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Steve Wilks opens era focused on daily progress before Super Bowl

TEMPE, Ariz. -- When Steve Wilks stood in front of the Arizona Cardinals at the start of his first team meeting as their head coach, he talked about this year's goals.

The goal, as always, is to win the Super Bowl. However, Wilks emphasized that it wasn't the only goal.

"The big goals are the big goals," left tackle D.J. Humphries said. "There's always going to be big goals. Everybody's trying to get to the playoffs. Everybody's trying to go to the Super Bowl. But you can't get there looking into the stars that day. You've got to focus on rehab and your technique and your steps and being in shape. All the small things got to add up first before you can even look at the big pictures. Got to look at the microscope, as he said."

Wilks' message Tuesday wasn't just heard. It was embraced. Humphries, for one, is a believer in Wilks' day-by-day philosophy. He has been since he was in high school.

"That was always kind of my personality anyway," Humphries said. "Win the day. Win today. Tomorrow's not promised. I can walk out of here and something can fall on my head, God forbid, but I've never been one of those guys.

"My dad put that into me strong because I was always that, 'I want to go to the league, I want to go Division I.' He's like, 'Man, you are in the ninth grade. Just focus on doing this right now. All that stuff will add up. You do this to the best of your ability today, tomorrow will add up like you want it to. You've just got to focus on right now.' So, I think that was refreshing ... to be around some people that feel the same way I do about certain stuff."

Outside linebacker Chandler Jones was another Cardinals player who appreciated and admired Wilks' mentality. Like Wilks, who's coached in two Super Bowls, Jones has played in the biggest game of the season, so he knows what it takes to get there.

"You can get sidetracked looking at the Super Bowl," Jones said. "You kind of have to look at the steps leading to there. And the biggest thing is just learning the guys around us. It's a brand-new team. It's a brand-new locker room."

Second-year safety Budda Baker said his college coach, Washington's Chris Petersen, had a similar mindset to Wilks'. That, Baker said, prepared him for what he heard Tuesday morning.

The message Baker took from Wilks was the need to take the season day by day.

"That's all you can do," Baker said. "You can't think about the Super Bowl. We haven't even gone with the draft yet. For him, just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better as a person and as a player, day-by-day was definitely great."

For the Cardinals who played for the previous regime under coach Bruce Arians, the Super Bowl -- getting there and winning it -- was a common topic. Arians didn't shy away from talking about his aspirations to add another ring to his collection. Arizona came within a game of playing in Super Bowl 50 in 2015 but lost to the Carolina Panthers, whose defensive backs Wilks was coaching at the time.

But as Wilks showed this week, each coach has his own approach to talking about the game's most coveted prize. Jones, who's played for three head coaches in his NFL career, wouldn't call Wilks' approach different.

"I'll just say it gets the players to focus more on the little things and not just straight to the big picture," Jones said. "You can get sidetracked just thinking about the Super Bowl. You have to think about the steps that it takes and you have to actually critique and alter the steps that it takes to get to the Super Bowl instead of just looking at the Super Bowl."