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Buzz Surrounding Cardinals As Offseason Comes To Close

Thompson can '100 percent' sense difference heading into 2024 season

Cardinals are feeling good: (from left), Paris Johnson Jr., Marvin Harrison Jr., and James Conner celebrate a play during a recent OTA session.
Cardinals are feeling good: (from left), Paris Johnson Jr., Marvin Harrison Jr., and James Conner celebrate a play during a recent OTA session.

Entering his sixth season in the league, Jalen Thompson is no stranger to the rhythms of "media day."

He and many Cardinals go from station to station for various platforms with the goal of collecting content for the upcoming season and generating some buzz.

Monday's media day looked the same. But it felt different.

The excitement and belief for the upcoming season has been radiating throughout the entire offseason.

"The whole vibe, it's like we're more of a family now," Thompson said. "Everyone's bought in and everybody's doing the right things."

Within an organization that has experienced massive change, the players have embraced the culture shift instilled by coach Jonathan Gannon.

"The guys are wanting to be here and the guys love being here," tight end Trey McBride said. "The team looks good and I'm excited to see where we go."

Monday marked the eve of mandatory minicamp. The players arrived to take their physicals and complete other tasks that are necessary before minicamp practice begins on Tuesday.

Yet, for the Cardinals, it seemed like the mandatory portion began back in April. Nearly the entire 91-man roster was in attendance during the voluntary period.

For a rookie like safety Rabbit Taylor-Demerson, having Thompson and Budda Baker around in the safety room has made a major impact on his transition to the NFL.

"Listening to those guys talk is everything that I want to be," Taylor-Demerson said. "I'm just trying to take in as much as I can from them so whenever I get that role, I'm doing the same thing for the guys looking up to me."

Bestowing wisdom to the youthful secondary is something Thompson wears as a badge of honor. It wasn't that long ago when Thompson was in their shoes.

"When I came in, I needed a leader like that guy to show me the ropes and show me the way to go," Thompson said. "I feel like me and Budda are doing the exact same thing with these rookies and making sure that they know what to do."

Kyler Murray's leadership, on and off the field, is why Taylor-Demerson and other newcomers could sense the positive vibes swirling throughout the Valley. Whether it was the trip some offensive players took to Oklahoma or becoming a sounding board for defensive lineman Darius Robinson, chemistry with the QB will translate on the field.

"It's something that if you put the effort into it, you can still kind of have that (college) feel," Murray said. "I know we were tight last year. I feel like this team is even more. There's been a lot of new guys, but the new guys have made an effort to really embrace the culture and embrace this team."

When Thompson walked into the bubble at the Dignity Health Training Center to begin the activities Monday, there wasn't just a buzz because the lights were flashing and the hype was being caught on camera.

It is because football is just around the corner.

"I love it, man," Thompson said when asked about wearing his shoulder pads for the first time this offseason. "I'm ready to go hit somebody right now."