Levi Brown was sweating profusely in the 100-plus-degree heat Saturday morning when his first NFL workout was over.
“It felt like we had two practices already,” the Cardinals’ first-round draft pick said as he caught his breath.
The heat wasn’t the only thing the rookies had to get used to as the Cards opened their mandatory minicamp with a pair of practices.
Brown, who played left tackle in college, has been moved to the right side. Defensive tackle Alan Branch, the second-round pick who could eventually start, acknowledged he was swimming in the new playbook.
And with 84 players on the field, none of the new players were going to get enough repetitions to perfect their game anytime soon.
““Like I learned last year, these minicamps, especially for the rookies, are about mental reps,” quarterback Matt Leinart said. “You aren’t getting every single snap. You may get one or two and you have to take advantage and when you get in, you have to know your assignments. Then you can make plays and if you do that, (your playing time) will gradually increase.”
That is the most important thing for young players to understand, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. Rookies will eventually be asked to run a play in which they have never physically taken a rep.
“Part of being a pro,” Whisenhunt said, “is you are expected to succeed in that situation.”
Brown said the playbook seemed complex, until offensive line coach Russ Grimm broke it down for him.
Learning a new side has been “different,” Brown said, although he was optimistic about the transition.
“I’ll get used to it — or they’ll move me to the left,” Brown said, drawing laughs. “It’ll be one or the other.”
No rookie is being used in the starting lineup right now. The right tackle Saturday was Oliver Ross and not Brown. Mike Gandy will be at right tackle today.
Branch is behind veteran Kendrick Clancy.
“I’m not even thinking about that,” Branch said. “You can’t go on the field and start if you don’t know the plays and right now everyone else is a couple steps ahead of me.”
EXTRA POINTS: Running back Edgerrin James, who was attending the funeral of a family member, and rookie linebacker Pago Togafau, who was graduating from Idaho State, were the only players missing Saturday. Both are expected back today. ...
Rookie tight end Ben Patrick could not practice with a sore hamstring. ...
The Cardinals brought in tight end Tim Calhoun, who played at Eastern Washington, for a tryout. ...
For more on minicamp, check out http://blogs.eastvalleytribune.com/birdwatching on the Web.