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As Rosen-Murray rumors swirl, winds are calm at Cardinals workouts

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen, left, looks to throw a pass to running back David Johnson during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Nobody expected an Arizona Cardinals teammate to speak poorly of Josh Rosen on Tuesday.

Three players who watched the second-year quarterback during his rookie season in 2018 promised he was a leader, the first to show up to work every day and a hard worker.

But running back David Johnson perhaps gave the strongest reason to actually believe that the Cardinals believe in Rosen as football folks fire off assumptions about his future in the desert.

Johnson was asked how he would feel if the Cardinals drafted Oklahoma quarterback prospect Kyler Murray first overall in the upcoming NFL Draft.

“I like Josh. I don’t know. It’s a business and we all know that,” Johnson said on the second day of the team’s first volunteer gathering for offseason strength and conditioning workouts.

“Josh is very mature and everyone says he’s a young guy, but he’s very mature, he knows it’s a business. And I know that he knows how to handle it.”

Reporters waited outside for an open viewing session of the workouts at team headquarters in Tempe, Ariz., rather than in the media room. It was either because of the nice weather or to potentially catch a glimpse of Rosen, who wasn’t made available to the media.

So head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s first impressions on his new team were not the priority on the same day that Murray reportedly was readying to begin a visit with the Cardinals.

Instead, safety Budda Baker, linebacker Chandler Jones and Johnson fielded questions about the feeling in camp as the top headlines continue focus on whether the Cardinals will trade Rosen or draft Murray.

A day prior, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport made it known that Rosen arrived first to offseason conditioning. That report was likely in jest after NFL Network’s Charlie Casserly suggested that Rosen isn’t often the first player in the building.

“Doesn’t work hard enough. Doesn’t study enough. Doesn’t connect with teammates. Goes off the game plan,” Casserly, a former longtime NFL GM and exec, said on NFL Network. “Josh Rosen, when you go to your new team, you find out what time the janitor comes in. Then you come in and open the place up.”

Baker said Tuesday that’s exactly what Rosen has done.

“He’s always been that great player, he’s always been first,” Baker said. “I seen something on media like he was the first one in yesterday or something like that, which to me is nothing different. It’s how he’s always been.

“He’s been leading. He led us last year. Even when he was done on offense, when walking to the sideline, he would give us encouragement … all that type of stuff, so of course I think that he’s that same leader.”

Johnson said he and Rosen spoke a lot about football last year, but their relationship goes further than that.

The running back asked Rosen about how his classes at UCLA went this offseason.

He’s told Rosen to ignore the noise as these rumors swirl, something Johnson knows how to do from direct social media attacks about his fantasy football failures. Rosen has asked Johnson about his family, which contradicts the media reports suggesting he’s aloof about his teammates beyond football.

All that doesn’t mean the Cardinals might not be considering a drastic shift in direction.

Rosen did complete just 55 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions as a rookie. It’s just a matter how much of the blame is on former coach Steve Wilks’ staff that went through two offensive coordinators. How Rosen handled the lack of direction or skill around him probably has more bearing than his numbers.

Still, there’s a lot to like about Murray, the Heisman winner who unlike Rosen produced at least one college season of unrivaled success, throwing for 4,361 yards, 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding 1,001 rushing yards for Oklahoma last season.

The Cardinals themselves don’t feel affected by the very loud noises coming out of those debates.

They are welcoming new teammates like tackle Darius Philon, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and cornerback Robert Alford, who were all in attendance Tuesday.

Like they did last offseason, they are just getting to know a new coaching staff.

“Just black it out, ignore the noise,” Jones said. “You approach it just like another year. We have new faces on the team, we have a new coach, we have a whole new staff. The biggest thing is impressing those guys.”

All those very loud noises? Those are just part of life for an NFL quarterback.

“I don’t care if you’re Josh Rosen or Tom Brady,” Jones said. “I’m pretty sure your first year in the NFL is going to be difficult.”

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