) to 1," Arians said. "Drew took 3-to-1 on the far field and Carson took 3-to-1 on this field. Thursday we will go 50-50 and switch them. (Drew) leads that group well. He needs 3-to-1 right now to get to where we need to be."
The Cardinals are expected to have about 15 tryout players for this weekend's rookie minicamp. Any player that signs after a tryout would have to come with a corresponding release since the Cards already have 90 on the roster. …
Second-round draft pick Troy Niklas, a tight end, is not practicing right now after hernia surgery a couple of months ago. Niklas is expected to be back in time for the veteran minicamp.