Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie face off in 11-on-11 work during Wednesday's OTA.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt actually called the end of organized team activities – the team will meet for a final time Thursday – "sad."
"This is really one of the most fun times of the year for a coach because you are getting to work on things," Whisenhunt said Wednesday, the final time he will speak to the media before players and coaches embark on vacation. "There isn't the pressure of a game or a season coming up and it's more of a relaxed atmosphere."
Whisenhunt said he was happy with the player participation in the voluntary workouts, which were mostly designed to install the playbook and then get repetitions on those plays in a practice setting. Whisenhunt noted he was pleased with the offensive communication, and felt the defense transitioned well to defensive coordinator Bill Davis in part because the terminology didn't change.
The players will be challenged while they are off, because after more than a month of down time – training camp begins in late July, although official dates have not yet been announced – the first thing facing them in Flagstaff will be a timed running test.
"Because we are more mature as a football team, these players understand what is at stake," Whisenhunt said. "Hopefully that will drive them over the next few weeks."
Quarterback Kurt Warner said he just wanted to make sure the players took advantage of their time with the team.
"I hope the bottom line is you maximize every minute you are out here," Warner said. "Six weeks is a long time to be away from football. You hope guys take it seriously until the last moment and then relax those six weeks. You want guys to push themselves until coach calls it quits and give us as big of a head start as we possibly can going into training camp."
WAITING ON Q AND DOCK
With one day left of the offseason work, wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett will, for a second straight offseason, not attend any of the voluntary practices. Whisenhunt was asked if the two – both of whom want new contracts -- are expected to report to training camp.
"They are under contract, so yeah, they are expected to be there," Whisenhunt said. "We expect all our players that are under contract to be there."
Whisenhunt was then asked if he thought the two would show up.
"I don't know," Whisenhunt said. "I don't know. I hope so. I expect them to be there. I don't have any indication they won't be."
Defensive end/linebacker Bertrand Berry also has not appeared at any of the voluntary work. He too is expected to report to training camp on time. Berry has never said publicly why he was not attending OTAs.
NFLPA CHIEF MEETS PLAYERS
New NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith had a meeting with the Cardinals players today as he continued his tour visiting with various teams. Afterward, he said he has no desire to reach a season without a salary cap in 2010, which would require a new collective bargaining agreement by early 2010.
"I am motivated to get a deal done sooner rather than later," Smith said. "There are a number of significant consequences to retired players in an uncapped year. There are a number of significant consequences for our current players in an uncapped year. And look, we are in … the most challenging economy we have had in virtually all of our lifetimes."
"Because we have such a strong business," Smith added, "it seems to me both of us should be motivated … to have a deal so that nobody suffers business consequences in an uncapped year and so that neither side is creating angst about America's game."
Whisenhunt said second-year receiver Lance Long had been one guy to impress him during OTAs, and he also mentioned rookie linebackers Cody Brown and Will Davis. "The real test," Whisenhunt said, "is 'Can they do it in pads?' " …
By the end of OTAs, only two players remained sidelined with long-term injury rehab: tight end Stephen Spach and linebacker Ali Highsmith, both of whom are coming back from reconstructive knee surgeries. Both remain hopeful to be ready when training camp begins.
Contact Darren Urban at email@example.com. Posted 6/10/09.