Dealing Cards: A long training camp ends, finally
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Five weeks. Thirty-five days. Twenty-two practices, including a handful outside under the hot sun. Plus three preseason games.
That in a nutshell was training camp for the Arizona Cardinals in 2017.
And on Thursday, it came to an end. Finally. Maybe even mercifully.
“I’ve never been to jail, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to go after these five weeks,” left tackle D.J. Humphries said, laughing.
The Cardinals were the first team to report to training camp. They did so on July 21. And they are among the last to break camp.
“This camp has been longer than summer school,” tweeted safety Tyrann Mathieu, six years removed from his days in school.
Though long — an extra week was added with the Cardinals playing in the Hall of Fame Game — head coach Bruce Arians came away pleased with the work that his players and assistants put in.
“Very good camp. I thought it was outstanding,” he said. “We got a lot of work done. We did, I think, have a more physical one than we’ve ever had with fewer injuries than we’ve ever had.”
Aside from rookie running back T.J. Logan dislocating his wrist, the Cardinals suffered no major injuries. And the ones they are currently dealing with, including a calf strain to defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, are not expected to cost any missed time once the regular season begins, according to Arians.
As far as position battles, Arians announced Justin Bethel had won the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson. Who the punter is remains up in the air. Neither Richie Leone nor Matt Wile have separated themselves, according to Arians, who added they could find their punter after final cuts are made.
Arians mentioned “probably 45” of the Cardinals’ final 53-man roster is known at the moment.
Having such an extended camp did have one benefit that running back David Johnson did enjoy.
“I think it helped guys get familiar with each other,” he said, “especially the new guys like Karlos (Dansby) when I met him. I bet it really did help Haason (Reddick) and I think that’s the thing — and plus it’s an extra week of learning.”
Of course, Johnson was quick to add how excited he was to see his family.
Peterson, too, was anxious to get back home.
“I get to go home and sleep with my baby girl,” he said, referring to 8-month-old Paityn. “We face-time each and every day. She’s always asking for me, asking about me, ‘da-da-da-da’; always trying to see where I’m at. (Today) I get to come home baby.”
His best camp, ever
This was Peterson’s seventh training camp, and in his words, his best training camp.
“I got my hands on a lot of balls,” he said. “I worked on cleaning up little technical things I wanted to clean up once we got the pads on as far as staying a little bit more patient at the line of scrimmage, working my off-man a little bit more.”
The work is important for Peterson because “I have to make sure that I’m still on top of my Ps and Qs so I don’t get got or I don’t get lulled to sleep so they eventually make a big play on me.”
Quarterbacks don’t target Peterson as much anymore. Still, he insists on the challenge of covering the other team’s No. 1 receiver.
A six-time Pro Bowler, Peterson said he’s in great shape, adding he weighs 201.
“I’m lighter than I’ve ever been,” he said. “I’m still not at my peak yet, I’m just getting there.”
The last practice of camp
— A day after a visit from Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. John McCain stopped by practice. He posed for a picture with wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, quarterback Carson Palmer and team president Michael Bidwill. Fitzgerald, as he did with the governor, introduced Johnson to Arizona’s senior senator.
— The closed practice to the public lasted one-hour and 40-minutes as the team worked in shells inside University of Phoenix Stadium, their last appearance in the building until Sept. 25, a Week 3 game against the Dallas Cowboys.
— On the injury front, running back Kerwynn Williams returned after missing two days with a sore foot. Cornerback Tramon Williams was back on the field as well.
Nkemdiche, dollar linebacker Deone Bucannon (ankle), left guard Mike Iupati (triceps) as well as linebacker Jarvis Jones (back) and defensive tackle Ed Stinson (hamstring) remained out.
— Carson Palmer sat out practice.
— Prior to practice, the team waived cornerback Daniel Gray, who had signed with the Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent in June.