Summer vacation is always sweet, but it's just a little bit sweeter when a half-day precedes it.
That must be how the Cardinals are feeling right now.
After an efficient offseason, coach Bruce Arians cut minicamp a day short, he announced after practice on Wednesday. Instead of a final session on Thursday, the players were given a head-start on their six-week break until the start of training camp in late July.
With many of the key players wrapping up a third offseason in his system, Arians found the process much smoother than in
years past, as the Cardinals rolled through practice each day with fewer hiccups.
"We've accomplished everything we've set out to accomplish this spring to have us ready for camp," Arians said. "We'll keep everybody healthy and ready to go, and throw the guys a bone because they have showed up, they've worked. We've had great attendance and great effort this entire spring."
The Cardinals avoided any major injuries, and the player with the biggest recovery road ahead of him -- quarterback Carson Palmer from a torn ACL -- is making impressive progress. The Cardinals have reason to be optimistic after 21 wins over the past two seasons, and the offseason was another encouraging sign.
"Any time you get a day off it's always great, but with that being said, (Arians) wouldn't haven't given us off if he wasn't happy with our progress," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "That says a lot about what we've been able to accomplish over these couple weeks of OTAs and minicamp practices."
The final action of the offseason was spirited, as the offense faced off against the defense in a two-minute drill to end the minicamp session. The first-string marched far enough to get into field goal range, although kicker Chandler Catanzaro hooked the attempt.
The second-string offense made quick work of the defense, as quarterback Drew Stanton connected with wideout Ryan Spadola on a deep bomb down the right sideline, and Spadola ran the final 30 yards for an untouched score.
He somersaulted into the end zone, setting off a celebration by the offense. The team then huddled quickly, and Arians kept the good vibes going with his announcement.
"We've taken enough chances as hard as we've practiced, that we don't really need (the final day)," Arians said.
"It normally would end up being a 30-minute practice and then we kick a field goal. Chandler missed this one today so I wasn't putting it on him tomorrow."
Arians has no doubt the players will stay in shape and be ready for the start of training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium, which will come the last week in July. His biggest message before they scamper away is one he's repeated often in the past.
"The big thing is don't be a distraction during that time," Arians said. "Don't cost the team anything. Don't be 'The Guy.' "
The first preseason game is Aug. 15 at home against the Chiefs, and the buzz will grow louder as that date nears. But before training camp kicks into high gear, the Cardinals will get some much-needed down time.
"I'm going to get on a plane tomorrow and head to the lake," Arians said. "See y'all at camp."
Images from the final day of minicamp on Wednesday