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Steve Wilks Ready For Player Return

Beginning of offseason program gives coach first chance for real interaction


Safety Antoine Bethea takes part in Phase One work in 2017.

Steve Wilks has been waiting for this day.

The Cardinals' new coach has had plenty to do, getting his new staff in place and creating a playbook on both sides of the ball. What he has not been able to do is have much interaction with the players he will be leading this season.

That changes Tuesday, when the Cardinals start Phase One of their offseason program.

"It's exciting to be able to lay out our vision and start to put together the foundation of what we want this to be," Wilks said of the voluntary work.

NFL teams with a new head coach are allowed to start their offseason programs two weeks early, so the Cardinals are among

seven teams that will get bonus work. Phase One is strength and conditioning work only on the field, although players are allowed to attend meetings. Phase Two will be on-field work, without helmets, and offense and defense must work separately.

Phase Three includes OTAs and the mandatory minicamp – helmets on and offense can go against defense, although contact is limited. The Cards, again because they have a new coach, also get a bonus voluntary minicamp before the draft. That will be held April 17-19.

The Cardinals will have some key players limited as they return from injuries, including tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), linebacker-turning-defensive end Markus Golden (knee) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles). Running back David Johnson (wrist) has been cleared and will not be limited.

For Wilks, who has not held a head coaching position since he led Savannah State in 1999, this will be a much different offseason.

"You go from influencing a position to influencing a side of the ball to influencing the whole team," Wilks said. "It's about setting the tone."

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