Now if something happens after you read this article it’s not my fault!! I just happened to notice a trend throughout the league that I’m not seeing here at Arizona Cardinals Training Camp: injuries in critical positions. Players all around the league are dropping like flies, I mean we are talking about role playing game-affecting players whose absence from the line-up will definately alter the game plans for their respective ball clubs. Guys like Clinton Portis (WAS RB – knee), Warrick Dunn (ATL RB – back), Booger McFarland (IND DT – knee), Frank Gore (SF RB – hand), Adrian Peterson & Chester Taylor (MIN RB – hip, foot) and the list goes on and on and on…….. But apart from a foot injury suffered by FB AJ Schable, the Cards have managed to stay injury free for the entire off-season up to now. They had a mild scare when CB Rod Hood rolled his ankle last week during practice, but it turned out to be minor, allowing Hood to return to action the next afternoon.
So why have the Cards been able to avoid serious injuries while other teams have suffered? Head coach Ken Whisenhunt credited the off-season workout program which and the excellent attendance of the club’s players. The conditioning programs, the team workouts, the focus on drills and details rather than contact, all of these factors are the reason why the Cards are looking good at camp this year. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are in excellent shape, with Fitz making all kinds of acrobatic catches and apparently feeling no effects of that hamstring injury from last year. QB Matt Leinart has added another 10+ pounds to his frame, which should help him avoid anymore injuries to his shoulders. Marcell Shipp is running hard again, Bertrand Berry has rehab’d nicely from his pectoral tear and everyone is noticing that this team is looking strong going into the first pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders this Friday.
But I think the best part about this club is the complete absence of off-the-field distractions. How many Cards players to you see in the media, on Sportscenter, or on 60 Minutes because of scandals or criminal activities or legal issues? NONE! Now I will admit that there has been one incident that flew under the radar this offseason. Former Cards assistant/running backs coach Richie Anderson was fired by the team after an arrest in Phoenix. But after the turmoil that has engulfed the NFL this year, that is just small potatoes. The organization has acted with integrity and the players have conducted themselves with the utmost class both on and off the field. Others around the league may point at this ballclub and talk about our on-field struggles, but you won’t hear anyone talking about the Cards off-the-field antics because they don’t exist.
The Cards are healthy through training camp, happy with the conduct of their players and coaches, and they are a model for every other team out there to follow.