FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Attendance is down at some of the NFL training camps. Not so for the Arizona Cardinals.
An estimated 13,000 fans showed up for the Arizona Cardinals annual Red and White scrimmage to get a glimpse at the roster that has been revamped over the past two weeks.
Despite a 5-11 record last season, expectations are high for the Cardinals to rebound after the trade that brought quarterback Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia. Kolb practiced Saturday, just his third workout since newly signed players were cleared to participate.
"There was a lot of people here," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It seemed like they just kept coming in. To see them on the hill and on the side of the field, golly — it was great. What a great crowd today."
Not all was great, though. Safety Adrian Wilson left practice with what Whisenhunt described as an "elbow-bicep injury." The longest-serving Cardinal on their roster and a leader off the defense, Wilson was undergoing an MRI. Whisenhunt said he would have more details on Monday. The team will not practice on Sunday.
Wilson played much of the 2010 season with an abdominal injury, the severity of which he kept from the coaching staff.
After rain and lightning hung over the practice fields for most of the week, Saturday brought clear blue skies and allowed fans to see the Cardinals in action. Earlier in the week, inclement weather had forced two practices to move inside to NAU's Walkup Skydome, which is undergoing renovation and is closed to the public.
"I hoped that we would have a lot of people and, gosh, my expectations were certainly exceeded," Whisenhunt said.
Kolb, for one, had a fun time signing autographs for droves of kids shortly before practice started. All the Cardinals players participated in a 30-minute autograph session and signed memorabilia for some of the younger fans.
"This is a neat deal y'all do out here," he said. "They really are awesome. I'm impressed so far and hopefully we can give them a show for the next four, five, six months."
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was up at 7 a.m. on his way to breakfast as fans honked at iim while driving by to get a good seat for the practice that took place shortly after 11 a.m.
"I remember being here six, seven years ago and this scrimmage — there was nobody out here," he said. "Now to see the enthusiasm we have out here — the Cards fans supporting us — it's really special to us."
Fitzgerald tried to return the favor by making his usual highlight-reel catches. He and Kolb received the biggest cheers of the day when Kolb lofted a 40-yard touchdown pass that Fitzgerald caught over his head.
While Kolb made some tight completions to Fitzgerald and tight end Todd Heap, he also threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone.
Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett also deflected one of Kolb's passes while rushing the quarterback and then sprinted to catch the ball for the pick.
"I wasn't happy about the interceptions, but I liked the way we threw the ball," Whisenhunt said. "We made some good, accurate throws and made some catches. We competed for the ball."
Whisenhunt said he was pleased, overall, knowing there's still a lot to work on, but his squad is showing signs of chemistry despite what little time they've spent together.
"This is only Day Three for us as a group," he said. "But I thought there was a lot of fight in the guys."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.