TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals veterans and rookies took the field Monday at the team's Tempe headquarters for the first of three voluntary organized team activities.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Kyler Murray was not in attendance for the voluntary workouts, but given everything that’s happened this offseason between K1 and the Cardinals, it’s also no surprise that his absence was a talker today.
"I think as a coach, you want to have these guys here all the time, but it's just not how the rules are set up and different guys handle it in different ways," said Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury.
"I know K1 is working really hard," said Budda Baker. "I know that he's doing all the things that he can, whether it's talking to the coaches, talking to the players, and I know that when he gets here, he's going to be ready, there's going to be no drop off."
Asked if he anticipates Murray being in attendance for mandatory mini-camp beginning June 14, Kingsbury said he does.
While the absence of Murray will dominate the headlines, he was far from the only notable veteran not in attendance, including Hollywood Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, James Conner, DJ Humphries, Rodney Hudson, Byron Murphy Jr. and Markus Golden.
Zach Ertz, who was in attendance, said he's been in a situation before where it wasn't in his best interest to be at OTA's, so he understands and respects everyone's personal business.
"I know their goals are still the same for this team as being the best version of this team we can be, so I'm going to do my part and be the best version of myself," said Ertz. "That's getting better, holding these guys that are here accountable, and I know those guys that aren't here are still working, training their butt off, and they all have their own reasons for not being here."
Other notables that were on the field Monday, JJ Watt, AJ Green and Budda Baker, who touched on why it’s important for him to be there despite it being voluntary.
"I'm a camaraderie guy," Baker said. "Understanding people's personalities, what they like to do on the field, of course, exchange numbers, talk a little football and all that type of stuff. And that's what I just personally liked to do, just because growing up, that's just how it was, that's what you just had to do. Now that I'm one of the leaders on the team, I definitely want to do that, because it just helps the younger guys kind of get a head start before training camp and all that stuff starts."
Ertz has his own personal preference.
"I love this time of year," he said. "I love the offseason, I love building my body back from getting beat up for five, six months during the season and start square one in February. And really start the process of being the best version of myself I can be. I love the process of, I kind of view as, callusing my body to just prepare for the season. And there's still so much I can improve on as a player, so I use this time to really focus on the weaknesses focus and be very, very, I would say, critical of myself from this past season, and see how I can improve in this offense because, obviously, I was only here for a couple of months. But there are things that I thought I did well and things I did poorly, so really just fine tune the details. But like I said, I love the competition aspect of football, so I love being out here with the guys, building that camaraderie and really setting the tempo."
The Cardinals will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, then hold two more sets of voluntary OTA's June 1-3 and June 6-9, before mandatory mini-camp takes place June 14-16.