Rookie linebacker O'Brien Schofield rehabs by running in a water tank.
O'Brien Schofield was running.
It was barely-wearing-anything running, with Schofield throwing on a pair of shorts and nothing else to climb into the giant vat of water with a treadmill at the bottom. That's how a linebacker rehabbing a reconstructed knee has to do it in late July.
But at least he was running, an idea that brought a smile to his face.
"I have an actual calendar where, if I was to be put on (the physically-unable-to-perform) list, when I would be able to play," Schofield said. "I am marking off the days."
The Cards' fourth-round pick will likely be on PUP to open camp, the list that would mean he'd have to miss the first six games of the season (and not count against the 53-man roster). Then, if he still wasn't ready, the Cardinals would place him on injured reserve.
Schofield feels like he will have a chance to play. He hasn't discussed with doctors where he specifically is in his rehab because, frankly, he'd rather not know. He feels he is progressing well and that is carrying him through the day-to-day grind of rehab.
"My biggest focus is that every day matters," Schofield said. "I have to give my best effort when I am in the weight room, my best effort when I am watching video, my best effort in rehab. Sometimes I don't want to do it because it is the same thing over and over and over but I think back to how badly I want to get back on the field and play, it is essential I give it my best every time."
On this day Schofield goes through an hour-plus of rehab work in the weight room. He tells veteran linebacker Clark Haggans he is going to be Haggans' "Mini-me" at camp as he tries to emulate Haggans' crazy work ethic. Then he goes to run a mile and a half in the Hydro Track inside the training room, exhausting himself for the day.
The Cardinals have built up a glut of outside linebackers, so Schofield's presence isn't necessarily needed right away. Behind starters Haggans and Joey Porter, the Cards have 2009 draft picks Cody Brown and Will Davis, free agent Stevie Baggs and practice-squader Mark Washington. Both Schofield and the Cards can be patient with his comeback.
Yet the January day on which he tore up his knee seems long ago. Schofield is itching to get to training camp even though he can't practice right away. His contract still isn't signed either; his injury has complicated discussions. He remains hopeful he will be in Flagstaff next weekend.
"I have an idea of what they want and what my agent wants but all I can do is hope everything works out," Schofield said. "I don't want to be the guy who, 'He's injured and the fourth-round pick and he's holding out.' It's not like that. I want to be there, I want to get that fresh feeling that 'This is the NFL.'
"We've been here doing stuff here but it really hasn't kicked in yet. Once you see training camp and soreness and 'I don't know what day it is,' that groundhog day, that's when I'll say, 'Yeah, this is it.' "
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