GLENDALE, Ariz. — John Abraham missed three weeks of practices with the Arizona Cardinals while he was tending to personal matters.
The veteran linebacker rejoined the team last Thursday before they left for a preseason game with Minnesota and was on the field with them Monday after they returned, but really got on the field to work for the first time Wednesday.
“I’m good, man, just relaxed, trying to get back in condition and getting ready to play,” he said afterward.
For the 36-year-old Abraham, the belief is it will not take long for him to reach that point. Though it’s never beneficial to miss practice — especially as much time as Abraham did — heading into his 15th NFL season, he pretty much knows what it takes to get back into form, and fast. His focus is not on the football part of camp, but instead just getting himself into shape.
It will be a process.
“No, I know I’m not in shape like they are in shape right now just because of the simple fact I wasn’t doing the same thing [my teammates] have been doing the last couple weeks,” he said. “But all-in-all I feel good, I feel like I could be ready for the season.”
Abraham added that he kept himself in shape while he was away from the team and is “not at all” worried about his conditioning turning into an issue that will prevent him from being ready to go in the near future.
As for whether or not he will appear in Sunday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he said that’s not really much of a concern.
“I don’t really need a lot of preseason stuff,” he said, pointing to his 15 seasons in the league. “If I don’t know how to play football now, I shouldn’t have started.”
Coach Bruce Arians, who long maintained he didn’t think Abraham would need much time to get into shape once he got into camp, said Thursday morning he was pleased with his Pro Bowler’s performance.
“I thought John looked good yesterday,” he said. “It’s his first time getting some action, had a couple really good pass rushes down in one-on-one and the team period.
“So we’ll just keep upping his reps, and he’ll be ready.”
Abraham can’t be ready soon enough.
Given the recent loss of defensive lineman Darnell Dockett — as well as the absences of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington — and it stands to reason the team cannot afford to slip anywhere else.
Abraham, who tallied 11.5 sacks last season and has earned at least 9.5 sacks in six of the last seven campaigns. He knows it will be important for him to keep that pace up given what the Cardinals’ defense, which finished sixth in the NFL last season, has lost in terms of talent and leadership.
“What I did all my career, just being 5-5,” he said of what he needs to do to help fill the void. “It ain’t really hard. Just be yourself and play your game. If I can get up the sacks and disrupt the offenses like I’ve been doing my whole career, I don’t have to worry about much else.”