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Steve Wilks Opens Padded Practices With A Pop

'Oklahoma' drill sets tempo on first day of full contact

DE Chandler Jones (left) faces off against LT D.J. Humphries at the start of Monday's practice.
DE Chandler Jones (left) faces off against LT D.J. Humphries at the start of Monday's practice.

There were six months and eight days between Steve Wilks' hire and the Cardinals' first padded practice, ample time for the new coach to get creative.

Wilks opened Monday morning's training camp session – the first with no contact restrictions -- with the 'Oklahoma' drill, pitting a pass-rusher against an offensive lineman as the entire team huddled around to watch. A few reserves started things off before making way for the main event: reigning NFL sack king Chandler Jones against left tackle D.J. Humphries.

Wilks' ethos centers on competition and tempo, and he felt like the drill would set the tone.

"The spotlight is on you," Wilks said. "It's an opportunity for you to compete, but most important, let your teammates see you. I like the competition. We'll encourage that. It's something we'll continue to do."

Humphries won the individual battle against Jones. He said it was his first 'Oklahoma' drill since college, when he would face off with then-Florida teammate Dante Fowler. Humphries had no issue being the center of attention.

"I play left tackle, man, so I feel like the whole world is watching me every time I'm on the field anyway," Humphries said.

After the Humphries-Jones faceoff, Wilks lined up star cornerback Patrick Peterson against star receiver Larry Fitzgerald before calling off the showdown at the last moment.

"I may not look that smart," Wilks said with a smile, "but I am."

The drill had the intended effect, as Wilks was happy with the overall tempo and quality of the practice. The Cardinals will conduct an outside practice on Tuesday morning as Wilks continues to emphasize preparation.

He said the rules that limit contact in the offseason are suboptimal and this is a good way to get up to speed.

"It's tough, because (physical contact) is how you play," Wilks said. "I tried to front-load things to get them going a little bit, get those guys used to wearing their pads, and really try to get the tempo up some."


Defensive end Markus Golden remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. He has no timeline to return to practice and admitted it's "super hard" to be sidelined as his teammates ramp up the activity.

"You take it one day at a time," Golden said. "You might be feeling 100 percent one day, and then you start hurting a little bit the next day. (The training staff) just wants to take it slow and keep staying up on it, keep pushing every day, just try to get it ready for the season so I can get out there and help the team."

Images from training camp practice on Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium