TEMPE, Ariz. – It has been 106 days since the Arizona Cardinals cleaned out their lockers after losing to Carolina in the NFC wild card but they’re finally back to football – kind of.
Monday marked the beginning of Phase 1, a two-week stretch of voluntary workouts during which, according to the CBA, players are “limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only.” Other parameters of Phase 1 include no footballs allowed, except quarterbacks are allowed to throw to uncovered receivers; no helmets are allowed; and only strength and conditioning coaches are allowed on the field with the players.
This also will be the first opportunity for new Cardinals to interact with their teammates in a football setting. With new faces, rehabbing injuries and a new weight room and locker room, here are five storylines heading into Phase 1:
1. Carson Palmer’s progress: Throughout the offseason, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said Palmer was ahead of schedule. The next two weeks will be telling to see how far ahead he really is.
2. Who won’t attend?: It’s always a question that’s asked since these workouts at voluntary, but it looks like all of the Cardinals will report this week. At least publicly, there haven’t been any players unhappy with their contract – which is typically why players hold out during offseason workouts.
3. Thomas Time: With Palmer still on the mend and Drew Stanton working back to 100 percent, Logan Thomas will begin his Offseason of Snaps. The former fourth-round pick will get the majority of snaps until Stanton returns to full health and that starts this week.
4. Rehabbing Cards: The offseason thus far has included a fair share of injured Cardinals readying themselves for a return to the field. Calais Campbell told ESPN.com earlier this month that he’ll be at the Cardinals’ facility this week working out, but he’s not yet back to 100 percent. Also rehabbing is Andre Ellington from his foot and hip injuries, as well as Jaron Brown.
5. Bonding time: Getting back into the weight room and locker room also gives the new Cardinals an opportunity to begin bonding with the old Cardinals. And there’s no better place the Cardinals need to begin forming a unified bond than the defensive line with Arizona losing Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams, and gaining Corey Peters and Cory Redding.