Cardinals OLB Abraham arrives at training camp

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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- After an absence of nearly three weeks for undisclosed personal reasons, John Abraham has arrived at Arizona Cardinals training camp.

Coach Bruce Arians said Abraham underwent a physical Thursday morning and would work with the team's training staff in the afternoon.

The 36-year-old outside linebacker was arrested in suburban Atlanta in late June on a drunken driving charge. Last week, in a statement released by the team, he apologized to his family, friends, the Cardinals and his fans "for letting them down."

He said that he understands the seriousness of his situation and was taking steps to deal with his "personal business."

The five-time Pro Bowl player is the NFL's active career sacks leader with 133 1/2 and ranks ninth on the league's all-time list. He had 11 1/2 sacks last year, his first season with the Cardinals.

Arians said that, as long as he's healthy, the 14-year NFL veteran will start for the Cardinals and be an every-down player.

"There's no doubt about that," the coach said. "He's never been out of those plans."

Abraham was not in the locker room during the time reporters were allowed there on Thursday.

Tyrann Mathieu, who missed an entire season of football because of marijuana-related problems before he was drafted by Arizona last year, said he thinks the Cardinals' reception of Abraham will be the same as it was for him.

"I think guys are going to rally around him, support him and try to encourage him," Mathieu said. "Any other way to handle it won't benefit him and it definitely won't benefit us."

Abraham began last season playing only when the opponent was in a passing situation. But when both starting outside linebackers were injured in the third week of the season, Abraham became a starter and went on to have a strong season, earning another Pro Bowl appearance.

"The big thing is he played so well against the run," Arians said. "He's always been rushing the passer, but he played so well against the run last year he became an every-down player for us. It was out of necessity but he did it and did a great job with it."

The Cardinals certainly need a strong pass rusher off the edge.

"We know he had to go through what he did to get back to here," Arians said. "We're all behind him. Right now it's just physical, getting in shape and ready to go."

Abraham missed virtually all of the team's summer workouts, but Arians said he had "all the confidence in the world he'll get himself ready to play."

Mathieu said he "absolutely" knows what Abraham is going to be dealing with.

"I think he's had enough time alone to himself to look in the mirror and right his wrongs," Mathieu said, "because he's a great teammate. You don't worry about that, but hopefully when he's not around us he'll be able to handle himself in the right way."

Police said Abraham was at the wheel of a car stopped in a traffic lane in Brookhaven, Georgia, on June 29. Police said Abraham remained asleep and didn't respond until officers beat on the car door for several minutes.

It was his second DUI arrest. The first was in 2003 in New York state.

Linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said the Cardinals players will "just continue to love on him and accept his issues because we've all got issues. That's what's great about being in this locker room. You've got a lot of guys to lean on."

Alexander said Abraham "is a great vibe in this locker room, keeps it light, keeps it fun."

"Obviously he brings a lot to this team as far as what he's able to do on the field and I think a lot of guys lean on him, just how to be a better pass rusher, how you stay in the league for 15 years," Alexander said. "So it's great to have him back and have him involved in our chemistry. I think he'll help out a lot."


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