Arizona Cardinals ‘get in that grind mode’ with start of offseason workouts

Apr 17, 2017, 11:48 AM | Updated: 5:13 pm

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)...

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

(Photo by Adam Green/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE, Ariz. – Action was everywhere: Chandler Jones spotting fellow linebacker Markus Golden on the bench press; cornerback Justin Bethel and safety Tyvon Branch side-by-side working the triceps extension machine; defensive linemen Rodney Gunter, Josh Mauro and Robert Nkemdiche performing box jumps; plus safety Tyrann Mathieu doing pull-ups under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris.

Welcome to Phase I of the Arizona Cardinals offseason workout program, where the work inside the team’s weight room began first thing on Monday.

“Saw a lot of guys here at six o’clock in the morning, that’s always a good sign when you see the early-risers trying to knock out their workout and just get in that grind mode,” cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “It’s definitely fun to be back.”

Per the NFL collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed nine weeks of offseason work, broken into three phases. The first phase consists of activities limited to strength and conditioning plus physical rehabilitation only.

Though head coach Bruce Arians as well as offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator James Bettcher were spotted walking through the weight room, only the strength and conditioning staff is able to work with the players during this two-week period.

“We don’t write a cookie-cutter program here. Programs are based on positional requirements…and then from there, we individualize,” said Morris, who is entering his fourth season with the Cardinals. “Today was a very business-like atmosphere and very focused on our guys. It’s good to have them back in the building.”

Attendance, of course, is optional, for all players.

“Optional is mandatory,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said. “If it’s an opportunity to get better, we’re going to be here getting better.”

Humphries added right tackle Jared Veldheer “made it a point to make sure all of (the offensive linemen) were together this morning in the six o’clock group before everybody came. We were all on the same page. We were ready to get it going.”

And ready to put 2016 behind them.

The Cardinals went 7-8-1 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time in three years.

The start of the offseason workout program unofficially signaled the start of 2017.

“I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, it definitely does,” running back David Johnson said, referring to a new mindset entering workouts. “It motivates me even more because we were supposed to have such a promising season last year. I felt like some of the stuff I messed up on and now I got a new year. I’m learning. I can’t wait for it to start.”

The good news for Johnson, and the Cardinals, is that he’s a full participant here in the offseason. Johnson is not limited at all, just over three months removed from suffering an MCL sprain in the last game of the season.

“I’m doing everything,” he said. “I did the running. I’m doing squatting. I’ve been doing that since I’ve been cleared a few weeks ago.”

This time, between now and the first week of June, is critically important for the Cardinals.

No longer is training camp the time to get in shape. Players must arrive in shape, and that work starts now.

“Guys got some work to do,” Morris said. He then smiled, adding, “We got some guys who really need to go back to their personal terrorists. Instead of worry about being on Instagram and Twitter and all this other nonsensical social media stuff — which I can’t stand, I loathe — and get their money back because we got some guys who need some work. But for the majority and the most part, great job…we need to continue that from now until the end of the season.”

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