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Working Out The Kinks

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Quarterback Kurt Warner (right) works out Monday while strength and conditioning coach John Lott explains the reasoning behind the exercise. 

Gabe Watson wore a form-fitting black shirt and got props for his physique from strength and conditioning coach John Lott.

Sean Morey led his group in sprints, Matt Leinart proclaimed himself "good to go" and Reggie Wells made sure spotter Deuce Lutui knew "I got it" as Wells slowed halfway through his reps on the bench press.

The Cardinals officially began their offseason workout program Monday, a 14-week course that will also envelop both the team's minicamp and their organized team activities. The turnout for the voluntary workout was strong – about 38 players of the 49 on the roster participated on day one – and left coach Ken Whisenhunt smiling as he came through the weight room to greet his returning guys.

"We are so much further along than we were at this point last year," Whisenhunt said. "There was a sense of energy with our guys … because they sense what we can do."

Among the players on hand were veterans Anquan Boldin, Kurt Warner, Bertrand Berry, Chike Okeafor and four-fifths of the starting offensive line – Al Johnson, Wells, Lutui and Levi Brown.

"We finished (2007) on a good note," Boldin said. "We want to start on a good

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note."

The Cards' three new free-agent signees – linebacker Travis LaBoy, tight end Jerame Tuman and punter Dirk Johnson – also took part.

Some absences were obvious. Larry Fitzgerald recently left on a long vacation to South America. Edgerrin James usually stays in Florida for his workouts. And any players with unsigned tender offers cannot participate (unless they choose to sign an injury waiver form), meaning cornerback Eric Green, defensive end Antonio Smith and linebacker Karlos Dansby were out.

Offensive lineman Elton Brown inked his previously unsigned tender offer Monday morning before taking part in the workout.

Participation has also historically grown after the first day and the first week.

"It feels good, especially with me coming off the injury, just being back with the guys, working out in the weight room," said Leinart, who is returning from a broken collarbone. "The offseason is so short these days, but it feels good to get back."

Said LaBoy, "I finally get to meet the guys, introduce myself, put names and faces together, so it is good. I just want to try and build my chemistry, see where I fit in."

The workout, which lasted about two hours, included upper body weightlifting before moving outside for some agility drills (barefoot) and timed running.

Lott's program features a four-day split – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday – designed to build both strength and stamina.

"My philosophy is that they have been sitting at the house watching Oprah and eating bon-bons," Lott said. "I'm not trying to rip the hamstrings off their legs. I think they know I will evolve with them. I won't try and break it off on them in the first three weeks."

Lott said at this time last year, he was "exhausted" because the whole program had to be taught fresh to the team. The way guys like Watson and Lutui showed up this year proves how far the team has advanced, Lott added.

Lott and Whisenhunt also stressed the bonding aspect of this time of year. Lott said he thought the offseason program for any team has long been underrated.

"(Preparation) doesn't start in camp," Lott said. "It starts March 24th.

"You don't get medals for coming in a working out, now. The Cardinals are working out now. That's where the Cardinals are. If you're a Cardinal, this is where we are."

Boldin chuckled at the notion of the "voluntary" work, comparing it to the winter workouts in college that were voluntary but always had 100 percent participation.

It's not quite the same in the NFL, Boldin said, which makes it nice when a player needs to get away for a few days.

But, Boldin added with a smile, "The beginning of offseason workouts means the beginning of the season, pretty much."


Contact Darren Urban at askdarren@cardinals.nfl.net. Posted 3/24/08.

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