ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals camp notebook: Physicality makes for strong first day in pads

Jul 30, 2018, 1:13 PM
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford (9) hands off to running back David Johnson (31) during ...
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Sam Bradford (9) hands off to running back David Johnson (31) during the first day of NFL football training camp, Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Sure, training camp technically began for the Arizona Cardinals a couple days ago. But everyone knows things don’t really ramp up until they put the pads on for the first time.

That happened Monday. And there were some memorable moments.

Steve Wilks took a unique approach to the festivities, opening his first padded practice as Arizona’s head coach with one-on-one blocking drills right in the middle of the field for everyone to see. A few minutes later, Chandler Jones literally broke one of the sleds when he charged it.

“You’re going to have a little bit of ups and downs but it’s how you respond to it,” Wilks said, calling the team’s performance a day prior inconsistent. “So those guys did a great job coming back today. Early, quick turnaround in the morning and I was very pleased. Guys competing against one another, competition was great, and we’re going to try to put another one back-to-back tomorrow.”

Wilks explained that he’s looking to create physicality and establish the tempo as camp evolves. The one-on-one drills, he said, are a good way to go about it because they instantly breed accountability among teammates.

“It was crazy. I thought we were going to do the Oklahoma Drill,” linebacker Deone Bucannon said. “But we ended up doing something a little different. Oklahoma would’ve been cool but, like I said, it’s new energy, it’s a new feel, it’s a new everything. For him to start it off like that, you know, it brings back high school, college, you know, kind of like that pre-practice jitters to get ready.”

With the first preseason game against the Chargers only 12 days away, it makes sense why Wilks wants to set the tone and build up the collective energy around camp in a hurry.

BRADFORD MAKING AN EARLY IMPRESSION

Sam Bradford finds himself in a unique spot. He enters camp as the starter, but with the caveat that everyone knows this will probably be his one and only season with the Cardinals.

Many fans and NFL insiders are already looking over Bradford’s shoulder at rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.

Everyone has seen Bradford play at the NFL level before, but no one outside the organization seen him with the Cardinals. So while he enters camp as a vet, he’s still looking to make a strong first impression with his new team. And it’s working so far.

“That dude was the No. 1 pick. That wasn’t an accident,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said. “That dude fell out of the sky. You don’t bump into people like that. Dudes like that fall out of the sky, you don’t just bump into people like him.”

Wilks wasn’t quite as effusive in praise, but he did like what he saw.

“Sam performed well, in my opinion, today,” the coach said. “He’s moving around great, stepping up in the pocket. He feels like he has a lot of confidence right now, so I’m excited to see where he is.”

Budda Baker chimed in as well, offering some perspective from the secondary.

“He throws some crisp routes,” the second year safety said. “In team drills today, I had Larry [Fitzgerald] on the over and it was perfect ball, perfect placement. So he’s a great quarterback and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.”

EXTRA POINTS

– Wilks called third-year defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche a “tremendous player,” saying he liked his commitment and energy on the field. But Wilks also pointed out that consistency will ultimately be the key — and that the 2016 first rounder needs to be careful about jumping offsides.

– Rookie corner Chris Campbell intercepted fellow rookie Charles Kanoff during 11-on-11 drills. A sixth rounder out of Penn State, Campbell is fighting for a spot in that secondary opposite Patrick Peterson.

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