Wilks says mission accomplished as Cardinals break camp
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Steve Wilks wanted to put his stamp on the Arizona Cardinals during his first training camp as coach. When the team broke camp on Wednesday after some outdoor practices and some hard hitting, he felt confident checking that box.
“I’m real pleased with the camp that we had this year. I thought we really came down here and accomplished a lot,” he said. “Most importantly, trying to continue to emphasize and focus on the fundamentals and techniques of the game — trying to create that mindset, the physicality and most important the effort that’s going to sustain us throughout the year.”
In case there was any doubt that this is his team, Wilks added a personal touch on the final day of camp. He took control of the music during practice with Earth Wind & Fire, Steve Wonder and other artists echoing throughout University of Phoenix Stadium.
“That was some old school,” Wilks said, smiling.
The Cardinals only held 15 camp practices, a lesser load than in past years and one of the shorter camps in the NFL, but Wilks had a goal in mind.
“My mindset is to try to frontload it,” he said. “I want to get back to Tempe so I can get these guys into a routine of how it’s going to be during the season and really start to get their mind right, most importantly, and get their legs back underneath them.”
The Cardinals will begin their normal in-season practice routine next week at their headquarters in Tempe.
For the veterans, training camp was largely old hat in spite of the new coaching staff, but for the rookies, there was plenty to absorb.
“I’ve learned a lot of football these last couple weeks,” said quarterback Josh Rosen, who is expected to take snaps with the first team when the Cardinals face the Saints on Friday in New Orleans. “A lot about defenses. [Offensive coordinator Mike] McCoy and [QBs coach] Byron [Leftwich] are great coaches.”
Rookie running back Chase Edmonds couldn’t believe camp was already over.
“It blew by,” he said. “I remember coming out here on the first day just sayin, ‘wow, man, it’s the first day of camp.’ You get nervous and then just talking to some of the guys while were stretching, it just blew by.”
All the same, Edmonds doesn’t feel like he has graduated just yet.
“I think the last day of school for me will be Week 4 of the preseason,” he said. “That’s when things get real.”
Wilks said wide receiver Brice Butler would not play against the Saints after injuring his foot this week.
“I was thinking and hoping that he would have an opportunity to go out there, but I think we’re going to hold him back this week,” Wilks said.
Linebackers Deone Bucannon (knee) and Josh Bynes (neck) may also sit. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (Achilles) and defensive end Markus Golden (knee) are still on the physically unable to perform list.
“They’re on schedule,” Wilks said. “They’re doing a good job with their rehab. I think they’ll be ready and on point, right there, hopefully, when the season starts.”
The Cardinals players and coaches went to the movies on Tuesday to watch “Mile 22.”
Edmonds said the highlight was when rookie offensive lineman Will House had to stand up in front of the team and sing a country song.
“I’m not big on country so I don’t know the title of it,” Edmonds said, laughing.
Edmonds had to sing about a week and a half ago. His choice: Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”