Calais Campbell (left), shown here with former teammate Frosteer Rucker, will return as a member of the Jaguars on Sunday.
Calais Campbell wanted to spend his entire career with the Cardinals, but a frank conversation with team president Michael Bidwill laid out the unlikelihood of that happening.
It wasn't because the star defensive tackle's play was slipping. It was actually the opposite, as Campbell was too good, and thus, too expensive, as free agency beckoned.
"Very honest and very raw (discussion), and I respected him a lot for it," Campbell said Wednesday in a conference call with the Arizona media. "It's just the nature of the business. It's very rare that you see somebody play their whole career in one place."
The Cardinals made an offer to keep Campbell as free agency approached, but it wasn't close to the four-year, $60 million contract presented by the Jaguars. He took that deal, and it's hard to argue with the results.
Campbell has already set a career-high with 11½ sacks this season, instantly becoming an integral cog in what has become an elite defense. After nine memorable seasons in Arizona, Campbell will make his return on Sunday with his new team.
"I don't mind saying that this game has been circled from day one, when the schedule came out," Campbell said. "I'm very excited to play back in University of Phoenix Stadium – a lot of good memories there in front of that crazy, intense crowd, and I'm really looking forward to it. I really don't know how I'm going to feel."
In addition to his on-field dominance, Campbell was a team leader for the Cardinals. Cornerback Patrick Peterson joked that he could always hear Campbell's fiery pregame speeches, but could never decipher what his gravelly-voiced teammate was saying.
There is expected to be a lot of love before and after the game for a player who made such an indelible mark.
"We definitely miss him around here," Peterson said. "I'm quite sure he misses it here as well. It's definitely going to be weird to see him in a different uniform and I'm quite sure it's going to be different for him, as well, coming out of a different tunnel. A lot of emotions for him. I just hope he doesn't play too well."
ELLINGTON RELEASE DUE TO "POOR PLAY"
It was a quick descent for running back Andre Ellington, who went from third-down back against the Seahawks to inactive against the Texans and released on Tuesday.
Coach Bruce Arians said the decision was made because of "poor play." Ellington, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason, would have remained inactive moving forward, and Arians didn't see the point of keeping him if that was the case.
Ellington was claimed on waivers by the Texans. His departure will give more playing time to D.J. Foster, who had a pair of catches for 26 yards in the third-down role on Sunday.
DWINDLING HOPE FOR DAVID JOHNSON, PALMER RETURN
Arians said rehabilitation has been slow for the bevy of players on injured reserve, and, at this point, he doubts any will return this season.
Running back T.J. Logan (wrist), running back David Johnson (wrist) and quarterback Carson Palmer (arm) are the most prominent names trying to make their way back. Guard Mike Iupati (elbow) and long snapper Aaron Brewer (arm) are also options.
"They're not making the progress we had hoped," Arians said.
DEFENSIVE LINE DEALING WITH INJURIES
Three defensive linemen -- Josh Mauro (ankle), Corey Peters (ankle) and Olsen Pierre (shoulder) – missed practice on Wednesday. Mauro is not expected to play against Jacksonville, while the status of the other two is up in the air.
Running back Elijhaa Penny (knee) and wide receiver John Brown (toe) also missed practice, while linebacker Chandler Jones (hip/knee), wideout J.J. Nelson (chest), center A.Q. Shipley (shoulder) and quarterback Drew Stanton (knee) were limited. Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and linebacker Karlos Dansby were given veteran's days off.
For the Jaguars, wide receiver Allen Hurns (ankle), tackle Jermey Parnell (knee), guard Patrick Omameh (quad) and linebacker Donald Payne (hamstring) didn't practice. Running back Leonard Fournette (ankle), linebacker Blair Brown (hamstring), safety Tashaun Gipson (knee), kicker Josh Lambo (hip) and wideout Marqise Lee (knee) were limited.
Images of the Cardinals cheerleaders in their Color Rush uniforms during Week 10 against Seattle