J.J. Watt among Arizona Cardinals who see value in voluntary OTAs
TEMPE — When you think about important offseason dates for the Arizona Cardinals, the handful of organized team activates are likely near the bottom of the list.
No one is blaming you.
On top of no pad work, having your full team on the field is rare during the multiple offseason sessions, hence the voluntary nature of the workouts.
But while the focus may be on who is not in attendance, those that are getting the reps in are seizing the opportunity to work on their craft and better get to know their teammates and coaches.
Defensive end J.J. Watt is probably one of the last NFL vets that needs extra offseason work, yet he’s still at the front of the line for every voluntary drill.
“My process is, the further that I get off the track … the harder it is to get on the tracks,” Watt said Monday. “(Strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris) puts on a great program so we’ve been working extremely hard all offseason here. And then being here with the guys at OTAs, I think being on the field is extremely valuable because I don’t think you can get better at football without playing football.
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“And so taking advantage of every single opportunity, taking advantage of every rep, all the individual drills and everything and the camaraderie in getting the guys together I think for me personally is very big and obviously we have a new D-line coach this year as well so making sure we’re on the same page and making sure we all know what the expectation is and we all set the culture that we want to set and be the team that we want to be.”
It goes beyond just getting the work in, too.
For the players that aren’t solidified on the roster, every OTAs session is another chance to prove their worth to head coach Kliff Kingsbury and Co., whether that’s in the film room, weight room or on the practice field.
If anything, the extra days of work present players with the prime opportunity to make a good first impression before the pads come on and the competition ratchets up.
And despite starters like quarterback Kyler Murray, wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and a handful of offensive linemen not putting up perfect OTAs attendance, Kingsbury gets the added advantage of putting offseason ideas to the test.
“Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t,” Kingsbury said. “You hate to have to do that during training camp. You’d rather iron some of that stuff out before you get there because training camp’s so competitive and you’re trying to really prepare for the season.
“We’re here, you can experiment and work on things, see guys at different positions so it’s been really good for us.”