Rookie tight end Troy Niklas (87) goes out for a pass with safety Deone Bucannon (36) defending during Wednesday's QB School workout.
There are still a couple of days before the Cardinals get to University of Phoenix Stadium for training camp, but the offseason officially ended Wednesday for some on the roster with the first of two "QB School" sessions.
As for camp starting "for real," that can be debated.
"Definitely put the quotation marks on 'for real.' " second-year guard Jonathan Cooper said. "It was more of a learning phase and less physical. But it was great to get coaching a little bit and get a jump start."
The donning of pads are still a few days away. Wednesday's work – which will continue Thursday – included rookies and a handful of select inexperienced veterans who are allowed to practice. That includes players coming of injured
reserve, which is why players like Cooper and linebackers Lorenzo Alexander, Sam Acho and Alex Okafor were on the field a couple of days early.
The "QB School" portion also meant the roster's four quarterbacks were all taking part. Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton took part in the early throwing drills, but once the brief 7-on-7 portion started, the reps all went to Ryan Lindley and rookie Logan Thomas.
"It's a great chance for young guys to get their heads in a playbook, sit through a meeting and watch things on film, and then get out here and run some routes," Palmer said. "Defensive players can move around, cover their guys, and all before the vets get here. That's when things really get fast."
On a day in which the Cardinals officially placed safety Tyrann Mathieu and nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu on the physically-unable-to-perform list, second-round draft pick and tight end Troy Niklas – who had broken his hand during OTAs – was catching passes and running routes during team work.
He was matched up a few times with No. 1 draft pick safety Deone Bucannon, who said regardless of the limited bodies, camp had started for him.
"I'm in the mindset, 'Work now,' " Bucannon said. "Show the vets what I'm all about. It's here. I am here in the locker room with my teammates, and this is where it all starts."
Alexander, now working with at inside linebacker after coming to the Cardinals to play on the outside last year, said his near full season away (he suffered a foot injury in Week 3) made him love the game that much more.
Coming in early, then, wasn't a big deal, especially when he could show some leadership to the inexperienced.
"You try to set an example that regardless of (if) everybody's here, (if) nobody's here, it should be the same type of practice," Alexander said. "We have to set that type of culture."
The Cardinals will have another short on-field workout Thursday and report to University of Phoenix Stadium Friday. The team will have their annual conditioning test that day, with the first practice Saturday.
"The down time and the time away after minicamp is good," Palmer said. "But you start to get restless."
Quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans get in a pre-training camp workout in Tempe