Tackle Herman Johnson (67) raises his helmet in celebration as the Cards end practice Saturday and get together for a final huddle in Flagstaff.
FLAGSTAFF – Darnell Dockett, as he tends to be, was blunt.
"I don't know if I am ready to break camp," the Pro Bowl defensive tackle said, "but I know I want to leave from here. I hate this place."
Ahh, the end of training camp arrived for the Cardinals Saturday morning – at least the part that frustrates the players. There are still three weeks before the Cards play a game that counts, so there is plenty of practice before then. The Cards have rarely had two-a-day workouts at this point, so going to one practice a day isn't a big change. And the team will still be away from home next week between road games at Tennessee and at Chicago, with an extra few days in Nashville.
The idea of moving out of the Northern Arizona University dorms after a three-week-plus stay, however, still brought smiles.
"As far as building camaraderie and being around the guys all day every day, it's good for a team," center Lyle Sendlein said. "That said, for personal lives, it's a damn killer."
The Cards had a final practice Saturday morning, a shells-and-helmets low-speed affair as the Cards worked on some final touches before the Titans game.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt, not surprisingly, was pleased with the how his team worked. NAU is ideal for camp, Whisenhunt said, because the players are worked hard because of the 7,000-foot elevation yet not overly taxed by the 90-degree-temperatures-plus-high-humidity many other teams endure in camp.
It also obviously gets the Cards away from the 100-plus temperatures of the Valley, a big enough concern that the Cards are likely going to use Arizona State's practice bubble a couple of times a week early in the season once the team relocates to the Valley.
The logistics of Flagstaff led to an intensity of camp Whisenhunt embraced.
"Usually in camp you have a lull to fight through and it can get pretty bad," Whisenhunt said. "This year, we didn't have that. Our chemistry has developed quickly and I think the competition has aided that. You see the scuffles (between players) and I think that's about (the offense and defense) wanting to win and the units having that chemistry."
The Cardinals had questions going into camp that haven't been answered yet, although that's not a surprise either. With three preseason games still to go, the Cards were probably never going to decide for sure who their starting cornerback opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was (it is still between Greg Toler and Trumaine McBride) or exactly who their starting inside linebackers were (Paris Lenon, who has impressed, will probably be one, with Daryl Washington, Pago Togafau and Reggie Walker still in contention for the other side).
It'll probably take into the regular season to understand exactly what Matt Leinart is bringing to the starting quarterback position.
The Cardinals have found some things out in Flagstaff, however. They found out they have a bit more of an edge to their defense. They found out undrafted rookie wide receiver Stephen Williams is a pretty good player and that third-round wide receiver Andre Roberts is a work in progress. They found out Dockett looks set for a monster season, and that fellow defensive lineman Calais Campbell also seems prepared to break out.
One question they knew the answer to the day they arrived? They wouldn't be heartbroken when it was finally over, and it's over, regardless of where they might have to spend next week.
"I'm leaving Flagstaff, and Flagstaff is training camp," running back Tim Hightower said. "It'll be good to go."
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