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Cardinals’ Calais Campbell’s leadership makes him an elite teammate

Anyone else tired of the cliche, ‘I just want to help my team win.’

How easily that phrase rolls off the tongue, yet it is much more difficult to actually go further than your opponent in preparation, desire and leadership.

So many players think leadership means being loud or being experienced, not Calais Campbell.

Campbell leads through trust, creating a personal bond with a teammate not only because he wants to win, but also due to a desire to see people around him succeed. Cockiness is telling others who you perceive to be beneath you where they rank. Confidence is knowing you can fail without ever letting failure beat you. Confidence is trying to lift others to your level without fear you’ll be overshadowed.

Campbell has about a three percent chance of making it to the NFL Hall of Fame. As of now, he’s not an elite player. I think he’s just a notch below in the “very good” category. I saw something from him on Tuesday at practice that proves you don’t have to be an elite player to be an elite teammate.

Almost every practice in the Bruce Arians training camp has been physical. I don’t think it’s the first-year coach “new sheriff in town” reasoning. Through two weeks, it appears Arians is exactly who he says he is and the camps of 2014 and 2015 will be the same as this year.

In the middle of Tuesday’s practice, the defense was on the left side of the 50 along the sideline and the offense was on the right side. A session of 11-on-11 had just concluded and the FG unit had taken the field for a series of Jay Feely attempts with each one about four yards deeper than the last. Both units were exhausted. Trainers were busy emptying water bottles into desperate mouths.

Campbell broke rank along the sideline and approached the “enemy.”

I was too far away to hear the conversation. There were 60 NFL players along the sideline getting water and air with little dialogue. There were two players listening and one player coaching. Campbell walked up to first-round pick Jonathan Cooper, chucking him in the left pectoral. Cooper listened in detail. Campbell went into an exhausted three-point stance — exhausted because his free hand hung like an elephant trunk, only to his knee as opposed to actually touching the ground. In a slow-motion explosion, Campbell went into the rookie’s chest.

Second-year tackle Bobby Massie leaned in to listen. The demonstration continued. Campbell seemed to counter his own moves, showing which hand fights give him trouble as Cooper recreated the same movements. Massie nodded. No matter how excellent the new coaches for the Cardinals may or may not be, a five-minute conversation appeared to be an invaluable lesson.

With 30 of his defensive brethren standing with hands on knees, extended over their head or at their sides with a knee on the ground, Campbell left that comfort to improve the play of a rookie, the offensive line and the Arizona Cardinals.