The Arizona Cardinals held a morning practice on Tuesday at Northern Arizona University
“We have to be very demanding about what we want,” said Head Coach Dennis Green after practice. “I think the players have a little bit better understanding this week than what they had last week and that is absolutely the whole key in a turnaround program. How many players can you get who understand the language you are talking? Are you talking football winning language or are you just talking a language that is not comprehensible. Many times you don’t understand it because you are not listening enough. There is a difference between listening and hearing.”
Late in practice, Green apparently didn’t think his players were hearing because he pulled his offense and defense off the field and yelled for special teams. Things got turned around quickly after that.
Linebacker Karlos Dansby continued to work with the first team defense and plans on making the most of his first start this weekend against the Chargers.
“Camp is going great and there is a lot of competition and I’m just trying to get better,” said Dansby. “I felt like I was on point last weekend and that I was ready and I was happy to have the opportunity to show what I’ve got. Coach liked what he saw on tape and he’s giving me a shot to start and I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett
continues to work at left end and will play at that spot this weekend against San Diego to see where he most naturally fits.
“I played it in high school and so I’m just trying to get used to it,” offered Dockett of switching spots. “But, I like defensive end because it gives you more space and more responsibility. I’m looking forward to being able to get after the quarterback more and with Bertrand on the other side, it makes my job a lot easier.”
With King out and Dockett playing at end, Green said that tackle Ross Kolodziej will start this weekend.
“Ross is a classic player that I like. I’ve had a lot of guys like that. He may start out being a 13th guy and easily work his way to the 4th guy because that is the way he goes to work every single day. He punches the clock, and will work hard and get down and do the dirty work and that is why right now he’s going to start.”
With Green’s three anticipated starting receivers out, expect to see a lot more balls being thrown the way of tight end Freddie Jones.
“I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given here and I’m just trying to make the most of it,” said Jones. “The mindset of everyone out here is to get a job and with those guys going down, I think it is an opportunity for a lot of the younger guys to step up and earn a job. It is just encouraging guys to compete harder.”
Unfortunately Green is not seeing the kind of competition out of his backup receivers that he would like to.
“Not one (is standing out) and I’m concerned about that,” said Green. “We’ve got our first three guys out and we should have better play out of the next three and I haven’t seen it yet. Hopefully, it will show up this weekend.”
Although the receivers might not be stepping up, running back Larry Croom has stood out throughout training camp and with Marcel Shipp out with injury, he’s definitely the larger of the backs and is earning some deserved spotlight.
“I think he’s a very quick explosive player and I don’t think we have another player exactly like him, which is a very shifty player,” observed Green. “He reminds me a lot of, he’s bigger but of David Palmer, who had a great role for us a third-down back coming out of backfield, catching routes, returning punts and kickoffs, and also can go out and play wide receiver. Larry can do all of those things and he’s trying to make our team as a multi-dimensional player.”
As the grind of camp continues, players’ tempers continue to flare. Today, cornerback Duane Starks and receiver Kevin Kasper got into it at the end of a play.
Fullback James Hodgins (shoulder), safety Dexter Jackson (back), cornerback Renaldo Hill (hamstring), and defensive tackle Kenny King (wrist) did not practice. King was absent from practice as he is consulting with a doctor about his wrist, which was surgically repaired during the offseason.
Green thought Hodgins would be back relatively soon, but results showed he suffered a sprain and that he’ll be out at least four weeks.
Defensive end Fred Wakefield returned to practice after suffering a concussion in Saturday’s game. Linebacker Ray Thompson had some pain in his knee last week, but he laid a huge hit in today’s practice and looks back to form.
“We’ll be real cautious with him, but he’s an explosive player,” commented Green. “I think the style of defense we play fits his running ability and also safety Adrian Wilson. Those are two guys who really hit and now we just have to find some more who will unload, bend and hit and I think we’ll have ourselves a shot.”
The team will began preparation for the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Cardinals Community Relations Department hosted a group of adult residents from the Lura Turner home. The home provides its developmentally disabled residents with a safe, enriching, loving family environment with the purpose of ensuring their health, happiness, security, and the fulfillment of their highest potential.
The group made a lively crowd at today’s practice cheering and chanting on the Cardinals, and enjoyed meeting and getting autographs from players following practice.