The Arizona Cardinals wrapped up their first week of OTAs Thursday, completing what head coach Ken Whisenhunt said was a good few days.
The quarterbacks looked improved, the rookies looked talented and the veterans, even, were happy to be back on the field.
After all, they didn't have this opportunity last year.
"I think people appreciate the offseason a lot more now than we did in years past because of last year, how much it hurt us," defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. Campbell, you may recall, entered a new tax bracket this offseason after signing a nice new contract with the team. "I think we're kind of really working harder now and taking it more intensely."
Words like that would have to be music to Whisenhunt's ears, as the coach himself said it's important the team work hard during these summer months in an effort to get off to a fast start this season.
Because as we found out last year, the team's 1-6 start was simply too much to overcome.
"If we can carry the momentum from last year, winning seven of our last nine, and we can start faster," the coach said, "then I think our team will have a lot of confidence, and that's what it's really all about."
Well, that and winning, which Campbell is confident the team will do a lot of in 2012.
"We've got a great team this year," he said. "It's crazy how everybody looks so competitive, everybody's in shape, everybody's flying around having fun.
"We've got the team chemistry we need; I think we're going to be a great team this year."
A lot will happen between now and when that determination can officially be made, but if the Cardinals are in fact going to be a "great team," OTAs are an important step towards getting there.
Sure, it's tough to get a true feel for guys when they're not wearing pads and hitting people, but OTAs are a time where rookies can get acclimated, veterans can get in shape and systems can be implemented.
While the return to a normal offseason will help every other team, too, the Cardinals may benefit more because of the fact that their quarterbacks can now fully immerse themselves in the offense, getting a head start they did not have last year.
Whisenhunt has already seen a difference.
"What really is evident is being able to call the play, so I know that they're processing it better," he said of his quarterbacks and their knowledge of the offense. "It's a process that you have go to through."
Whisenhunt compared it to when the team was trying to get Kurt Warner, he of "actually taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl" fame, saying that it does take time.
"There's going to be some really good days and there's going to be some sketchy days, but little by little we're making progress."
And that's exactly what OTAs are all about.