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Cardinals Taking Shape

But team still undefined after finishing up minicamp and offseason work


The Cardinals run through their final minicamp practice Thursday.

Class, for now, was dismissed.

But as the Cardinals left the field for the final time Thursday before returning for training camp in late July, school wasn't out, either.

"It's not like, 'Hey, go out and throw your book bag in the air and I'll see you in August,' " center Lyle Sendlein said.

The Cardinals still have much to learn about the Cardinals, things that go deeper than who will be the starting quarterback or how quickly the team's top running backs will return in the preseason. Four weeks of on-field work – three weeks of OTAs and the just-completed minicamp – lets the team know about the goals of each unit and about the player standing next to each man.

Who the Cards are as a team, however, doesn't come until later. Training camp "is when we learn what our personality will be, or at least what we will strive to be," Sendlein said.

"Every team looks great in shorts this time of year," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We will see what we can get done in training camp. There were a number of position battles that are ongoing, a number of players that have to develop, and that's what camp is about. What (the offseason) has done is set our guys up to compete. That's what this has to be about."

Whisenhunt half-joked he was "depressed" with minicamp ending. After missing an offseason last year because of the lockout, the coach was enjoying the chance to be on the field even if the OTAs were trimmed in total.

There was a letdown Thursday for the final practice, normal in Whisenhunt's eyes after the emotion and energy of Wednesday night's FanFest work in front of 15,000 people. That's something his team needs to learn from, he said, and be able to bounce back regardless of the atmosphere.

Training camp will help, because once the pads go on, the intensity will jump. That's another reason it's difficult to know just who the Cardinals are going to be – yet.

"I have a good sense what to expect from guys after being around for a month," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "What guys need to work on, what I need to work on. I think the coaches have a good idea. I think when we start training camp, the order in which how many reps get will be based on that. I think we have made progress, but we have a ways to go."

There is much to be sorted out. The Cards are a far cry from that day in 2004 when then-coach Dennis Green used the final day of offseason workouts to announce his starting lineups on both sides of the ball heading into camp. Whisenhunt believes in competition always, and that will carry into camp.

The quarterback battle between Kevin Kolb and John Skelton is at the forefront. There should be a tussle between Jeremy Bridges and rookie Bobby Massie at right tackle. There are a lot of candidates to start at cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson.

The Cards don't know who they are yet, but clearly they have an idea who they want to be.

"We know where this team was two years ago, where this team was when it went to the Super Bowl," linebacker Daryl Washington said. "Everyone's mindset is the same – win a bunch of games. We have to believe in it. Hopefully we all have that confidence to be that team everyone wants us to be, even if we have to prove it to ourselves and everyone else."

The rookies still have a couple of weeks left of work with strength and conditioning coach John Lott, while there will still be veterans around working out some as well.

"You can't just sit on your butt for 40 days," Sendlein said. "You have to do what it is your team is expecting you to do to be ready for camp."

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