Sam Acho, the Arizona Cardinals fourth round draft pick, has a lot to learn as a rookie linebacker. Just four days into his first NFL Training Camp, we caught up with Acho after practice on Tuesday in Flagstaff. He was still slightly out of breadth from having just finished running extra laps around the high altitude NAU Lumberjack indoor field with 12-year veteran Clark Haggans.
In any team or organization you look for continuity of message and implementation of concepts. One theme for this lockout-modified training camp from head coach Ken Whisenhunt has been the importance of his young players learning from the vets.
Without the normal offseason mini-camp and OTA routine, Whisenhunt has repeatedly said that he's leaning heavily on his experienced players to help the youngsters get up to speed with being a pro and learning the Cardinals way of doing business. It's great to hear the rookie Acho immediately talk about that happening from his perspective.
Question: Four days into your first training camp, what are your impressions so far?
Answer: "Man, I love it out here. I've got so many great teammates that are just kind of taking me in and showing me what it means to be a professional, what it means to be a Cardinal.
"As a linebacker, I look up to guys like Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, guys I can learn from and also the younger guys, a Will Davis, O'Brien Schofield. Those guys have kind of taken me under their wing and shown me the ropes. It's just a great team atmosphere here."
Q: Is it everything you thought it would be?
A. "I honestly didn't know what to expect but it's everything that I thought it would be and more."
Q. Besides the speed and size that rookies always talk about, what's stood out for you so far playing at this level?
A. "I would say the intensity. Everybody on our team practices full-speed. They give it everything they have every play. They never take a play off. That's part of the reason why we're going to be a great team this year is because everybody practices with full intensity, full effort, full focus to try and help the team win."
Q. It's early in camp but what kind of feedback have you gotten so far from the coaches?
A. "I'm definitely learning a lot and getting some positive feedback from coaches. Obviously, I have a long way to go. We all have a long way to go. I have a lot I need to work on as a player, as a linebacker and as an individual part of this team. So, I'm going to take it a day at a time, stride by stride and learn from the older guys."
Q. I heard a rumor you had already learned the entire playbook. Is that true?
A. "No, not the whole playbook. I'm learning that day by day. I got a chance to go over some of it with Adrian Wilson, who's a safety. I'm learning it everyday."
Veteran Adrian Wilson has this to say about Acho:
"I like Sam. Sam's, once again, we got a very good kid. He's very well-rounded and I was able to work with him throughout the whole offseason just getting his body prepared for training camp...Sam's a smart kid and he was able to pick up the playbook very fast."
Good luck to Sam.
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