Boldin, Dockett miss voluntary workouts
The temperature approached 90 degrees as winds gusted on the team's practice fields on Wednesday morning. At the end of the 90-minute workout, players broke into position groups and ran wind sprints.
"I'd prefer that they'd be here, but these workouts are voluntary," said coach Ken Whisenhunt, who conducted his post-practice news conference in the shade of a tree.
Boldin's contract runs through 2010 and averages $4 million. He is to receive about $2.5 million this season. But his deal pales next to fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald's new four-year, $40 million contract, with $30 million guaranteed.
The Cardinals seem willing to extend Boldin's deal, but nothing appears imminent. General manager Rod Graves is on vacation after attending the NFL owners meetings in Atlanta.
Dockett, a hard-nosed defensive end, signed a five-year, $22 million contract extension in October 2006.
Fitzgerald also missed Wednesday's workout, but he was cleared for personal reasons, Whisenhunt said.
Although the Cardinals have made efforts to sign their core players, contract tensions are nothing new for the club. So players didn't seem too alarmed by the absence of Boldin and Dockett, who are among the team's leaders.
"Obviously, people have different situations that they're going through," said quarterback Matt Leinart, who staged a two-week training camp holdout as a rookie. "You'd like to have everyone out here as a team, but people have got to handle their own business and we just move on. These guys are out here, and that's all we're worrying about is just practicing."
Whisenhunt said the Cardinals "have a good core group of veterans that are here -- our leaders, they're here working out every day, and they're good football players. And these young guys are getting to see these guys work."
One of those guys is running back Edgerrin James, who has skipped some voluntary workouts in the past. He's attending the first and third weeks of the four-week program.
During training camp last summer, the newly hired Whisenhunt told Leinart to "pick up his game." Leinart, who is returning from an injury-shortened season, is hoping to show the coaching staff that he's doing just that.
The Cardinals' first-round pick in 2006, Leinart has thrown 13 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions in 17 NFL games.
Leinart has spent much of the offseason working on basics such as footwork and throwing technique.
"I'm more precise in my decisions," Leinart said. "The ball's coming out faster, which means I know where I'm going with it. My footwork's been a lot better. I've just got to keep improving, keep studying and keep getting better, and just keep helping this team any way I can.
"I feel a lot stronger than I ever have," Leinart said. "And mentally, I'm more focused, and in year two in this system, understanding what we're trying to do as an offense. Now it's just going out there on the field and executing it."
Whisenhunt said he's noticed the difference.
"His technique, his footwork, even his throwing motion -- things that we've been working on are all a lot easier for him now because he's more comfortable with everything," Whisenhunt said. "But let's not mistake the fact that he's put a lot of work in the offseason, even from last year when he got hurt, to prepare to do this. So I'm excited to see where he goes from here."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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