The first practice of the Ken Whisenhunt era was exactly as promised: a chance for players to absorb the new offense and defense the coaches have installed.
As expected, the defense was working primarily in a 3-4 alignment.
“Not much is going to change for us on the defensive side of the ball,” defensive end-turned-linebacker Bertrand Berry said, adding that he thought too much was being made about whether the Cards will play a 4-3 or 3-4.
Whisenhunt said the workout went as he thought, with players sometimes struggling to be in the right positions.
Running back Edgerrin James took part in the entire practice, shrugging off the minor surgery he had this offseason to drain some fluid on his knee.
“It was a scratch. That same night I was hanging out in the clubs,” James said with a huge grin, showing that he had removed his famous gold teeth coverings. “I practiced. Everything was normal.”
James also dismissed the idea he would have any problems running behind a fullback.
Every player except for guard Milford Brown – who is getting married – was at practice. Receiver LeRon McCoy was the only surprise by not practicing, after a physical revealed small fractures in his finger. He was held out.
Berry, recovering from his tricep surgery, was also held out.
The team signed three more veteran free agents Friday: defensive end Rodney Bailey, cornerback Ralph Brown and defensive tackle Joe Tafoya.
Each signed one-year deals. In addition, center Nick Leckey inked his one-year tender offer.
Bailey played in 12 games last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers as a reserve, making four tackles. Brown played in all 16 games for Cleveland, starting four, and made 37 tackles without an interception. Tafoya, who spent six days in training camp with the Cards in 2004, played in 13 games with Seattle last season.
The Cards will have two practices today, two on Saturday and one Sunday.
Whisenhunt also apparently installed a no-cell-phone rule in the locker room, with about 10 or 12 players sitting outside after practice chatting on their phones.