After waiting until the last minute to sign his restricted free-agent tender, Deuce Lutui continues to prepare for training camp. Take an inside look at Larry Fitzgerald's NFL players camp in Minneapolis and the Cardinals' training camp schedule next month.
Guard Deuce Lutui
has yet to explain his reasoning for missing all offseason work. There's no question it has put his future with the team at risk. A restricted free agent, Lutui waited until June 14 to sign his qualifying tender. It's a move Lutui had every right to make, and on the surface, it wasn't entirely illogical.
A four-year veteran, Lutui was one of 200 or so veterans who would have been unrestricted free agents this past offseason if not for the lack of a collective bargaining agreement. But in this uncapped season, a player needs six seasons to be an unrestricted free agent.
The Cardinals, like most teams, are watching the budget carefully, given that a lockout in 2011 is looming. Lutui wants a long-term deal but the Cardinals aren't going to give him one this season. So Lutui declined to sign his tender until the last minute, presumably to make a point.
The problem with Lutui's stance is the Cardinals made two offseason moves that jeopardize Lutui's starting position. The signings of free agents Rex Hadnot
and Alan Faneca
give the club two more veteran guards. Faneca immediately moved into the starting lineup on the left side.
, the former starting left guard, moved to right guard. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and line coach Russ Grimm would have no problem opening the season with that lineup. General manager Rod Graves has said Lutui is still a part of the team's long-term plans. But there's no question that Lutui had better report to training camp in shape and ready to compete for his old job.
The Cardinals training camp won't end when they leave the Northern Arizona University campus in Flagstaff. After playing the Titans in Nashville on Aug. 23, the Cardinals will stay in Tennessee the following week. They play at Chicago on Aug. 28, and coach Ken Whisenhunt reasoned that it made sense to stay in Tennessee rather than return home for a few days.
The Titans and Cardinals have tentative plans to practice once or twice against each other that week but it's doubtful much contact will be involved.
WR Larry Fitzgerald is holding another "camp" for NFL players in his hometown of Minneapolis. Last year, many of the league's biggest stars participated and shared information. Don't be fooled by Fitzgerald's apparent generosity. He gathers far more information than he dispenses. A student of the game, Fitzgerald is always curious about techniques and workouts used by other players.
The Cardinals announced their reporting date for camp. They will arrive in Flagstaff on July 30 and begin work the following day.
The club will hold a "scrimmage" on Aug. 7 in Flagstaff. In reality, it will be a standard practice but will conclude with a live goal-line session.
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