Camp K report: Cardinals have business-casual feel as pads go on
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The pads are on, but through the third day of official practices, there’s still a lot to learn about the Arizona Cardinals.
What’s been made clear is how different the vibes are under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury compared to his predecessors.
This isn’t like Bruce Arians’ camp, when stretching was a no-no, expletives were shouted and music wasn’t played.
It’s not like last season, when Steve Wilks began the first day in pads with an Oklahoma drill, having already established his culture with a symbolic hurdle placed in the locker room that was, unfortunately for the Cardinals, walked around rather than jumped over.
Under Kingsbury, call the feel at Cardinals camp business-casual.
There’s no yelling from Kingsbury. There’s an eclectic top-40 playlist booming during practices. There’s a snack break with a fruit cart – Kingsbury would rather you refer to it as a halftime — and smiles. Players can even wear tinted visors.
But it also appears that there’s a lot getting done.
“We have great players, we have a great staff. K2’s been great to work for,” said defensive coordinator Vance Joseph of his head coach. “He’s been great. He’s so humble of a person. That’s his personality. He’s so humble, everyone sees it. He’s being himself. We want to win for him.”
The even-mannered Kingsbury said there’s a lot less yelling and screaming as an NFL coach. As a head coach at Texas Tech, that was usually necessary for dealing with football players who missed class or skipped lunch.
Professionalism has allowed him to focus more on the nitty-gritty. He hasn’t made a motto or attempted to establish hard rules on the field or off.
“I didn’t come in guns blazing and trying to lay down some law that wasn’t in place,” Kingsbury said.
“I’m not one of these guys who’s going to yell at you for trying to get it right.”
Apparently, there is no rule about parking around the team facilities, as there was under Arians. There are no prohibited pieces of attire like there were under Wilks.
When rookie defensive back Byron Murphy put Larry Fitzgerald on the turf accidentally Friday, there wasn’t any warning from the coaching staff to make things clear.
“I think he was already petrified so we just let one go,” Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury, of course, has focused on the offensive side of the ball and dolled out duties in a segmented style. From Day 1, he’s referred to Joseph as the “defensive head coach.” He’s empowered assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers. During special teams drills, however, the players not involved have been busy.
D.J. Humphries was surprised in one such session in the week, when receivers on the side caught tennis balls thrown over their heads by teammates. They were practicing reacting quickly to deep balls that come into their peripheral visions late.
There’s always business being worked on. At the same time, it’s all chill.
About that snack break, though.
“It’s halftime. It’s not a snack break, but I appreciate y’all coining that,” Kingsbury said. “A lot of it is player safety, hydrating and keeping those guys fed.
“I want to have a quick pause and (find out) how do we pick up the second half of practice, coming out of halftime and finishing practice strong?”
SATURDAY PRACTICES OBSERVATIONS
— Quarterback Kyler Murray wasn’t as smooth as his first two days of practice. While his accuracy and velocity on his balls have been more than impressive, he got a little comfortable throwing into tight windows on Saturday. The rookie No. 1 selection got picked off by free safety Budda Baker once and minutes later threw to the corner of the end zone on a ball that was nearly intercepted by second-round pick Byron Murphy.
— On the injury front, linebacker Haason Reddick will be out a few weeks after a knee scope. Joseph said he should be ready for the regular season.
— D.J. Swearinger has a soft tissue issue and is day-to-day.
— Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine, who injured his right leg Friday, is not expected to be out long-term.
— Starting offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert, plus outside linebacker Chandler Jones and defensive tackle Corey Peters, stood on the sidelines during practice. Kingsbury was not available to comment on their statuses, but they all left Friday’s practice on two feet so their issues aren’t expected to be serious.
— Kingsbury, on how pass game coordinator Tom Clements complements him in offensive meetings: “I think he’s got such a great wealth of knowledge offensively and then his work with these quarterbacks, the legendary players he’s coached speaks for itself. He’s a very calming presence in that offensive room and if I start getting newfangled ideas all over the place he’ll bring it back down. It’s what I need and what Kyler needs as well.”