Registrato: 10/07/18 11:11
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|Kirk Cousins pushed himself so hard last summer that by Washington's second regular-season game , he felt as if his body and mind aged 10 extra weeks.
This time, even though he's in a new place in Minnesota, his goal for the summer break is to make it a little less intense.
"I had treated July and August like it was game day," Cousins said, reflecting on his 2017 preparation with the Redskins.
"You have to pace yourself a little bit. Because I feel a little behind the 8-ball and am learning the offense, I do need to be in it every day, but there also needs to be a healthy balance of getting away, catching your breath and getting a change of scenery, knowing that when we come back at the end of July we still have six more weeks" before the opener.
Cousins and his ability to adapt to the Vikings have been squarely in the spotlight since he signed his unprecedented $84 million fully guaranteed three-year contract three months ago, making himself the fulcrum of this franchise that's still seeking its first Super Bowl trophy.
There have been some rough stretches, such as when he threw two interceptions during a red zone drill on Wednesday, and the defense appears predictably ahead of the offense at this stage of the 2018 team-building.
The practice time open to reporters this spring, though, has not been without sharpness or rhythm considering there's a new quarterback trying to learn it along with everyone else.
"It's a bit like drinking through a fire hose right now ," Cousins said.
When he's not spending time with his wife and infant son or otherwise soaking up the vacation time from practice, Cousins will have his iPad close by as he meticulously reviews his performance in organized team activities and minicamp running the plays designed by offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the rapport. There was a fair amount of carry-over from what I've done in the past, so that was a good first step," Cousins said. "Whenever I did suggest something, he's just been a great listener. He's been a great communicator, and I love his passion for the game."
Coach Mike Zimmer sounded more than pleased by the hire he made, his third offensive coordinator in the past three seasons.
"It's really been seamless," Zimmer said.
DeFilippo offered a similar assessment of his supervision of Cousins, describing his work against the defense in a blitz-heavy portion of practice on Wednesday.
"He did some subtle things that tell you he's really understanding the little intricacies of what we're trying to accomplish," DeFilippo said.
Cousins, of course, is not the only one with summer homework. Mike Remmers spent most of the time in the spring at right guard, with Rashod Hill taking his place at right tackle, so there's still room for him to learn a new spot.
Terence Newman was playing some safety this week next to Harrison Smith , with Andrew Sendejo held out because of an undisclosed injury. Then there's rookie cornerback Mike Hughes, who has made a strong first impression but must continue his development at the nickel spot by studying the nuances of a difficult position.
So the break has begun, with rookies scheduled to report for training camp on July 24 and the rest of the squad due in three days later.
"Pretty much the same thing I always tell them this time of year: Keep working, make sure they come back in not just jogging shape but in shape to plant, drive and break and get in and out of stances and things like that," Zimmer said. "Make sure the good citizens take care of each other."
Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is building the Arizona Cardinals‘ offense from scratch and, big surprise, David Johnson is figuring prominently in his plays.
”David’s a special back,” McCoy said after the Cardinals practiced in pads in muggy weather outdoors on Tuesday.
”You see how the offensive line worked together the first day in pads (on Monday),” McCoy said. ”That was a positive, watching those guys and the way they all work together. We’ve got a long ways to go still but that’s what training camp is for. But we’re off to a good start.”
McCoy brings plenty of experience to work alongside first-year coach Steve Wilks. McCoy was head coach of the San Diego Chargers as well as two stints as offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos.
Johnson sat out minicamp in a contract dispute but came back for training camp and, as always, has impressed his coaches.
”I think everybody knows what kind of player he is,” McCoy said. ”The way he played in the ’16 season. He can do it all.”
Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2016 but broke his left wrist in last year’s opener and missed the remainder of the season. He’s fully healthy now.
McCoy said that most running backs are all right out of the backfield , ”but he’s special.”
”He can run every route in the route tree a receiver runs,” McCoy said. ”Are we going to do that with him? We’ll find out come the season, and you just love the way he works all the day.”
At quarterback, Sam Bradford is working on chemistry with his receivers, particularly Larry Fitzgerald, who has caught at least one pass from 17 different quarterbacks in his 14-year NFL career.
Bradford and Fitzgerald both were given a veteran’s day off from practice on Tuesday.
”He’s looked great,” McCoy said of Bradford. ”He’s very intelligent. He goes through the progressions. You can watch thee veterans, different from a young player, when something’s not there and it breaks down, there’s no hesitation of where to go with the ball. Sam’s done a great job of running the show when he’s in there.”
Quarterback Josh Rosen, meanwhile, is going through a rookie learning curve.
”Josh is like every rookie,” McCoy said. ”There’s the good days, there’s the good plays and there’s that one or two plays you look at and you say `OK , I know this is the first time you saw blitz zero with this play or this protection scheme, but didn’t we just go over it in the meeting?”
The offense will be designed to take advantage of what the players do best, McCoy said.
And it’s clear that he and Wilks want a physical running game.
”That’s what training camp’s for, really, for the running game,” McCoy said. ”You try to become a physical football team in training camp.”
The Cardinals overhauled the offensive line. D.J. Humphries remains at left tackle, Mike Iupati is still the left guard and A.Q. Shipley is still the center. But the right side is occupied by a couple of free agent signees – Justin Pugh at right guard and Andre Smith at right tackle.
Now they’re strengths are being evaluated.
”Who is the best puller? Who are our best double-team guys? How do our tight ends block certain schemes?” McCoy said ”So you find out a lot about your players. That’s our job as coaches is to make sure to find out what they do best.”
That’s especially true of quarterbacks.
If a quarterback doesn’t like a play that’s on the call sheet, McCoy said, ”Give me that red pen, we’ll cross off those plays you don’t like and we’ll be OK if everyone believes in what we’re doing.”
The biggest competition on offense might be at wide receiver, where a handful of players are vying for the spots behind Fitzgerald.
That won’t sort itself out, most likely, until the end of preseason.