Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker clicks his heels in excitement for the ending of training camp.
With about 20 minutes left in the final training camp practice on Friday, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald found his fellow Cardinals veterans on the sideline at University of Phoenix Stadium and draped them in hugs.
First defensive end Cory Redding, then quarterback Carson Palmer and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. His message: We made it through another one.
Training camp is necessary as the Cardinals prepare for the 2015 regular season, but after spending much of the last month within a quarter-mile radius between the stadium and a neighboring hotel, everyone was clearly ready to go home.
"It seems like we've been in this dang hotel over a month now," cornerback Jerraud Powers said. "I think guys were getting a little weary of one another. (Bruce Arians) wasn't even saying much the last couple days. I think he kind of checked out, too."
Arians disputed the notion he was tired of the grind – he chuckled and reasoned his fewer words were because "I'm just warming up for the refs" – but said he will enjoy breaking camp so he can go home and sleep in his own bed. That, and reining in the easily-available social occasions at the hotel each night.
"My liver likes a break, too," Arians quipped.
Defensive end Calais Campbell noted the Cardinals' training camp situation is much rosier than for some other teams – some players get stuck two to a room in college dorms -- but the length of it had him counting the days.
After Sunday night's game in Oakland, the Cardinals will return to practicing at their training facility in Tempe to prepare for the fourth preseason game against the Broncos on Thursday.
"It's been a good ride, but I'm happy that camp's ended, finally," Campbell said. "I think we did a good
job establishing our identity, figuring out what type of team we're going to be."
The Cardinals are 0-2 in the preseason, but the first-team units have played well. Arians said the Cardinals had an excellent camp and he's excited about the team's prospects as the regular season inches closer.
"I hate to use the word 'potential' because potential is a negative thing for me," Arians said. "But we have the potential to be a pretty good team."
While the Cardinals quickly jetted out of the stadium following practice, some of them are going home with a different type of to-do list waiting for them. Powers said his son will want to play football and he will have some errands to run. He also knows he needs to make it up to his wife for being away for so long.
"The wifey gives you the guilt trip, how sad she is, lonely, all this stuff," Powers said. "I'm probably going to have to get her a present. A camp present, she says, which she deserves."
Powers is holding out hope the present is simple and relatively inexpensive. He also knows better.
"We've been together for over nine years so hopefully a good nice meal, a nice steak or something, and she'll forget about it," Powers said. "But usually if I let her go to Target without a limit she's pretty happy."
The top images from the now-completed training camp