ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals notebook: Outdoor practice and Chandler Jones’ sled destruction

Jul 31, 2018, 2:42 PM | Updated: 5:35 pm
Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks watches his team during the first day of the team's NFL footbal...
Arizona Cardinals coach Steve Wilks watches his team during the first day of the team's NFL football training camp Saturday, July 28, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Cardinals practiced outdoors on Tuesday morning. Coach Steve Wilks had a few goals in mind with the move: give the players a change of pace, prepare them for the elements and time difference they will face in other NFL cities, and harden their minds to whatever the weather throws their way.

A monsoon storm on Monday evening made the practice more pleasant than anyone expected, with temperatures ranging from 87 degrees when the workout began to about 97 when it ended. Still, Wilks felt the move served its purpose.

“What I wanted to do, particularly being a first-year coach, is set the tone on my philosophy and what I believe in. You can’t just talk physicality. You’ve got to go out and create that mindset and what you’re going to be about,” Wilks said. “It’s not all about the mindset of the heat, but certain things can come up over time, a delay for a weather storm, [so it’s about] making sure you’re locked in and focused.”

Wilks wants to prepare the Cardinals for all scenarios, noting that the team will play early games in the Central or Eastern or time zones against Green Bay, Minnesota and Atlanta. That said, he is cognizant of the toll the heat (and humidity during monsoon season) can take on his players so he scheduled an off-day on Wednesday to allow the players to recuperate and rehydrate.

Wilks has started the past two practices with one-on-one drills, but he also understands the toll too much banging can take on players’ bodies, based on research and data that has led many coaches to alter their training camp approach.

“You try to tax them on the front end and then start bringing them back is my philosophy,” he said.  “I thought the guys did a pretty good job. Started out a little slow. We picked it up as we went on. I thought that tempo and the sense of urgency was there at the end of practice.”

FRUSTRATION OR TOO MUCH MUSCLE?

Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones drew national attention when he destroyed a tackling sled on Monday.

Wilks said the backstory came from offensive lineman DJ Humphries dominating Jones in the one-on-one drill that opened practice Monday, the Cards’ first in pads this camp.

“You can sort of thank DJ Humphries for that,” Wilks said. “I think Chandler got a little upset. Guys have pride. He probably wasn’t pleased with how he performed at the beginning of practice and he went down there and took it out on the sled. We’ve got to replace that but it was exciting to see.”

Jones, however, told azcardinals.com that the one-on-one drill was not the impetus for his property destruction: “That’s not why. I’m just too powerful,” he said. “You can write that down. Way too powerful.”

RECEIVER DEPTH

The battle for the No. 2 wide receiver spot continues, but with running back David Johnson’s skills as a receiver to complement Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals already know they have a great second option.

“There’s only a couple players I’ve coached at this position that are like this,” offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said. “He can run any route in the route tree that a receiver can run. Are we going to do that with him? We’ll find out come the season.”

Johnson had 80 receptions for 879 yards and four TDs in 2016. He missed all but the season opener last season following wrist surgery. He caught six passes for 67 yards in that one game.

MORE LINEBACKER HELP?

Free-agent outside linebacker Gerald Hodges, 27, was in for a workout Tuesday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported. Hodges has played six seasons in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints. He played 11 games for the Saints in 2017, making three tackles. His best season was with the 49ers in 2016, when he had 83 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 15 games (12 starts). He also forced a fumble and defended two passes.

“We’re just going to continue to try to build the back end of the roster. We’re going to constantly bring guys in and create a short list and if things happen we’ll be ready to move on it,” Wilks said.

EXTRA POINTS

— Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and quarterback Sam Bradford had a veterans day off on Tuesday.

— Cornerback Patrick Peterson was asked if he has been lobbying McCoy for reps on offense as he did from 2011-13 when he lined up at receiver for former coach Bruce Arians. “No, those days are pretty much over for me,” he said.

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