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Not Looking At End In Sight

Posted Jun 12, 2012

Notebook: Holliday return "matter of time;" Kelemete catches up

The first-team defense celebrates a stop during the first minicamp practice Tuesday.

The Cardinals opened the final week of their on-field work Tuesday, but even with vacation in sight, they didn’t practice like it.

“Even though logically it wasn’t that much different (from OTAs), it seemed different,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said of the first day of mandatory minicamp. “We did a couple of things different. You don’t want to get stuck in a rut, so we changed a couple things up. They responded.”

The Cards were missing only defensive lineman Nick Eason, who was excused to tend to personal matters.

Whisenhunt shrugged off the idea his team might let up at all with the end of work in sight. That wasn’t a problem the previous three weeks of work, he said.

“You think about it a little during minicamp but I didn’t see any of that today,” Whisenhunt said. “You watch for that. I think having fewer days and a shorter time, you eliminate that. I just hope the attitude of our players will prevent that and so far that’s what I have seen.”

Linebacker Paris Lenon didn’t see it as a problem either. When wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is getting angry about dropping a pass – punting the offending ball nearly over the fence surrounding the field -- and defensive leaders like Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson are whooping and hollering when their unit makes a big play in June, letdowns aren’t expected.

“That’s always something you have to be concerned with young guys, because everything is such a whirlwind,” Lenon said. “There is so much information thrown at them at one time, and they are looking for that light at the end of the tunnel. But if you have enough guys doing it the right way, everyone will fall in.”

BACK FROM HOLLIDAY WITH AN ITCH

It always felt like a case of when, not if, when it came to the return of veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday.

Holliday stayed in close contact with Whisenhunt, general manager Rod Graves and defensive line coach Ron Aiken while the offseason when and said it was “a matter of time” before he got back on the roster. The day the 2011 season ended, Holliday said he thought he’d want to come back for a 15th season. Soon after, there was a little wavering, as Holliday hung out with his family and watched his kids play their sports.

“But once you start working out and start getting that itch,” Holliday said. “I still have that itch. Now I know what guys are talking about when they say, ‘When do you stop playing, when is enough enough?’ Play it out. I see so many guys trying to get back in, but once you are out, you’re out.

“I haven’t gotten enough of it yet.”

Whisenhunt said there was always a plan to get back Holliday and veteran linebacker Clark Haggans. Holliday showed why in the 2011 finale, playing well against Seattle once Calais Campbell got hurt.

“To have him back is important,” Whisenhunt said. “I know he understands his role and I can count on him.”

That role isn’t going to change, Holliday said. At least not much.

“Calais will probably give me a few more snaps since he got his big payday,” Holliday joked, “but other than that, no.”

KELEMETE’S SCHOOL DAZE

Rookie fifth-round draft pick Senio Kelemete, a guard, got in his first practice Tuesday since the rookie minicamp in May. Because rookies attending colleges that are still in session can’t leave to go to practice, Kelemete wasn’t leaving the University of Washington for OTAs. He was still finishing up classwork anyway, having just received his degree in American Ethnic Studies.

“It sucked,” Kelemete said. “I was in Washington but my mind was still here. I would go through plays in my head. Whenever I had some downtime, I was trying to go over my plays.”

Whisenhunt said Kelemete has missed a lot, not so much because of the scheme but because it can be tricky learning on the fly against the Cards’ blitz-happy defense.

“It’s hard to look at it on film and understand what is going on,” Whisenhunt said.

Kelemete isn’t worried.

“Just give me two or three more days,” he said. “I think I’ll catch up.”


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