Wide receiver Early Doucet (left) battles cornerback Greg Toler during Thursday's practice. It was Doucet's first practice, one of 24 Cards to return to work.
FLAGSTAFF – Finally, the 24 Cardinals sitting on the sidelines because of the quirky delay in the beginning of the NFL league year got to practice.
It was a violent return.
Capped by a live goal-line session at the end of Thursday's work, coach Ken Whisenhunt put his team through a physical workout now that he had his entire roster at his disposal. It was welcomed by his players.
"It was trial by fire for sure," guard Daryn Colledge said. "But we have a lot of rust to knock off. We have guys here that need to run the system at full speed. We are tired of looking at it on paper."
Said center Lyle Sendlein, "You don't want to get out there and the first deal be a walkthrough."
Whisenhunt had said earlier in the day he was excited to see all his players finally active although "I know that at times it's going to be ugly." While there were mistakes, the intensity was evident.
At one point when the quarterbacks were having issues even getting off passes because of defensive blitzing, safety Adrian Wilson bellowed to his offensive teammates, "We're bringing pressure. Don't know if y'all know, but we're bringing pressure."
There was the first scrap of camp (offensive lineman Tom Pestock and rookie defensive tackle David Carter) and then the spirited finish at the goal line when Sendlein implored his group to score right away.
That came from last year's night practice when the defense dominated.
"I just remember last year's camp," Sendlein said. "I felt it was real important … you don't want to give defenses that many chances to stop you. You want to score the first time. We didn't score the first time, but we scored the next three."
Whisenhunt said he had actually cut reps from all the practices previous to Thursday because of the lack of bodies. "It was nice to have a full script."
The Cardinals have their first preseason game exactly a week from now.
"What's funny, even the guys that have been here for three or four years were like, 'Man I have butterflies today a little,' " quarterback Kevin Kolb said. "Obviously there was something different in the air."