Training Camp's Good News and Bad News

Karlos Dansby; Bryan Robinson (Getty)

News out of the Arizona Cardinals training camp is coming quick. The Cardinals are having their own version of Biggest Loser, some players are clearing up rumors and others are trying to tape up and get back on the field.

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NT Alan Branch thrilled the coaching staff by reporting at 323 pounds, a few pounds under his target weight. Branch's conditioning has been a concern since the club traded up to get him in the second round of the 2007 draft. This is a critical year for Branch and he needed to show a commitment.

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WR Anquan Boldin blasted the team for not addressing his contract when he came to camp last summer. Boldin was considerably more diplomatic this year, even though he's playing under the same deal, which has two years remaining.

"How I feel ain't going to change a thing," he said when asked if he felt the Cardinals had deceived him. "So it don't make no sense to sit here and harp on it."

Boldin has a new agent, Tom Condon, who has had a preliminary meeting with the club. The Cardinals likely won't address Boldin's contract until late 2009, or more likely, 2010.

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DE Bertrand Berry said his decision not to attend voluntary practices this summer had nothing to do with his contract. Berry didn't return calls during his absence and there were reports he was unhappy with the one-year, $1 million deal he signed with the club this spring. Berry, who turns 34 this month, said he just wanted to rest.

"As I said at the end of the season, I'm not a spring chicken, I'm a summer duck," he said. "You have to kind of treat your body accordingly. You can't always go out there and do every single thing that's going on out there. For me, it was a way to relax a little bit, get some rest, re-charge the batteries from a long season. It had nothing to do with the contract at all."

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NT Bryan Robinson isn't going to give up the job without a big fight. He started there all last season after Gabe Watson struggled with a knee injury and Alan Branch didn't come through. Robinson played well, and as a veteran, plays with great technique.

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RB Beanie Wells suffered an ankle injury in his first practice since signing his new contract. Initial indications were that the injury isn't serious but it doesn't do anything to dispel Wells' reputation for being fragile. Wells reported to camp at 224, about 22 pounds lighter than he was on draft day. He's in great shape but has to show he can be durable enough to have an impact in the NFL.

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OLB Cody Brown is making the transition from college defensive end, so it's going to take a while to make an informed evaluation about his progress. The Cardinals hope that he can at least be an effective situational pass rusher.

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CB Greg Toler, the fourth-round pick, has great speed and athleticism, but has to learn the intricacies of the defense. He needs a lot of technique work so it's hard to see him contributing early in the year.

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FB Justin Green (sprained knee) is still being evaluated. He was battling Dan Kreider and Tim Castille for the starting job.

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QB Kurt Warner surprised reporters by admitting in the first week of camp that he's still experiencing pain in his left hip, which was surgically repaired in March. That doesn't mean there is reason to worry, Warner said. Doctors told him the pain is a normal part of the healing process, which requires six to 12 months. Warner, in contrast, was going through every drill in voluntary practices this summer and hasn't missed a snap in camp.

"It's definitely better now than it was before the surgery," Warner said. "But the pain is still prevalent. I can do some things I couldn't do before, but when I do have the pain, it's very similar to what it was before."

Warner suffered the injury sometime near the middle part of the season. The Cardinals never revealed it and Warner didn't miss any time. He was limited in minicamp practices but took part fully in summer workouts and appears to be in great shape.

"Talking to the medical people, they're telling me this isn't out of the ordinary, especially with what I've done in such a short period of time," Warner said. "You have to deal with that as it heals. But as a player, you go into surgery and you expect to step out and be a lot better than you were before."

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WR Larry Fitzgerald could probably earn an award for his play in practice every week, but he's making great catches in nearly every practice. He made a great one-handed catch on the sideline in the first workout, and has been able to get open deep during one-on-one drills with defensive backs.

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TE Stephen Spach is being limited to one practice a day, but he's made a remarkable comeback so far from ACL surgery in February. Spach has been encouraged by the way his right knee has responded and he's hopeful of being ready for the start of the season.

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