New era notes: Communication paramount in ramping up TE Zach Ertz

Aug 15, 2023, 2:29 PM | Updated: 3:52 pm

Zach Ertz scores a touchdown...

Zach Ertz #86 of the Arizona Cardinals scores a touchdown as Harrison Smith #22 of the Minnesota Vikings defends during the third quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz checked a massive box on Tuesday with his return to action off the physically unable to perform list.

Nine months removed from tearing his ACL and MCL, the tight end is now cleared to resume football activity with Week 1 of the regular season in his crosshairs.

“I’m just excited to see him out there,” offensive coordinator Drew Petzing said Tuesday. “He’s played this game at a high level for a long time, so it brings a level of experience to the position into the offense.

“He’s a great teammate and just the leadership aspect of it as well.”

But just because Ertz has been given the green light doesn’t mean the team is going to put him through an extensive workload right out of the gate.

There’s a concerted plan of attack with overarching communication.

“I think we got to be smart about it,” Petzing added. “I think a lot of that we’re going to rely heavily on the training staff and his ability to tell us where he’s at and how he feels and take it slowly and make sure he’s ready to go by the time he hits game day.”

Jonathan Cannon?

Jonathan Gannon is a very hands-on head coach, especially when it comes to his “baby” that is the defensive backs room.

Tuesday was no expectation, with Gannon playing the part of signal caller during individual drills early on in practice.

Not too bad for a former DB!

Testing things out

A lot of the focus throughout training camp and the preseason revolves around the players.

But they aren’t the only ones using the offseason and preseason slate to prepare.

Take Petzing for example, who is entering his first year on the job as an OC.

From an Xs and Os standpoint, he has a good grasp of what he wants and expects from his players and position coaches.

But logistically, there are still things to shore up, such as where he is going to be calling plays on game day.

He experimented from the sideline in the team’s preseason opener. This week, though, he’s making the trek up to the booth.

“It was good, the operation was clean, but I’m going to try going up this week,” Petzing said. “I think it’s important to try both and make sure that I’m making an educated decision on what’s best for the team and what’s best for the offense. Going to give that a shot here this week.”

One too many

The Cardinals were relatively clean when it came to pre-snap penalties, picking up just one throughout the course of their 18-17 win over the Broncos in the preseason opener Friday.

But unless that number is zero, there’s always room for improvement.

“It’s good, although it’s one too many,” Petzing said Tuesday. “I think it’s something that we emphasized over the course of training camp and it was good to see the guys handle it when the lights were on.”

On the up and up

Ertz wasn’t the only previously injured or limited Cardinal to return to the practice fields on Tuesday.

Wide receiver Hollywood Brown, running backs Corey Clement and Keaontay Ingram, tight ends Trey McBride and Noah Togiai and linebacker Myjai Sanders all participated in some fashion during the open portion of practice on Tuesday.

Participation wasn’t a full 100% across the board, however, with both linebacker Cameron Thomas and quarterback Jeff Driskel, who was inactive against the Broncos, not in uniform and watching from the side during the open portion of practice.

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