Strength and conditioning program is first step in Cardinals’ hopeful journey to Super Bowl LI

4-18 calais campbell

BY: ED COLE

TEMPE, Ariz. – Buddy Morris is heading into his third season with the Arizona Cardinals as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Morris has seen the program and the team grow by leaps and bounds in such a short amount of time.

“This is by far the best year in three years,” Morris said. “If you’ve been around strength as long as I have – this is my 37th year – you’ll understand it takes about two years to really implement a program where people begin to understand what you expect, (and) begin to understand how we’re gonna work things.”

What Morris, assistant strength and conditioning coach Roger Kingdom, and the rest of the training staff do is tailor make programs for each and every player based on their position on the team.

“Obviously, by default, the closer you get to the (foot)ball, the stronger you need to be. (The) further away you get from the ball, the faster you need to be,” Morris said. “That doesn’t mean our big guys don’t run fast, (and) that doesn’t mean our skill guys, our fast guys, don’t lift weights. The programs are written based on positional requirements. They’re also based on individuals. I got a 36-year-old quarterback (Carson Palmer). I can’t train him like I train a 22-year-old.”

There was 100-percent participation in Monday’s workout. Larry Fitzgerald was there. Tyrann Mathieu was there. Chris Johnson was there. The list goes on and on.

Seeing these men in the weight room working out together and starting to build that bond again just showed that they’re not joking around when it comes to continuing their trek toward a Super Bowl title.

That first step took place on Monday.

“It’s the same thing we’ve been doing the last few years (with) the offseason program, (in) making sure everybody showed up today, (and) put that work in, (and) making sure that we put ourselves in the best position condition wise, strength wise, and mentally, so when the season starts we’re on point,” defensive tackle Calais Campbell said. “This right here is a big opportunity for us. I don’t know how many other teams take it as serious as we do, but we take the offseason program very serious(ly), because it’s what sets you apart from everybody else, (in) making sure you’re that you’re in better shape and stronger.”

It was right guard Evan Mathis’ first organized workout with his new team since he joined the team in the offseason. Mathis hadn’t even taken part in a meeting with his offensive teammates prior to the workout, but he did get a chance to start developing that ever-so-crucial bond with the players in a sweat-filled session – something he’s used to, being an owner of his own gym.

“A lot goes into developing those relationships off the field, and in these workouts,” Mathis said. “Learning how to communicate with each other, hanging out with each other, (and) getting to know one another. That really does translate over to the field.”

Mathis is only two months removed from winning a world championship with the Denver Broncos, so the luster of that victory is still pretty bright for him. The reason why it’s shining so bright is because that light is reflecting off the light that the Cardinals are shining in the other direction. The team’s hoping the light they’re shining guides them all the way to a victory in Houston at Super Bowl LI this coming February.

“Absolutely. That’s what everybody’s got their mind on (a Super Bowl championship), for everybody’s that’s on this team that was really close to realizing that last year,” Mathis said. “When people get that close, and they fall short, it kind of makes them hungrier. That’s one of the reasons I was excited about signing in Denver (Broncos) last year, was that most of the guys on that team were able to experience a Super Bowl loss two years prior (43-8 loss to Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII). For this team, going all the way to the NFC Championship (Game) last year, it makes it that much more important having been that far and falling short. That experience, it does wonders for the team. I’m looking forward to working with a bunch of guys who are hungry to go make it happen.”