On Tuesday, the Arizona Cardinals opened their first practice of three days of mandatory minicamp, and one player that is glad to be there is veteran defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday, who re-signed with the team on Monday. At 36 years old and with 15 years of experience in the league, he is one of few football players to last in the NFL that long.
"It's crazy, it really is, when you sit back and think about it," said Holliday after Tuesday's morning practice. "I had no idea that sitting here at 36 years old at year 15, having this opportunity. I told Coach Whiz 'I'm thankful I could come back out and have the oportunity to compete. Some many of the guys that I came in with aren't playing anymore. There's only a few guys left -- Peyton (Manning), London Fletcher in Washington, DC. Not many guys."
He not only is feeling fortunate about having lasted so long in the league. He also had a moment when he was taken aback.
When the players were going through their physicals and giving their age and birthday, one player asked him if he was the same Vonnie Holliday that he grew up watching. That, of course, made Holliday laugh and have to take a step back.
We later found out that the player who asked him that was rookie receiver and first round pick Michael Floyd, who at 22, has only been alive a few years longer than Holliday has been playing.
Holliday is ready for the challenges that lie ahead. "This is the hardest part-- the offseason, the workouts, getting your body ready, getting mentally prepared to go into another season is the hard part, and I've been able to do that," he explained. "So I'm looking forward to the opportunity to to training camp, competing and being a part of this team."
Ken Whisenhunt knows that he will be more than just a guy cashing a paycheck and sitting on the bench. He recognizes Holliday's value in every part of the team. He gushed about his play in Week 17 against the Seattle Seahawks in place of Calais Campbell. "Here's a guy that played sparingly, and when it was his time to step up in the last game, he played really well for us," recalled Whisenhunt. "That's what being a pro is all about"
He also praised his leadership, noting "that he's meant a lot to Dan (Williams) and Calais (Campbell) and David Carter" and that he knows that he can count on him to do what he needs.
Holliday's role is likely going to be nothing more than a reserve role, but he provides something that an undrafted rookie on the bench cannot -- and that is experience -- something you need in the right mix to be a successful football team.
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