The Arizona Cardinals held two practices at Pioneer Park Thursday, August 11. The team conducted a morning session in shorts, followed by an afternoon walk through before leaving Embry Riddle University to head back to the valley for the remainder of the week. The team will hold practice at their Tempe facility on Friday in their final preparations for the first preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys.
“Everybody is ready to get back down the road, get themselves together and get ready to do this thing,” said starting defensive lineman Darnell Dockett
. “We have to set the tone for the season and Dallas is a good team on both offense and defense, so it is going to be a good test for us.”
The Cardinals defense which ranked twelfth in total defense last season is expected to stand out this season.
“I think we made a lot of strides and had things moving in the right direction last year but there were a lot of things that we needed to be better at,” stated Pro Bowl defensive end Bertrand Berry. “I think we’re doing a good job of getting that stuff situated here at camp and it’s just a matter of going out and doing it.”
“Our biggest thing right now is just trying to keep everybody healthy, but we still have to go out, practice hard and play hard,” added Dockett.
The Cardinals defensive unit added to their stock this off-season by signing key free agents, Chike Okeafor and Orlando Huff from the Seahawks. Both have been very active in camp thus far and have provided a winning attitude to those around them.
“It has been big to have guys from division winners and guys that know how to win, and expect to win,” commented Berry. “It has been big for us. They came to this organization, and it means they saw something in it, and see the potential for it to win. Them wanting to be a part of it speaks volumes to what we are doing as a defense here in Arizona.”
The Cardinals starting defense is expected to play a quarter in Saturdays match up against the Cowboys, and they say they are looking forward to seeing colors other than red and white on the other side of the line.
“To get in that football atmosphere, that game atmosphere that is where you find out a lot of people’s true colors,” commented Dockett.
“You always kind of hold back when you’re going against your teammates,” added Coach Green. “So you never really play all out but we have some guys like Chike and Oliver (Ross) that we got from other teams and they did a good job of being physical when we played them and now they get a chance to be physical against another opponent.”
“It’s always exciting to be in a game type atmosphere and have the fans around you,” said Berry. “You always want to put your best foot forward when it is show time. Saturday’s game is the first game of the 2005 Arizona Cardinals so we want to make sure we make a good first impression and get the excitement built up for the season.”
C Alex Stepanovich
(hand), RB Troy Hambrick(foot), TE Eric Edwards(pectoral), DE Peppi Zellner(knee), RT Oliver Ross (ankle) and S Ernest Shazor did not participate in practice.
The Cardinals will hold practice on Friday at their training facility in Tempe, which is not open to the public.