At this time last year, most of the NFL players were still on vacation instead of attending voluntary workouts like they are now.
The 2011 lockout hindered the training and preparation for the upcoming season, but the players are now more eager to get in a complete offseason workout with their teams.
"I think it's very beneficial. You get to be around each other. This is the time where I think teams form and bond and get to where we know each other and know what each other likes to do," Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes said Monday.
"Just to be around the guys and feel that camaraderie— that's great. You know, last year was a unique situation where some things had to be done in a different way. To get back to it now has been good."
Rhodes missed eight games last season from a fracture in his foot, but returned for two games before the end of the season. He finished with 26 tackles and two fumble recoveries for the year.
"I've been to the gym a lot," Rhodes said. "But getting back here to see the guys, just see what they've been up to, see how good of shape they're in or how much out of shape they're in, it's good."
Rhodes has high hopes for the defense this year. The team started slow in 2011, allowing 24.5 points per game in the first half of the season, but surrendered just an average of 19 over the final eight.
"You want to hit the ground running, no question. I think we finished 7-2 down the stretch. I think as a defensive unit, we got a lot of things and got better as the year went on," Rhodes said. "Nothing really carries over into another year, so to speak. But inside, we feel real good about where we ended. If we continue that, we'll be fine."