Cardinals convene, keep 2018 goals in focus
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By JOSE M. ROMERO
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Making the Super Bowl this season isn't totally on the minds of the Arizona Cardinals at present. They're setting daily goals of improvement amid injury rehabilitation.
While the Super Bowl is the end goal, of course, new Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks had a different kind of message for his players after they arrived at the team facility Tuesday for the first day of the offseason conditioning program.
"He always speaks about 'Let's not talk about the Super Bowl,' and that's one thing that I admire," veteran linebacker Chandler Jones said of Wilks. "You can get sidetracked looking at the Super Bowl. You kind of have to look at the steps leading to there."
The Cardinals have plenty of steps ahead of them. After an 8-8 season lowlighted by injuries, coach Bruce Arians retired, as did quarterback Carson Palmer. Wilks was hired and a new coaching staff, along with several new players, have begun preparations for this season.
One big task at the outset of workouts is getting to know new teammates and new coaches. It's a work in progress, but Wilks' message and theme of "win the day" seemed to strike a chord with veterans who remain from the Arians regime.
"Everybody is excited to build a strong foundation for what we're trying to do here. Everything is focused on the details," said offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, who battled knee injuries and was limited to five games last season. "Everybody's trying to get to the Super Bowl, but you can't get there looking into the stars that day. All the small things have to add up."
Tuesday was for weight room work and running on the practice field as players get back into shape. Strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris said while it was a good day he didn't like everything he saw from the players.
"I saw some great things. I saw some things that make me want to go home and drink heavily," Morris said. "We've got a lot of work to do, obviously ... fatigue is always going to be a factor in everything."
The Cardinals have a number of players on the mend looking for bounce-back seasons. Star running back David Johnson, who severely injured his wrist in Week 1 and didn't play again, appears to be back to full range of motion.
"He's a freak," Morris said. "I have to protect David from David, because he always wants to load the bar with more and more weight."
New quarterback Sam Bradford participated in Tuesday's workout and is coming back from a knee injury that cost him most of last season with Minnesota. Bradford has a history of knee surgeries.
"We'll identify what Sam needs to do and put him on a program that's based on him the individual," Morris said.
NOTES: Humphries, who plays left tackle, said he'd be ready to start the season. ... The Cardinals announced that the team's four exclusive rights free agents - CB C.J. Goodwin, RB Elijhaa Penny, DL Olsen Pierre and OL John Wetzel - have all signed their one-year contracts for the 2018 season. Wetzel started 11 games and Pierre seven last season.
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Updated April 3, 2018