Assistant head coach Russ Grimm barks out instructions during Monday's OTA.
With Ken Whisenhunt out of town representing the Cardinals at a charity golf function, Russ Grimm was the man in charge of the Cardinals Monday as they opened their fourth and final week of organized team activities.
Not that there was much difference.
"It's pretty much auto pilot," Grimm, the team's assistant head coach, said afterward. "They've been through the practices, what periods are what, how many reps we're going to go."
Safeway, a team sponsor, wanted Whisenhunt to play in the Safeway Invitational in California and the organization obliged. Grimm, who has aspirations to be a head coach in the right situation, stepped in for a day.
"Russ is going to be a head coach soon," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "We're going to try and get him a head coaching job soon. We're going to go to the playoffs a couple more years in a row and he'll get his opportunity. He does a good job. He's a natural leader."
Grimm acknowledged that the on-field work isn't necessarily the part of being a head coach he needs to work on. That's would be the day-to-day dealings with the media, the working with an entire organization. The coaching angle is the part on which he already has a handle.
"Out here, you may have to scream and yell (as a head coach) but I do that anyway, so, heck, it doesn't matter," Grimm said.
FIGHTING THE HEAT
The Cards were aware of the heat Monday – temperatures topped 100 degrees when the team was on the field for the first time this offseason – and none more than Fitzgerald.
He asked one reporter if he was wearing sunscreen and, when the reporter said no, insisted that happen. Later, when team president Michael Bidwill brought out some guests – including Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council – to watch practice, Fitzgerald showed concern that Broome was wearing a full suit in the heat. So Fitz, in the middle of practice, came over to take off Broome's jacket and untuck his shirt.
"It was hot out there, man," Fitzgerald said. "I didn't want him to fall out. You should've seen how he looked underneath that shirt. He was burning up."
Fitzgerald said Whisenhunt and the coaching staff have always done a good job giving players water breaks. "He understands we have to get our work done when everyone else around the league is working, but we have to be a little more conscious of dealing with the heat we are in," Fitzgerald said.
Added Grimm, "You've got to remind them to hydrate. You want them to work, but you want them to be smart."
Many times Whisenhunt has talked about how Steve Breaston first caught the coaches' attention in OTAs in 2008 – a precursor to what he produced that season. If a player is injured this time of year, it hurts such opportunities.
Linebacker Gerald Hayes, who was back in a limited capacity Monday, has already shown what he can do. And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has battled a sore toe and has sat a lot, is in the same position. But undrafted rookie free agent receiver Juamorris Stewart has been battling a hamstring problem since the first day of OTAs and hasn't made it back to the field yet, and he hasn't had time to make an impression.
"I am sure from his perspective it is tough," Whisenhunt said. "You have (other) guys out here making plays. I think he will still have his opportunity … but it is tough, especially when you know there will be decisions on your roster because you've got to get to 80 before camp."
Because the drafted rookies have yet to sign contracts (and with restricted free agent guard Deuce Lutui still unsigned), the Cards will have 86 players on the roster once all sign – meaning six current players will have to be released to stay at the 80-man limit.
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