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Boldin, Dockett show up for camp; first-round pick absent

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett put aside their contract squabbles and reported to Arizona Cardinals' training camp on time Wednesday.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett put aside their contract squabbles and reported to Arizona Cardinals' training camp on time Wednesday.

Boldin slipped into the dormitory at Northern Arizona University without talking to reporters, while Dockett stopped to say he never really thought about staying out of camp.

The Cardinals have a running test on Thursday, then begin workouts on Friday.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't believe the contract issues would be a distraction in preparations for his second season with Arizona.

"I know they're professionals. They're good football players, and I think that we're a team, and those two I hope believe the same way, are excited about this season and what we think we can do," Whisenhunt said.

Boldin's displeasure stems from the new four-year, $40 million contract -- with $30 million guaranteed -- for fellow Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Boldin's current contract averages $4 million per season in a deal that runs through 2010.

Whisenhunt left no doubt how important Boldin's toughness and talent is to a team that, after going 8-8 last season, believes it can contend in the wide-open NFC West.

"He's a Pro Bowl player that's obviously a dynamic player in the league and I don't think you can ever have too many of those guys," Whisenhunt said. "When you talk about a physical, hard-nosed football player that shows up and leaves everything on the field, that's what Anquan is."

Fitzgerald and Boldin each have been to two Pro Bowls.

Last season, Boldin became the fastest player to reach 400 receptions in NFL history, doing it in 67 games since 2003.

Dockett signed a five-year, $22 million contract extension in 2006. He is coming off his best season, leading all NFL defensive linemen with nine sacks.

"This is what I've been looking forward to, continuing my career where I left off last year," Dockett said after arriving in camp Wednesday evening. "Missing training camp wasn't a big part of my plans. Right now I'm here trying to do whatever I can do to help this team win."

Boldin and Dockett took part in the mandatory summer minicamp, but didn't show up for the so-called "optional" workouts that all players usually attend.

The Cardinals also were without first-round draft pick, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the 16th choice overall.

But Whisenhunt said he believed Rodgers-Cromartie would be in Flagstaff soon.

"It seems a lot of the first-round picks haven't been signed, and I think that's what's holding it up," the coach said. "I'm optimistic it will get done fairly quickly. I know we've had some productive talks. A lot of times it's more about waiting until there's some activity, especially around the position we drafted."

The players, as usual, were anxious to get the season started but not particularly in a hurry for the training camp workouts ahead at the Cardinals' practice facility in the pines of Flagstaff at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

There is an air of familiarity for a team that knows what to expect in its second season under Whisenhunt's system.

"It's our second year together of jelling as a group," cornerback Eric Green said. "I think everybody really knows what to expect."

Three players will be sidelined with injuries when practice begins -- nose tackle Gabe Watson, defensive tackle Keilen Dykes and middle linebacker Monty Beisel.

Watson is recovering after fracturing a kneecap when he fell off a treadmill in the offseason, Dykes injured a quadriceps while running a few weeks ago, and Beisel is recovering from what Whisenhunt called a "procedure" on his back.

Watson weighed in at 323 pounds. He said that it's his lightest since he was a junior in high school. He said he hopes to be ready for the regular season opener Sept. 7 at San Francisco.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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