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Cardinals Raring To Go As Training Camp Approaches

Plenty to watch with coach Steve Wilks now in charge

WR Greg Little during minicamp.
WR Greg Little during minicamp.

There are numerous people excited for the start of Cardinals training camp -- the fans, the rookies, first-year coach Steve Wilks -- but maybe none more than Greg Little.

While the former second-round pick is heading into his seventh camp, this one is different. Little spent all of last year unemployed and hasn't played in an NFL regular season game since 2014. This may be the final chance to resurrect his career, and Little is anxiously awaiting the opportunity to get started.

It all begins on Friday, when the 90-man roster convenes for a conditioning test at University of Phoenix Stadium. The first practice open to the public will be on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

"There's only so much working out you can do," Little said. "It's like, 'Alright, now I'm actually ready to practice and get in the flow and swing of actually playing football again.' It's been a long time coming, and I'm definitely eager to get back out there on the field."

Little is among the plethora of options at wide receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald, a battle that will be intriguing to watch over the next several weeks. The progress of quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen will garner heavy attention, as will the No. 2 cornerback competition.

There is less drama at running back, now that superstar David Johnson reported after skipping mandatory minicamp in hopes of a contract extension. The conditioning test will kick things off, followed by a pair of padless practices over the weekend and padded action beginning Monday.

There have been players trickling in and out of the team facility over the past several weeks, but it's the first time the whole group will be together again since mid-June. The chemistry building will kick into high gear immediately with the regular season quickly approaching.

"I'm starting to get a little closer to some of the vets now," rookie running back Chase Edmonds said. "When you just get here, you don't want to say anything. You just sit back and listen. But I'm starting to talk to more and more of the vets and getting more comfortable as time goes on. It'll be good to have all the guys back."

While some of the older players may be less-than-thrilled to welcome another training camp, the rookies are buzzing.

"Very eager, very excited to seize my opportunity," Edmonds said. "I prayed for this my entire life. To be here is a surreal moment. I'm excited to go out there and show what I can do."

The transition from Bruce Arians to Wilks brings an unknown feel. Wilks' philosophy peeked through in offseason work and will further flesh out in the next several weeks. The players know it is time to impress.

"When you get a new staff in, they know of you but they don't know you as a player," cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "We have to make sure we show them how we work, that we are students of the game. We want to show Coach we are studying, because he watches everything. We just want to put our best foot forward."

The Cardinals put their work in during the offseason , but that was in shorts and t-shirts, a dilution of the game they love. The pads, and the season, are right around the corner.

"You can only run up and down a field by yourself so many times, chase a ball without a defender so many times," Little said. "It's the actual excitement of being in front of a defender. It's the true form of competition, and that's the enjoyment of the sport."

Rookies, quarterbacks and players coming off injury get in some early work Monday before full #CardsCamp begins later in the week.