Cardinals Defensive Line 'Felt Good' after First Day of Camp
For the Arizona Cardinals' rookies, the opening of training camp full-speed practices Wednesday gave them their first opportunity to demonstrate their value in a live football setting.
However, without a normal offseason, rookie minicamps or OTAs due to COVID-19, it also allowed coaches the opportunity to see where the team stands physically when it comes to participating in football activities. Rookie defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence expressed the importance of staying ready and adapting to what his coaches — defensive line coach Brentson Buckner and strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris — say at this stage.
"No. 1 thing is being coachable," Lawrence told reporters Wednesday in a virtual press conference. "Listening to the strength staff, listening to coach Buckner and trying to be coachable, little details, be very smart and very strategic in everything you do. Stretch well coming into practice.
"That was the one thing that coach Buckner reiterated to the defensive line is that we knew this day was coming that we were going to be flying around and moving around."
The Cardinals reported to their team facility on July 28 and started strength and conditoning work on Aug. 3, a time that Lawrence said he appreciated in order to get back into a groove before diving right into football. Over that time he said he'd been working on slips, pushes, changing directions, among other techniques.
While the first day of camp comes with its fair share of awkwardness and a slower adjustment period, Lawrence said his unit is up for the challenge.
"Coach Buddy did a great job of preparing us and having a routine every day to come and be ready for when today came," Lawrence said. "Guys were moving around very well and we felt good."
That was likely a welcome site for head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Defensive line is one of three main areas he said he’ll be keeping a closer eye on over the first few days of practices.
Arizona's defense allowed the second-most yards through the air last year and the pass rush was in the bottom 10 of the league in hurries and pressures. But Kingsbury said he is optimistic about the improvements, including drafting Lawrence to help in that regard.
"Some groups that we feel like, talent-wise, we've made some some solid upgrades there," Kingsbury said of the defensive line and linebacker corps. "And now we've got to go on the field and show it."